Seattle-based music producer Chong the Nomad (real name: Alda Agustiano) is known for her energetic, often unconventional, music renditions. Case in point: She once produced a track that consisted of kitchen sounds such as cooks grunting, ladles hitting vats and chopsticks hitting bowls.
So it’s no surprise that in her collaboration with Singapore Airlines, her specially created track for the national carrier is made up solely of sounds recorded on the airplane.
The song – which is available for free listening on Spotify – and a behind-the-scenes video of the recording process were produced in conjunction with the airline’s launch of its new non-stop route to Seattle.
Part of an SIA campaign titled “Seattle Sounds Even Better Now”, the instrumental track “Non-Stop” features ambient noises collected from the Airbus A350-900, which will be operating on the new route.
A one-of-a-kind remix
Expect familiar sounds such as the roar of the engine, clinks of silverware, seatbelt clicks and the welcoming voice of the Singapore Girl in Chong’s playful track. Other effects, including taps on the tyres of the A350’s nose wheel or the whirrs and ratchets of cockpit controls, are embedded in the mix as beats and bass tones.
Creating the track “proved harder than expected”, admits the musician. “To piece together all the sounds and to try to figure out which ones to manipulate, as well as just how much to do so, became quite difficult.”
Recording it was another story. “It was exciting and very strange! I had the plane [almost] all to myself to record. I even got to enter the cockpit, which was a little scary,” she says. “I had a lot of fun trying to get creative with some of the noises; the tray table sliding out sounded almost like a record scratch, which I was so happy to get.”
Chong was even able to record sounds on the tarmac right next to where the planes took off. “I managed to get a nice variety of textures in the final version of the track,” she says, describing it as “optimistic and joyous, like the excitement of embarking on a new adventure”.
Seattle, her muse
Chong the Nomad has been creating music since she was 14, when some friends introduced her to software that could produce electronic house music. “I always wanted to write my own songs but never had the equipment to be able to do so. Having the ability to create them electronically was thrilling – I immediately fell in love with it.”
The 23-year-old, who cites the state of Washington, musician Stevie Wonder and love as her sources of inspiration, says the vibrant city of Seattle also plays a huge part in her music-making. Perhaps not surprising when you consider the city has spawned music greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Macklemore, Quincy Jones and the Fleet Foxes.
“The community here inspires me every day. Great music is made constantly in this city and it makes me want to write more. It’s a beautiful area as well. Seattle is real close to the Cascades – I tend to write a lot more after a hike.”
Besides, the music scene there is so varied, she adds. “I think that one way music can evolve is by blending genres together. So much can be learned by listening to a variety of music and learning about specific scenes.”
Music aficionados should pay more attention to Seattle-based rappers DoNormaal and Guayaba, and indie duo Soultanz, she adds. And if there were four places you had to visit to get a sense of the city’s music and art scene? Music venues The Showbox, Neumos and Neptune Theatre, as well as Vermillion art gallery and bar, are must-goes, she says.
There seems to be no stopping Chong, who has big plans for her future. Asked what she hopes for down the road, and she’s quick to rattle off her bucket list: “Buy my mother a restaurant. Make enough money to start a music school. Write at least five albums. Score an animated series.” And perhaps one day, she’ll work with her dream collaborator, American rapper Merlyn Wood. The sky’s the limit for this young hopeful.
Singapore Airline has launched non-stop flights to Seattle. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com