Seattle's Chong the Nomad (aka Alda Agustiano) opened for Death Cab For Cutie and did an official remix of their song "When We Drive" last year, and now Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard has lent his unmistakable voice to "Provider" off her new two-song single, which also features the song "On Fire." They're both genre-defying songs that pull from indie, electronic, funk, soul, and more, without ever really fitting neatly into any of those categories, and they're both pretty great. Alda spoke to American Songwriter about working with Ben:
How did the creative relationship with Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard begin and then grow to collaboration for this EP?
We met when I opened for Death Cab for Cutie and Odesza in May 2019. That gig was a huge, huge deal for me. Apparently, the band found my music from a tweet and about two months before the concert, asked me to remix their song, “When We Drive.” I sent in my remix and the day of the concert came around. Then I ran into Ben backstage and we chatted. He brought up my remix and my other music; it was hard not to freak out a bit. After that night he sent me a message on Instagram and mentioned he would love to collaborate sometime. It’s funny, I drove my manager a little crazy because I forgot to mention that particular conversation to him until a month after he sent that DM. Whoops.
What was it like to work with him and feature the Gibbard on the new single, “Provider”?
Spectacular! I’ve had the idea for “Provider” for, like, two years sitting on the Garageband app on my phone. I decided that for this new project, it would be a perfect fit for a small duet with Ben. I’d honestly say it was the trickiest song on the EP to produce. I had to push myself harder than ever vocally and on the production-side of things. I sent a small demo to Ben with a part I wrote specifically for him. Thankfully I had the remix to work with first so I had somewhat of an idea about how to write for him. He was down and within the next two weeks I had his parts. I used his vocals as inspiration to finish the song.
Looking back, I felt real vulnerable writing those lyrics. I made a realization a couple of years ago that I have to manifest my own happiness. All of the things I’ve been subconsciously taught to find to feel “complete” – a relationship, religion, a thriving social life – at the end of the day, it’s my own responsibility to keep myself in check and move forward optimistically in life. “Provider” is the closing track on the EP and it felt perfect to have someone that I’ve looked up to musically for so long sing those lyrics with me.
"Provider" isn't Chong the Nomad's only cool collaboration with a fellow Seattle artist. Last year, she released this chilled-out, R&B-ish single featuring Stas THEE Boss of THEESatisfaction: