IDseattle: The Three Years That Changed Seattle Forever


Before 1990 or so, Seattle was a blue collar, industrial city tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. A manufacturing stronghold, it was home to one of the world’s largest aircraft makers—Boeing—and an active naval shipyard. It had a few professional sports teams, a large state university, and a lot of rain. Rain, in fact, was probably what the city was most known for.

That all started to change in 1986. It was in that year that Bill Gates decided to take his obscure computer software company public, giving it a home in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue. The next year, a man named Howard Schultz acquired a small coffee company, with just six stores in Seattle. And a year after that, two kids from the coastal town of Aberdeen, Washington—about two hours away—showed up in Seattle with their guitars and a vision.

That obscure software company, Microsoft, would end up becoming the most important name in the beginning of the digital revolution, creating three billionaires and an estimated 12,000 millionnaires among its employees. Seattle was now at the center of the technology world—Silicon Valley before Silicon Valley—and a city with significantly greater purchasing power as well.

What Microsoft has grown into in suburban Seattle

What Microsoft has grown into in suburban Seattle


As for the coffee company, well, it just so happened that Schultz had visited Milano, Italy earlier that year and noticed that there was a coffee bar in just about every corner. People did not just patronize them to fill up on coffee, but rather to meet and greet with friends and colleagues—they were a part of Italy’s social fabric. He decided to try to apply this concept to his new purchase, a little company called Starbucks, and the idea of coffeehouse-as-meeting-place would storm the nation and eventually the world. Today, Starbucks has more than 20,000 stores in over 60 countries.

A look inside the first Starbucks today

A look inside the first Starbucks today

And those kids—Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain—would create a band called Nirvana and with it, an entire counterculture. Grunge music was born, and more significantly, Seattle as the creative hub that spawned it. Seattle had had famous musicians before—think Jimi Hendrix—but he in particular spent the majority of his active years in London and elsewhere. Nirvana truly made Seattle home, and the city that had previously had a small music scene went on to produce Pearl Jam, Soundgarten and Alice in Chains among others.

Nirvana's performances gave life to Seattle's dormant music scene

Nirvana’s performances gave life to Seattle’s dormant music scene

Today, Seattle is regarded as anything but blue collar–a technology hub with an artistic, coffee house culture full of youth and creative energy. For this, it can look back on the years 1986-1988, and those few individuals that sparked the evolution from industrial port city to what it is today, and give thanks.

Seattle is moving at top speed today

Seattle is moving at top speed today

IDmusic: “Ba’t Di Ko Ba Nasabi” by Krizza Neri

Steven K.,

This space is dedicated to uncovering the culture of the Philippines, and as such, one must talk about music and romance. I thought I’d share this video–one of the more popular songs in the Philippines in the past few years–by Krizza Neri. She recently won a reality singing contest (“Protege: The Battle for the Big Break”), and this is among her first singles. If I have ever heard a song-video combination that exemplifies the musical culture of a place (in so many ways), this is it for the Philippines!

The Perfect Match: Home Karaoke Machines & Filipinos

Steven K.,

Catholic or Muslim, rich or poor, tall or short, or light-skinned or Moreno-skinned, there is one thing virtually all Filipino households have in common: A home karaoke machine.

PHL Karaoke Machine

Often regarded as the most musical country in Asia, it seems as though everyone here likes to sing (that doesn’t mean everyone is good at it, by the way). That isn’t surprising given how happy and festive Filipinos are generally known for being. As Filipinos are also known for their collectivism, karaoke is a perfect activity to be shared amongst family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you can sing or not—what is important are the bonds that are formed and the laughs that are shared.

While the origins of karaoke are still debated today (some argue that it came from the Philippines, others that it came from Japan), there is no question that home karaoke systems are an essential staple in Filipino culture. Japan, and even more so Korea, have karaoke bars lining the streets of any nightlife area, but here it is more a form of home entertainment. You’ll have a hard time finding any home gathering of a group of Filipinos anywhere in the world that doesn’t feature karaoke, which should leave you entertained into the early morning hours.

Enter the home of any Filipino family and you're likely to find something like this...

Enter the home of any Filipino family and you’re likely to find something like this…

Rainforest World Music Festival: One of the World’s Most Unique

Steven K.,

A music festival that last the entire weekend? Check.

With musical acts from just about every continent on the globe, in every genre you can dream up? Check.

Where you can actually meet the artists? Check.

And even learn from them at workshops, where they’ll teach you some of their tricks and you can ask them questions? Check.

In a setting just steps from the sea at the edges of one of the world’s most beautiful tropical rainforests? Check.

You are probably thinking I’m making this up, but it really exists, in the form of the annual Rainforest World Music Festival. Taking place every summer (usually in July, although the 2013 edition will be the last weekend of June) at the Sarawak Cultural Village at the base of beautiful Mount Santubong, about 30 minutes from the city of Kuching, the festival has grown since its inception in 1997. While the first few years yielded audiences of around 400, the Sarawak Tourism Board has thrown its muscle behind it since then, and now the festival is attracting nearly 30,000 spectators from all around the world.

While the musical performances are scheduled for the evenings—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—the days are still packed. Just about every musical act takes part in a seminar, where they will demonstrate their craft in a more personal setting, including Q&A sessions and many opportunities for audience participation. The Sarawak Cultural Village is also teeming with interesting exhibits and vendors hawking souvenirs, tattoos, haircuts (featuring tribal shave patterns), food and drinks. Yes—despite Malaysia’s strict Muslim laws—the alcohol (most typically in the form of Heineken) flows freely here.

I had the good fortune to attend last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival, which featured artists from as far away as Scandinavia and Brazil. In the coming months in this space, I will be sharing several videos from the experience, both of the regular stage performances and behind the scenes with the artists, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy some of the images below, which may still not even do proper justice to the fun and excitement RWMF represents.

In case you are interested, the 2013 rendition will take place from June 28-30, with more information available here.

Huge crowds at last year's Rainforest World Music Festival

Huge crowds at last year’s Rainforest World Music Festival

Rocking with Cankisou from the Czech Republic

Rocking with Cankisou from the Czech Republic

Sarawak's own Zee Avi

Sarawak’s own Zee Avi

Brazil's Raiz de Cafezal on stage...

Brazil’s Raiz de Cafezal on stage…

...and at a workshop

…and at a workshop

Another workshop, this time featuring the String Sisters from Scandinavia and the USA

Another workshop, this time featuring the String Sisters from Scandinavia and the USA

A little rain didn't stop the fun

A little rain didn’t stop the fun

Sweden’s Wealth of…Hit Singles?


Ever since ABBA dancing queened us through the 1970s, Sweden has become a surprisingly prominent exporter of music around the world. With a thriving pop rock scene, many Swedish artists have enjoyed huge success in the realms of American and British popular music. We have compiled a list of some of the best and most popular Swedish singles on a global stage…let’s see how many you didn’t know were from there! And if you have any other suggestions that we’ve omitted, please leave a comment!

  • Blue Swede: Hooked on a Feeling (1974)
  • ABBA: Waterloo (1974)
  • ABBA: “S.O.S” (1975)
  • ABBA: “Fernando” (1976)
  • ABBA: Dancing Queen (1977)
  • Anni-Frid Lyngstad: I Know There’s Something Going On (1982)
  • Chess Musical: “One Night in Bangkok” (1985)
  • Europe: “The Final Countdown” (1986)
  • Europe: “Superstitious” (1987)
  • Roxette: “The Look” (1989)
  • Roxette: “Listen To Your Heart” (1989)
  • Roxette: “It Must Have Been Love” (1990)
  • Roxette: “Joyride” (1991)
  • Roxette: “Dangerous” (1990)
  • Neneh Cherry: “Buffalo Stance” (1988)
  • Ace of Base: “All That She Wants” (1993)
  • Ace of Base: “The Sign” (1994)
  • Ace of Base: “Cruel Summer” (1998)
  • Rednex: “Cotton Eye Joe” (1994)
  • The Cardigans: “Lovefoot” (1996)
  • Robyn: “Show Me Love” (1997)
  • Eagle-Eye Cherry: “Save Tonight” (1998)
  • Andreas Johnson: “Glorious” (2000)
  • Alcazar: “Crying at the Discoteque” (2000)
  • Play: “Us Against the World” (2004)
  • Eric Prydz: “Call On Me” (2004)
  • Robyn: “With Every Heartbeat” (2007)
  • Basshunter: “Now You’re Gone” (2007)
  • Lykke Li: “Get Some” (2008)
  • Lykke Li: “I Follow Rivers” (2008)
  • Avicii: “Levels” (2011)

It is also worth nothing that Swedish/Moroccan songwriter and producer RedOne is the man behind Lady Gaga, among others, and has won two Grammy Awards.