Seattle Summer Concerts Highlight Musical Artists Rising South End and BIPOC

LIVt, Talaya, TeZATalks and Jai Wolf tell the Emerald what it’s like to perform in Seattle this summer.

by Amanda Ong

Summer is in full swing, and with it finally comes live music outdoors. Outdoor concerts returned this summer after many were canceled over the past two years due to the pandemic. From artists raised in the Pacific Northwest and based in the South End to national artists with enduring local ties, Seattle has long been a hub for musical artists, including many incredibly talented BIPOC musicians who have performed throughout throughout this summer. Recently, the emerald able to chat with some of them. Check out their profiles below and keep an eye out for our August Southern Gig Guide, ahead.

Most importantly, get out there and support these artists if you can. You might find your next local favorite.


Olivia Thomas, stage name LIVt, recently performed at the Capitol Hill Block Party. The Renton-based rapper claims Pacific Northwest sunsets are the inspiration for her new EP, Pink and Orange.

“I think these are very underrated sunsets that we see here,” Thomas said. “I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunsets. My next EP, the sound is based on these sunsets. For me, summer is my favorite time of year. I love to take a drive in the evening when the sun goes down – it’s just one of my favorite things to do.

The second single on pink and orange, “Let it go”, was released on July 29 and stars Dave B. and Seattle producers Grady and GMK. For Thomas, music is not just a way to express himself, but to reach out to others and build community – from his personal communities, like his hometown of Lakewood, to the larger black community, to all those who might appreciate his music. Even songs about hard times, she says, are filled with joy of expression,

“I wish I could find this James Baldwin quote, but basically he said that showing off, being hurt, being in love, being angry, whatever, that’s what being an artist is” , said Thomas. “I try to live and walk naturally in the direction of knowing who I am, knowing that it’s not always easy… I strive for that when I create, I was put on this earth to do this work. So every time I get to [create]there is a certain feeling of joy, even if a song is not necessarily joyful.

Thomas highlighted his enthusiasm for the Capitol Hill Block Party and other local summer festivals as a way for people to discover local artists. “I just encourage people to show up if they can, and to keep watching and supporting local artists,” Thomas said.


Throughout the summer, Beacon Hill will also host the return of Jefferson Jumpstart, a series of free concerts in Jefferson Park. While recording engineer, choirmaster and recording artist Talaya unfortunately couldn’t perform for her July 21 performance for Jefferson Jumpstart, the Seattle-born and raised musician still has a lot to offer this summer.

This summer, she has a performance at the opening of Madame Lou for Dana Williams on August 12. Currently based in Rainier Beach, Talaya is a full-time musician of many mediums and also works as a sound engineer at Beech Street in Columbia City.

“Being so community oriented now, supporting local brands and attending my friend’s shows, their pop-ups and events, has changed my life in ways I never expected,” Talaya said. .

Audio engineering work has also allowed Talaya to develop her voice as a storyteller. And when black culture is so often co-opted by white artists, his work as an audio engineer is always predominant.

“It’s groundbreaking, in my opinion – I may only know three other black female engineers… It’s very special to be able to share this and show others that it’s possible, because most engineers are white men,” Talaya said. “Being from Seattle, given that the black population is increasingly declining… It’s groundbreaking for me to live here and work here and continue to uplift others in my community here.”

Through music, Talaya helps community members express their emotional and personal experiences, providing a powerful tool for healing. She often feels a reciprocal energy from the audience during her shows. “People are created by the support of their community,” Talaya said. “I think it’s really important that we support local artists and musicians of all mediums, because you never know where they’ll end up. And if you can help them get closer to [success]why not you ?


Capitol Hill Block Party also featured TeZATalks, an up-and-coming “hardcore pop” artist who performs a mix of alternative, punk, hip-hop, electronica and pop. Although she grew up in Oahu, TeZA spent her summers in Lakewood, Washington, where she has homestead, and moved first to Columbia City in 2017 and then to Tacoma to be closer to her family.

“The impact and influence of Seattle and Tacoma is very close to my heart so that I have memories in the buildings, in the streets, in the parks that have definitely influenced who I am today in as an artist,” TeZA said. “And I’m so grateful now to be where I am in my career – to feel like I can represent that.”

The rapid changes in Seattle since his childhood are also not lost on TeZA. But the city’s continued authenticity inspires, empowers and allows it to be itself artistically. “With the advent of big tech and gentrification, they can reap the full benefits of decades of what artists and community members have built,” TeZA said. “But what I’ve really grown to love more than anything is the resilience of the city… When the city shut down, we saw artists and small business owners, activists, journalists, creatives, trying to create opportunities.”

Although she has distanced herself from the church, TeZA’s Baptist upbringing has a strong influence on her music. She aims to recreate the feel of church choirs in her songs, the feeling of spiritual music flowing through you. By recreating this feeling, she is able to help those who listen and evoke her own cultural magic. “I feel like there’s magic in every culture, but in [our] society that we have been forced to lose sight of,” TeZA said. “I try to speak this truth, from my most spiritual and intuitive place, my higher self, in all areas of emotion. So [my music] may sound painful, it may sound happy, loving, but ultimately it comes from this place.

TeZA’s new album is due out this fall. She recently performed at Neumos’ my body my choice event on July 28, a fundraising performance for abortion rights in light of the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, a question that excites TeZA. “Keep fighting,” TeZA said. “Keep protecting women’s rights, trans rights and stay informed.”

Wolf Jai

A headliner at Capitol Hill Block Party was electronic musician Sajeeb Saha, stage name Jai Wolf. And while he’s not a Seattle local, Saha’s origin story is based on Seattle’s music scene. Saha’s first time playing in Seattle was in 2015 at Q Nightclub early in his career. Harrison Mills of ODESZA, an electronic duo from Bellingham, took him out for a drink after one of their gigs. Mills told Saha that he was starting a label called Foreign Family Collective and wanted Saha to submit a single to be released through that label.

“So actually Seattle was integral to what led to the explosion of my career after that, because that meeting led to the release of Indian Summer,” Saha said in an interview with the emerald. “It was the turning point of everything. My life changed because of it. »

Now as a regular festival performer, Saha creates a diversity of expansive electronic sounds. His education as a child of immigrants and training in Western and Bangladeshi classical music are part of his success, even if Eastern music is no longer an integral part of his style. Instead, his music focuses on capturing feelings or memories, creating powerful and evocative melodies. His hope is that other South Asian artists will have the same platforms without being tokenized.

“It’s very easy to get pigeonholed or stereotyped,” Saha said. “A lot of South Asian artists who tap into South Asian influences, which by the way is a very cool way to express themselves musically, are often pigeonholed for having a very music-centric audience and sound. ‘South Asia. And the reverse is also true.

Returning to the city that helped make his career for Capitol Hill Block Party, the growth of his career and the resonance of his work as a South Asian musician did not escape him, nor did his newfound artistic privilege. But the hope remains that marginalized people can experience the same artistic freedom.

“At its core, sharing art is just the rawest form of expression at the end of the day, especially if you’re someone who grew up feeling different,” Saha said. “I also think about what it means to be an artist in an immigrant family… we didn’t have the privilege [of artistic expression] growing up. And if you get to a point where you have that privilege, you want to make sure you can make the most of it.

Amanda Ong (she) is a Chinese-American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate in the University of Washington’s Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in Creative Writing and Ethnic and Racial Studies.

📸 Featured Image: This summer’s outdoor festivals and concerts feature South End talent like rapper LIVt (top left), hardcore pop singer TeZATalks (top right) and sound engineer and singer Talaya (bottom right); as well as DJ and producer Jai Wolf (bottom left), an artist with significant ties to Seattle. (Photo LIVt: Elise Wlaker) (Photo TeZATalks: Rheinhard Hendrick) (Photo Talaya: Debora Keme) (Photo Jai Wolf: John Liwag)

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