Jessi Liang is deeply tapped into the music scene in Seattle, online, and worldwide. An engagement manager at Amazon Music, Liang is basically required to know who the hottest new artists are and how to introduce them to the public. A Seattle resident for three years, Liang is also steadily developing a love for the city itself, finding her place among other transplants, exploring new bars and restaurants, and settling into her niche at one of the city’s largest employers. Plus, she maintains an envy-inducing social media presence, showcasing her adventures worldwide. Read on for some of Liang’s music recommendations and more.
Describe your role as Engagement Manager at Amazon Music. What do you love most about the job?
We just launched a new music-streaming service (!!!) called Amazon Music Unlimited, so the first part of this year was totally focused on the launch. My job is to figure out what makes people want to use that and Prime Music (our existing free-but-more-limited service for Prime members), like where to showcase new music people might find interesting, what product features we need to make the app better, how to personalize the experience for every user. And because we’re Amazon, it’s taking these questions and making them data-driven. Music is my one true love, so I’m just grateful every day this is also my job.
Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians right now and why? Anyone local that you love?
I cannot stop listening to “Incosiderate” by Reo Cragun. He doesn’t have much else out right now, but he sounds like old-school Drake meets Gallant and I’m excited to see what he does next. I’ve been listening to a lot of reggaeton lately: J Balvin, Maluma, Zion & Lennox, etc. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, but it puts me in the best mood. Nowadays it feels like the way we listen to music is very fragmented — like my year-in-review said I listened to 2400 songs by 3000 different artists this year — but the few I can always listen to cover-to-cover are Portugal. The Man, Tep No, Major Lazer, Banks, The Avett Brothers….
In terms of local acts, I randomly watched Gifted Gab playing at Sasquatch! Music Festival in 2014, and my whole group just wordlessly stopped in our tracks, getting pulled toward her stage like lil’ krumping magnets. She’s badass. I also love Beat Connection, Tacocat is fun as f*ck, and does Allen Stone count as local anymore?
What events and openings are you most looking forward to in Seattle this winter?
Sugar Hill just opened in Capitol Hill in the former Bauhaus spot, filling what I think is a gap in Seattle hip-hop bars. It’s also stacked with a million record sleeves and serves Thai street food during the day, so it’s basically the place of my dreams. I’m excited to go to lectures at Town Hall and also for our first Amazon Go store open to the public (if you haven’t heard about it: https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16008589011). Aside from those…I think food might be the only thing I love as much as music, so I’m excited for all the restaurant openings, particularly the new Din Tai Fung downtown and, selfishly, all the restaurant openings near my work in SLU: Tacos Chukis (best tacos in Seattle as far as I’m concerned), Ba Bar (specifically the pastries), and Nirmal’s (Indian). A PNW-sourced Eurasian place just opened near my place in Capitol Hill called Cook Weaver that I can’t wait to try either.
You’re not from Seattle. How have you met new people in the city? Any places (bars, restaurants, etc.) you’ve found particularly friendly?
For better or worse, there’s a huge (and growing) transplant community in Seattle. Even three-and-a-half years later, it still feels a bit like an extension of college. I moved here right after school with a “class” of similar recent-graduates all super down to meet people and explore Washington. They’re some of my best friends in the world so I’m grateful for that community. I actually think I met every one of my friends through mutuals or at a house party of some sort, which I think speaks to this network (or also likely my homebody-ness).