The COMPASS: Seattle, WA


Check out the full COMPASS series here!

By Briana Marela

In many big cities, it can be hard to find someone who actually grew up there. As someone born and raised in Seattle I have seen it change quite a lot over the years, growing and morphing into the tech metropolis it is today. Though I will get nostalgic from time to time, and mourn the Seattle I once knew, I still feel blessed to be in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve always felt inspired and excited about the music of the northwest and there are still many people and things I love here in Seattle. Even when touring or being away from home, these are some of the things that always excite me about coming back.

The Cairo

For starters, I love coming to see shows at Cairo, which is actually a small clothing store and event space. It’s run and booked by some really cool people, and it’s intimate and fun to see the variety of styles of music that play here. I’ve crammed in here with dozens of other people at punk, rock, and electronic or ambient shows!

Chapel Performance Space

At the Chapel Performance Space, you can always count on an amazing performance in this beautiful open chapel room setting. It was once part of a home for wayward girls run by the nuns of the Good Shepherd Center in the early 1900s. Now most of the shows are booked through the Wayward Music Series which features adventurous and experimental music. I love coming to events here.

+ Learn more: Start planning a tour through Seattle with our free course, “Touring on a Shoestring”

Sonic Boom Records

I’ve been coming to Sonic Boom Records since I was a teenager. I’ve spent countless hours digging through their used vinyl and CDs. It is still a dependable and great spot to find unique stuff!

Trading Musician

These days, it’s so tempting to just buy all your equipment and gear online, but Trading Musician is an absolute treat to come and explore used guitars, pedals, synths, and more! Stock is often changing so I always make an effort to come by and see what’s new.

+ Read more: “The Compass: Louisville” by Rachel Grimes of indie-rock chamber ensemble, Rachel’s

Golden Gardens park

My sister will probably hate me for revealing our secret favorite natural reverb spot in Seattle, but if you go to the beach at Golden Gardens near Ballard, underneath the train tracks are these short tunnels. One tunnel in particular has some of the most beautiful reverb I’ve ever heard. Perfect to go and sing in or play an instrument.

Cafe Racer

There are these great improvisational music sessions held every Sunday called the “Racer Sessions” that feature some of greatest improvisational and experimental musicians I know collaborating together on Sunday evenings. It is very enjoyable for listeners and musicians alike. Though I’ve yet to participate, when I get a chance to go I always love them! Also, Café Racer is one of the best meeting spots and cafes in the University District, I can always count on running into someone I know here.

Glass Box Gallery

I’ve recently started attending some really cool art shows at Glass Box Gallery, and was fortunate that one of the last ones had some spoken word and musical moments that truly appealed to my tastes. It’s a great space and I hope to see more events like that here.

Interested in hearing more about the sounds of cities from the artists who love them? Catch up on the full Compass series here.

Seattle is also home to one of the country’s most important independent radio stations, KEXP. Check out Briana Marela’s performance of her song “Surrender” live at KEXP below!

Briana Marela Press SEABriana Marela is a vocalist, composer, and sound conjurer from the Pacific Northwest.

She stitches together bold melodies and lyrics filled with longing using max/MSP to achieve vocal looping, processing and sampling. Briana’s aesthetic sensibility derives from many kindred spirits in her home state of Washington, but is woven with her own unique vision of both her intimate world — its homes, its people — and the world at large.

Com Truise: Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


6 Creative Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Market

Authenticity and uniqueness are rare commodities in the music industry. Here’s how you can best communicate your brand and reap the benefits!


The Important Questions to Ask Yourself Next Time You Want to Give Up on Your Music Dreams

Just because you know this is what you want doesn’t mean you don’t call it into question… Be strong, visualize, and get back on the horse!


What Are the Different Tiers of Music Publicity Campaigns?

Thinking of hiring a publicist (or doing it yourself)? Here’s some helpful information that can assure you’re not wasting your time—or money.