Music

Settled: Michiko and Kento of IQU

Hello! Kento Oiwa and Michiko Swiggs originally hail from Japan. “We both ended up in Olympia to go to Evergreen, like most people do,” Swiggs tells me over the phone. Oiwa graduated from the state college in 1995; Swiggs met him after beginning classes there a year later. Not long afterward, they formed IQU (formerly icu), an indie-minded electronic-dance group whose 1998 album Chotto Matte a Moment! made the duo a nationwide critics’ darling. Relocating to a larger city seemed inevitable.

“It took a few tours to finally decide to leave,” says Swiggs. “We talked about New Orleans—the whole romantic aspect and the cheap rent aspect.” New York and Atlanta, where the group have loyal followings, were also considered. “But when the time came, [it boiled down to] what would be the easiest or cheapest. People from Olympia either go to Portland or Seattle, and we wanted to go somewhere bigger.” Swiggs finished at Evergreen this June. “I left Olympia before I graduated—Evergreen style,” she says with a laugh.

After nine months in Seattle, the group seem satisfied with their decision. “For me, it’s been great so far,” says Swiggs. “It’s nice to spend time with the bands we know outside the music. I already had a place lined up to live that my parents owned. Ken had an amazing house in Olympia that he didn’t want to leave, so he’s always on this never-ending search for a comfortable home.” Housing leads, tips, and offers can be forwarded to Oiwa courtesy of K Records, whose release of IQU’s new Teenage Dream remix EP will be celebrated this Thursday with a show at I-Spy.

GoodBye! Is it true that Seattle folk rockers Carissa’s Wierd have moved to Portland? “Well,” the group’s singer and guitarist Mat Brooke tells me over the phone, “I’m sitting in a Ryder truck.”

The band arrived in Portland the day before I speak with Brooke, who is taking a break from moving his things into the new house he’ll be sharing with guitarist-singer Jenn Ghetto and drummer Ben Bridwell. (Violinist Sarah Standard remains in Seattle, but may be heading south within the next few months.) All three housemates are originally from Tuscon, Arizona, and, according to Brooke, ended up in Seattle by mistake. “We were just kind of traveling around, and the Northwest was where our van happened to break down,” he says. “We lived in Olympia for awhile but couldn’t stand it. So we came up here, got jobs, and enjoyed it.” They stayed three years, releasing one of this year’s most lauded local albums, Ugly But Honest: 1996-1999 (Brown).

“We wanted to get away from the hype,” Brooke says of the move southward. “We worked and lived on Capitol Hill, and were getting stressed out. It started feeling like our life was Capitol Hill. There are so many other ways to describe it, but I’d offend so many people. In Portland, we’ve got this house with a huge basement that we’re turning into recording studio, and we can relax and make our next album.”

It’s only been a day, but how does Portland compare so far? “I don’t know,” Brooke says. “I haven’t even left the house. I will eventually explore Portland, but first I’ll probably just sleep for a week.”


Carissa’s Wierd play Sit & Spin on Tuesday, September 12.

More in News & Comment

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

Early wake-up call: Twin quakes under Monroe rattle region

Thousands of people felt them. They were magnitude 4.6 and 3.5 and hit minutes apart.

Warning sign for a road closure. File photo
King County examines options to fund roads and bridges

Shortfall is roughly $250 million each year; county may seek tax from unincorporated voters.

City of Everett wins in bikini barista federal court case

The baristas are unsure of their next steps but may file for a rehearing, their lawyer said.

As time expires, Eyman lacks signatures for anti-tax measure

In spite of the setback, Eyman still has an initiative dealing with car tabs on the November ballot.

Dozens of wedding gowns stolen from Lynnwood boutique

Some brides-to-be may be left without a dress after a burglary at Brides and Beyond.

Snohomish County is a vacation hotspot — for Seattleites

People seeking relative peace and quiet are boosting the area’s third-biggest industry.

She’d go back to prison if it would erase her $7.6M debt

Christine Hendrickson stole expensive software from Microsoft. She’ll never pay off the restitution.

Where’s the next Sea-Tac? Aviation here is expected to soar

A new study predicts demand for airline service in the Puget Sound region will double by 2050.

Mountain biking, disc golf mark seasons shift at Stevens

Widely known for its winter wonderland, summer at Stevens Pass offers other opportunities.

State Senate to conduct inquiry into public comments by Mona Das

District 47 senator claimed racism, sexism present at Democratic caucus meetings

SeaTac man guilty of 1987 murders solved with DNA technique

In an unprecedented trial, a jury convicted William Talbott in the slayings of a young Canadian couple.