The Goodbye Look: Conversations with Peter Graham


Button Masher photo courtesy of Peter Graham


It was Friday night of Halloweekend as 100 Seattleites squeezed into the venue space in lower Queen Anne’s Bad Bar. At first glance, the lineup of Jacob Richard’s “Battery” and Jake Silverman’s “Button Masher” appeared to be a distinctly chiptune event. Still, the live performances snuck in a surprising and energizing element of jazz through mind-numbing musicianship. Battery’s backing tracks set a fast-paced digital landscape for Silverman’s tight and intricately calculated drum work. Button Masher swapped a gaming controller for a keyboard to deliver reinterpreted soundtracks to fan favorites such as Meta Knight’s Revenge and Final Fantasy VII at a dizzying tempo. Both artists conveyed a dedication to instrumentation that parallels a gamer’s initiated lean at the brink of the final level. This intersection encapsulates Peter Graham’s vision for The Goodbye Look, a fresh series of genre-bending popups aimed at inviting music enthusiasts into a sound that he refers to as broad in the world of jazz, but niche in the world of music. 

Sitting down with Graham at a small café in Madison Park, we began to uncover the intentions behind curating his “music forward experience.” The motivation behind The Goodbye Look all started when a group of friends noticed a distinct cultural hole with the closing of the bluewhale. The laid-back but pivotal hangout in LA’s Little Tokyo was considered a destination in the jazz scene, drawing in artists from all over the city for a night of jam and conversation, providing a uniquely contrasting space to the prestigious dinner-and-show establishments around town. “When I would go to shows at the bluewhale,” Graham shared, “it attracted a group of people who were there to listen to the music and engage with it.” Creating an intentional meeting space for concertgoers and musicians to build community is the main driving force behind The Goodbye Look. In Graham’s words: 

That’s always been one thing I love about jazz: if you have a favorite pop artist, the chance that you’ll get to talk to them is slim, but Kurt Rosenwinkel is my favorite jazz guitarist, and I got to meet him, and talk to him. Being able to have a conversation with someone whose art means so much to you…in this world, these people are definitely incredible geniuses, and you can actually meet them and engage with them. 

The series of popups is a lead-up to the group’s ambition of opening their own venue with a calendar of events featuring “Jazz with a capital J,” alongside artists who are twisting jazz influence into a fresh sound. Comprised mainly of Seattle natives, The Goodbye Look has focused on investing in the music culture of their city. Graham, Federico Rozenberg, Shane McCabe, Conrad Preston, and Ajay Mehta have tapped into their backgrounds as musicians, entrepreneurs, and finance managers to follow their shared vision of jazz accessibility. Curating a cohesion between video game music and funk in the same series offers the exact conversation-starting spark that Graham is looking to ignite. Applying this mentality to his hometown he goes on to say, “In Seattle, there’s not a late-night jazz hang. If you go to most bars you would see live music at the second the music is over they are ushering you out. We are interested in having a place where the musicians can hang out and people can hang out who like the music and want to talk to those musicians.” 

From KEXP DJ nights to orchestrated combos, Graham’s ideas for tapping into the existing musical landscape in Seattle are endless. “If I could create a space that’s a fun hang where someone like Ted Poor wants to throw a group together just because there’s an audience there and he can perform his music…it bothers me that there’s not a place right now that I can go see him.” Graham certainly has his finger on the pulse of “undeniable talent” across the city, referencing Seattle-based artists with homegrown followings and seasoned musicians from Cornish and UW as those he wants to include in his project. He asserts, “I love nothing more than when I can get five or six people who haven’t heard an artist to come to the show, and I can see them loving it. If I can do that for a big room of people, that’s amazing.” Find more from The Goodbye Look on Instagram @goodbyelookclub.


Posted on

November 30, 2022