A self-proclaimed “music research geek”, L.A.-native Jason Chung a.k.a. Nosaj Thing originally wanted to produce tracks like Dr. Dre or drop beats in the likes of Timberland. After sneaking out to his first rave sometime during 8th grade (remember: This is L.A.), Chung was hooked on the melodies and bass of electronic music. leaving high school and a synth-pop duo (sans keytar), the young mix master started creating his own tracks using every resource at his disposal.
Nosaj Thing’s debut album Drift topped iTunes Electronic charts at #5, but his work doesn’t stop there. With almost as many remixes as original songs and a secret remix EP dropping this summer, the 23 year-old DJ is spending time working on an innovative live visual performance creating an otherworldly environment not unlike the moody melodies featured in Drift.
What Nosaj Thing has in store for his fans comes after the jump…
BR: Where did you come up with the name Nosaj Thing?
JC: (laughing:) Sometimes I wish I could change the name. I came up with that when I was in 8th grade. I was really into graffiti and was trying to think of a tag name. I wrote my name with a marker on a piece of paper, and the paint bled through to another page. And I noticed that my name backwards spelled “Nosaj”… sounded like “no such” and being a silly kid I put the words together.
When I was ready to release something, I couldn’t think of a better name and… it just stuck!
BR: When you were first starting out, was it hard to get any respect as a DJ?
JC: You know, I didn’t really think about it as much… Any opportunity that came up, I took it. I mean, I had a day job, but I pretty much played for free for a few years.
BR: Your first record, Octopus EP, came out in 2006. How do you feel about it now?
JC: I don’t like to play [the songs] that much. There are a few songs I still play, but that was five years ago. I guess that’s the natural way to feel about it… (laughing:) I’m still proud of it!
BR: And what changed from recording your first record to your most recent, Drift?
JC: I’m not sure. Just a different influence, getting older, I guess. I think with… getting older, it changes my writing in a way.
BR: How do you begin to work on a new track?
JC: I find creating music very therapeutic. When I first start creating a track, I don’t really think about it. So, I start by basic sound design. The melody and harmonies. Not to get too technical, I find that when I start with a beat I kind of trap myself into this… skeleton. When I start with the melodic parts, I feel I can do more.
BR: I heard you also love to do remixes! Is that something you do in your free time?
JC: If it’s an artist or song I really like, I’ll do it. I feel like I have too many remixes recently. I have almost as many remixes as I do original songs.
BR: Has producing gotten easier since being signed with Alpha Pup?
JC: Oh yeah! Much easier! I thought with how the record industry is right now, I thought, “maybe I could do [Drift] myself.” But, it’s super hard. A record company has so many resources that take years and years to build yourself.
BR: Do you have an ulimate goal for yourself? Top 40s? Museum of Modern Art visual shows?
JC: I like the production stuff, making beats.
BR: To go back to what you originally set out to do?
JC: Kind of, yeah! I want to keep it separate, but I’ve been working on some beats and putting together a demo.
BR: So you do still write while you’re on the road?
JC: I do, yeah. I can’t say I do it everyday or anything.
BR: Are you premiering any new tracks on the tour?
JC: Yeah, I have a couple tracks I play every now and then. I kind of like where this new direction is going. To me, it’s like “night music”, going out on a drive at night… But with this next record, I’ve been doing more experimenting, playing around with different tempos. It should be a more overall feel good, eclectic record.
BR: I saw a short clip of some synchronized art on your website? What was that about?
JC: Oh the visual art show? Something I have been working on with my girlfriend and our mutual friend. After I saw a few bands with amazing visual shows, I got inspired to try something. I wanted to create more of an environment, more of an experience than just a show. So, we collaborated, thought about it, came up with a concept and… did it.
We only played the visual show a couple times. We’re getting ready to do it at a place called Sonar in Barcelona sometime in June. Then, hopefully we’ll be able to do it in the States.
BR: You said there was a concept for these visual shows?
JC: Well, we just all kind of thought my music was fairly cinematic,and what’s really cool about it is that Julie or Adam would work on animation for each part of the song and it would be completely synched as the music changes. In the past, you’d have some half-assed VJ show up, you know never met each other… they’d play just about anything. There would be visual that were completely irrelevant to the music. like, “What are video clips from “I Love Lucy” doing here?” We were frustrated with that and wanted to take control over everything and we created a live visual show.
BR: What else sets you apart from other electronic artists?
JC: I try to not get sucked into trends going on, I don’t want to be like a cookie-cutter producer. I still consider myself up-and-coming, and I want to keep it honest.
Be sure to visit NosajThing.com for FREE remixes and the latest updates!
Photo courtesy of www.NosajThing.com
Written by: Blake Russell