Nosaj Thing, a.k.a. Jason Cheung, is a L.A.-based music producer whose geeky charm at first sight deceptively conceals his sinister and innovative musical agendas. At the age of 13, he molded his father’s rudimentary PC that struggled with even Word documents into a Frankestein Intel Celeron home studio.
Now aged 23, he has just released “Drift”, his first full length album this month – which catapulted straight into number 1 on Bleep’s electronic music chart – and is set to take Shanghai on a haunting instrumental journey this weekend. We are looking forward of course since we’ve heard Nosaj Thing does a wicked live show. For a quick sampling, check out Nosaj Thing on Myspace and Vimeo.
FREE the WAX caught up with Nosaj Thing before he flew out on his first Asian tour and talked about his influences and the story behind his debut album.
Where: (for Friday) Yuyintang, 1731 Yanan Xi Lu, near Kaixuan Lu 延安西路1731号(凯旋路) 中山公园小白楼 and (for Saturday) The Factory @ 1933, Building 4, 29 Shajing Lu, near Haining Lu (tell the taxi its at Jiulong Hotel) 意工场, 沙径路29号, 近周家嘴路溧阳路
Starts: Friday, June 19, 9PM for the album release; Saturday, June 20, 3PM for the workshop at the Factory
Cover: 50 RMB for Friday, free for the workshop
I read here somewhere that you started making music at age 13. What made it start taking a similar shape to what you are producing right now?
When I started making music, I was experimenting with different styles and rhythms. I was into hip hop and underground dance music like drum and bass and house. I wanted to blend all my influences together and it started to shape up over time.
You said on your blog that you were laid-off from your day job! Is that the beginning of Nosaj Thing, the full time producer?
Yes, for now… and I hope for a while! I’m going to see where my music takes me. I’ve been learning a lot more about myself ever since I got laid off! Now I’ve been able to focus all my time and energy into my music. I feel blessed that I can sustain it right now. I am sacrificing a steady paycheck but this is a risk I’m willing to take.
How much do you think nostalgia, longing and other such bittersweet emotions play a part in your music?
Nostalgia comes into place for a lot of it. Writing songs is very therapeutic for me. They are emotional feelings I want to recreate. Sometimes, writing music can ease my stress or let out my inner beast. Other times I see a certain kind of spirituality to the way I approach music-making.
What do you think is the most important element in your sound?
I would say I do emotional/cinematic music with heavy influences from electronica, hip hop and experimental music, so definitely musicality comes first.
Other than your music, what else moves and interests you?
I’m a big fan of art and technology. I follow a lot of tech blogs and geek out about the latest gadgets. Seeing art inspires my music. Other than that, my family and friends inspire me. Sometimes I feel that my music is a reflection of my moods and most of my moods are affected by them.
You got a good 300,000 hits on myspace and a lot of love from a healthy number of fans! What role has the internet played in your career so far?
It has played a huge roll. The immediacy of social network sites have been great help. I try to use all social outlets to get my music out and interact with listeners.
And you released your first album this June! What is the story behind it? Can people expect the same Nosaj as your last EP?
The new album “Drift” is pretty different in comparison to the “Views/Octopus” EP. This new record has a lot more thought put into it. Making music is therapeutic for me. I would consider “Drift” a cinematic record.
What do you expect from your first Asian tour?
I’ve been to Korea once when I was really young. I’m really excited about this Asia tour and interested how everyone will respond to my music. I hope to see and experience as much as I can.
And what is in the plans for the rest of 2009?
I’m doing a few remixes and hope to tour extensively. I’m also working on a interactive visual show and new music. In the future I’d love to make music for films/television and work with hip hop and pop artists.