AU59: Nosaj Thing Incoming piece

October 12, 2009

Single-page piece based on an email interview with Jason Chung – it was kind of last minute and he wasn’t available for a phoner. His album Drift is one of my favourite electronic records this year.

Nosaj Thing



REAL NAME: Jason Chung
FROM: Los Angeles, California.
FOR FANS OF: Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, J Dilla.
CHECK OUT: Debut album Drift, out now on Alpha Pup.
WEBSITE: www.nosajthing.com

Jason. Nosaj. Nosaj. Jason. See what he’s done there? Pretty clever on the part of young Mr. Chung, we think you’ll agree. At least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves since it took several weeks to clock the origin of the stage name. By then, of course, the 24-year-old from LA had reeled us in with his quite exquisite debut album, Drift, a record that’s ensured that his card is marked as one of the best young hip-hop/electronica producers around.

The man himself describes his music as “emotional electronic music with a hip-hop backbone”. Others might use the horrible term ‘wonky’, but in truth it’s enough to let Chung do what he does without getting too bogged down in genre names. Drift belongs to the spectrum of hip-hop and electronica that is touched by dubstep in atmosphere and an emphasis on bass (see also emergent acts like Hudson Mohawke, Mount Kimbie and Rustie) without fully committing to the strict norms of the genre. So Drift sounds expansive, sleek and futuristic, with plenty of gleaming, luxurious synths and wide open spaces, while also boasting some juicy sub-bass and Dilla-esque hip-hop beats. It’s an intoxicating mixture. Chung says that he “got into dubstep late” and denies that it’s a significant influence, though he does single out Martyn and Burial as the producers that he’s “feeling” the most. More significant in his development, however, were “mainstream hip-hop, Nineties music, and bands like Radiohead and Cornelius” as well as family and friends.

The latter comment perhaps gives away the most, because Chung doesn’t just have any old friends. Chief among them is the current golden boy of avant-garde hip-hop, fellow LA native and Warp Records artist Flying Lotus, to who Nosaj Thing is often – justifiably – compared, even though his sound is much less busy and claustrophobic than that of his more illustrious counterpart. “He’s a friend of mine and [has] also been a inspiration,” says Chung, and with the success FlyLo enjoyed off the back of his Los Angeles record last year, that’s no surprise. And according to Chung, there’s more to come from the city, as he namechecks Free The Robots, Gaslamp Killer, My Hollow Drum Crew, Brainfeeder Crew, and Dibiase as acts to check out. Although it might seem facile to bring his hometown into it too much, Chung insists that it was the making of him.

“I believe so,” he says. “My parents enrolled me in an after-school program when I was in fourth grade and the bus driver that picked us up from school always had on one of LA’s local hip-hop radio stations. This was when the Beat Junkies were the resident DJs. I used to record their mixes at home and listen to them all the time. Lots of West Coast hip-hop.”

In his own stylish way, then, Nosaj Thing is continuing that tradition.


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