Nosaj Thing’s offbeat and hypnotic electronic music reminds us what it is that makes experimental music deserving of its name. At 26, the Los Angeles-native- also known as Jason Chung- uses his DJing and musical background to create beats that are as experiential as they are cinematic. Currently on the road with his Apogee Duet 2 playing gigs across The United States, Nosaj’s mobile rig is up to par and as reliable as he needs it to be, night after night.
“On the road, there are times when I collaborate with artists wherever I am,” he says. “Over the years I’ve had a lot of gear and sold a lot of gear. Now I’ve got my setup down to just a few pieces that work the best for me. My setup also looks really great. Aesthetics are a big thing to me. Even when I’m home and I’m in my studio, I want to be surrounded by things that make me feel comfortable.”
Being inspired to make music is a part of the process, but you can’t wait for it to strike. You have to recognize it. “A big part of my inspiration comes from everyday experiences,” he reveals. “The most important thing when writing my music is the emotion behind it. It's easy to get caught up on the technical side as an electronic producer but it's crucial to stay close to the emotion.”
From the first time you hear Nosaj’s music, it’s immediately apparent that the experiential aspect is key. “I really enjoy instrumental music because the listener can imagine any story and perceive the openness in any way,” he says. “I like to recreate that openness with modern instruments.”
Nosaj was introduced to the first generation Duet at a recent recording session at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City. “They gave us a U87, a Duet, and a couple 1073s, and it sounded really great,” he recalls. “Then after I started using the Duet 2, it sounded even better.” Reliable gear is essential on the road. “I've never had a problem using Duet 2 live on stage,” he says. “It starts right up with the USB, and I like how it integrates so well with OSX. And, when you're using the dial to adjust the volume, it displays on your computer which is really cool and useful when you have to monitor. The meters on the device are really helpful, too. Duet 2 sounds more crisp in the high end and much tighter than what I used to use before Apogee. Even in the live setting, I heard a big difference with the sound quality.”
Like many electronic musicians, Nosaj began his career jumping from instrument to instrument until he found what felt right. He started out with sax and clarinet and later joined the drum line in high school. “I never stuck to one instrument,” he confesses. Through that experimental stage, he found out that what he gravitated towards and was best at was DJing. “I picked that up when I was 13 and got really into scratching. I saw the similarities between playing drums and DJing. I realized it was similar to how you learn rudiments when you're playing drums, so I applied that logic when I was learning scratching and DJing. That led to me eventually to production with Reason and Fruity Loops on my dad's computer, and I have never looked back.”
But what about the pace of the electronic music scene? When you’re in a field based on the latest technology, there’s no room to be left in the back seat. “I'm scared to hear the newer producers today because they get to start out with an interface like Duet 2. They’re already starting ahead- and with the best plug ins,” Nosaj says. “Music technology has advanced so much and continues to do so, but that’s what is so exciting about it. Technology is what inspires me.”