Back in 2009 Nosaj Thing released debut LP Drift to much acclaim, and in doing so got aligned with Flying Lotus et al to the 'glitch-hop' scene based in LA.

Fast forward four years and Jason Chung (the real name, you realised Nosaj is Jason backwards right?) after taking time out is returning with his follow-up titled Home, and like FlyLo the progression in sound is marked, featuring a more ambient, atmospheric sound, a more "personal" record as Chung says after going through a lot of heavier life stuff since the debut. A more human side is on show - also literally in the shape of vocal appearances by Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead) in the stunning 'Eclipse/Blue' and Toro Y Moi in 'Try'. The video for 'Eclipse/Blue' matches the otherworldly beauty of the track, with visuals an important part of his work in general as he emphasised with us in this transcribed interview.

On the day of his headline set at Village Underground that ran as an Earnest Endeavours film screening event, we caught up with the mild-mannered producer in Hoxton Hotel where he discussed this, er, Drift in sound, a collaboration in the works with Toro Y Moi, and his passion for skating and how an accident whilst skating inadvertently led him to create music.

I wanted to talk about the live show/visuals, I haven't seen them yet so excited to see them tonight; could you tell me how they've evolved since you started playing, and also the second part of the question is what can we excited tonight at the Village Undergound?

Well actually tonight it's not a real… visual show. I mean it's kinda like a one off show I didn't even know what it's going to be like as Earnest Endeavours put it together, with visual artists who come is and just do visuals for my set, and er… yeah I'm working on a new visual show right now that's gonna be the real thing - sorry to confuse you a little bit. The first visual show I developed with a team in 2010 and we toured that for a bit and we did a few festivals, but for the new album I wanted to change it up and I'm working with this guy named Daito Manabe from Tokyo and he also did the music video (for 'Eclipse/Blue'), I don't know if you've seen it?

Yes really love it.

…He's doing the live visual show, so I'm hoping to get that ready by end of summer.

How would you say this visual element relates to your music?

You know I started performing as Nosaj Thing in 2004 and even then there wasn't too many people performing with just a laptop and a controller, and I always thought it was a little bit odd and not that interesting to watch. So it was a case of growing in high school and playing shows a lot, as much as I can, and there were a few acts that really inspired me - to name a few Cornelius, this guy from Japan, even seeing Daft Punk, it was kind of a game changer you know? My goal is to create an immersive environment for the music and take over the space of the venue where the show will be in, and I feel like I'm slowly getting to that point, idea after idea… I'm just excited about this next wave.

How did you come to work with Daito?

When I was doing research for the first show, I just found him on YouTube, and I shot him an email and a tweet - I think that's when I first started to use twitter - that was 2009? He hit me back right away and coincidentally he was familiar with my music and was into the beat scene that was going on in LA. So we you know, vibed out from the beginning and started emailing back and forth. Originally he was going to do a vid for the first album but didn't come off the way he envisaged so it's interesting that three years later we hooked up and made it happen.

The sentence and thought process gets curtailed by a waiter bring tea over who confuses us by asking if we speak Spanish. Tea sounding like 'sí' apparently.

How would you describe the progression in sound from Drift to Home?

With Drift… it's kinda crazy as I put that record together quite quickly, I wrote it in six months. I felt like as I was a lot younger too and I feel like I had a lot of aggression in me, I had a lot to get out. With this last record a lot has happened to me in my personal life and it felt like it was more of an introspective, darker record. It's kind of about… its more of a personal record. I was a bit worried at first as it's pretty different from Drift, especially being the 2nd record 'n all, but you know I feel it's an honest record, and now I'm just looking forward to working on new material. Been working on some stuff and want to change it up again.

Already?

Yeah.

It's interesting for you to say it comes from a darker place, (the latest record Home), when it almost has a warmer sound? I don't know if that's a fair comment?

Yeah I was focussing on that, I worked with a different mastering engineer, he's more known for doing indie records. It's not really a loud record at all, I wanted to focus more on the sound and warmth so everything in the whole mastering process went through analogue.

And you say you're working on new stuff already - is it stuff that's different from Home? Would it fit on the record for example?

Umm yeah I'm switching focus and it's a bit more upbeat and abstract… and… I guess I can say that, I'm working on a couple of new projects, I'm doing a new EP with Prefuse 73, and working on a record with Toro Y Moi.

I was going to ask you about that, how you came to work with Toro Y Moi as he features on Home..

We toured together a couple of years ago and we became friends over time, he comes through LA or if I go visit him in Berkley, we'll stay at each others spot. And it kinda happening naturally through this friendship.

The name of the track you did with him on the album escapes me...

Ah it's 'Try'.

Oh yeah. Did you have in mind when you were laying down that track?

Not at all, it was just a track I had, a rough sketch, when he was over I was playing some new music that I was working on, he was like "hey let me try something on that" and, we kept the first take we did actually.

I just wanted to talk to you about the Timetable imprint. what kind of artists will feature, be it musicians or artists from any other mediums? Have you released anything yet?

The first release actually came out a couple of weeks ago, this artist named D Tiberio - yeah he has quite an interesting sound, trying to figure out how to describe it… he's one of my childhood friends and we used to go to a lot of shows together and he introduced me to a lot of music, and it's amazing to see how he developed and it's about time for him to put out music, so this timing thing worked out.

And I also have this new project coming out from Brisbane. His name is Charles Murdoch you should be hearing some sounds from him soon. With the label and the direction, I'm not gonna stick with one type of sound, I wanna get experimental with it and work with different media artists, different projects, different formats. I'm still trying to figure it out at the moment, the focus is to do something different, do something new, always change.

Was there anything in particular that in inspired you to start it out - I guess for all of the reasons you just mentioned really...

It kinda all fell into my hands, having this relationship with Innovative Leisure (the LA-based label), they've always been supportive and they're excited about the record and it was just an idea they put out, it was a coincidence - and they kinda read my mind in a way and made it happen.

How do you go about laying a track down? Like from its inception and how you complete it through various software.

I find the best songs come from not really thinking at all… where I feel a natural inspiration I'll just start with the sound design to find a sound that fits the mood I'm in, and it spills from there. I usually start with the melodic elements and keep building. It's very rare for me to finish a song in one sitting. Once I loose focus, I save it and let it rest for a bit and revisit it, and the ideas that have the freshness to it, that still sounds fresh, I'll purge and put into a new folder and sit with it; and if I feel like it has some kind of quality or longevity I'll finish it.

I read that you like using Albeton Push?

Oh yeah! I've been working with them and testing it for a few months. Yeah I'd say it's a game-changer. Just their approach - it's more of a creation tool than a live performance, it's the way that.. it kinda eliminated a traditional midi controller, even a keyboard. It's interesting, to play chords they have introduces using shapes so you can make… it's hard to describe without seeing visuals so let's leave it at that.

So it sounds like you work mostly not in a studio, from your laptop. Would you consider working gin a studio environment one day? Or maybe you do now?

Well yeah I've been in a couple of times, I just really like the convenience of being able to work from home. The few times Ive been in a studio is when I'm working with an MC. I feel like I'm really sensitive to environments, I'd like to do that more if those opportunities keep coming up. In the studio when your'e collaborating it's s different energy and that inspires me.

What music have you been enjoying recently, or other mediums…

I saw a documentary recently that really inspired called Bones Brigade, it's about the Bones skate boarding team directed by Stacy Peralta and it's really amazing, it's pretty much about how skateboarding developed from the start - form Caballero, to Rodney Mullen to Hawk, just hearing from them with old footage of them when they started - that really inspired me, even with the label and everything I do - and I started skating. I messed up my wrist the other week trying to do a trick..

You got in skating only recently?

Yeah well I was skating when I was in middle school/early high school and broke my arm grinding a bench, yeah broke both bones in my arm, and my bones actually bent back (demonstrates where his bone ended up sticking out from near his elbow)

Ergh, no!

Yeah after that I was kinda like "Err maybe I should just chill" and I didn't have insurance at the time, and messed me up for awhile. So instead I got into music.

So kind of worked out, not bad right?

Hmm, I need something to get out of my house and be active again, I don't really play sports or anything. Plus with skating since I just moved downtown to LA, it's a good way to see different types of people and get inspired.

The trouble with this country - I tried to get into skating at one point - but the weather is so bad too much of the time...

Yeah I can't imagine that man! Other than going to a skatepark, I don't see any skaters here.

There's pockets of them, like in London South Bank down by the thames they've got a space there that is quite cool

Yeah I remember… by the museum/theatre? (Southbank Theatre). I know that spot!

I was gonna ask you about future collaborations but you sort of answered that with Toro Y Moi; so, in an ideal world who would you love to work with one day in some capacity?

Bjork and Ferrel. I've always been into The Neptunes, they've been one of my biggest influences. When I first started messing with production... of course there was Dre and Timbaland, but something about The Neptunes seemed to make it more accessible. They were using basic keyboards and making it sound fresh. So Pharrell, Chad Hugo and Bjork. I would have said Daito Manabe, but have checked that off the list.


At this point I wrap up the interview, but inadvertently leave the recorder running and continue talking some more about skating, the night ahead, and the how young kids are the kings of technology.


You've played London before haven't you?

Yeah I dunno how may times I've been here now, the first time I've been here was in 2008. I played music for this party called Beautiful Losers (a film)? There's a book for it as well, there's an art scene… err…. yeah it's a specific art scene, kinda street art. It's basically Terrance and Tom from Earnest Endeavours invited me even before my first album was made. So it's great to still have a relationship in 2013, to be out there.

Insane..

Yeah crazy.

I've been trying to remember this skate film I saw last year since you brought it up earlier. I can't remember it and it's been bugging me..

Is it a doc?

Yeah it's a doc… about the really old school guys?

Is it Dogtown and Z-Boys?

Yes! That's it..

It's the same director actually… you gotta see the new one Bones Bigrade, it's actually on Netflix now, it's so dope I've seen it three times already. Check it out.

So it goes through the eras, from...

Yeah from the start to now, how even street skating was born. It was all due to this dude Rodney Mullen, and Mullen he also started World Industries he was kinda like a freakshow skater, he was more of a… he invented the flatland ollie and kick flip, 'cos of the flatland ollie street skating happened. Before that it was all vert. He just made it… it was him and Lance Mountain? Mountain was on the team though he wasn't the best skater, he was like a silly dude - when they started putting out skate vids, kids were like "I can do that, I can relate to that". skating doesn't have to be about being the best, It's about…

...expressing yourself...

Yeah exactly, expressing yourself and having fun. It was a combination of those two guys, so the whole environment where they live became their skate park. It's crazy, it's still such a new sport, but I'm fascinated with it, seeing it develop - culturally too.

Yeah absolutely, the whole thing around it, spreading to different countries..

I still watch like.. there's a show I watch where they have a little profile on each skater, how they grew up what they're into, always fun. It's really interesting, they're usually crazy weird somehow got fucked up on drugs or something.

It's a late start tonight?

Yeah 12:30.. not that late really.

Depends if you've got work in the morning...

Ha yeah, it is a Thursday I guess.

There's someone supporting you actually who I know, Plaitum? It's insane they're like 17 or something?

Oh wow…

Yeah I know what the hell? I couldn't image being 17 and having the world at your fingertips, and playing big venues and stuff.

Yeah it's all getting in younger and younger...

It's depressing…

I think it's amazing, all this stuff is so accessible…

...from such a young age..

Yeah I feel all this stuff especially with music production developed AFTER high school for me. But they're in middle school starting it all.

I know right? With these people being absorbed by the Internet at such a young age? And having it at their disposal… the whole thing is second nature to them.

Exactly.

Where for me I didn't get the internet 'til I was 12/13

Yeah, they have iPhones in middle school now for example.

...having technology attached to them at birth

Yeah.. yeah 'cos YouTube only came out in 2005 we forget that, so it's crazy (us) not having YouTube in middle school, that has changed everything. You have access to so much. Before we just had MTV and encyclopaedias you know?

...actually going to the library and all that..

Yeah, it's tripping me out.


Home is out now via Innovative Leisure