Nosaj Thing Interview X Monts (Vice Magazine)

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Subject: Nosaj Thing X Craig Monts
Title: Nosaj is Jason Backwards
Date: 11.03.2010

So I guess the whole H1N1 paranoia has died down for now right? Governments have gone back to blaming immigrants and knife crime for inner city and suburban deaths. But it got me thinking…what can you realistically catch while riding public transport? H1N1 was a big one for a while. And then there was that time that child sneezed on me during my tram commute, resulting in at least a few days in the sick bay. But what about on the positive side? Is it possible to catch say a musical taste or a penchant for producing progressive instrumental music? Don’t be too hasty with your answer. Nosaj Thing might be the first reported case.

So you grew up in Pasadena right? What’s life like over there?

I like it because it’s mellow. There’s a lot of great spots to eat and cool little shops to visit. The first ever freeway [motorway] in the states ends in Pasadena.

That must have put your ends on the map! What were your interests growing up?

I got into Hip Hop at an early age. When I was about 7 years old, my parents enrolled me in the YMCA after school program. The bus driver that picked us up from school always had on the local Hip Hop radio stations in the bus. This was when the Beat Junkies were the resident DJ’s on the air. I like it so much, I recorded many of the mix shows at home on my parents stereo.

So you could say you got your first taste of Hip Hop from the bus rides to school?

Yeah I guess you could say that! Oh, and I was also into Nintendo, Ninja Turtles, and Lego’s.

Gnarly..Did you/Do you play any instruments?

I started out on the Saxophone in 4th grade, then Clarinet. Then I joined the drum line in high school…and turntable…I was really into scratching around the same time.

Tell us about your early experiences with music.

I first started playing out at spots like The Smell and Ill Coral in LA. I was really into the noise/experimental scene, this was around 2004. Then I found out about this one off night called Shock Value from D-Styles’ message board. It was sort of the precursor to Low End Theory. Daddy Kev put together the show and on the flyer it read- ‘Whoever comes first with their gear or records get to open for the night’. So of course I did that. Then after a year Low End Theory started their weekly that I felt was the answer to what I was looking for.

When did your passion for production start? Which came first? Production or Djing?

Djing came first, when I was 12. After seeing a few DJ’s play I knew I wanted to do it. I couldn’t afford my own decks so I borrowed from like 6 different friends. Friends that got into it and lost interest worked as an advantage for me! A year later a friend of mine hooked me up with a bootleg copy of some production software. I installed it on my dads computer and was instantly hooked. At that time, I just wanted to make beats like Dre, Neptunes, and Timbaland.

What was your first set up like? (DJ & production)

Borrowed Numark decks and mixer…the crossfader bled but I still managed to learn from them. Reason and fruityloops on a crappy Celeron based computer. I couldn’t run more than 8 channels because the CPU was too weak.

Shit! That’s not the strongest of starts. When & where was your first DJ set? How did it go down?

It was probably at my high school. I remember my friend and I getting a lot of complaints because we were just playing underground joints when everyone wanted to hear Nelly.

How did your first tracks sound?

I was trying to make electro and hip hop beats like Dre/Neptunes. Then after I got into noise/experimental/indie stuff I wanted to take it further and combine those influences.

People often say some of the tracks on Drift have a neo-classica/orchestral sound. Is that intentional? Who/where does that inspiration come from?

I’m into piano works from composers like Debussy, Satie, and Chopin. I guess it’s also from being in band since the 4th grade.

When did you decide on the name Nosaj Thing? Any earlier names in your history?

I decided on that in 2005 but created the name in 97-98. I was into graffiti and was trying to figure out a tag name. I wrote my first name on a piece of paper and the ink bled through. When I turned the page I noticed Nosaj and it sounds like No Such so I put it together. It just stuck. Another nickname I had at my first job was Legohead.

Your début came out in 2006. How do you feel about it now?

I’m cool with it….I made those tracks in 2004-2005 and I was 19. It’s a different sound but I still like a couple tracks on there. The goal of that EP was to have each track sounds different with 8 tracks but I ended up doing 5.

How did the link with Alpha Pup come about?

The deal was offered after playing at Low End Theory a few times. Daddy Kev gave me a call and brought the contract at one of the nights.

I have seen video clips of your synchronised audio & art sets. Tell me more about it.

I’ve wanted to do a visual show after seeing Daft Punk and Cornelius…my girlfriend was attending design school and we met some amazing people during that time. We all collaborated and came up with the show. We’ll be debuting in Europe this year at the Sonar Festival.

Have you played in Prague before? Any expectations?

It will be my first time and apparently there is a visual team there cooking up something custom for this show. It won’t be the visual show I’ve worked on with Fair–Enough (Julia Tsao & Adam Guzman) but it looks promising based on the clips/images they have sent me.

What’s the plan for 2010, There has been blog talk about a kind of mixtape..true?

I have a remix record coming out and so far we have Dntel, 16-bit, and Daedelus. I’ll be touring the States with The XX after this Europe run and then work on my next album when I get back home.

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So with that said…hit the link and get down with the get down

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