By Andrew R. Mott
CALGARY – Nosaj Thing, who is colloquially known as electronic producer/composer/performer Jason Chung, has released his fourth full-length studio LP Parallels. To celebrate, he is taking the release out on a two month North American tour.
Chung’s previous full-length LP tour (Fated) travelled through Houston, where the theft of all of his equipment and digital archives occurred, triggering an opportunity to reassess. In a crushing state of deep loss, Chung resiliently pushed forward with the support of his fans and friends to acquire a fresh set of equipment and a clean slate to start over with. Heading into that fateful tour, Chung had been heavily focused on collaboration in the visual realm to create an immersive experience; with his rebound production EP, No Reality, he did just that, stringing together a cohesive set of five tracks and visuals that left concert goers awestruck.
With Parallels, Chung has created an album that takes the listener on a dark journey, replete with oscillating emotions and sonic reflections. While Steve Spacek, Kazu Makino and Zuri Marley’s vocal contributions to the record helped push Chung’s experimentations further in the instrumental aspects of the music, there are to be no collaborations when Chung takes the music visual.
“Actually, for this tour, it’s going to be the first time that I’m performing solo, even with the visual aspect of it,” Chung says.
“You know in the past I worked with graphic designers, animators and programmers and this time around I’m going to be experimenting more with light and space.”
This statement may come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who’s experienced a live Nosaj Thing performance recently, but the illuminating aspect of it is that the reset and rebound of Chung’s career have helped him to take full personal control of the concert experience on this tour.
“I’m programming lasers and lights and seeing where I can take it. Pretty much just experimenting with the space of the venue… I’m trying to program in non-traditional ways that I haven’t seen before and program to movements in a way that I kind of envision to my music. I’m going to be programming the lights with each song and getting really detailed with it.”
This move away from collaborating with visual artists to venture into the creation and marriage of music with light is really born from the combination of aspiration and discontentment in a creative minimalist seeking to enter the trance of production.
“I think I’m feeling just a little bit exhausted from how we consume everything, like news, basically, social media and our phones and everything. It’s just so stressful. Sometimes I want to throw my phone out the window, like, once a week or something. I just want to sit at home and make ambient music and channel out?”
So Chung’s immersed himself in the task of creating a flexible multi-sensory set, pushing his skill set further and reaching deeper into the process to push his influence fully across the venue.
“I’m a little bit frustrated, and actually it feels weird for me as a performer playing electronic music, when everyone’s just facing the stage. You know, I’m not up there singing or playing guitar like a traditional band or whatever. I’m used to just working in the studio or in a room. That’s kind of the reason that I started doing visuals in the first place. ‘Cause I just didn’t like the idea of everyone paying attention to what I’m doing on stage. I don’t think it’s that interesting with a midi controller and drum machine up there. It’s kind of distracting (me) from being able to perform. You know, sometimes electronic music isn’t designed to be performed on stage with a whole crowd watching, so I thought it would go hand in hand bringing a visual element in [to] play, because light has some distance, some range to it, it’s something you can kind of feel. With a laser you can feel it, it has an energy that it sends, cause it reaches to the end of the room.”
This desire to personally create the visual experience of his music on stage has helped Chung find a greater sense of reward as a performing artist, shifting his focus from just playing his music to that of helping people to see what he envisions.
“I’m actually just really excited about it, because I feel that it’s going to be more of an output of what I have in my head. I love collaborating cause things come out that I’d never even imagined, but it’s also interesting to make things visually that you have in your head that you can share, especially if you’re also making music too. I think that’s kind of rare.”
Nosaj Thing performs September 11 at the Commonwealth Bar & Stage (Calgary), September 13 at Amigos Catina (Saskatoon), and September 14 at the West End Cultural Centre (Winnipeg).Amigos Catina, commonwealth Bar & Stage, Nosaj Thing, West End Cultural Centre