Q&A: Nosaj Thing

The  Red Bull Megahurtz event is just around the corner now and if you're as excited as we are about it than you are just counting down the hours (23) until the shit hits the fan. Musical modulator and charming innovator Nosaj Thing (a.k.a. Jason Cheung) hails from the City of Angels, just dropped his first full length LP, Drift, and is en-route to melt faces with the debut of his Sync Live AV set at Megahurtz. One of Lookout's own got the chance to ask Nosaj Thing some questions. Look below for the interview.

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Lookout: Just to start off, the demo video for your new Synced Visual Show is absolutely mind blowing. What was the inspiration for bringing such innovation to the live show, how exactly do you manipulate visual features, and are you excited to debut the show at MegaHurtz?

Nosaj Thing: I got inspired to do a live visual show after seeing Cornelius play a couple years ago. It was the idea of creating an experience instead of the just having the typical visuals for the music. The whole show came together naturally...my girlfriend, Julia Tsao and our friend Adam Guzman are currently in the media design program and Art Center College of Design. Julia has an interest in experience design and Adam is interested in tying his visual work with music. We just kept building ideas and created clips using Adobe After Effects. The show is controlled with Modul8 and M-Audio midi controllers. We are very excited that we are getting this amazing opportunity to makme this show come to life.

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Lookout: You recently dropped a new album, titled Drift, alongside some serious remixes for Flying Lotus and Daedelus. Is there an aspect of the production spectrum, original or remix, that you prefer to work with?

Nosaj Thing: It's fun to work on remixes because the challenge but I prefer to work on original music. Writing music is therapeutic for me and I feel most satisfied when starting with a blank canvas.

Lookout: There seems to be a lot of synergy within LA's creative community, as evidenced by your collaboration with LA institution Undefeated, which put out a limited edition shirt in honor of you album Drift. What has it really been like coming up and living in Los Angeles?

Nosaj Thing: I've been living here all my life and I've been exposed to music everywhere I go. I got into hip hop when I was in 4th grade! My school's bus driver always had the local hip hop radio station locked. This was when the Beat Junkies were the residents. Right now, the community is so rich with amazing artists and it's been very inspiring for everyone.

Lookout: You're coming off a big year, including a new album, seemingly nonstop tour dates, and the development of a whole take on the live show. What does the coming year hold for you?

Nosaj Thing: I started working on my next album and hope to do more live shows with the visual concept.

Interview by Liam O'Keef

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Q&A: Speakerbruiser of Megasoid

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Taking into account everything that Rob "Speakerbruiser" Squire has accomplished in his time as Montreal's resident Renaissance man, simply running through a laundry list of his contributions wouldn't truly serve them justice.  Luckily, he's made it easy to grasp the quality aesthetic he's brought over the years to the Montreal creative community. Just visit Weaponshouse, his boutique design house based out of Mile End, and let your eyes wander over the collection of objects presented on the homepage. A number of themes and aesthetics emerge, the contrasting elements of which are central to understanding Squire's art. The inklings of a classical aesthetic,  a presence suggested through the Italian riding gloves, the vintage razor, and archetypal glasses, are in turn made hostile through the implications of the brass knuckles. The professional design tools are compounded by the well worn fat-tipped markers and graff sketchbook, clear accessories of a proud delinquency. Somewhere in the balance lies Squire's style; constantly suspended between the clean lines of a Pantone production catalogue and irresistible recklessness. Of course, the grand image is dominated by the musical equipment - a sampler, drum machine, and synthesizer, each of which will be ritually used and liberally abused during Thursday's MegaHurtz event at Cabaret Juste Pour Rire. The Megahurtz promises to be a very special show for Rob's group Megasoid, as he is currently completing an extensive relocation away from Montreal. For a complete list of the man's accomplishments, check the information section on the weaponshouse site

Lookout Presents: You’ve cycled through a number of musical identities and collectives over the years. What precipitated the shift to making music under the name Sixtoo to your current moniker SPKRBRUZR?

Speakerbruiser Rob: Truthfully, I'm not quite sure. I have always had a number of visible monikers... Even Sixtoo projects sometimes labelled under different names such as 'Six Vicious' or 'Weaponshouse'  or 'S&N' releases. I suppose truthfully, I am just not ready to assume responsibility for all of my creative pursuits being judged under the guise of one visible career, when I do, I will probably just update my entire discography as Vaughn Robert Squire. Until then, I suppose I will continue to release things with different names, with different extensions and ideas attached to them. I like having different titles to be able to attach myself to, and being able to explore very different angles within the umbrella of electronic music that I make. Speakerbruiser is pretty appropriate though. I like loud heaters, and that is pretty much what i am playing and making right now, I will probably hold onto it for a while.

LP:   Megasoid, your collaboration with Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade, is one of the most exciting acts to recently come out of Montreal. What can you tell us about how you two teamed up, how you create your distinct sound, and what we can expect to hear in the future?

SR: We started messing around with synths and drum-machines a few years back, after I blew up a modular synth that I borrowed of him. Hadji is one of the most brilliant programmers I know in terms of electronic music, and our chemistry with music was very natural... as a matter of fact, as we strive to start making music that exists outside of the blog/remix context, we have found it harder than we expected to make cohesive, good music, and not just making heaters that work in the club. We are taking our time, and have slowed our output in order to ensure that our 'real' releases are

We will be releasing our first official EP on Ninjatune sometime this fall. Should be interesting. Lot of rappers on it. It is music that we both stand behind, and I am excited to see what people think about it. Read More ↓

LP:  During Pop Montreal, Megasoid will be playing the Red Bull MegaHurtz A/V experience, by far one of the festival’s most anticipated shows. Do you and Hadji have anything new up your sleeves for the event?

SR: Well, I suppose the main thing is that we are not be playing together as Megasoid. For now, I will be the visible representation of Megasoid. Most recently we made the decision (due to travel distances and responsibilities / pursuits outside of music on both of our parts) that it was best for the band for me to handle the live performance of Megasoid material, and for Hadji to be my creative studio partner. We have really had some amazing times together onstage, I truthfully have always felt more comfortable without the accountability of having 'players chemistry' all the time...

We are both pretty intense individuals and as such, it comes out in our personalities in and out of music... we are best as creatives that come together and make things and not people that should be surrounded by each other all the time.  That being said, Hadji is my favorite person in the world to make music with, I think he is an incredibly dynamic individual that deserves to follow his passions outside of music..  and that it will ultimately be best for Megasoid for me to be the live extension of our collaborative outlet.

Perhaps when the LP drops we might do another 2-man AV show, but who knows, I guess time will tell. Until then, I am busting ass to make our shows something that stands alone in electronic music, with a philosophy about it carved out by two people with similar passions.

LP:  Your Turbo Crunk events were definitely some of the best parties Montreal has ever seen. What do you think makes them so good and will we see a return anytime soon?

SR: Thank you! I am really glad you liked them. I think it was a very special time for music in general, but especially for Montreal, being able to be the visible alternative to all the 'club club' music that was dominating dance-floors for the last couple of years, and for Montreal to be worldwide contemporary to the visible laptop beat scenes.

I think that most of the people involved with Turbo Crunk have an expansive knowledge of music, combined with an amazing group of residents and locals (Seb Diamond + Hovatron [both ex-Mofomatronix]  Lunice, Blingmod, Ango, Ghislain, Khiasma) being supported/co-signed by everyone from Zoobizarre to High Food to Peer Pressure to Mutek and MEG really made for some exciting things to happen. I also take a lot of pride in being able to say that we taste-made a lot of people that did their first shows here, and that we have in-turn built up good fan-bases for them enabling alot of our good freinds to return and be on bills that are bigger than the events we have promoted....

Getting to play alongside people like Theophilus London, Machinedrum, 215, Hudmo, Rustie, Mike Slott, Lorn, Nosaj Thing, Glitch Mob, Modeselektor has been nothing short of amazing. I am actually planning to move to the west coast for a bit, and as such Turbo Crunk has been put on ice... That being said, the Super Aqua Club team has joined forces with Duval (who we all love) and they together will be promoting events under the 'Night Trackin'' Moniker... all of which I am sure will be exciting and well curated, and that deserve peoples support. I love my Montreal team, and would just like to extend a little shoutout to everyone that came, was involved, performed, rocked out, had a great time, or hated it... we couldn't have had such an amazing time with music without everyone that came.

LP:  This year’s St. Jean-Baptiste Bridge Burner Party, which you threw in conjunction with Khiasma and Poirier, was insane! How did the original Bridge Burner come about and how did this year’s compare?

SR: Megasoid did the first bridge burner a few years back, with just a PA in a Van, rocking out until the cops came. It was awesome. I mean, personally, I always prefer renegade events over sanctioned ones (Olivier's loft parties, Scott's rooftop, Our Pop After hours party were really my favorite events in this city)... but Bridge Burner has really become an amazing event, mostly because it has received support from a good diverse group of people... with great promoters getting on deck, Pop Montreal, RedBull, Mike D, Khiasma, Ghislain and a lot of heavyweight local volunteers. This years was the biggest, and most visible, and most successful, but truthfully, the first one will always hold the space in my heart.

LP:  Your design firm, Weaponshouse, is a Montreal cultural institution with work spread out over just about every creative discipline. Could you explain what it is you do at Weaponshouse and what drives you to do it?

SR: I have always considered myself a visual artist and designer first and foremost, but somewhere along the line, I got lucky with music and started paying my rent off it and it in turn got priority. I like to travel, like the interactions but mostly like performing for people, in both a DJ and musicians context.

Weaponshouse is a work for hire  creative house that does high end production work of all sorts... everything from graphic design to industrial design to custom jewelry and clothing for friends. I will soon be setting up a digital label and licensing house attached to it, and will be doing some textile work as well, in case anyone is seriously interested, the site has been stripped down to a bare bones resume, but will be back up with a new site soon. Megasoid's website should be up in a couple days as well.

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