“I don’t know,” says Jason Chung, a.k.a. L.A.-born experimental electronic producer Nosaj Thing, in response to the first question of the interview. He follows with a few seconds’ pause. He’s just waking up in an Atlanta hotel room, and maybe it’s too early in the day for him to explain how he knows when an album—specifically his forthcoming third solo LP Fated, out May 5—is finished in his mind. “It’s kind of hard for me,” he eventually continues. “I need a deadline or something, or else I’ll keep making new sketches and pretty much never finish anything.”
And that’s really about it: Fated stakes no claims to being fueled by personal strife or any grand conceptual framework, but that shouldn’t be confused for a lack of depth or ambition. Coming off 2013’s Home, a record Chung describes as “really personal” and for which he didn’t tour extensively, Fated is about finding the beauty in simplicity.
“It was more fun to make this record,” says Chung on the phone. “This time I just tried to keep it simple and not to overthink it. I just tried to disconnect myself from whatever was popping in the music world or whatever. I just tried to disconnect myself and do my own thing, just make whatever sounded good to me.”
In that sense, the album gives listeners a glimpse of an artist confident in his creative powers and far from complacent about how far he can push them. Tracks like “Moon” and “Medic” are economic in their use of sounds and time, forming an evocative, subdued electronic aesthetic that feels richly textured without being overproduced. When he does call upon guests to help (Whoarei on “Don’t Mind Me” and Chance the Rapper on “Cold Stares”), they fit seamlessly into the vibe he’s created instead of taking it over.
“These days I’m more into working with artists and collaborating, and there are more opportunities than before,” says Chung, who’s produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi and Busdriver. “That’s what I originally wanted to do when I started. I just wanted to do rap. But I was really young, wasn’t as connected. I think it was a good thing because it made me go further into left field. I was just more into making weird beats and noise and getting more experimental. ”
Perhaps most importantly, Fated also gives Chung new motivation to go back on tour, including a stop at Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday.
“I think lots of electronic music is really boring to watch live,” says Chung with a knowing laugh. I don’t want to really perform until I have a set that I would actually enjoy playing and seeing. This time around, I’m incorporating some more live elements with the drum machine. Just gives me that flexibility to change things up, extend some grooves and things like that.”
Some audiences won’t immediately notice, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Chung may have simplified his creative process, but his music remains anything but basic.
“I just never want to do the same records twice,” he says. “I’m always going to change my approach and change formats and just keep pushing myself.”
NOSAJ THING W/ CLARK. TUES 4.7. BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL, 158 BRIGHTON AVE., ALLSTON. 617-779-0140. 8PM/18+/$15. NOSAJTHING.COM