Elijah Nang is a London-based experimental electronic artist who also describes himself as an audio novelist. In his music, we find a frequent homage to East Asian elements and sounds. His sound crafts a new niche in the lofi hop-hop genre, a mixture of electronica with Japanese influences, something Nang calls japtronica. In our interview with Nang, he tells us about his inspirations and influences in music, his recent work and his take on the current lofi scene.
Kyoto Connection - Birds
Elijah Nang x Misc. inc - Lotus
Bonobo - Kiara
Submerse - Snorlax
Flying Lotus - Getting there (Nikki Randa)
Ian Ewing - Midnight w/ Braxton Cook
quickly quickly - Swingtheory
Slom - It's ok ( Maverick soul )
Evil Needle - vibin in Seoul
Evil Needle - Ohayo
Eric Lau - Wee deep
Zikomo - yo yo
Eric Lau - Water
Vanilla - Setsuna
Nujabes w/ Substantial - waiting
Mark de clive - Mizugaki (reprise)
Hey, Elijah, it’s great to have you! How are you doing and where do we find you on this fine morning?
Yo Lora, I’m very well thank you and yes normally in the morning you would find me in my bedroom zipping a cup of lemon and ginger while listening to my mixes.
So tell me a little bit about the mix you made for us: how did you choose what to add in?
This mix pretty much contains all of my influences, I find myself to be quite eclectic and so this mix reflects that.
Where does your love for chillhop and instrumental hip-hop stem from? How did you get into making that type of music?
The love of chill hop and hip-hop instrumentals stem from listening to a lot of music in the 90s, but also listening to a lot of instrumentals during my college time in the early 2000s.
Where do you see that music landscape going in the future?
I think the current landscape for hip-hop and chill hop is in a good place. There seems to be a lot of sub-genres for hip-hop nowadays, it’s crazy how 6-7 years ago, Asian lofi hip-hop or Asian beats wasn’t even a thing, Now I see it see everywhere on YouTube, haha.
Why do you make music, who is it for? What is the feeling you aim to invoke?
Why do I make music? Well everybody has a story to tell, some people choose to do public speaking and some use the creative method to tell their story. I choose the creative method, it’s best way I know how. Who do I do this for? This might sound cliche, but I do it for God. I do believe I’ve received a God-given talent, so it’s only right that I don’t put it to waste. Second, I do this for my Mum. She has sacrificed a lot for me as a child and I do believe I’m only in this position because of her. Lastly, I do this for myself. Sometimes I can be my biggest critic but because of that, I always find myself going beyond my limits and the result ends up being gold.
Who and what inspires you?
What inspires me is life, the good and the bad.
You describe yourself as an audio novelist and visualizer. What does that mean?
Yes, аudio novelist means a music storyteller and as for visualizer, I think music and visual (videos) complement each other. So when I upload music on YouTube, I tend to attach my music with animation from an illustrator or videos that I have shot. I feel like when you combine the two together it brings the track to life.
Who do you work with on the artworks of your music?
When I started off my producing career it started with me, I did the photography artwork for Lost in Japan 1 and 2 and Travel EP. As for Gaijin 1 and 2, I got Wenyi Geng and Trina Hines to do the illustration. They’re both talented illustrators and I’m glad I came across them.
In your own music, you weave in a lot of East Asian elements with the hip-hop sound - are you a fan of the culture? Also I’m curious where you find these samples.
Haha yes, I am a fan of the culture haha. In regards to where I find my samples, I used to do a lot of e-digging on YouTube but nowadays, with age and experience I’ve started to play a bit more I do tend to grab a few samples on Splice, too.
With this, you are almost digging out a new niche for music, a new genre of sorts. How would you define the music you make?
Exactly, I want to set my own trend I have an idea of what I will call this genre. It’s a toss between Japtronica and Orientronica, I’m still deciding what to call it.
You released a three-track EP, The Sea Shepherd with Ian Urbina - what was that experience like?
Yeah, it was different, The Outlaw Ocean Project took me out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed making it, it’s been a dream of mine to make music for film, video games, and so on. So being able to create something for a book was a good start in terms of where I am heading.
How has the pandemic affected your work process?
It started off a little rocky but after a while, I just got on with it, it’s been a blessing in disguise because I’ve been able to get a lot of stuff done, I wouldn’t mind another lockdown hahaha.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects coming out soon?
Oh, I’m working on a lot of stuff, I’m actually excited and you guys will love what I have in store for you.
Thanks so much for your time and for letting us into your mind and creative process, Elijah! Some final words for our foxes? Anything you want to add?
Thank you Lora for having me, I would say to all our foxes don’t get too high and don’t get too low - meaning enjoy the success when it comes, but when it’s time to get back to work it’s time - and too low, meaning when things don’t go your way use that time to reflect or turn to someone that you can trust to help give you feedback so that way you can grow.