An Interview with Tycho - An Evolving Visually Immersive Experience

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If you ever have moments where you think the world is not an amazingly beautiful place, the fastest way to nullify that incorrect sentiment is by listening to Tycho. Better yet, get yourself to a Tycho show, and you will be taken on a journey that will inspire, soothe, and show you everything sublime this creative universe has to offer.

Tycho is the electronic ambient music project started by Scott Hansen, also known for his visual art work in photography and design by the name ISO50. Evolving from a solely electronic focus to incorporate more organic elements, and a strong live performance, Tycho is an established name in the electronic music scene but still very much on the rise, and things have really launched to the cosmos with Tycho's latest release Awake. The world tour that is currently underway is not one to miss, and I dare say it is a borderline religious experience going to any of these shows.

If you are not already a Tycho fan, you need to spend some quality time with the entirety of the Tycho catalogue. However, I will break it down like this, Tycho makes the type of music that allows your soul to breathe, and your mind to wander to wonderful, beautiful places. It is electronic music that inspires meditation, but when experienced live, gets festivals and shows really moving.

When I spoke with Scott Hansen, he lived up to every expectation I had as a fan and an interviewer. As well produced and thoughtful as his music, Scott Hansen's composure and style is one that inspires you. He is the guy that you set as the standard, a man that can execute ideas from mind to reality with grace and precision.

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How is touring this year going so far?

It’s great, we’ve been touring pretty extensively. We are in the summer doing one offs, festivals, so it’s been nice, pretty chill for the last couple of months. In the fall, we’re starting back up and go back on the road full time. We’re going to Europe, doing the U.S., doing a bunch of stuff.

You have played the Fillmore and now you are at Outside Lands, how does it feel to be the hometown band that has skyrocketed from grassroots to a world renowned band?

It’s been a pretty crazy year. It’s really nice, this has been a nice end cap, with the Fillmore. We started technically in Santa Cruz, at the Catalyst, but to have those two hometown shows and then being here is a nice way to step back and review what has happened. It’s been good.

I loved you at the Fillmore show by the way.

We were so scared of that show. That was basically our first real show after taking the album and trying to produce it and trying to make it something that would work for the live context. There was a lot of stress going into that, but it worked out!

What have been some of your highlight shows this year? Anything crazy to report? Or just a lot of fun and beautiful moments?

I mean there have been so many. There have been a few highlights I think, the Fillmore was definitely one of them. We did a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis and that was pretty amazing. One in Orlando that was crazy, but I think the one that topped them all was Electric Forest. We kind of went there, we didn’t really know what to expect, and it ended up being this amazing crowd, a lot of good feedback from the audience.

How do you feel the Tycho style and sound has evolved?

You know, it used to be me doing decidedly electronic stuff. I would put some organic elements in there, but I started working with the other guys for the live shows. Bringing in Zac on bass and guitar and Rory on drums and then after touring with them for a while I realized that’s what I wanted the next album to sound like, and that is what ‘Awake’ was.

I think it has become a little more driven, which is what the live show was always about; a little bit more guitar centric, and the live drums have come to the forefront and the electronic stuff serves as the backdrop. So, just some minor shifts, but that has been the evolutionary trajectory.

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Your visuals are striking and a huge component of your shows. Does as much time and energy go into the visual component as the music? Do they inform each other? Or what exactly is your visual philosophy?

With the visuals, it’s more of a function of necessity and time and all that. The music I definitely put more work into. I could put as much into the visuals for what I envision the visuals eventually becoming, there will be about as much work, but right now I just don’t have the time because you have to produce the live show; the music part, you have to produce the album and all that stuff, so the visuals definitely come second. That being said, I am a visual artist by trade so it’s always come a little bit easier to me than the music.

There’s always a lot of interplay between the two, but I definitely think it’s more the music informing the visuals because the visuals come second. I always try to cater those to the show because at the end of the day, the show is all about the performance of the music, and the visuals are a secondary component I think.

As far as what is my philosophy on the whole thing? I want Tycho to be perceived as an immersive audio visual experience and the album is one component and the graphic design is another component and the performance is one, but the only place it all comes together is definitely the live shows. So, for me, that’s what this is really all about, producing a record is just a means to an end to have content for the live show, and that is where all the elements come together, and that is where it becomes the most powerful and immersive.

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What are your favorite songs on the the latest album? Or do you just absolutely love the entire composition as a whole?

It’s hard to really be objective about your own music. I am definitely proud of the whole record, but there are some high points just because of more of technical achievement where things that you envisioned actually you were able to achieve them. Overall, I like to think of that record as a solid piece, I wanted it to be very cohesive and to be very clearly defined like this is a singular work whereas the stuff in the past was more the result of several years of working on stuff.

With every show I see that you design a unique poster, where do you find the time for these amazing designs? I understand you are a professional designer, but I am curious as to your process for creating them.

Finding time has been difficult lately, but usually in the back of a vehicle somewhere. You know on the road from one show to another. When I do have time, like I was here this week, and I was able to design a couple posters for upcoming shows. So I will try and work as much stuff as I can out in advance, but most of the time it’s done in a green room or hotel or a van somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

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Who and what are some of your inspirations and influences?

Obviously Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss are kind of the core of the whole thing. I had initial influences like Roni Size and LTJ Bukem, and the whole drum and bass movement in the 90’s, but when I heard DJ Shadow’s ‘Entroducing’ and then I heard ‘Music has the Right to Children’ (Boards of Canada) and then ‘Far Away Trains Passing By’ by Ulrich, that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, there’s a different way of looking at electronic music than just dance or really heavy sounds.’ So yeah, they form the basis, and then from there, I kind of pretty much only listened to rock and indie rock. Originally I just listened to classic rock and heavy metal, so I have always been trying to find a way to incorporate that and that has been what has been going on lately with the new stuff.

Who are some bands right now that you absolutely love?

Mac Demarco. I love ‘Salad Days’, been listening to that a lot, I really like it too as well as his other album. Tame Impala is definitely one of my favorite bands, I listen to them a lot too.

What are your favorite places in San Francisco?

Oh man! There’s a lot! I have lived here off and on for about twenty years, so everywhere. This park is definitely one of my favorite places to spend time. There is so much to find in here, explore around and find places you’ve never been before.

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Photo Credits:
Reuben Wu
Theonepointeight
Kirk Williams

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