Tycho: Ambient by Design

July 25th, 2013

San Francisco native Scott Hansen, aka Tycho, is an ambient music artist and producer, who is known as ISO50 for his photographic and design works. On top of all that he has the nerve to be humble. We caught up with him a few days before his first-ever live DJ set.

Which did you find first, photography, design, or music?

Visual art just in general. I think I found photography and design right around the same time I found music but I was doing art my whole life but not until I was 22 did I realize what design was and what electronic music was. That’s from a production standpoint.

I watched the Electronic Emotions tribute to you on YouTube. How does it feel to get this kind of tribute?

What is this?

It’s an Electronic Emotions video tribute to you that’s on youtube. Have you seen it?

No I’ve never even heard of it.

It’s really beautiful.

Yeah cool I’ll have to check it out. But in general seeing stuff like that is always kind of a trip it’s extremely flattering and humbling. I’m just always thankful that anybody besides me actually wants to listen to my music so I feel really fortunate for that.

Is there anything in particular that influences the way you use guitars in your music?

Yeah I guess there’s people using them in a much more non-literal fashion, but I definitely try to lean in that direction of it not just being typical rock out guitar tone but at the same time on this album we’ve done a lot of kinda of come more to the center with some of the guitar tones but still put that other worldly psychedelic vibe to it just to make it fit with the synths.

Are there any of your songs that are really important to you? That embody who you were when you wrote them?

Yes definitely. Elegy which is the last song off the last album was definitely kind of a personal time and place type song. Also the remix I did for Little Dragon. The music from that. Those are two written really quick during a specific period. Those I kind of look back on and they’re the more successful instances where I was able to take that raw emotion and turn it into something tangible whereas the other songs kind of evolved on their own and I just kind of shepherded them along.

What’s it like performing with a live band? Has it influenced the way you record new music?

That’s been the most intensely revelatory experience of my whole career. Just getting together with those guys and starting to actually broach performing live. I didn’t like what I was doing before because I didn’t feel I was able to connect with the audience. I’m not really a very engaging personality so getting to the point where we’re doing all the songs live and we’re up there feeling that connection with the audience has really been great. To hear what we were doing during soundcheck of the sets and hear what it sounded like — I realized that this was the sound I wanted to capture for the next album. So I’ve worked with Rory O’Connor and Zachary Brown. Zachary’s the bassist and guitarist and Rory is drums. I worked with them a lot on this record so it’s definitely more of a band type record.

Lots of people are excited about your show this Friday in San Francisco. What’s your favorite part of playing a DJ set?

I’ve really only done one I think as a DJ set and this was five or six years ago. It was more of an ambient set where I just mixed together a bunch of stuff. This is the first time I’ve ever put together a real DJ set. It’s exciting because I really enjoy the idea of being able to play music that I enjoy from other people and mixing it all together with my influences. It’s a fun break from the normal live show that we do that’s all Tycho. It’ll be good to have other people’s stuff in there.

Is there anything else you’re really excited about?

Yes turning the album into a live show. I can’t wait to get back out on the road early next year.

Knobtweakers: If you happen to be in the bay area, don’t miss Friday’s show.

P.S. We tracked down Electronic Emotions to get his thoughts on the Tycho tribute:

My inspiration for the Tycho tribute came from his music. He has a unique sound that can easily stir emotions. Having videos to his music can increase the whole experience. His stage performance is similar, combining strong visuals that go hand in hand with that beautiful awe inspiring electronic sound. He is one of the best electronic music artists and I think he deserves it.

One Response to “Tycho: Ambient by Design”

  1. Athena says:

    Tycho is amazing. Nice interview!