Interview: Tycho

Tycho’s “Dive” is one of our favorite albums released this year. Recently I was lucky enough to sit down with San Fransisco’s own Scott Hansen at FYF Fest to discuss Tycho’s recent album, his new live show, and finding himself in the desert.

Videography has always been a big part of your show. How does your videography become a part of your creative process?

I redid all the visuals for the new live show; I worked with a new director. We just went out shot a bunch of stuff on Red cameras. We got helicopters and we got models. Storyboarded some kinds of scenes then I composited it all in Premiere and then just did all the effecting. I then used vdmx so the live show is all linked together.

You are about to embark on a new North American tour—what are you excited for the most?

I am just really excited to be on tour with The Album Leaf. They have definitely been a big influence on my music and I have never gotten the chance to meet or see them. It is going to be awesome. We start the tour tomorrow night and I am really excited for it.

What do you expect to get out of FYF Fest tonight?

Well I was really excited to hear we were going to be playing after dark because I was worried that we would be playing during the day. The new visuals do not really work so well during the day. From the looks of it, it feels a lot like a Treasure Island meets Sasquatch vibe. Seems like it is going to be really cool. The bands that are on the lineup are amazing.

On that note, what is your favorite festival that you have ever played?

Probably Sasquatch. It is really beautiful up there, I loved it. We just played this year and it was amazing.

Are you working at all on new music on the road?

I work mostly on visuals and graphics on the road. I use a pretty hardware-intensive set up for the music, so there is not much I can do on the road, which is unfortunate. I am kind of trying to switch that so I can at least do arrangements and edits on the road. But right now it is not set up for something like that. Which is on the other hand kind of fine, I do tweak the older songs for the live show and try to keep evolving that so it’s fresh. We record our sound checks and mess around for new things with the next album.

Do you have any releases or remixes coming out soon?

My process is very protracted and I think I like to take my time and really give my music the benefit of quite a bit of perspective. I like to give myself a longtime between the initial inspiration and finishing the track. I really want to let this thing slow-cook I guess you could say. But I have a ton of material and got some new songs pretty finished, but right now I am kind of in the remix mode. I have been doing a lot of remixes recently.

Will you be playing any tonight?

Yeah I will. Actually funny enough I will be playing one that got rejected as a remix because it is too different from the song I guess. It just ended up being its own new beast.

What inspired your last album “Dive?

Right before I started working on “Dive” I had a really tough year and I kind of took a year off and I had some trouble in my personal life. I took a trip out to the desert and just spent a lot of time out there by myself. I just was thinking a lot of things over and I came back really inspired. I came back and buried myself and just decided that it was time to really focus on music and not just half-ass it. I stopped doing extracurricular things like graphics and spent a solid year with the album. It was a really incredible experience. My life was just spiraling out of control and I just needed some time to myself. I feel now like I am in a really good place to start again. I learned so much from my time off and I do not think I will make the same mistakes.

What desert did you head out to?

I spent most my time out at Black Rock in Nevada. Actually ironically enough I just came back from Burning Man out in Black Rock. I go every year and it is a lot of fun. Burning Man is really what you make it. My whole thing out there is that a lot of my friends are all engineers and it is all about building and creating and radical self-reliance. It is a beautiful environment and it just about being in a community of people who are all really in the same state and on the same wavelength. I am not a new-agey type of person in general, but when you get out there you really start to realize that there is something going on spiritually.

Would you ever want to contribute to Burning Man by playing?

Well I try to contribute in whatever ways I can, and I would love to play sometime. Someone just needs to ask me! I guess the opportunity has not really presented itself.

What initially spawned your passion for music?

In college I never made music because it never really occurred to me to learn how it was made. I listened to a lot of rock and heavy-metal. I heard “Logical Progression” and “Reprazent” and all that drum and bass movement in the early 90’s really inspired me to think about what are these sounds. A friend gave me a broken drum machine and I ended up at a music store. That was the beginning of it. Around 22 or so is when I really got into making music.

I am really into drum and bass as well. I really like how some of your songs off your album are more ambient with a kind of Boards of Canada feel yet at the same time it is a bit more upbeat. Can you tell me how you balance your music between the more ambient and the more upbeat?

Definitely the impetus for learning how to make music was Bristol Sound and DJ Shadow. Drum and bass inspired me to make music, but I always knew that I really did not want to make drum and bass. I listen to a lot of French house to so I had a lot that too. But Boards of Canada are what really crystalized in my mind the idea of this other way of looking at electronic music. It does not have to be dancey. It does not have to be hip–hop. It can be this other much more psychedelic thing and that is the space that I wanted to occupy.

Where do you think you fit in to the booming electronic music scene today?

Man that is really hard to say, that is the thing that made the process so long. 6 years between albums was a very long time. I do not feel like that album was that different then “Dive”, but with the whole chill-wave boom that went on while I was gone, I guess I get lumped in with that genre. I don’t really see it that way because chill-wave is a more recent development. I do however see some overlap so I guess it is easy to throw me in with bands like Com Truise and Toro Y Moi. I really would be the wrong person to ask I guess.

What can we expect from you next?

Really focused on the live show as its own work in and of itself. I want it to be this experience you can take away with you. I am still evolving the visuals which will be done this year and I want to go back in the studio sometime early next year. I think I could see a live DVD possibly coming along in the near future. I am definitely going to do a book of my design work soon. I have not released any of my work in nearly 5 years.

Check out a recent remix of Tycho’s “A Walk” as well as our recent coverage of FYF Fest.

Follow Kevin @kpcamps.