Interview - Tycho
Ahead of Tycho's appearance in Australia he took five with us to discuss his ever-evolving music.
Scott Hansen (pictured below) is not only known as the creative force behind Tycho (where he's joined by Zac Brown and Rory O'Connor), but also as the graphic designer ISO50 who is behind the colour-merging artworks for his albums. Ahead of his national tour of Australia including an apperance at Southbound (check our Happy Camper ticket giveaway HERE) he chatted with Liam Apter about the lack of vocals in his work, how he feels closer to finding pure meaning in art over music, and the freedom of instrumental music from specific meaning.
Hi Scott, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I wanted to start at the beginning of your career back in 2001. What got you into production initially and what kinda music did you start out making/what led you to the Tycho project up to now?
LTJ Bukem, Photek and all that atmospheric drum'n'bass stuff from the 90s was what initially got me into electronic music. I later learned the equipment by trying to emulate the stuff I was hearing back then but I didn’t finish much of it. Most of the early stuff I actually finished ended up sounding a lot like DJ Shadow.
Initially you had vocals in your work but no longer, why? Would you ever utilise a vocalist or perhaps your own voice for future work?
I have a pretty organic workflow; I like to let things take on a life of their own and just channel that. I use different sounds and elements when I feel like a song is asking for it and I guess with Awake it just never felt like there was a place for vocals. I never rule anything out, I’d love to work with vocalists in the future, whether it’s for Tycho or something else.
Throughout much of the 2000s your music served as a hobby and you were involved in coding amongst other things. Is there any kind of parallels to draw between production and coding?
Coding is a really creative pursuit, there are a lot of parallels between that and my process for both musical and visual work. I think it’s all mainly about solving problems and finding the most elegant solution.
Furthermore, as you are primarily an electronic musician do you see yourself preferring electronic or analogue equipment?
If you mean analogue vs digital then I would say I have no preference. I use computers to record, I use digital plugins as effects a lot of the time; I use virtual software instruments a lot too. The debate about analogue vs digital is pointless; it’s just about picking the right tool for a particular job.
You’re also not just a musician but a visual designer called ISO50 and in your ‘About’ section you describe your art as a search for efficiency in the sense that you take the most direct route to the message. Does this shift into your music?
I’ve practiced visual art for most of my life so I feel like I’m closer to finding more pure ways of expressing my ideas in that medium. Music is relatively new to me so I’m still learning and searching. I think over time I will find more efficient ways to express my musical ideas but at this point I think I am still just experimenting and searching.
I also read in your AMA where you talked about you talked about your music implying emotion rather than defining it. Could you expand on this?
That’s the beauty of music; it can be radically different things to different people and the original intention of the artist isn’t any more valid than the interpretation of the listener. Instrumental music takes that one step further; without lyrics there is no potential to infer meaning from them and so the listener is left entirely to their own imagination when deciding what a song means to them.
As a visual designer you also control the projections used in your live sets and I’ve read that you see visuals as part of the music you create. Where does the visual aspect come into things as part of the songwriting process?
The visuals always come after the music. I always see imagery when creating or listening to music and the visuals are just an attempt to translate some of that into reality.
In 2011 you signed a deal with Ghostly to release your third record. I heard that in the process due to a lack of understanding you signed away your masters to them. Which you explained felt strange, not owning your own tracks. Is this the case with the tracks you release now as well?
I think the point of that statement got a little convoluted in the article you’re referring to. What I was trying to say was that I just wish I had been more educated when I signed that contract. I blindly entered into an agreement which dictated and still dictates my career as a musician; that was just ignorant. Perhaps if I had been better educated I still would have done the same, there’s no way of knowing and hindsight is 20/20. But whatever the case, Ghostly has been instrumental in my success and has been fully supportive of everything I’ve wanted to do as an artist.
Furthermore, with the release of Awake you talked about focusing on music professionally as opposed to it just being something you’ve done around other forms of work. I always imagined taking that step to be as liberating as it is maybe adding some stress to proceedings?
It was certainly liberating but yes, with it came some very real and at times stressful responsibilities. Being a professional musician in 2014 isn’t easy or simple by any means.
With Dive, that record took place over a few years of recording due to other work commitments but Awake was much shorter, only eight months as you focused on it entirely. Which method did you prefer?
I preferred Awake simply because it led to a more focused expression of a time and place in my life. Dive was more of a compilation than an album; some of those songs were written five or six years apart.
Following your Australian tour how’s 2015 shaping up release/tour wise for Tycho?
I think we’ll be doing some US stuff leading into the summer festival circuit, going to be a fun year I think.
TYCHO AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
30 Dec - Falls Festival, Marion Bay, TAS
31 Dec - Falls Festival, Lorne, VIC
1 Jan - Field Day, Sydney, NSW
2 Jan - Falls Festival, Byron Bay, NSW
4 Jan - Southbound, Busselton, WA
8 Jan - The Hi-Fi, Melbourne, VIC
10 Jan - The Hi-Fi, Sydney, NSW
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