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Finding the Center, with Tycho - August 1, 2018 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Finding the Center, with Tycho

Despite the serenity of its music, Tycho’s schedule is anything but relaxing. Between the constant touring and steady stream of new outputs, Scott Hansen, the brainchild behind Tycho, is itching to get back in the studio to continue work on the new album, which has been in the works for the past seven months.

“By the time this is all over, it’ll have been 14 months — which is more than enough,” Hansen says, adding that that’s the longest time he’s had to lavish on any of the four Tycho studio albums since the project began more than a decade ago.

The most recent, Epoch, is a notable sonic departure from the previous efforts Dive and Awake. Hansen says he was “taking those cold, Radiohead-ish electronic elements, and bringing those in, because I was always into warm, organic sounds in the past. So I tried to bring something a little darker into the mix.”

Growing up listening to rock bands, Hansen says, “I always wanted to incorporate those sounds from the rock world into my own stuff, and that’s kind of what Awake was about, pushing it further in that direction.” Hansen continues, “The show was the first thing that became rock and organic, and then I started bringing more of those elements back onto the album. That’s what Awake was a reaction to, doing that extended touring with a full band.

“I used to do this with just me and a laptop and a few synths, and then I got a guitar and branched out from there,” Hansen says of Tycho’s live performances, which have evolved into a four-piece group backed by visuals. “But even back then, as electronic as the music was, I didn’t feel like it was representative of the album. It wasn’t really re-creating it live.”

Indeed, Tycho’s transcendental live performances are worthy of the hype — especially at Burning Man, where the band’s highly praised sunrise sets have become something of a staple.

The demand for Tycho has seen the group embark on an endless tour cycle, but one venue sticks out as special for Hansen, and it’s not in the Black Rock Desert.

“There are certain venues that have this built-in audience, to an extent,” he says. “The prime example is Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. The whole Colorado scene feels like the center of this certain sound and live music culture that have some big parallels between what we do and what they appreciate.”

Citing Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss as primary influences for the new material — much like his earlier releases — Hansen acknowledges that the new album is unlikely to see its release until early next year. He attributes the lengthy production cycle to “not feeling as much external inspiration.

“It’s more internal,” he says. “This one feels more like I went and experienced these two extremes, and I learned a lot of lessons, and now I’m kind of returning to the center.”

When speaking of potential vocal collaborations, Hansen leaves the door open, explaining, “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve done it in very limited and abstract ways in the past, using voices, but I’ve always wanted to do it in a more literal way.”

Known in visual design and photography circles as ISO50, Hansen creates all of the cover art for Tycho’s releases.

“The imagery I’ve had in my head this time while writing the songs throughout this process are very different than what the resulting album will be at the end of it,” Hansen explains of his creative process regarding the album’s art. “It needs to follow the path of the album.”

With only two festival shows, including Outside Lands, as Tycho’s only scheduled performances for the rest of the calendar year, Hansen is keeping his priorities straight.

“I’m really focused right now on writing the new material and producing. The next two shows are really the end of the Epoch tour cycle.” Hansen continues, “I like the idea of keeping eras and keeping things compartmentalized.”

As the night falls on the Epoch epoch, fans of the group have every reason to excite themselves for the dawn of a new era of Tycho.

Tycho, Saturday, Aug. 11, 6:15-7:05 p.m., at the Sutro Stage.

 

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