New Year’s Eve is arguably every major city’s most epic party night, but for San Francisco native Scott Hansen — founder of the ambient electronica group Tycho — it’s quite the opposite.
“New Year’s Eve, for me, typically ends up being a let-down,” Hansen says. “I always just try to go big and go to some party and it just ends up being boring. That’s usually the extent of my New Year’s Eve.”
Considering his lifestyle, “boring” seems like an odd adjective for the world-renowned artist to use, but Hansen was being candid about his lack of enthusiasm for the glitzy holiday, at least in regard to past years. This New Year’s Eve will be different, though: Instead of going to a party, Hansen is creating the party. On Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 30 and 31, he will undoubtedly have his first epic New Year’s Eve experience, as Tycho headlines two nights at the Fillmore, along with Dusty Brown (Dec. 30) and Nitemoves (Dec. 31).
“Growing up in San Francisco, the Fillmore was always where you went for the bigger shows,” Hansen says. “It just seemed like the biggest place in the world to me. It’s such a historic venue, and now we’re headlining a New Year’s show there.”
Hansen has spent more than a decade producing a unique brand of ambient, lo-fi analog sounds that have transcended the underground and garnered a vast fan base. Their swaying soundscapes are entrancing, like being lost in the electronic wavelengths of an android’s dream. Downtempo melodies paired with haunting clips of humans talking or breathing add an organic feel to a genre of music known for its inorganic nature.
Before his work with Tycho, Hansen was a graphic designer whose blog ISO50 has been relegated from being his bread-and-butter to a side project. Though he has all but abandoned his visual pursuits, Hansen designs all of Tycho’s posters, projection mapping, and album artwork.
“I’ve been trying to do both [graphic design and music] for so long, and I just felt like neither was really able to flourish without 100 percent attention,” Hansen says. “I had to pick one, and around 2011, I decided I’d given design most of my time for the preceding 10 years — so it was time to give 10 years to music.”
After producing and composing four albums over the span of about 12 years, Hansen can finally freely create without the typical stresses of multiple jobs that often bog down many aspiring musicians. Now, as a festival fixture and headlining act, Tycho is returning to their San Francisco roots, playing their first show in the city since February 2016 and their first show at the Fillmore since their Awake tour in 2014.
This year’s live shows feature a retrospective that plays selected tracks from all four albums. The first night concentrates on songs from Tycho’s first two albums — Past is Prologue and Dive — with the second night showcasing songs from Awake and Epoch. For Hansen, this musical exhibition of Tycho’s body of work is meant to bid farewell to an era while preparing to shift into a new musical process for 2018.
If that’s not enough for Hansen to have a legendary experience this New Years, it’s hard to imagine what is.
“You can get jaded to the idea of being able to play these shows and … as a musician, doing this night after night, it starts to become routine in some respects,” Hansen says. “But then you have this moment: I’m playing this legendary venue, in my hometown. The city has always been the real core for us. There is a really deep connection between the fans here and what we’re doing so to have a hometown band play at the hometown venue on New Year’s is just a dream come true.”
Tycho, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 30-31, at the Fillmore, $45-$75, thefillmore.com.