NaturoTronica: In Conversation With Tycho (Scott Hansen)
- interviewed by jianda johnson
JJ: To begin with, your music has a very dreamy, otherworldly feeling to it. Makes you feel like you’re outside, in natural surroundings. To what do you attribute that atmosphere?
Tycho:Cool. I’m glad you got that out of it. I try to capture that--you’ll be in a certain time, and place, and something hits you as just so profound, you see in a way that makes you think differently. There’s always been a big connection between me, and nature. I’ve always enjoyed being out in nature a lot--the mystical feeling you get when you see things that are larger than life. I’ve always tried to capture that in the music and that’s part of where I’m coming from. I try to coax that along as well. It usually ends up being a prevalent theme in the music.
JJ: You mentioned, too, that being out in nature in Sacramento influenced a lot of what you do. It’s nice how you demystify the recording/writing process on your website (tychomusic.com ). How are you so comfortable doing this?
Tycho:Sometimes, artists don’t want to tell you what gear they use for fear you’ll copy them. I’m not concerned with that. The actual melodies behind the music, actual timbres of the sounds, that’s what I’m concerned with. By the time you hear a song, it’s been stretched, delayed and affected...it wouldn’t matter if they know what you used to make it.
Actually, replicating it would be impossible. I’m big into the gear side of it, too. It’s good to compare kit lists with artists and see what they’re doing. Two people can have the same gear and use it in two different ways, for two different effects.
JJ: How do you write? Music, or samples--concept, or rhythm--first?
Tycho:I try to refrain from using any kinds of samples that are actually from music, because these days, it’s impossible to clear them, and it costs money. Everything’s from synthesizers. I start with melodies, instrumentals, a rough sketch of what the song’s going to be. Then I move that to the computer once I’ve played it on keyboards. Next, I flesh out the song and lay down the drums, which is a much more methodical and mechanical process. I basically program all the drums by hand in the computer (as opposed to on the keyboard), then I add in any atmospheric samples. Even field recordings.
Sometimes I actually record my own voice, with heavy effects, if I can’t record what I’m looking for. I have a few different types of mics, also. One is a Sony stereo mic condenser, which gives you a really nice sound for outdoor stuff, especially in stereo. It’s very realistic. I’ll go out and walk around the park, and get cool animal sounds, or whatever I can catch. My studio overlooks downtown Sacramento also, so there are a lot of crazy noises! (Laughs) Sometimes when I’m finishing a song up, I’ll lay down the mic for a couple of minutes. So, it’s really improvisational...it’s nice being close to a good source of sounds.