It is of no surprise that Tycho hasn’t ventured away from the shoe-gazed sound signature he revealed back in 2004 with his debut album ‘Sunrise Projector’. ‘Dive’ is essentially a sun-drenched agent that encapsulates swirling melodies and sonic rolling landscapes that transport you right back into the height of summer. Tracks such as ‘Hours’, ‘Melanine’ and ‘Adrift’ capture the essence of beach life effortlessly and considering we’re on the cusp of relentless days of darkness, drizzle and generally dull wintery months ‘Dive’ is a gentle reminder that summer isn’t that far away from reality.
Scott Hansen is also renowned for his design work as ISO50, famed for his bucolic, sun-drenched design style, which serves as a backdrop and mirror for his musical output. We caught up with Scott during his tour with Little Dragon to find out more about his new album ‘Dive’ as well as his personal background and philosophies on design and music.
Can you please introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from and what you’re currently up to?
My name is Scott Hansen, I record music as Tycho and create visual work under the name ISO50. I live in San Francisco, CA. I’m currently on tour with Little Dragon.
What three single things influenced you the most whilst growing up?
Nature, music, and the aesthetics of Northern California culture in the early 1980’s.
Who are your musical heroes and what were you listening to in your teenage years?
Difficult to say who my musical “heroes” are. There was a time when I would have listed Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, and later Roni Size, Boards of Canada, and Ulrich Schnauss. Now I have new ones, I suppose it’s always changing according to whatever album I’m into currently. I spent most of my teenage years listening to classic rock and heavy metal and then around 18 or 19 I started to discover electronic music via drum ‘n’ bass and trip hop.
Over the years, what has inspired you to create the music that you produce?
As a visual artist there was always some component of my ideas I didn’t feel like I was fully able to express through imagery alone. What really made me want to pursue music was the desire to fully realize my vision, to complete the picture.
When did you start experimenting with electronic music and what factors have helped forge your signature sun drenched sound?
I got into production around 2000 when a friend gave me a drum machine. Right away I think I had an idea of the sound I was going for and over the years it became more and more defined. I think the overall vibe of my surroundings and the music I was exposed to as a kid informed the sound I ended up working towards.
In 2006 you released ‘Past Is Prologue’ on Merck. How did you establish your relationship with Merck and how do you feel your music has progressed since then?
I had originally self-released a slightly different version of that album called Sunrise Projector. I sent it to my friend Skyler (who recorded for Merck as Nautilis) and he passed it on to them.
Tell us about your new album ‘Dive’ – When did you start working on the new album and did you have a pre-conceived concept for it before you started work on it?
I started work on it around a year ago. I had some ideas of what I wanted it to be, and a few singles were already out so it was defined to a certain extent. The overall concept was to create a cohesive set of work while still evolving the sound beyond what had already been released. In general I wanted to form some sort of narrative and further define the sound I was working with on Past is Prologue while trying to evolve with respect to songwriting.
Where did you spend the majority of your time writing the album and with whom?
I wrote all of the album in my studio in San Francisco. Zac Brown lent some guitar and bass work for a few songs. I would play songs for him that I thought needed something more or were missing a part and he would play over it. It was really inspiring to be working with another musician as I had worked alone on all the previous stuff.
How do you think your environment relates to the music you’ve produced?
I think it has everything to do with it. At the core of all of my work is a set of imagery that I am constantly drawing from for inspiration. The space around me forms those images.
What new instruments and production methods have you employed in order to produce ‘Dive’?
Guitar and electric bass are featured much more heavily on this album. I had been experimenting with guitars before but my playing wasn’t good enough to capture the ideas I had so it was nice to finally get to the point where I could play the things I was thinking. I used a lot of microphone recordings for the first time, mostly miking amps and acoustic guitars. Also started using a lot of outboard processing, mostly pre-amps, analog delays, and early digital reverbs.
Where do you feel your music is best suited and enjoyed?
On headphones, at home or in the car on a long drive.
Can you expand on Dive’s artwork and the concept behind it; is it a direct visual representation of the music and track names contained within?
The artwork does represent to a certain extent the space that I feel a lot of the music fits in, but moreover I think it represents where I was at personally when the album was finished. I created the artwork after all the music had wrapped so it was sort of like the epilogue I guess. I later created an alternate cover that I think more literally represents a lot of the ideas of the music, that will end up being released as the cover of the Dive single.
What are your philosophies on design and music?
With both I have always just been trying to express this central idea, a vision I’ve had for as long as I can remember. So I guess with both I just try to keep working towards that, try to stay true to the original vision while hopefully always evolving.
When did you start appreciating good design, and when did you start creating your own graphics and products?
I’d say I became conscious of design via 1980’s surf and skate graphics, I collected all the stickers I could get a hold of. Later during college I would collect flyers for shows in San Francisco. Right around that time I started playing around with Photoshop and I think that may have been when I first became aware of what design was. Before that I guess I just saw all of this imagery and didn’t really think about where it came from or who created it. I’d say I really started designing my own stuff around 1999 or so, then created my first posters and shirts around 2001.
What are the connotations behind the names ‘Tycho’ and ‘ISO50’ – What inspired you to coin these names?
To a certain extent a name is always going to be this arbitrary thing tacked on to the work. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other. I chose Tycho as a reference to the astronomer Tycho Brahe as I spent a lot of time studying cosmology and the name came up a lot. As for ISO50, that’s a reference to the film speed. ISO50 is one of the slowest film speeds and produces a rich, saturated look that I felt was akin to the aesthetic I was working towards with my design.
To date what designs that you’ve created are you most proud of?
What forthcoming design work of yours should we keep our eyes peeled for?
I will be releasing a new portfolio for the first time in many years so a lot of the newer stuff that hasn’t yet been cataloged will be in one place for the first time. I also have some new video work for the live show planned.
What do the next 12 months entail for you?
Touring, working on the next album, a lot of design, and generally trying to balance things out a little better moving forward.
Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?
As often as you can, try to take a step back and recognize the things in your life that are most important and truly appreciate them, because they may not be there tomorrow.