This is Scott Hansen, I create music as Tycho and visual art as ISO50. Our new record Awake comes out tomorrow worldwide. I'll be answering your questions at 1PM PST.

EDIT: Have to get back to rehearsals for the tour so ducking out for a bit. If I have a chance I'll come back to answer some more later this afternoon. Thanks everyone!

Comments: 546 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

keenankoso83 karma

What is the meaning behind your dot logo?

Tychomusic233 karma

As with the name and the imagery associated with this project, I want things to be open-ended. I want to create a framework for people to project their own ideas and meanings onto. These things have meaning to me personally, but they are what you make them. At least that's how I want it to be. At the core, the dots were a way to remove all names from the posters and covers. Typefaces are loaded with meaning; they imply a time period, evoke ideas of brands, they define too much. I wanted a recognizable symbol that encapsulated the idea of Tycho and ISO50 as a holistic audio / visual project but which didn't imply anything about it. I wanted a kind of glyph that could have come from any time. I don't want there to be an intrinsic meaning to the dot symbol, defining that is best left to the individual I think.

I can tell you one thing, it is not braille and was not derived from braille, as some have posited. My dad was an engineer in the 60s when they were still using computers with punch cards for programming so those things were always laying around the house so as a kid I would collect them and obsess over their meaning. I felt like I had some alien manuscript or something.

andytkelly77 karma

Hi Scott! I've been a fan of Tycho since late 2006-early 2007 when I found "The Daydream" and "The Disconnect" on iTunes. It's been awesome to be listening to your stuff through the years--- especially since I moved to Berkeley back around that time, so it's been some what of my California life soundtrack. I actually was hanging out with this girl a few years back, and I showed her what kind of music I was into. She said, "Oh, my cousin makes this kind of music. His name's Scott Hansen, or 'Tycho'". She didn't quite realize the gravity of what you were doing at the time, but I let her know I was a big fan. Anyway, great sound, man. It has this mysterious nostalgic sound to it I really enjoy. Very creative!

Tychomusic43 karma

Wow! So cool you know her. Small world...

hail2california1342 karma

Hey Scott!

Due to the recent tech boom, real estate prices have skyrocketed in San Francisco, making it unbelievably expensive to live in the city, which in turn has forced many people to move to Oakland or elsewhere. How do you think this trend will affect the SF music scene and where do you see SF's music scene going in the next five years?

Tychomusic46 karma

Yeah it's definitely a big issue here. But to be honest I have never considered myself a part of any scene in the city so I'm not too informed on how artists are being effected. I was very involved in the music scene in Sacramento, which was thriving, but when I got to SF I never really found that. It seemed to me like a lot of the artist community was already gone by 2006 when I got here. But yes, I don't see things going well for artists here over the next 5 years, I think something needs to be done to preserve the musical heritage of this city, hopefully it's not too late.

Repptix40 karma

Heya Scott,

What kinda of music did you listen or listened to while producing Awake and were you inspired by any of it?

Tychomusic72 karma

It's strange, I've found myself listening to less and less music over the years. I think after working on music all day silence is a nice break. That being said, if I recall I was listening to a lot of Dauwd and Midlake. I don't think it had a huge impact on this record. I think we had a pretty clear concept going in and stuck with that. After the record was done and I had more time to listen to music I got really into Atoms for Peace and Garden's & Villa.

Dr_Rosen39 karma

No question. I just wanted to say I love your music!

Tychomusic46 karma

Thanks doc!

Stefan150138 karma

  1. Dive was very synth heavy whereas Awake seems to be more guitar driven, what brought about this change in your music?

  2. In terms of guitar playing, who do listen to for inspiration? Any favourites?

  3. Which instrument do you prefer, keys or guitar?

  4. I remember reading somewhere that you created some sounds completely in the box. Could you give a rundown of the current software you're using (instruments or effects)


Tychomusic61 karma

  1. Dive represented a very protracted writing and recording process. Some of those songs -- or at least the starting points for them -- were nearly six years old when that album came out (whereas Awake was 8 months start to finish). Dive represented me at various points in my life. Sometime during that process I learned guitar and it has slowly become my instrument of choice for writing. I think I spent so much time with keys and they are so visual, I would look at them and see these patterns and get stuck in ruts. With the guitar it's still pretty foreign to me and so I feel like writing new material is easier. I think the bottom line is novelty, guitars are new to me so I'm currently obsessing over them

  2. Both Zac Brown and myself played guitars on this record. I think Zac definitely has a Edge influence in his work, but I can't speak directly to that. I myself like that sound but only when Zac's playing it, he has more of a rhythmic thing going on while I tend to pick and do more melodic stuff.

  3. Both really, they each have their part and I don't feel a song is complete until they're both there (most of the time at least). I'm better at keys but I'm more intrigued by guitar for that reason I guess.

  4. Yeah sometimes software instruments are right for the application. I've never created a track with 100% software, but I choose my spots. It's funny because sometimes I'll be using a software emulation of a synth I actually own. Like the lead sound on the song Dive, that's the MS-20 plugin. I was sitting there writing it and looking at the real MS-20 and wondering what the hell I was thinking. But it just has a different sound and for that particular song, it made sense. The list is too long but I'm liking all the D16 stuff, Soundtoys, Waves, XIL, ME-80, Valhalla DSP. There's so much out there these days, it's a good time to be a producer.

Ducati99734 karma

What is your most common or greatest source of inspiration for both music and design?

Tychomusic98 karma

That's so hard to pinpoint. I obviously have stylistic influences like Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss. But I think of inspiration as the reason I am driven to create. I guess I've just always had this overwhelming desire to translate a vision and I've always felt hindered by my own abilities and resources. So I guess it's like an ongoing challenge, to overcome yourself and try to make the images and sounds in your head real.

TranscendentalObject31 karma

Hi Scott!

I hear you have anxiety. Has that been a lifelong thing, or is it mainly associated with your performances?

Tychomusic68 karma

It's a generalized thing but it is exacerbated by performances. I would say I have a very mild case but the profession I chose tends to amplify your weaknesses so it has really been a bigger issue in the last few years.

I think performing live has really helped me with the social anxiety component, which used to be my biggest issue. It was kind of like, if I can stand in front of all these people then talking to someone face to face shouldn't be a big deal. As far as performance anxiety, I used to shake so bad on stage I couldn't play the keyboard. I got over that just be exposure and repetition. I tried meds for a while but that was a dead end as I just felt like it was masking the root of the problem. Exercise seems to be the key for me. Unfortunately the first thing to go during times of high stress and anxiety is free time, and so it's hard to stay on top of a workout regimen.

empw10 karma

And, any tips dealing with it?

Tychomusic49 karma

Yoga, practicing the thing you're having an issue with, diet, general exercise. Those all helped me but might also be specific to my situation.

thewisefoolHHH31 karma

A good friend of mine got me into your music and I've got to say, I love it! I'm a big fan of rock bands like the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age, and the occasional Hans Zimmer score for homework time, but it's nice to relax to music like yours.

I saw on your Facebook that you posted not to illegally download the new album. That being said, people like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails have said that they should tell all of their friends to download music illegally, because that's the best way for music to spread, because people may be more reluctant to spend money on an artist they're not too familiar with. I have every intention of getting Awake on vinyl when it comes out tomorrow, but I guess what I'm asking is if you agree with that sentiment? That people may illegally download your album, but then shell out the money to come see you in concert. Or would you rather they not? I've always wondered how artists felt about that, and you were slightly vocal about it so I figured I would ask.

Thanks for your time and the great music!

Tychomusic145 karma

Thanks for asking that. Full disclosure mode here: I have always wanted to maintain tight control of my social media presence as I want anything that goes through those channels to be in my own voice. But with this intense year of recording and preparing for the release and tours, I had to offload some of the posting duties. Mostly just the promotional stuff, I still do all the personal stuff.

So that being said, I woke up the other morning to see that post and how it was worded. I did not author that post and personally do not agree with that sentiment. I deleted the post shortly thereafter. The people I work with are great and have only the best intentions, but this was an instance where we didn't agree completely on a subject and unfortunately that made it's way into a public forum. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of sharing music and ideas freely, it's why I have a career in music.

That being said, I'm not Trent Reznor, and Ghostly isn't a major label. We struggle to make these records with our own money. We have bills and financial obligations like everyone else. So would I prefer people purchase the music? Absolutely, it ensures that we can continue to do what we do without compromise. Do I care if people download it "illegally", no. I'm just grateful to have an audience.

illadelph13 karma

i pre-ordered several copies of every album you have ever released on vinyl. i just give them to family and friends. you have not sacrificed the quality, format, and overall design of any release for the sake of money within the 10 years i have been following you. you have no idea how much i appreciate that, as someone who still clings to a physical format. i've spent well over $500 on your posters; one day i'll order the huge sized posters when i have a house of my own.

Tychomusic19 karma

Thank you, I really appreciate that. It's honestly people like you who enable me to live my life as an artist and do the thing I love most and for that I am truly grateful.

2hands10fingers25 karma

Heyo. I've listened to Awake several times and I'm pleased to say "You've done it again!" I've been curious about how Ghostly International manages to handle a large catalog of obscure artists from the general mainstream. My question: What do you think is the key(s) to their success in maintaining such a large hub to support so many eclectic and unconventional artists?

Tychomusic27 karma

Thank you! Ghostly is a very special label run by some very passionate people who stay true to their vision for what a label should be and how artists should be treated. I think the key is just dedication to the art and truly caring about the music they put out into the world.

Big_Grizz21 karma

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Tychomusic66 karma

I've been trying to meditate to deal with anxiety but I'm not very good at it, so then I just drink a beer. But yeah in general we usually just hang out and talk, luckily the band all happens to be very close friends first and co-workers second.

geotew215 karma

Hey Scott! The main synth sound you use in most of your songs, what instrument do you use to make that/ your main synth?

Tychomusic31 karma

MiniMoog Model D! My friend Beamer lent it to me for Dive (and I never gave it back, ha). Love that thing, such a joy to play, you feel connected directly to the sound.

I_love_pearljam15 karma

What kind of music did you listen to most as a child?

Tychomusic43 karma

If we're talking child as in < 13 yrs old: Beatles, Zepplin, Creedence, Cream, Megadeth, Guns n Roses, Jane's Addiction, Beastie Boys

WaywardWayfarer14 karma

What were your feelings on Tomorrow's Harvest (2013)?

Tychomusic15 karma

Sadly, I didn't listen to it. Want to find the time soon, it's just been intense lately and my music consumption is way down.

designated_diver14 karma

I just wanted to say that Dive is my favorite song ever. Its so warm and instantly puts me in a better mood.

My question is what comes first for you, the feel and sound of the music or the imagery for your art?

Tychomusic10 karma

Do you mean which comes first in the creative process? I always create the music first and then design visuals to suit. I feel that both the imagery and sound are important parts of translating the vision I have for Tycho but I feel that music is a more expressive medium for me where I'm able to more readily express a wide range of emotions and ideas. So I get that down first then follow with imagery that completes the picture.

sic_transit_gloria13 karma

What was it like playing at Red Rocks with STS9?

Tychomusic20 karma

Amazing. Seriously, I can't describe the feeling of being in that space. It's one of those moments where you're so happy to be there, present, but there's this sad edge knowing you'll probably only get that one hour in your whole life. The best part was actually going out and watching STS-9's set after, just relaxing and taking that whole space in. I need to go to a show out there someday.

thisispicasso10 karma

Hey Scott, thanks for doing this AMA. Been a big fan of your design stuff & blog and you're one of the reasons I got in to design in first place.

Besides doing your own artwork (I guess you do it yourself) do you still design a lot on the side? Is it hard to do now that your career as a musician is gaining more & more traction? thanks

Tychomusic28 karma

Thanks! I stopped doing freelance design work a few years ago when I started the process of producing Dive. I had been designing for a living and doing music as a hobby and I felt like I owed it to myself to try the music thing for a while. Luckily it went pretty well and I was able to focus my visual efforts solely on Tycho related stuff (visuals, covers, posters, etc).

Yes it is difficult to balance these things, even when the only client is Tycho. But I always wanted to design for myself, without an outside entity dictating themes and content, so I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue my own vision.

brainfeedah10 karma

Tycho! I've been a fan for many years. I have a ISO50 poster hanging on my wall, I love it! The one with the silhouettes of a group of people looking at a rainbow and a flock of birds. Beautiful.

Who are your biggest influences? I discovered your music around the same time as Boards of Canada, Helios etc, do you enjoy their work?

Also, what are you listening to most right now?

Tychomusic19 karma

Nice, that's an old favorite of mine, a very early design. That was maybe the third poster I ever did if I recall correctly.

BOC, of course, huge influence. I've heard of Helios but never listened, need to get around to that. Ulrich Schnauss was definitely another big influence. When I was just starting out I was listening to a lot of the Crydamoure stuff along with Roni Size, LTJ Bukem, and DJ Shadow.

xZombee8 karma

Hi Scott! Awesome that you're doing this AMA. Your music has affected my life in many positive ways since I first discovered you. It's very relaxing and often puts me to sleep at night, I also listen to it on occasion when I meditate. Any how, before you established yourself as a successful designer, what steps did you take in perfecting your work and finding your beautiful, simplistic style?


Tychomusic18 karma

Thanks, glad it has a useful effect. I think I just studied a lot of other designer's work until I saw my own vision start to emerge. I'm also a little obsessed with technology and tools so I spend a lot of my time learning and practicing with the software. As I become better with the tools the barriers fall away and I'm better able to freely transfer ideas onto the screen.

thedapperdan8 karma

Hey Scott, I've always been impressed how gracious you are to stay after your shows to talk to people and sign posters. During one of these occasions you recommended D16 Group's Toraverb as your favorite in the box reverb. I picked it up - it's amazing. I'm now a big fan of everything D16 does, it all sounds so good.

Have you tried LuSH-101 yet? In my opinion, it's the best sounding analog emulating digital synth. It's great.

Do you have any other plugin recommendations?


Tychomusic11 karma

Nice! Yeah Toraverb is it.. love it. I do have Lush-101, used it here and there on the record, mostly for pad / string stuff. It's just such a resource hog though.

Been loving the Native Instruments Monark. I did some shootouts between it and my real Minimoog and they're nearly indistinguishable from a practical standpoint. The Mini definitely has this thing I can't really articulate, and of course it's much more playable given that there's always inherent latency to virtual synths. The Valhalla DSP stuff is great too. Check out the Memorymoon ME-80, great CS80 emulation.

bleego7 karma

Hey Scott! Love the tunes... can you go over how you were able to break into the electronic music scene? Any advise for aspiring musicians?

Tychomusic9 karma

Right when I was starting out living in Sacramento I met Dusty Brown (Zac's cousin) and he was playing a lot of shows. He got me on some and I just started from there. We formed a collective with some other electronic musicians in town. We did wheat pasting, demo CDs,, you name it, all the typical stuff. I'm not really sure what had the biggest effect. I think for me it was mostly just a war of attrition. I've been doing electronic music for 13 years now but it wasn't until about 2 years ago that I could consider it as a career. So yeah, I guess the message is just keep at it, keep learning, always try to get better. And self promote, in the new music industry you pretty much have to make your own way before any label is going to support you.

bohfras7 karma

Hi Scott. Your atmospheres are fantastic. What is your go-to reverb plugin or any other FX used in this process?


Tychomusic3 karma

Thanks! I use Toraverb a lot in the box, but for most of my stuff I use the Ursa Major SST-282, a lexicon, and the onboard reverb in the Access Virus C.

prdru17 karma

What are the tycho logo dots?

bigdubs7 karma

Hey Scott,

The drums on "spectre" were pretty distorted, was this intentional?

Sort of related, what is your take on high-gain mastering in general ("the loudness wars")? Do you think it adversely affects recording?


PS: Love your work and am going to see you in April @ Webster Hall. Super stoked!

Tychomusic6 karma

Yeah I wanted that song to be a lot more driven and visceral.

It's hard to be objective about the loudness wars because my ears growing up were tuned to the loud sound, so to me, that's what a studio album sounds like. We definitely back it off and are conscious of it, but I do enjoy some aspects of "smashed" sounds.

Benjyp7 karma

Well Scott since you tried to avoid my question last time I'll ask it again: I love your music, this is my cat, Tycho.

Tychomusic5 karma

ha! what's the question? How do I love your cat? Answer: I don't like cats but that one looks pretty cool.

LG34-6 karma

Hey Scott,

First of all, Awake is absolutely incredible. My CD should hopefully arrive tomorrow. Now, onto the actual question.

If you could collaboraye with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Also, your art is amazing!

Tychomusic2 karma

Yukimi Nagano

MrCocoaBean5 karma

Hey Scott, do you use any particular DAW, such as Ableton or Logic? I'm wondering how you arrange and get most of your sounds, in particular the warm analog sounds. Are you using hardware into midi perhaps?

Love the new album too! Can't wait to see you April 18th at NYC.

Tychomusic2 karma

I use Reaper for my DAW. Most of the synth sounds are older pre-midi synths so they're just played by hand through tube preamps and compressors. Also use a lot of outboard effects, older stuff. I feel like in general tone-generation is best done with hardware but for the most parts I can get away with software for things like reverb, delay and all that.

Cowbelle5 karma

HOLY CRAP THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER I'm such a fan of your music and art, thank you so much for what you do.

What's the most memorable thing a fan has done/said to you? hopefully it was a positive thing, i'm extremely curious

Tychomusic3 karma

One time after a show someone pulled me aside and told me how the music had helped them through the passing of a loved one and I could see how much they were hurting but also how complex and beautiful the human spirit can be to overcome something as devastating as that. It was this really empathetic moment and was moving to say the least.

FranticFane5 karma

Hey Scott! What do you believe, if anything, is your biggest limitation when you create music?

Tychomusic9 karma

Playing ability. I'm by no means a virtuosic performer so sometimes it's a struggle to translate my ideas into reality quickly enough when inspiration strikes.

marathonmilk5 karma

Is it pronounced "Tie-Cho" or "Tie-Ko"? Or something else?

Tychomusic2 karma

I say Ty-Ko but I think the proper pronunciation in Danish is more like Tee-Ko