On the beats

Catching up with Tycho—and his new band

Tycho’s Scott Hansen fiddles on an Oberheim Four Voice synth while working on his new album.

Tycho’s Scott Hansen fiddles on an Oberheim Four Voice synth while working on his new album.


Read a longer version of Tycho’s SN&R interview and get a peek of Tycho’s full-band performance, filmed by Sean Stout of TerrorEyes.tv, at www.newsreview.com/soundadvice.
Tycho plays this Friday, July 9, with a full band featuring Dusty Brown, Jessica Brown, Zac Brown and Matt McCord on drums at Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street in San Francisco; 10 p.m.; $20-$25. There’ll be a secret warm-up show Wednesday, July 7, at The Press Club, 2030 P Street, as part of DJ Whores’ Hump dance night.

The Press Club

2030 P St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 444-7914

Former Sacramento, now San Francisco-based electronica artist and designer Scott Hansen, who performs as Tycho, has been holed up in Sacto lately at Ira Skinner’s new Alley Avenue Studios. And with none other than good friends and fellow electronica legends Dusty Brown, Jessica Brown and Zac Brown, plus local drummer/producer Matt McCord, who are now a part of Tycho’s live mix. See the full band this Friday in San Francisco at label Ghostly International’s audio-visual showcase; catch up with Hansen now:

What’s you’re first memory of beats in Sacto?

I heard about Dusty first, I think. He was doing a lot of drum ’n’ bass, he and Billy Lane.

Was live electronica strange back then?

Oh yeah. People were still calling us “live PAs.”


That was an old term in the drum ’n’ bass scene that meant “Oh, this guy really made all his music. It’s not a deejay set.” That’s what they called Dusty, because he would show up with his computer and some synths. … This was pre-laptop, so I remember people thinking, “Whoa, this was cool.”

Do you want to make people dance?

I always try to design and make music for me. … [At shows], I basically want people to come and get out of their heads, and if that means they’re dancing or if that means they’re doing whatever, just as long as they’re having an experience that takes them out of their present mind state, that’s kind of the goal.

What’s surprised you about playing with a full band?

That’s the thing. … Back when I lived in Sac, I had a cool warehouse space, and I lived right by Dusty, so him and Zac and those guys were always coming over and we were jamming. … It’s what we did for fun instead of bowling.

Ha. Is playing with a band going to change your forthcoming album?

No, because this album, I mean, it’s done. … It’s pretty much just a matter of the meticulous finalizing that I always do, which is a little bit overboard.

Dusty told me it’s hard for him to release music.

It’s really difficult, man. Me and Dusty are really similar in that respect. I mean, we’re producers, and that’s the problem: Being the producer and the writer and the performer is really difficult. It’s really great in other ways, because you [have] 100 percent control; you don’t have to argue with people and you don’t have to explain your vision to anybody. But at the end, it’s hard to let go.

Albums or singles?

These days, everything’s bite-sized and everyone’s memory is so short with art, it’s kind of like you really have to have this steady stream. But I kind of reject that in a kind of deliberate way, because I was born in the ’70s and grew up in the ’80s. Albums are what I know.

How have electronica crowds changed over the years?

I think definitely what we were doing in Sacramento was kind of the beard-scratcher crowd, just sitting back and quietly appreciating. And I definitely think the shows now have a lot more energy. When I go to Portland, it’s a Burning Man hippie explosion, but S.F. is more like the Twitter crowd and the techie guys. Well, S.F. is pretty much a mixed bag … but there’s definitely a lot more people turning on to electronica music, understanding what it is and understanding that they’re not going to a deejay show.

When can we expect your new album?

It’s going to be summer 2011, which I know is ridiculous. But hey, it’s a summer album. … And the cool thing about that is I’ll have the next album pretty much done by the time that even comes out.