"It’s important to keep the statement concise and digestible..." - Tycho talks new album Weather
Quietly, Scott Hansen, better known simply as Tycho, has built a reputation as one of the finest purveyors of ambient electronica in the game.
He returns this week with new album Weather, his fifth full-length effort. The album is the follow-up to 2016's Epoch and is an eight-track collection which sees Hansen experimenting with harder sounds and guitars.
Rising star Saint Sinner (you can read more about her here) provides vocals on five of the album's eight tracks.
With the album out now in stores, we spoke to Hansen about how it put the thing together...
When did you start working on Weather?
"I wrote the instrumentals during the first nine months of 2017, but it wasn’t until November of that year that I met Hannah and started working on the vocals. I think I finished the record in April 2018 so all told it was over 16 months from start to finish."
How did you want this album to be different from Epoch?
"Obviously the vocals are the big change but I also wanted to return to my roots in a lot of ways. I drew a lot of inspiration from the kinds of music that first got me into producing back in the ‘90s, trip-hop, atmospheric drum n’ bass and breaks type stuff. Mostly re-focusing my energy toward the more electronic elements of the music and pushing those to the fore."
You worked with singer Saint Sinner on five tracks on the record? How did that collaboration come about?
"We met through a mutual friend while she was visiting family here in San Francisco. I had a collection of tracks that I knew I wanted a vocal element for but I hadn’t found exactly what I wanted it to be yet. The first day she came over we recorded 'Skate' and I immediately knew she was the voice of the record."
What was it about her that made you want to work with her?
"Her voice just folding effortlessly into the texture of the songs. I have always made primarily instrumental music so I was apprehensive about how a voice could fit into the songs without overwhelming them. Hannah was able to perfectly ride that line between presence and blending in."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"Probably 'No Stress'. That was the only track I wrote after I met Hannah specifically for her to sing on. Whereas the other tracks were more about peeling away layers to make room for her voice, 'No Stress' had to be built around it which wasn’t a process I was very familiar with. I wanted the song to serve her voice but also to maintain the textures and elements that make an instrumental compelling, which as I learned is a delicate balancing act."
And which came together most quickly?
"Easy (hence the name!). I wrote and recorded the instrumental elements in a day and then after working with Hannah for a while, I had some snippets culled from other songs which I adapted into samples and layered into Easy. All told I think I spent maybe five days on it which for me is ridiculously fast."
It’s an eight-track record, why did you decide on that length?
"When trying something new as an artist I think it’s important to keep the statement concise and digestible. Awake, at 8 tracks as well, was a turn to a more live sound and a shift in direction from Dive. After taking that sound to its logical extreme with Epoch I felt it was time to re-orient things and in doing so keep the message clear and to the point."
Was the record always going to be called Weather? Were there any other titles?
"I had been kicking around the title Weather for a long time but I actually did most of the work on the record under the working title Stress — sort of a tongue in cheek reference to my typical mental state while making a Tycho record. But, by the end, I was ready to bring back the more relevant and fitting title of Weather."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"The new live show will, of course, feature Hannah on vocals but we’ll also be bringing other new elements that I think will make the show more enjoyable from a performance standpoint. We’re kicking things off in Australia with Splendour in The Grass and the Sydney Opera House and then on to Japan for Fuji Rock followed by a fall US tour."
When will we see you back in the UK?
"We’re playing Printworks London with Poolside on March 5th! Really excited for that show."
Tycho's new album Weather is out now.