Design work on hold for creative force behind Tycho

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Electronica artist and graphic designer Scott Hansen records as Tycho, based on the 16th century astronomer. (Photo courtesy of Tim Navis)

Tycho’s west coast-inspired electronic music elicits a grainy, almost detailed image of a beach.

Sacramento native Scott Hansen, who writes and performs electronic music under the moniker Tycho, named after the 19th century astronomer, has been creating atmospheric electronica music way before Toro y Moi and the rest of the synthed-out, ‘80s-esque chillwave movement took place.

Hansen grew up listening to lots of folk music, and later drum and bass, before finally hearing more mellow, nondance music and electronic artists like Boards of Canada and DJ Shadow. This eclectic mixture of influences combined with his design background created a unique foundation for Hansen to begin making music. Hansen combines intricate IDM beat patterns that are far too complex to dance to with a palate of wonderfully intriguing instruments and samples to create a final product that is very surreal and immersing. A good portion of this has to do with his use of a guitar, an instrument generally not associated with electronic music.

“I realized, songwriting-wise, you just kind of fall into this dogma of the visual patterns of a keyboard,” Hansen said. “When I sit down with [a keyboard] I feel like I’m looking at it too much. With a guitar you get forced into writing new patterns.”

Scott speaks with a mature California surfer drawl, laced with an ever-so-subtle child-like enthusiasm about his art, of which he produces plenty. In addition to writing and performing his music, he creates the posters for his shows, as well as curates his popular music and design blog, “The Blog of Scott Hansen.” Hansen originally began his professional foray into art under the pseudonym ISO50. He adopted the name after talking with the late Arnaud Mercier, an artist he admired.

“[Mercier] was how I got my name,” Hansen said. “He shot ISO50 film on lomo cameras.”

Mercier, formerly of interactive creative agency Area 17, helped Hansen in his initial experimentations with design until his death in September.

“He really helped me. Back when I was starting, I emailed him a bunch asking him how he did all of these things [in design],” he said.

In spite of his adeptness at design, Hansen has since halted his freelance design work as ISO50 in favor of the Tycho project.

“I stopped doing freelance about four years ago to focus on the shop and all that stuff. Anything I do design wise is driven by Tycho.”

Hansen’s retooled focus has paid off immensely. Dive, his latest album, is by far his best, both in terms of quality and reception. The ambient electronica instrumentals manipulated by a guitar give the listener the closest feeling they will ever have to lounging around on an intergalactic space beach.

Dive is also compelling in that it represents Hansen’s most varied piece of musical work. His last release, Past Is Prologue, might sound like a bunch of rehashes of the same core to those unfamiliar with electronica. Dive is friendlier to the listener in that regard. People have taken notice, with Spin Magazine streaming the album in its entirety on its website.

At the moment, Hansen remains busy with his tour with the Swedish electronica group Little Dragon and has ambitious plans for the re-release and cataloguing of his past design work on his website.

Additionally, he plans for forthcoming remixes from the album outside of the one already released by Teen Daze and is contemplating coming to Austin for SXSW.

“We’ll most likely be at SXSW. I definitely want to come back to Austin. It’s been a long time,” he said.

Tycho - Hours