Monday, Dec 8, 2014 ā€¢ 11min

Tycho - Awake

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Tycho is the project of designer-turned-musician Scott Hansen, along with guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O'Connor. For this episode, which was recorded in front of a live audience in San Francisco, Scott breaks down the title track from the 2014 Tycho album Awake, including a note he misplayed, and a vocal part you aren't really supposed to know about. songexploder.net/tycho
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Speakers
(2)
Tycho
Hrishikesh Hirway
Transcript
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Hrishikesh Hirway
00:00
You're listening to
Song Exploder
where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. My name is
Hrishikesh Hirway
.
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Hrishikesh Hirway
03:21
Tycho
is the project of
Scott Hansen
along with guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O'Connor. For this episode, I spoke with Scott in front of a live audience in
San Francisco.
Coming up, he'll break down the title track from the 2014
Tycho
album Awake, including a note he misplayed and a vocal part you aren't really supposed to know about.
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Tycho
03:47
Thank you, I'm Scott from
Tycho
. I think I was really intimidated by music. Like, you know, a couple of my friends had guitars and like... I don't know, it just seemed like you had to be the guy who had the guitar to play guitar. You can like get into it. For me, it was just like, "That's not something I do". You know, I was a visual artist.
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04:10
But I've always had a really close relationship with technology and computers. And so it took a piece of equipment, like a drum machine for me to realize like, oh, this is something that at least I can just approach this from a technical perspective and just learn this machine and there isn't some attached meaning to it.
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04:25
Like, "You have to think you're an artist or you have to think you can do anything good with this music that you can actually just figure it out". And so that was the jumping-off point though because once I started learning that interesting things started coming out, I was like okay, I feel like there's something I can do, you know?
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04:43
The first thing that was written was by Zach who plays guitar and bass. We went up to
Tahoe
and uh we were in a cabin for a few weeks and just recorded all sorts of material.
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04:52
I was going through these stems and at the end of this one song we had stopped recording and I found just Zach was just sitting there messing around.
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05:11
And I was like wow, that's amazing. And so like I cut that out and just started looping it and then I picked up my base and started recording the driving baseline.
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05:29
That's when I first got an electric bass because I'd use synth bass up until then. But the weird thing is I was always trying to make my synth bass sound like a guitar bass. So I realized, why don't you just get one? And that take is that sounds nothing like the original, but that's pretty chopped together.
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05:44
Most of everything I do is the result of cutting every individual note and then rearranging in some way. I always like things to be very like robotic almost because when I try to put things that aren't so robotic over the top and have those juxtaposed. And I feel like that that makes for a nice relationship. Once I had that down, the whole thing kind of came pretty quickly.
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06:16
So that other guitar track is me playing. I tend to play like a more muted-picked sound. I like round sounds. I usually play acoustic guitar on the songs, but that was one of the first electric guitar parts that I did.
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Hrishikesh Hirway
06:36
This song is instrumental but there is a track in here that's called the vocals.
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Tycho
06:42
You weren't supposed to get that one. I used to always hide vocals in my songs because I worked with this girl but like I wanted to try like a male vocal and I didn't have one. So I did it.
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Hrishikesh Hirway
06:52
So this is you.
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Tycho
06:54
Yes, unfortunately not.
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07:01
You know, I'm always using different scenes, I have tons of synth but I make them all sound exactly the synth.
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07:09
"I got a new synth man, it's I got this mini moke, it's gonna be totally different!" No, it's the same damn sound.
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07:14
So everything's kind of in this mid rangy space where they're very round and a lot of reverb, a lot of echo and I realized there's a note on every measure that's out of time that got played wrong and I accidentally left it in and copied and pasted it.
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07:29
You hear that? The second to last night was early. Listen...
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07:38
Ahah. You cannot hear that you'll always hear it from now on. That's the problem with editing that way by copy and pasting and not just doing like full takes is that if you screw up it's in the whole damn song.
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08:03
I let the edit dictate the flow of things. You just kind of follow the path that starts to appear before you. And that's the same way I approach design. There's like a precision and a textural element to it that are common to each. You know like my design always has a very analog noisy textured yellowed aged layer to it even though the thing's below it are very digital, very modern and very like clean.
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08:28
But you're looking through this lens almost that's how I approach creating sounds for the records as well as even though it might be a modern synthesizer, I'll spend a lot more time working on the filtering and the processing of it to make it feel like this memory or something like that you know like through a like a yellow blends or something.
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08:45
Yeah,
Interpol
was like one of my favorite bands and particularly just these really specific moments in their music where they really like to break things down and turn them into an instrumental. Then PDA is one of the best examples where at the end of the song basically stops and then becomes this whole other thing and it's it's just really pretty and that's what really influenced me.
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09:14
You know it's really hard to find especially for instrumental music something that encapsulates the idea of it.
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09:18
But for this I felt like an awakening or like a moment where I felt for the first time like this is what I was supposed to be doing or this is what I wanted to be doing and what I was going to pursue. Because with dive and all that stuff, it was just, you know, I was a graphic designer by day and messed around with music at night and this is the first time I'd ever put this much of myself into anything and I felt like this was the moment where it all came together and so it was like a wake and now here's awake by
Tycho
in its entirety.
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11:48
[Awake - Tycho]
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Hrishikesh Hirway
14:21
To learn more about
Tycho
, including a link to buy this song, visit songexploder. net. My thanks to the folks at
Noise Pop
who organized the event where my conversation with Scott was recorded.
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