Tycho Album Progress

Posted by Scott

Me on the Oberheim Four Voice

Zac Brown on electric guitar

Dusty Brown

Alex Cornell lending some acoustic takes

Zac Brown in the studio

I’ve sort of had my head down for the past couple months really digging into the recording of my next album so I thought I’d post up some shots from various sessions. Recently, guitarist Zac Brown (of Dusty Brown and DoomBird) has been coming in and contributing parts to some songs. It’s one of the first times I’ve collaborated with another musician and it’s been a great experience. It’s also been fun to wrap my head around recording guitar amps, something I had limited experience with before as most of my songs are written and recorded on my acoustic guitar with the keyboard and drum parts added later. It’s always exciting to find a new sonic texture to work with and it’s definitely an inspiring process to see your vision for a song expanded on by someone else.

If you’ve been following along with the album’s progress, you might have noticed the somewhat protracted nature of the whole thing. It’s been a test to say the least trying to keep on track with music while staying on top of the ISO50 side of things. There was definitely a long period where all I wanted to do was write new songs but not finish them, which is the hardest part for me. The good news is that because of this I now have a few albums of solid material, but the bad news is that it delayed the process of this one getting out. But that’s all behind me now and the past couple months have been the most productive of my musical life. The only problem is that I now have this self-imposed feeling that I’m behind and when I’m feeling that way I can sometimes forget to relax and enjoy the process of creating. It’s funny how much design and music differ in this way for me. While I see the processes of creating both as very similar, I don’t feel I can really sit down and just get music done in the same way as my visual work. It’s easy to say I’m going to devote three nights to a poster and be pretty confident it will get done and I’ll be happy with it. With music it’s always a much longer and drawn out process with more intangible milestones along the way.

The beauty of this entire process and the time devoted to it is that I’ve been allowed the luxury of perspective, something that’s very hard for me when I have to be neck-deep in a project from beginning to end with no breaks. The time has allowed me to continually reevaluate what the work is supposed to be and how best to do the material justice. Most of my songs start out as very small sketches, usually a guitar part and a keyboard part recorded quickly. I then set it aside and move on to something else. When I finally come back to an idea to develop it into a full composition my biggest fear is that I will somehow lose the meaning or the soul of it in the process. The problem is that as I’m adding new parts I start to go on tangents and the song can become something completely different. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but in other cases it takes time to be able to look back and realize that the original idea has been muddled in some way by the initial excitement of discovery. Problems like this tend to disappear when I allow myself to revisit work over time.

Overall, I feel close to wrapping up the production/arrangement phase but then comes mixing and mastering which can be time consuming. My goal is to have things sewn up by, at the very latest, end of summer. But putting time-lines on things doesn’t exactly serve the artistic process, at least not mine anyways, so I’m trying my best to pretend that goal doesn’t exist.

I’ll try to post some more pics / videos as things progress. And on a related note, has been filming a piece on the making of the album so there should be some interesting stuff by the time that’s done.

60 Comments Leave A Comment


Toran says:

May 19, 2010 at 1:27 am

Wow. Super dope. Yeah I definitely gotta see some more of this. ‘Specially some cool vid footage. Keep up the work.


Tamara says:

May 19, 2010 at 4:18 am

Good luck with the work Scott, Hang in there on your album, looking forward to it!


Philip says:

May 19, 2010 at 5:29 am

Personally, I think this album is long overdue. It’s not like your busy or anything (haha). Stop blogging and get back to work! ((cracks whip))


Philip says:

May 19, 2010 at 5:30 am

PS – you need an edit option on your comments so I can look like less of a retard when I type “your” instead of “you’re”.


Alex Key says:

May 19, 2010 at 8:24 am

I find that putting a deadline on things that I’m working on has a very positive effect on my work. If I know I have all the time in the world it will usually never get done. And oddly enough, the end product is usually better when I am forced to finish it. So I don’t think putting a timeline on the album is a bad thing :)


Clayton says:

May 19, 2010 at 8:33 am

Thanks for the update; I always appreciate when an artist takes the time to shed some light on their progress- especially if it’s written using more than 140 characters.

When I’m working on music, I too find it difficult to avoid the “muddling” of original ideas. There are always those awesome parts that come out of nowhere, then you start adding more and it can feel like it loses focus.

From my experience, it seems you have to go through those periods in order to come out with a solid track in the end- be it a small vignette or a full-fledged song. For me, it sort of goes back to the whole minimalism philosophy: if you find the composition is cluttered or is losing it’s original purpose, take things away until it breaks. Sometimes you’ll go back through and mute a track and think “This doesn’t need to be here.” I usually then add more, take away, add more, take away- all while trying to maintain that original purpose. I feel that eventually, if not immediately, the song begins to get back on track.

Whatever you do, don’t rush the music, because it’ll show in the end product. Sometimes all music needs is a bit of time worked into it to make it really shine.

Personally, I’d rather wait 10 years for an artist to put out a front-to-back timeless classic instead of getting sub-standard music on a more frequent basis. Portishead took what, 11 years to release ‘Third’? In my opinion, the album is nothing short of genius from the opening foreign dialogue to the closing guitar-turned-boat-horn sound. It seems like every part was refined until anything more (or less) would break the sound.

I know this amount of time and thought can be detrimental to some types of music, but instrumental electronic music is all about the vibe and feeling. It seems like stuff like that can’t be rushed. Sometimes it takes a bad day to get you to a point where you’ll write something tape-worthy. Sometimes it takes an awesome week. I feel like a lot of people forget that time and the life experience that comes with it are just as important elements to a song/album as instrumentation and composition. Without time, there’s no story to be told.

As always, thanks for another great post. Good luck on the album- I’m sure it will be nothing short of classic. Take your time, we all know it’ll be well worth it.

Audio geek side note… I want a RE-201 so bad! I’ve only had the opportunity to mess with them at friends’ houses. They’re reasonably priced on eBay, I may have to grab one in the next few weeks.


Mat says:

May 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

Good things come to those who wait and in this case I really don’t mind waiting. Off the back of your past three releases I feel safe in saying that the album will be in all senses beautiful… artwork and sounds!

Look forward to an amazing 2012 release!

Ta, Mat.


Will says:

May 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

Hi Scott!
I am so excited about the new album, and you’ve already got a prospective buyer here – I’m going to get a copy first thing!
This may sound like a dumb question, so bear with me. I have played guitar for years, and I’ve always wanted to do recordings like this, but I’ve never known where to start. Is there any advice you might have for someone who would like to start doing their own recording? What would be the first step?
Thanks for posting all this, and I’m really looking forward to the new record!


Tyrone says:

May 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thanks for sharing. One thought: be grateful you’re not dealing with the recording of vocals/singers. Singers only make things worse.


Lauren says:

May 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

Love the pictures – great insight into the process, and beautifully captured as well. Although I admit it does make me all the more anxious for the release. :) Thanks for sharing!


Andre Rolla says:

May 19, 2010 at 10:18 am

nice gear!!! id love to spend sometime inside a place like this…
waiting for the album…


Nitin Garg says:

May 19, 2010 at 10:28 am

Real cool ! Waiting for new album already. And thanks for sharing pics from studio, ah – i could spend my whole there, i guess :)


axi0n says:

May 19, 2010 at 10:56 am

Very nice work Scott, that Oberheim looks awesome by the way. I’m sure this album is going to be your best yet. I wish more artists would blend guitar with electronic. Not just speaking of riffs, but more melodious patterns and what have you. Good luck with everything!


Cameron says:

May 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

Great post Scott, I feel like we are in the exact same boat, I’ve been working on our “new” album for almost two years now and hope to have it out by the end of summer too. I went through a phase of writing song after song after song as well, which is a great feeling, but eventually you have to get on with things and put out a new Tycho album for your fans to enjoy (on vinyl, preferably). ;)


Junia Isabel says:

May 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Very much looking forward to the final product and getting a glimpse of the making of. It’s inspiring to hear how you go through your creative process, so thanks for sharing that!


Interiordestinations says:

May 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm

What I would give to have that Oberheim Four Voice in my possession. I’m so damn Jealous Scott!!! I wish I could find a Oberheim Four Voice VST. Maybe by @^%*^!@ someday?


nevsum says:

May 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

So glad to see you are going to be posting about the music writing/recording process. Hope we can get some specific details about your recording techniques such as mics, signal chain, etc. What do you use the tape machine for? Your rack look a bit thinner, no?


Scott says:

May 20, 2010 at 1:41 am

Thanks everyone for the support, I promise it will be worth the wait!

yeah the space echo is cool. if you can’t snag a real one the SoundToys Echoboy is the closest emulation I’ve ever heard.

I usually just start with the acoustic guitar. It’s nice because I can have it anywhere around the house and always be working out things. These days it’s even easier with the iphone as a quick 4 track recorder. Later I re-record the parts properly and start to add synths, bass, and drums.

of course, as long as I have any say all of my releases will be available in vinyl. Ghostly is all about it too so you can count on it.

yeah it’s a great board but frankly not worth the cost and energy of finding one. I would (and did) start with a Korg Mono/Poly or Moog Prodigy first.

I record most things through either an AKG C414 or some C451B’s into a set of 1073 clones / EL Distressors / RME FF800. For synths I usually skip the amp and go DI to the chameleons with various verb and delay outboard stuff in between. As for the rack thinning, I didn’t lose any outboard, just reconfigured some things to make them more accessible and moved a few things to the other side of the studio. When I built my new desk I revisited my whole workflow to try and streamline things and minimize reaching.


Ethan Callender says:

May 20, 2010 at 4:50 am

I own all every Tycho release so far. I’m really looking forward to this new one. Its been interesting to see your studio evolve over the past few years, too. Your equipment choices and setup become more individual and more carefully arranged. I was wondering where did you get that clever keyboard shelf — the one behind Zac Brown in the second shot?


chris says:

May 20, 2010 at 8:00 am

it always seems to get harder when u have more gear, more sounds to choose from, lots of indecision. i like to record to tape, then chop my recordings with an mpc. helps get things going a little easier. then i can do whatever i want.

u have alot of gear, if thats all yours im impressed. i have quite a bit of equipment myself, but i cant tell if its as much as u because its crammed into the whole upstairs of my small house. :/


Will says:

May 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks for the input… I’ve played guitar for about 6 years now, so I need to start recording concepts that I have in my heads & this has really given me some ideas. Good luck on the new album!



sawa says:

May 21, 2010 at 10:14 am

yes a new album, booyahkasha!! Scott, youre SO talented, i’ve been following you for years now and have enjoyed every single thing youve done, included this blog! keep it up and hope to see a show of yours again real soon. SACTOWN LOVES YOU!


Justin Meyers says:

May 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I have the Boss/ Roland RE-20 twin pedal. Personally don’t think it sounds anything like the real space echo. I don’t think the real space echo is terribly expensive, but they’re a pain the maintain.


nevsum says:

May 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thanks for the recording/gear info. And if my eyes aren’t deceiving me, looks like you’ve got some mics attached to an old chair base? It’s a good thing you’re not an industrial designer.


Daniel Carvalho says:

May 24, 2010 at 2:15 am

’bout time there was an update on this. Feels like you’ve been working on this album forever. Very keen to hear some new tracks; hope all goes smoothly till completion.


Alex Vance says:

May 24, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Just give me a taste, man, just a taste. All I need’s just a little taste, then I’ll come back with money for the rest, but just a little taste to hold me over, Scott, please.


Aiki @ Techno MUsic News says:

May 26, 2010 at 12:29 am

Thanks for the insight into how you do things man. I’m loving Past is Prologue right now and cant wait for this. When the album comes out flip me a PR mail and I’ll do an announce over at my blog. Cheers.


fraxyl says:

May 26, 2010 at 7:46 am

I find it a lot harder to get audio from in my head to the audio program, where as with images, it usually seems a lot more clear cut. I guess my minds eye is better trained than my minds ear.


WAcreative says:

May 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Super stoked for your next album. Your music kept me going during a certain magazine designing fiasco. Always gets me in the creative mood when I need it.


Matija says:

May 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Try not to lose yourself in a process. Songs can be great without al that deley and reverb, 64 canal for one song. Try not to produce for fans, “hit the wall” becouse of it. Couse I have a feeling that Coastal Brake was all about the fans, and what they expect from you. And I dont feel that songs like some others..I can almost feel the nervousness, you felt, while making it.

Respectfully, Matija.


perry says:

June 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

I love this website, the information is great and I have bookmarked it in my favorites. This is a well organized and informative website. Great Job!


Lee says:

June 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Scott, thank you very much for taking the time to provide this perspective. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing you in San Fran.


DΛNΙΣL says:

September 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Since I don’t know where your suggestion box is I’m going to create one within this comment:
How about you have a place to pre-order the album, and for all the fans of your music/work we get -oh say a bonus poster or t-shirt or something!
Excellent idea, if I do say so myself.


Matt says:

September 20, 2010 at 7:34 am

Hi there! I recently discovered your music on an Adult Swim bump and I must say…I fell in love! Your music is absolutely beautiful and the style and vibe in every track is just amazing! Take as long as you want with the new album as Im sure it’ll blow me away.


Drew says:

October 15, 2010 at 8:33 am

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love your art and music, but I feel like I’ve been waiting for the new album for at least 6 years now. I’ve been growing more impatient along with my expectations for your sophomore album. Sunrise Projector came out in 2004. Since then you’ve only released 6 new songs. I realize you’re quite the busy man. I just think new material is long overdue. Satiate your dedicated fans’ hunger! I know your production style has evolved over the years. I recall you mentioning it took almost as long to create the song Coastal Brake as it did for you to finish your entire first album. There’s a lovable scrappy aesthetic to Sunrise Projector that can’t be found on your recent single. What I’ve always loved about your art and music is its timeless feel and your ability to seamlessly blend modern and retro styles. I just hope this extra wait isn’t because you’re focusing too heavily on shimmery and glossy production. You don’t want to lose the nostalgic tone that got me hooked in the first place.


Lucas says:

October 15, 2010 at 10:17 am

scottttt please bless us with more of your genius soon. We’ve been tantalized with your blog posts and summer promises and all we want is to be enlightened once again…


Rui Peixoto says:

January 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

hey Scott, I just found out about this blog and I just want to say I love your music. Great mood, great music, great production. I’d love to know what synth you used for that signature lo-fi bell sound that is all over Past is prologue (in the disconnect or cloud generator for example). If you want to share that is :). All the best, and wishes of a great 2011!


Beanus says:

January 21, 2011 at 4:11 am

Ah! Checked out your studio photos, I knew it [= Hardware. Yay! I love the sonic depth you capture in your songs.