With Tycho’s Awake, out March 18th via Ghostly, the Sacramento-based audiovisual project helmed by Scott Hansen has reached a certain maturity, growing into a three-piece band and achieving, on the new record, an even more refined sense of clarity. Awake takes the evocative, pop-ambient synth work that made 2011′s Dive feel so oddly spiritual (and drew countless comparisons to Boards of Canada) and refocuses it into a cleaner, sharper post-rock context; it feels like an album that should be broadcast at night over the Grand Canyon. I spoke to Hansen about growing out of “the Instagram approach” to music producing, making headphone music work live and why he considers this “the first true Tycho record.”
The Fader: Where am I talking to you now?
Tycho: We’re in the studio, working on the live show. I’m working with the engineer who helped mix the record to translate the recorded stuff live. Last album, we struck the balance between having the live show sound more like the record, but over time, we decided we wanted a more ability to go off the beaten path, and we’re trying to skew the balance back to the performance end of things. It’s kind of headphone music at the end of the day, especially the older stuff, so we’re always trying to punch it up.
The Fader: You’ve called this “the first true Tycho record.” Why do you feel that way, even though you’ve been at it for a little while?
Tycho: I look at it from a career perspective, like what I was doing in my life when I made those other albums. My life revolved mostly around freelance graphic design work, and I wasn’t truly focused on music in the way that I am now. And back then, I hadn’t met musicians that I really resonated with in a songwriting context. Meeting Zac, meeting Rory and meeting Count, the engineer—forming relationships with them where we were comfortable enough to start creating together is what facilitated making this record the way I wanted. It was always my dream for Tycho to get to that point, it just took me 10 years to get there. This is what I wanted Tycho to be all along.
The Fader: So it’s a proper band now.
Tycho: Now I kind of look at at is: I’m in a band, and I play keyboards and guitar and bass, and I also produce that band. You put on two different hats. Working with Zac in particular, we came up with basic ideas and then spent time in different places for a couple weeks at a time working through them, developing songs. Then I went back and produced them out, and we spent a few weeks at the end flashing and burning and doing the hard decisions I wasn’t objective enough to make in the past. From songwriting to arrangement, we worked really closely. Rory, the drummer—I always hear these drum patterns and swells in the music, but I’ve never had the ability or energy to achieve that with electronic programming. He was able to just sit down, hear the music and go.
A very inspiring and truly calming short interview by Milton Glaser, might help you slow down and not focus on the finishing line on your own personal work, I wish I spent more time with ink and watercolor, comes out very attractive.
Le Révélateur and Sabrina Ratté are my favorite audio and visual collaborators since we first saw them on the blog via Beamer. The proper way to see this though is live, they played in Brooklyn and I still wish I brought my camera with me to videotape it and share it with you. Data Daze is forthcoming on cassette on NNA Tapes via the Horizon Fears EP.
Michael Cina and Matthew Dear team up to show some amazing ways to introduce art and an upcoming album to their audience. You just have to watch it yourself.
TEEN on Carpark Records is a 5 piece girl band that has the outlook of bringing back where Stereolab left off with more of a pop sense.
I have no information about this video, absolutely none, and that’s completely fine with me.
If you haven’t seen any Nardwuar interviews then i’d suggest having a few hours to watch a handful, its great seeing the musician reactions to the gifts he gives them.
Name: Cole Rise. Current City: San Francisco, CA Website:coleri.se
Instagram: @colerise Pets: A piano named Eleanor. I feed her and she makes music. Dream vehicle: Piper Super Cub with Tundra tires (it’s a bush plane)
ISO50: Tell me about your first memory?
Cole: The first thing I remember is an insect in my bed. Maybe it was a millipede? It’s not like the house was gross or anything… we were in a wooded area so i think it was just lost. We moved out of that house when i turned 2, so I must have been about one and half years old, as crazy early as that sounds. I remember waking up and being rather startled by it, but not having the words to express it. I wasn’t the most verbose one and a half year old. I probably just stared, wide-eyed. I vaguely remember mom coming in a few minutes later, but by then it had crawled out of sight. I hope it found it’s way.
ISO50: I see that you’re a pilot, do you ever let go of the wheel and get a photo off like some of the instagram car drivers I see sometimes on the road?
Cole: Oh sure… but within reason. It’s not as dangerous as you might think. When you’re learning to fly, they teach you to scan your horizon every few minutes, so you’re always aware of where you are, who and what’s around, and what’s ahead. Plus most planes have auto-pilot, which is basically 3-dimensional cruise control. With little air traffic, it’s reasonably safe to snap a photo or two. On the other hand, I recently tried it while hang gliding and almost dropped the phone from 800 feet. I’d say that was more dangerous.
ISO50: Can you list off a 4 song playlist of what you listen to while you’re tinkering with a photo?
Cole: In no particular order, i give you…
“Aegina Airlines” by The Dead Texan
“Indian Summer” by Jónsi & Alex
“Don’t Worry” by Zoe Keating
“Foreground” by Grizzly Bear (Note: this song works in all regions of a photo.)
ISO50: If there could be a new filter added on instagram describe it the best you can:
Cole: If you combine Inkwell (the current b&w filter) with say, the soft tones of Sierra, it produces some lovely results. I think there may be something to that.
ISO50: Do you find there being pressure of getting a certain kind of shot to post on instagram? Do you ever hesitate to post?
Cole: Sure i’d say there’s an incentive to keep it interesting and meaningful, so you tend to become more selective with what you post. I definitely feel some pressure to keep traveling, to keep it consistent with the landscapes that i usually post. Twist my arm. As for hesitation, once in a while i’ll think twice about posting some the crazy experimental stuff. I have fun trying to push the medium in new & weird ways, and then sharing the process so everyone take part and push it further. Take for instance, shooting through a sweater stretched over the lens. Sometimes you have to look at the photo, turn your head to one side and ask yourself “… really?” So, you share what works, and you bury the rest. Like an iceberg, most people only see the little bit that’s above water.
ISO50: I’m moving to SF next week, can you list your favorite bar, venue, restaurant, and a place to relax at?
Cole: On a Thursday night when it’s not too crowded, grab a couple of friends for drinks in an old pirate ship themed bar called Smuggler’s Cove in Hayes Valley. There’s even a flaming skull drink! Nuff said. Then, when you’re good and toasty, mozy on down the block to Absinthe for one of the best burgers in the city. While you’re there, have them bring over the St. George absinthe, the only variety any sane person should bother to try. You’ll be feeling pretty good at this point, and maybe a bit full, but i promise you won’t care. When it’s time, sign your check and stroll a few blocks further to the more relaxed appeal of Hotel Biron, for a glass of wine you’ll in the short term love & then soon regret as you wait for your Uber cab before crawling into bed.
ISO50: What do you think about the popular page on instagram? What would you change about it to make it something you’d visit more frequent?
Cole: It’s very honest and very human. Algorithmically, it’s doing some really smart things to bring you photos that are getting a lot of attention. Attention, however doesn’t guarantee that every photo will be amazing, so that’s where i think the honesty comes in. Right now, the popular page is a perfect snapshot of what’s on people’s minds at a given point in time. It’s Freud meets Ansel Adams, with some teenage angst and a few cute puppies thrown in. I love it for what it is, but as with anything, it’ll evolve. Down the line I would love to see it become more curated, or influenced by more tastemakers on Instagram. Imagine giving more weight to a photo if it’s liked by other influential users who have had a few of their own photos featured on the popular page. An “artists supporting upcoming artists” metric.
ISO50: If you weren’t working on photography or being a pilot what would you be doing for a living?
Cole: Well, I have a web company called Particle that pays the bills, but that aside, i’d probably sell tripods or hang gliders online and travel. Build a water well for a community that needs it. Maybe grow some rice.
ISO50: What are your feelings on Facebook buying Instagram? Any updates that what would make you sad to see added?
Cole: I think from the beginning it was obvious that the app was going to be huge. Even before they launched, the hundred or so beta testers were using the app all day everyday. It was exactly what was missing, and i’m damn thrilled to see it make its mark in history. Their team and inner culture is incredible, so i have faith in the people and the smarts they bring behind scenes. I can’t really imagine them adding a feature that wasn’t great or without the user in mind. I’m actually looking forward to the much needed updates to Facebook that Instagram will bring.
Scott and I put together a mix for Dazed Magazine last week, we wanted to make it a free download for you all. Below is the tracklist and link to the Tycho interview, enjoy.
TRACKLIST Caribou – Sinuses Com Truise – Karova Broker/Dealer – On A Claire Day Cloudland Canyon – Krautwerk Tame Impala – Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? Bibio – Saint Christopher Black Moth Super Rainbow – From The See Odd Nosdam – Up In Flames Bonobo – Recurring J Dilla – One 18 Carat Affair – Phil Spector Daydream Broadcast & The Focus Group – One Million Years Ago Ulrich Schnauss – Stars Beck – Hotwax
Space Dog Books is an interactive book publishing company that aims to introduce readers to new worlds through the use of touch-sensitive devices. Last month they released their first book app, Treasure Island – A Space Dog Book, and I was blown away by the experience.
I had the opportunity to speak with Tymn Armstrong, Art Director at Space Dog Books, and he was kind enough to share his thoughts on the project and give a behind the scenes look at the process of “creating universes in a digital world.”
Jon: Thanks for sharing with us. Congratulations on the launch of Treasure Island. When you set out to create content for these devices what led you to children’s books?
Tymn: First off, thanks! It was a lot of work. Over a year of production went into making it and it feels so great to see it completed.
I think we’re starting with children’s books because they present more challenges than adult books. There is this misconception that children’s publishing is easy because it’s for kids but it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s an extremely competitive industry with some of the most talented people in the world of books. That said, we do have plans for books that are not necessarily children’s books. We don’t ever want to limit ourselves.