Tycho Live In Gainesville

Tycho on his midi controller

Scott Hansen is  on the stage, preparing to play his third song of the night. He stands, huddled over his midi controller with a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar slung across his back.

Hansen, better known as the chillwave artist Tycho and graphic design artist ISO50, then begins the song, A Walk, with its immediately recognizable synthesized keyboard part that starts out his 2011 release, “Dive.” The vocal mic is away from his face and turned down low. He doesn’t need one anyway. Not one of the songs has lyrics.

Tycho - the full group

Tycho performing at Double Down Live in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday night.

In the middle of the song, Hansen switches over and begins picking out the echoed guitar leads that comprise the rest of the song, backed musically by bass guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O’Connor.

Tycho performed this song–and 12 others– before a mesmerized crowd Tuesday night at Double Down Live in Gainesville, Fla.

There wasn’t much dancing, but this wasn’t a dancing type of show. This was less a moment to party than a moment to appreciate the cinematic beauty which lies in Tycho’s music.

That’s what Hansen said he is going for — a cinematic show, part of which involves a projector displaying film clips along with the songs he played. His first song, Adrift, was backed by images of a helicopter pilot flying over a snowy, mountainous region.

Most of the films tied to the songs involved nature in some way — a strange juxtaposition, considering the mechanized nature of electronic music. But maybe it was more fitting than you may realize. Hansen may be an electronic artist, but his style is as close to organic as electronic music gets.

Throughout the set, instruments changed hands. Brown put down his bass from time to time and picked up the electric guitar. For Elegy, their final of three encore songs performed that night, Brown had an acoustic guitar and Hansen picked out a lullaby melody over it, completely getting away from the synths in the set’s final moments.

This wasn’t your average electronic show — this was a performance, musicianship on display. Where many electronic artists opt to simply perform pre-recorded music, the incorporation of instruments allows Tycho to go above and beyond and give a truly live performance — complete with alterations and embellishments.

Both Hansen and Brown said after the show, there’s a lot of freedom for the musicians within the structure of the song. Hansen said it’s not uncommon for Brown to play bass lines that differ from the ones on the record, and that O’Connor is basically given carte blanche with his drum parts.

[box] “I don’t want it to just be some verbatim recreation of (the) album,” Hansen said.

Instead, he said, he’s trying to strike a balance between the machine and human element of the music, and the results can be breathtaking.[/box]

One of the most impressive moments of the night was O’Connor’s interpretation of the song Hours. Throughout the show, O’Connor plays over the already-programmed beats and layers his acoustic drums over the electric ones. On Hours, he plays around the programmed beat as opposed to with it, and the result is a mind-blowing potpourri of percussion that takes the song to an entirely new level.

Tycho played mostly cuts off  “Dive,” including three of our favorites, A Walk, Dive and Coastal Brake. In between each song, Hansen greeted the crowd’s applause with a quick smile and wave before getting back to business. He rarely spoke on stage. He stopped every few songs to thank the crowd for coming and also once to give his manager a birthday present — a cobra-head cane that unscrews into a blade. (Don’t screw with that guy.)

After the show, Hansen stationed himself behind his merchandise table, where he had an offering of prints of his art under his name ISO50. All the while, he smiled and laughed with fans as he signed the posters they bought.

Between conversations with fans, Hansen and Brown spoke with Fresh Wet Paint about their plans for a new album. Brown said while Tycho has long been Hansen’s solo project, it’s becoming more of a collaborative effort. Brown said he wrote the parts he plays on guitar live.

Hansen said “Dive” was already mostly fleshed out by the time he approached Brown about writing parts. However, he said, this time he plans on getting Brown involved at a much earlier stage, with the song Ascension serving as the archetype for the new record. We’ll try to keep you updated on its progress. Stay tuned.

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