Over the years, we’ve continually fallen deeper and deeper in love with Tycho’s seamless blending of two of our favorite artistic expressions: design and music. With that in mind, it was obviously an incredible experience to sit down with Scott before his show at the Summit Music Hall in Denver, Colorado, to chat about spirituality, what his favorite cartoons are, and what his last meal would be. Check out the conversation in full below.

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TMN: Thank you so much for sitting down with us today before your show at the Summit Music Hall here in Denver. First up, let’s talk about how the tour is going so far.

Tycho: Yeah, we played Santa Cruz and San Francisco to start the tour off, and then we headed to Europe for about six days. We’re basically kicking off the US tour again here (in Denver).

TMN: Alright, you’re obviously on tour promoting your latest album, Awake, which just released a few weeks back. Tell us how this album translates into your live performances.

Tycho: I think it’s impetuous for the change in sound and the way we went about writing this record. The record was made for the live show originally, so touring with these guys… just the way the songs were interpreted for the live context, some of the older songs really had some changes and more drive. That’s what this record is really about. Now, it’s kind of like a one to one thing. It’s more of a traditional instrumentation.

TMN: Let’s touch on that album a bit more. We noticed that it leans a little more on the guitar side than previous albums. Was there any particular reason behind that?

Tycho: With Dive, a lot of those songs like “Daydream,” were me learning guitar. I came to guitar pretty late as a musician. I had played keyboard for years and then came to guitar. It’s always been an interesting instrument to me because I feel like I’m more creative with it. I feel like I’m not stuck in ruts with it, like I am with keyboard.

I wrote this record with Zach, and he’s a guitarist, so that just kind of came to the forefront. I wanted Awake to be more of a balance between the synths and the guitar. I really appreciate guitar-centric music.

TMN: Nonetheless, it’s a great body of work. With this being your fourth full album, has the process gotten any easier for you?

Tycho: It’s the third full album. The other was a half release where I just added a couple of songs. The other ones…I wouldn’t really call them albums. I don’t look at them in the same way because they weren’t concentrated efforts. They were more of a collection of ideas and things that I had been working on for years.

This is the first time we sat down, from start to finish, wrote and recorded an album. I think this is more of an album, in the sense that it’s more cohesive, and it’s a slice of a point in time. That being said, it’s hard to compare this to the other ones, but it definitely went faster and flowed a lot better. I think that was from working with more people and having more perspectives.

TMN: Let’s change gears a bit. Some people might not know that you’re also known as ISO50 in a completely different artistic community. Talk to us about that side of your creativity.

Tycho: I don’t see it as that divided anymore. With Tycho, I’m trying to bring those two together. I was always getting the same ideas with the music and the design, but I never really found a comfortable middle ground to bring them together and that’s what the live show has been. It’s the perfect combination of music and design. There’s this movement and energy to it that you don’t have with static design. It kind of echoes what music can do.

I look at Tycho as an audio visual project now, so everything that I do goes towards Tycho. I see it as a singular thing. I don’t see them as two different organisms.

TMN: Speaking of your work in graphic design, how has that background affected how you craft ambient music. Do you feel like the two are interconnected?

Tycho: I started design and music at the same time, so they kind of grew out of each other. I was a professional designer before I was doing music for a living. I definitely spent more time on design in the early years. I think they’re both coming from a similar place. I don’t think one informs the other, although, I think the music influences the design moreso now.

TMN: Back to music. You had some of your songs featured in Toonami. Are you a cartoon buff at all, or was that more of a business deal?

Tycho: They were just cool guys. I watch a lot of the live action stuff on there, not so much the animation.

TMN: What’s your favorite cartoon at this moment?

Tycho: I always liked Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

TMN: What was your favorite cartoon when you were eight years old?

Tycho: Ah man! Probably G.I. Joe.

TMN: We’d like to get in your craftsmanship a little bit. How do you go about making such lush soundscapes? They seem to carry a somewhat metaphysical weight to them.

Tycho: Oh, cool. Thanks. I think it’s all about layering and creating chords without playing chords. So, it isn’t one instrument that’s making the chord, it’s three different things. It’ll be three different tambers coming together to make something that sounds a little more gauzy or deep. I approach music the same way I approach design, in this layered sort of way.

TMN: Speaking of metaphysical, do you have a deep, spiritual side to you. We can’t help but sense that in your music.

Tycho: I wouldn’t call myself a traditional spiritualist. With me it’s art and music. Any part of me…I’m trying to channel into any kind of spiritual experiences, larger than life entities, that kind of overwhelm you. That’s what spiritual is to me. It’s a very biological thing to me. I don’t look at it as some divine thing. And for me, I’m trying to channel that into something real.

TMN: Alright, let’s wrap up this portion by asking about what people can expect on this tour. Is it going to be a mix of new and old? Are you heavily pushing the new album?

Tycho: The idea behind it is immersion. Taking the whole thing…the visuals and the audio combining into one. We have the large projection surface that I’ve done the visuals for and the become lighting almost. It becomes this moving thing that reinforces some of the ideas in the music. The idea is to be enveloped in the whole thing.

TMN: So, before we let you go, we have to ask a few random questions. These have nothing to do with music or graphic design.
If you could have drinks with any person, past or present, who would you hang out with?

Tycho: Oh man…that’s tough. That’s a tough question. I have no idea. Would it be someone I could ask questions to? I have no idea.

TMN: If you could punch one historical figure in the face, who would you lace into?

Tycho: (Laughs) There’s a lot of easy answers to that…haha..I have no idea.

TMN: Say you’re on death row, what’s your last meal going to be?

Tycho: Deep Dish pizza from Little Star Pizza in San Francisco.

TMN: Say you were on death row and ice cream was on your menu. If you could only pick one topping to put on said ice cream, what would it be?

Tycho: Heath bars or butterfingers.

TMN: What’s the most embarrassing pop song you enjoy?

Tycho: I don’t know what constitutes pop songs, per se…what’s that one song? “Happy.” I love that song. And “Hey Ya.”

TMN: What was your first job?

Tycho: Paperboy in fifth grade. I was a paperboy until I was 18.

TMN: Alright, last one. If your music were an animal, what would it be.

Tycho: Oh, wow. Haha. A horse.

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