Music inspired by the stars

Scott Hansen makes ambient melodies with a spacey vibe which reminds him of an astronomer

American electronica artist Scott Hansen makes ambient music that incorporates textural beats and melodies, often exuding a spacey, chilled-out vibe.

So it is apt that he performs under the moniker of Tycho, named after famous 16th-century Danish astronomer and alchemist Tycho Brahe, a man known for his comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations.

California-based Hansen, who is in his 30s, tells Life! via an e-mail interview ahead of his first concert in Singapore tomorrow: "I was reading a lot on astrophysics and cosmology and his name kept coming up, and I just felt it was fitting for the sound I was trying to create."

He started recording music under Tycho in 2002, and has released four studio albums to date, including last year's Awake.

Over the years, his music has often drawn comparisons to other established electronica acts such as Scottish electronic duo Boards Of Canada, German electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss and American electronic musician Nosaj Thing.

His music lies in the realm of post-rock and melodic electronica created by pop synths. Music critics often dub this "chillwave", a term Hansen finds quite restrictive, but does not mind.

"I think it's a little confining given the connotation and attachment to a pretty specific time in music. But if it helps someone relate the style of music to someone else, then I guess it's a somewhat useful description," he says.

He has been a solo electronica artist for most of his music career, but with his latest album, he roped in the help of a backing band. They include American country singer-guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O'Connor.

The record is one that Hansen refers to as his "first true Tycho record", where he finally saw himself as a focused musician.

He says: "It was the first time I felt like I was in complete control over the outcome of my work as a musician.

"My previous records had been kind of compilations of songs from here and there over a period of several years; Awake was conceived and completed in eight months. I think that's the key, it represents a very finite time and place."

With the addition of a live backing band, the result is a more rock-oriented record, which Hansen says is a sound driven by his love for rock music, "so it's slowly been finding its way into the records".

He is not just a musician, but a visual artist as well. In fact, he got into art before music and continues to be active in it, creating the artwork for his music and contributing to his design blog, ISO50.

"I've always been a visual artist so that definitely came first. I had been drawing and doing crafts from a young age before I got into computer-based design," he says.

Fans at his performance tomorrow will get to see his visual artwork.

He says: "We're going to be debuting some new visual content and some new projection methods. I'm not really sure what to expect, I just generally go in without any preconceived notion of the place and let it reveal itself."

melk@sph.com.sg