2020 has hardly provided an aura for meditation, yet the ever-reflective music producer Tycho insists this year offers creatives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow. In a chat with EDM.com, he discussed how he’s managed to find a silver lining through the pandemic, tour cancellations, and even his home state being ravaged by wildfires.
Tycho is a San Francisco-based producer, composer, and songwriter. Known globally for his instrumental production style, his music features downtempo guitar, analogue synths, and a variety of sounds pulled from everyday life. He first appeared onto the scene in 2006 with Past Is Prologue, an album that featured him performing mostly solo in a studio. Nowadays, the two-time Grammy Award-nominee varies his Tycho performances as both a solo DJ act and live band—at least before the pandemic.
While the producer has managed to make the most of his time in quarantine, the California wildfires, which have burned over 3.5 million acres across the state, have provided another ongoing distraction that has hit close to home.
"I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life,” said Tycho, who hopped on the phone on a rare, smoke-free afternoon in San Francisco. “When the whole thing manifests in front of your eyes and is worse and worse every year it’s like, wow, this is just going to be a slow slide into oblivion if we don’t do something about this quickly.”
Most of Tycho’s music sonically places itself in serene, natural locations such as a beach or desert, but most of that inspiration comes from within and finding time to meditate. While most fans may picture his recording studio as a glass corner office overlooking the ocean, Hansen’s home life and recording space are far more urban. "I channel nature and all those experiences into my music, but at the same time, I live in the middle of a city and my studio is in a basement. It’s this weird paradoxical situation," he said.
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After having to cancel the supporting tour for Simulcast (as well as a July gig with STS9 at Red Rocks Amphitheater), Tycho began working from home. "In a way, I’ve been more productive because I'm able to focus 100% on creating," he remarked. This isolated period of recording has not only given him a chance to create, but also to circle back to his original performance and production format by doing things solo.
The result? An upcoming instrumental Tycho album in the works, a standalone single at the end of the month, and a chance to reconnect with fans at Abracadabra Festival. The festival is led by founder BLOND:ISH and Liana Hilson, who have been producing unique, single-use plastic free events in Tulum, Mykonos, and at Tomorrowland since 2017. Abracadabra clicked aesthetically for Tycho, but the artist was even more impressed with the vision and execution.
The festival also offered him a chance to return to his original solo live show, which features keyboards, guitar, pedals and a lot of "messing around by [himself]." Before parting with us, the acclaimed musician and practitioner of meditation also commented on the state of the music industry and even offered advice to young artists during this time. "I just see it as an incredible and rare opportunity to be creative," said Tycho. "You’re rarely ever going to find a moment like this in history to try something new [and] probably won’t have another chance like this again."
The second incarnation of Abracadabra festival kicked off September 17th and boasts a unique lineup that includes Tycho, Diplo, Snoop Dogg's DJ alter-ego DJ Snoopadelic, Channel Tres, Nicole Moudaber, Claude Vonstroke, Beats Antique, BLOND:ISH, and more. In addition to the music, Abracadabra features an expansive self-care lineup, with workshops and talks from a bevy of facilitators intent on making you feel brighter and more grounded in these challenging times.