Tycho brings ambient into the mainstream 

Formerly underground solo ambient electronic musician Scott Hansen, who performs as Tycho, has sold out San Francisco’s Fillmore.

It’s an insane feat for a genre almost antithetical to popular success. Tycho’s jams don’t have lyrics, catchy hooks or booty-popping beats, yet millions are streaming him on Soundcloud.com now.

“I don’t know,” Hansen says. “I’m not sure how that happened. It’s pretty surreal.”

“So you can quit now?,” one might ask. “You made it. You sold out the Fillmore.”

“Three years ago, that would have been the story. But yeah, you definitely can’t quit,” the Mission district producer says. “It’s been weird. Just the fact that we had the opportunity to play there was something I didn’t expect. And then to have that happen. It’s awesome.”

Today marks the launch of Tycho’s “Awake” tour, named for his new LP coming out today on Ghostly International. The album is full of Tycho’s now-trademark sounds: overlapping waves of whispering synth; warm, friendly guitar melody; clean, processed percussion and bass.

What’s new on the recording is the addition of his live band from last year’s tour: bassist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O’Connor.

The trio amped up Tycho’s tracks for live audiences, and the experience opened Hansen’s ears to a more propulsive Tycho. The trio took that idea into the studio for “Awake.”

“It’s definitely kind of a band now,” Hansen says.

Saying that “Awake” “rocks” might be an epithet in ambient, but the 40-minute album has a newfound momentum and an optimistic, expansive feel inspired by the big skies of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana.

After tonight at the Fillmore, Hansen heads off to Europe, then the Midwest, East Coast and back to the West Coast through August on the most extended tour he has ever done.

Hansen is handling the video production side as well as the audio, and the project is clearly taking its toll.

“I’m pretty wiped out,” he sighs. “There hasn’t been much downtime since we started recording the album.”

Even so, he’s still pumped to have his parents down from Sacramento tonight at the show.

“I don’t think they understood exactly what I did for a living for quite a while. ‘I’m playing the Fillmore,’ is a reference point they can understand.”



Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $25 (sold out)

Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.ticketmaster.com



John Digweed: The English house and techno legend plays a DJ set at Mighty. 9 p.m., $40. Mighty, 119 Utah St., S.F., (415) 626-7001, www.mighty119.com


Dance Mania: Chicago House rules when Icee Hot and Honey Soundsystem present Dance Mania and duo Mister Saturday Night, plus residents. 9 p.m., $15. Public Works, 161 Erie St., S.F., (415) 779-6757, www.publicsf.com


Kraftwerk: The iconic German electronic band brings its 3-D tour to the East Bay for three shows. 8 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, $65. Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 302-2250, www.thefoxoakland.com

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David Downs

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