Under the moniker Tycho, Scott Hansen has become one of the most celebrated electronic musicians in the world. On his debut album, 2006’s Past Is Prologue, he worked as a solo artist, but he eventually brought in a full band for subsequent releases and tours. During the current pandemic, though, he has reverted to performing on his own for livestreamed shows, as he will do when he appears as a headliner for the virtual
Abracadabra Festival (streaming on Twitch from September 17-20).

Hansen will perform from the San Francisco venue The Independent, and says it was an easy decision to do this particular festival. “I like the lineup and the aesthetic and the message of the whole thing,” he says, calling from his San Francisco home. He is pleased that all proceeds from the festival will go to various environmental causes because nature is a recurring theme with Tycho. “I’m channeling the idea or the feelings that I get from being in nature with the music. That’s always been my goal. So anytime I can connect a little more with that, that’s always a positive.”

Besides Tycho, other artists performing at Abracadabra Festival include Diplo, Snoop Dogg performing as DJ Snoopadelic, B.o.B., Beats Antique, Blond:ish, and dozens more. There will also be discussions and workshops with environmental leaders, wellness activities, and magic shows, all streamed from various locations around the globe.

While many artists are expressing despair about performing to webcams instead of live audiences, this arrangement is actually preferable for Hansen, in some ways. He’s a self-described introvert, adding, “I think whatever part of your brain controls social interaction, mine is broken.” This means that dealing directly with the audience directly has “never been what drives me. It’s almost like it overwhelms me, in a way. I freeze up every time I look out [at the audience],” he says.

Instead, Hansen says that during regular concerts, he tries to be “more in the moment interacting with the instruments and with the music and getting into your own headspace. So in that sense, [a livestreamed show] is actually kind of more conducive to me being able to meditate on the performance instead of worrying about the context and the audience.”

Another silver lining that’s come with this non-touring pandemic situation is that it has enabled Hansen to slim down the Tycho stage setup. In recent years, he says, “the show has become this really big production. There’s a whole band and all this equipment. And sometimes, you can get lost in the complexity of it all. This is taking me back to my early days when it was just me and a laptop and a keyboard and a guitar, in a coffee shop in front of ten people that I’m friends with. So that element of it is cool because it’s like getting back to that space and building a really minimal set up and just thinking really carefully about what you want to say.”

All these benefits aside, Hansen admits that he does hope that he can get back to playing normal shows with his bandmates soon. “I miss the guys – I miss the band contact,” he says. “I definitely do feed off of them. Also, [when] it’s not just you up there, there’s something to take the attention away so you don’t feel totally naked onstage when you have these people you know around you. I definitely miss all that.”

Hansen last played with the full band for tour dates in February, supporting Tycho’s just-released sixth studio album, Simulcast. “We were just starting the tour for that when everything got shut down,” he says. Now, for the Abracadabra Festival, he’s picking up where he left off. “I’m playing some of the songs off that record. So that’s cool to be able to get out and actually develop those into something that feels compelling live.”

Next up, Tycho will release a single, “Runaway,” with R&B vocalist. Rum.Gold. Hansen says that he’s actually having no problems continuing to get work done, even during these turbulent times. “I work alone most of the time and just lock myself in a basement, so my life in that sense hasn’t really changed a whole lot,” he says. “In fact, I guess it’s helped me be kind of focused.”

Hansen is going to take a break from working for a little bit, though. He says goodbye so he can walk around San Francisco. It is the first day in a long time where smoke from the catastrophic wildfires isn’t choking the Bay Area, so he wants to enjoy being out in the world for a while. But after that, he undoubtedly will get drawn back into his inner world of Tycho music.

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