SAN FRAN breaks producer Tycho has been working cross-genre of late with Benjamin Gibbard, frontman of acclaimed US indie outfits Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service – not that genre purity is anything to for a second trouble Tycho, whose thoughtful and intelligent downbeatz are entirely sans frontières.
They shared the blissful pop of a single “Only Love” in high summer, and followed that with an uptempo and wholly dancefloor-oriented take just last month, with Austin producer Giobbi on the rerub there; and now to complete the triptych comes a woozy spacepop take on the original in collaboration with Oakland pairing Brijean.
Brijean is the duo of Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart, whose manifesto is to make dance music for the mind, body and soul. They released their debut album Feelings through Ghostly International only this February gone, from which expect dream pop tropicalia of a glowing kind; as you can see at play in this take on “Only Love”, which is all kinds of happy and halcyon and sun-drenched. A dose of the good stuff, indeed.
Murphy says: “Doug and I are fans of both Tycho and Ben Gibbard and it was wonderful to dive deep into ‘Only Love’. We combined some of Tycho’s rich synth-driven melodies with Brijean and Gibbard’s vocals, creating a lush, house-leaning world.”
Scott Hansen of Tycho agrees: “Brijean’s album ‘Feelings’ was one of my favorites of this year. I was hoping we’d find a way to collaborate eventually so I’m very happy to share their beautiful take of ‘Only Love’.
“I had been a fan of Ben’s work for a long time when, in 2016, I had the chance to do a remix for Death Cab for Cutie’s track ‘The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,’” he continues.
“Ben’s voice was a very inspiring element to work with from a production standpoint, I felt it really meshed well with the kinds of sounds and instrumentation I gravitate towards.
‘Only Love’ started life as an instrumental, but something was missing. I sent a rough demo to Ben and he recorded some vocals. The first time I heard the rough vocals the whole song suddenly made sense and the arrangement flowed out of that. After my early experimentations with vocals on [2019 album] Weather this felt like a great opportunity to put everything I had learned into practice.”
Ben also speaks of the collaboration and its political roots: “In 2014, while reading This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein, I came across a quote from Montanan goat rancher and environmentalist Alexis Bonogofsky that moved me immensely,” he says, “speaking about the fight to protect public lands in southeastern Montana from the mining company Arch Coal.
“She said: ‘[The] connection to this place and the love people have for it, that’s what Arch Coal doesn’t get. They underestimate that. They don’t understand it so they disregard it. And that’s what in the end will save that place. It’s not the hatred for the coal companies, or anger, but love will save this place.’
“When Scott sent me the music for ‘Only Love,’ it seemed perfect for this statement. Since reading Alexis’s words I’ve carried them as a universal truth; that the only way we preserve the people, places or things we care for is with love, not hatred. This is often easier said than done, of course. But I find myself coming back to her statement as if it were a mantra.”
Tycho’s “Only Love (with Brijean)” is out now via Ninja Tune on digital streaming platforms.