"Spaceman" Ty Richards set to release debut album Zillion
If you haven’t heard of Ty Richards you are about to really soon. His highly anticipated debut album Zillion, set to be released on Feb. 3, is filled with psychedelic dance rock that is reminiscent of Beck’s 2005 album Guero. The first single from the album “Spaceman” alludes to Richards uprooting his life to move to Austin and is accompanied with a music video that is a visually stimulating space age take on “Romeo and Juliet”. Although he is based out of Austin, Richards is originally from Dallas and has strong ties to the music scene here, formally playing in bands connected with Beau Patrick Bedford of the Texas Gentlemen.
What's most impressive about this album is that Richards played every instrument, from the electric guitar and bass to analog synths and drums. With his raw sound and eccentric writing, we believe Ty Richards is poised for a breakout year in 2017. We recently caught up with Richards to talk about his musical influences, artistic music videos concepts and of course his debut album, Zillion.
I know you moved to Austin a few years ago, but how involved were you in the Dallas music scene before you left?
In Dallas, wrote probably 150-200 songs. I was really bad at releasing them, I had no business sense about it. Then I got married and just didn't write as much. Something happened when I moved to Austin, I didn't necessarily even move down there for music, probably more for tech and design stuff. But for whatever reason it was, I accidentally started making a record and making all of this music.
What was your songwriting process like when you play every instrument? Did you write the tune or the lyrics first?
I used to do it more of a traditional way, but for some reason when I started this record it was very backwards from how I usually do it. I’m primarily a guitar player, that’s like my main instrument and I got tired of the songs of was writing, so I just changed my approach all together. I started on drums and would just make a cool beat that I liked. Then I would move on to bass and whatever else the song needed. I didn't even touch lyrics or melody or anything like that until the song was pretty much done. I kind of wrote and recorded at the same time, so I had my little home studio at this point. I think there were maybe 2-3 songs that were written and then I recorded them later, but the majority of the tunes were written, recorded and produced all at the same time.
One of the things that really makes your music standout is your very abstract music videos. Where did the concept for your “Spaceman” music video come from?
I pulled from personal experience mixed with my own obsession for sci-fi. To me, it's like my life story of the last couple years combined with sci-fi. Dallas and Austin, even though they are in the same state, are very much different worlds. The chorus is, “You’re a spaceman waking up a zillion miles away,” and that just sums it up for me. I just felt like I was in a totally different world waking up in Austin.
Some fans have given you the nickname Beck-Zeppelin. How do you feel about that name and are those some of your influences?
Yea, yea. I personally like that. Usually as an artist someone will tell you, “Oh you sound like so and so,” and sometimes you take that as an insult — like, “Ah, I don’t think I sound like them.” But when I heard that one I was like, I will take that compliment and I just kind of owned it. I love Beck and love Led Zeppelin, and those actually are some of my bigger influences. I love Beck’s artisticness and I love Zeppelin. They just have balls, in between the drums, guitar and the hooks. Every single Led Zeppelin song was some kind of hook, and me, I’m just a sucker for a hook.
Yea, I can definitely see the Beck influences. There are a few songs on your album that fit in perfectly with Beck’s sound on Guero.
Thanks man, Guero unashamedly is one of my favorite records of all time. I think I'm at this point where I have kind of been running from my musical influences for my songwriting life, and for this record I openly embraced my influences and Guero is definitely one of those. Wilco is another one. I'm a huge Wilco fan, anything Jeff Tweedy does I really love. That and LCD Soundsystem. They were a really big influence for me.
I understand you are also a graphic designer, did you design the artwork on your own album?
Yes I did. I can’t take full credit as I did have a kick-ass photographer, and at this point he has done all my photography and all my videos; his name is Steven Gunter. But I do all of the art direction and all the design on pretty much everything you see coming out. There's so many things you have to make as a music artist. You’ve gotta have an album cover, website, all these social media graphics, so it's nice to not have to pay out the wazoo for it.
I know you are really into vinyl, can you talk about what's in your personal collection?
Yea it's kind of a mix, I have a lot of new stuff and old stuff. Vinyl to me is really important. My Morning Jacket is probably one of my favorite bands I have on vinyl. I have a lot of older stuff, a lot of Zeppelin which we already talked about. Bands like Fleetwood Mac, I’m a big fan of them. My wife’s music collection has really influenced me as well. She's really into Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Al Green. And honestly, she's been one of the biggest influences on this album of mine because she has just expanded my horizons on that front. Musically, I was probably just way too white until I met her (laughter).
Ty Richards debut album Zillion will be released on February 3rd. Be sure to also check him out in Dallas on February 10th at Three Links for his album release show. For more news on Ty Richards you can check out his website here.