everyone that knows demoscene knows his name and his muzik ….others will known him after reading this interview and by listening his works. Thanx Arto !
-What is the first song , artist , that you heard when you were young , that blow your mind ?
What a tricky start, I need to think back and let the answer come to my head 🙂
Not counting the mandatory early-teen hard rock / heavy metal phase, I’d say one obvious early inspiration were the mid-80s instrumental italo disco tracks (what people refer to as ‘spacesynth’ nowadays). You know, tracks from likes of Koto and Laserdance.
Real mind-blowing occurred when acid house started to surface. It was the aesthetics of this « new style of music (ooh aah!) » that appealed to me greatly; the very machine-sque style of artistic expression deprived of human performance, and the total lack of classic instruments.
With the above in mind, I’d probably pick ‘Stakker Humanoid’ by Humanoid.
-How did you start making music ?
My friend had an Amiga 500. Being the considerate me, I tried to « help » him play less games by taking over his computer every now and then, hammering away on the keyboard (learning about trackers etc.). I’m not counting the random efforts I did with C64 before Amiga.
-Did you learn any « classic Instrument(s) » ?
Yes I did, I played tuba in a school big band. I would’ve wanted to play the drums, but apparently there were more rhythmically inclined people in my class and so I got assigned the tuba.
-When and how did you get in touch with computers ?
It was around 1983, I think. A friend of mine had a VIC-20 with which we spent countless hours playing games like Gorf and Omega Race. I got a C64 of my own in 1988, and an Amiga in 1992.
-What s the genesis of your demoscene name: « Little Bitchard » ?
The name is actually derived from the lyrics of one of my rap favourites, Kool Keith. Back in 1997, I couldn’t afford cutting custom vinyl dub plates for turntablism (as in, making scratches using your artist name), so the shoe-string / budget approach was to pick a name that was already on vinyl and available. So I found myself selecting a name from Kool Keith’s and Tim Dog’s 1996 album release ‘Big Time’ (performing as ‘Ultra’). Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sajEFSpoxHI .. One kick ass track!
– If i say AMIGA , what does it inspire to you? Share some memories from the early years.
It mostly makes me think of how I hated being stuck with only the shitty 8-bit samples and four channels. Had I had the money, I would’ve certainly bought a decent sampler and used the A500 only for sequencing 🙂
Of course the reality wasn’t as sad as that; sound quality issues aside, I really enjoyed making a lot of tracks and learning in the process.
– What were your main sources of inspiration at this time ? Like what computer artists or computers works attracted you in and outside computer’s world , what kind of artists did you like at this time ( in every ways …books , movies , muzic and so on… )
Basically just about anything I could get my hands on! Any shows on local radio stations playing electronic music, sci-fi films & books, local rave parties. I was even collecting local rave flyers and newspaper articles for quite some time (~1991 – 1999), because I really wanted to keep on the up & up of what’s happening and « document » the zeitgeist.
MTV’s Party Zone & Chillout Zone were great, the former before it went all 4-by-4 dance top 10. I used to have my tape deck hooked up to the audio out of a VCR and I’d then stay up all night, recording both the video and audio, hunting for inspiring tracks. I regret tossing away a lot of those tapes, since esp. some of the videos would’ve deserved converting to some digital format and perhaps uploaded somewhere online. MTV also had a lot of those short experimental films and animations scattered in-between the show breaks etc.; I used to tape those too and really enjoyed all the visual overload they often presented.
– What Tracker(s) did you use ?
MED, OctaMED and Protracker. OctaMED was the go-to choice as it had MIDI & 8-channel mode.
– Did you create your own samples or use predifined one ?
I didn’t have an A/D converter for my A500 until 1994. Before that I was using samples from sources like the ST -disks, mods by other composers and games (Action Replay MK III ftw!).. And I guess there isn’t a tracker composer who hasn’t tried loading random files for samples 🙂
– Songs that you ve created during Amiga time which you still proud of ?
None that I can think off. Out of what I have on my website AND true to the strict « A500 + 1Mb RAM » setup, I’d forcibly pick « Chaotic St8 » from 1996. Despite it’s very much a product of its time, it still is something I can relate to also in some way other than « Haha what was I thinking, I’m glad I kept all these! ».
I’m very happy with the fact that most of my Amiga mods are unreleased; there’s probably less than 20% of that catalog available online 🙂
– When and why did you leave Amiga for PC’s music composition ?
It happened in 2001. Back then I had been, for a good while, very frustrated with all the non-composing chores related to doing complex MIDI arrangements with a tracker. That stuff was a real inspiration killer! What triggered the switch was, when Mel Function / Kewlers donated his old computer to me, which was a 233Mhz Pentium 2 /w 256Mb RAM (iirc). He really wanted me to start learning more up-to-date tools.
– What kind of artists are you really interest in ?
Artists who make enjoyable music. Esp. with electronic music, finding something great that doesn’t sound outdated immediately, or within a year or two, is challenging.
– What software(s) do you use now?
I mostly use Ableton Live 8 and Cockos Reaper. I also have Sony Acid 7, but that’s mostly for working with legacy project files.
– How do you generate your vst ? Where do you take them from and if you realise some by yourself, how do you create them ( tools , sources and so on )
I’m coding-disabled and am thus stuck with readily available VSTs. I’m mostly using freeware or DAW-bundled plugins. Among the freeware my go-to plugins are at least Variety of Sound, ReaPlugs, Interruptor.ch and the Kjaerhus Classic series. On the commercial side, the go-tos would be a few Audio Damage plugins (BigSeq2 ftw!), Z3ta+ 2 and the bundled plugins that come with Acid 7 & Ableton Live (eg. Izotope Mastering Effects Bundle).
Of course it would be dead easy to warez all the new plugs & presets, but that way you just end up playing catch-up to stay on the up & up.. And your VST toolbox would likely be a uninspiring mess of this and that, none of which you never bother learning well.. Buy something, and suddenly you gain a lot of extra motivation to learn and use it!
– What do you think of nowadays demoscene ?
Various, it was bit of a long stretch nailing the final version.
The first version of the tune was something completely different; a darker, Hague-ish electro track. Second version shared a very similar structure (and drums) to third version, but it was instrumental and had entirely different melodies. Third and final is what ended up in the demo.
My favorite memory of transitioning between second and third versions is planning melodies and lyrics in my head during many cold and dark winter mornings, while walking to work.. I usually don’t write songs this way at all, yet this was the first occasion where it worked out.. Not that the lyrics turned out that good 🙂
– How would you describe Kewlers team ?
I guess we’re a bunch of old « been there done that » guys, who still occasionally find the time to release something 🙂
– Now developping on android for demos , why ?
This is entirely up to Curly Brace. I have very little preference towards a platform, as long as any streaming audio format can be used. We’ve discussed about making IOS demos too, but the « walled garden » stuff just makes it too much of a hassle.
Curly likes Android because of limited computing power, yet still being able to use a familiar languages & graphics API (C or C++ and OpenGL). Android is not too old school to rule out making interesting effects, but not over-powered like PCs are nowadays. Sticking to demoscene’s ethos of « pushing hardware to its limits » I think that nowadays, to follow through with that and make something very impressive, you’d either need to be able to incorporate your daytime profession into making demos or perhaps go for a ‘one release per year’ kind of schedule.. Or get paid doing demos 🙂
This trend is evident within demoscene too: this hardware pushing has, for a good while now, been shifting towards people going for file size limitations than actually trying to utilize all the available CPU & GPU power.
In my opinion, Kewlers has never been with the pushing camp, but more like « this and that inspires us, let’s do something ». For instance the mesh LOD (Level Of Detail) effect used in Proton-K (2012) was inspired by « Destruckt » by The Holograms (http://theholograms.free.fr) and initially developed for a commercial prototype we did for Nokia.
– Can you tell us about your music activities outside the scene ?
I’m currently in charge of sound design for Grand Cru’s (http://grandcrugames.com) freemium IOS game called « Supernauts ». I’m also contributing music to another IOS game project, but for now, my lips are sealed with that.
Besides that, I’m working to getting some digital download / streaming releases out both for distribution and licencing but for now, with all the other real world stuff it’s a slow crawl.. more like a pastime hobby. I’ll have a new single release out in about a month, that’s all I can say with certainty at the moment.
– You re looking vor vocals … what kind of tracks woud you like composing with , for what kind of listeners ?
It could be just about anything electronic that gives me the gut feel of « damn, this works ». Vocals just add so much more feeling to a track, as you have both the melody and lyrics to deliver moods.
– Do you produce yourself on live stage ?
No not at the moment. I’d love to, but can’t.
Based on the experience gathered from what live gigs I’ve done, I feel there should be more to the performance than just me fiddling away with bits of gear. I’m not that fluent a keyboard player either.
On the other hand, making a good stage performance happen would require more spare time than I can currently afford (rehearsing with musicians etc.). I’d probably also need a manager to handle booking and whatever other arrangements.
– What do you think of nowadays electro / techno sounds in the scene , in the clubs , on radios ?
I’m not following new releases that much. There’s just too much uninteresting throwaway stuff for one person (with many better things to make and do) to wade through. That said, I do constantly check out decent amounts of artists both old and new that I haven’t heard before, but they rarely are just electro or techno. I also try to keep myself somewhat on the map with what’s hot & current.. There’s always something to get influenced by out there.
I like it that at least some artists do manage to innovate within the more and more narrow confines of what hasn’t yet been done. Sadly many emergening sub-genres are too narrow-minded and formulaic from the get-go, and thus become boring & outdated pretty fast.
Speaking about sub-genres (and umbrellas too), I’m having a good laugh with all the genre pigeon-holing going on.. Coming up with imaginary genres (say « UPPERCASE drumstep ») is a long-running joke that me and some friends do every now and then, and from that point-of-view genres like bass music or complextro electro house are hilarious.. But they’re that by definition too 🙂
..Aaand just to do some irrelevant nitpicking about genres, I find the out-of-context re-use of names silly, like « electro » & « house » in « electro house ». I mean electro is stuff like Drexciya or Anthony Rother, and if I think about merging that with, say, Basement Jaxx, then ending up with something like Skrillex or Steve Aoki isn’t exactly what springs to my mind. It’s fun to play around with the thought of reversing these genre definitions and try imagining what house and electro might sound like.. Eg. if you’d take the electro house basslines & high-pitched bleepy synths and make real electro with them.
– What is you secret dream as a musician ?
To make at least one songs that is worth listening in 10, 30, or even 100 years.
– Electro music appeared a long time now ( greets to all visionaries 90’s people who said « it ‘s crap it won’t pass the next summer « ^^ ) … how can it evolve ?
Impossible to tell. Given that evolution is the natural order of things, I’m sure electronic music will manage that too.
– and your last word is ….. ?