Chapelier / The Increasing Popularity Crew
Added on January 25th, 2007 (6827 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
I'm Ville Nurmi, born 1979-08-29 in Espoo, Finland. That makes me 27 today on 2007-01-25. Espoo is the second biggest city (or town) in Finland and is located right next to the capital Helsinki. I still live in Espoo in a nice peaceful area with my girlfriend. I work as a researcher at the University of Helsinki. There I focus on mathematical logic which is rather an abstract topic. I can only say that I try to prove theorems concerning concepts such as truth and models (not the slim chicks and robust guys on advertisements but mathematical ones). Most of my free time I spend on playing C64 games and updating them on C64.COM. A vast majority of all the game screenshots on this site are done by me. Whatever is left of my free time after playing games gets spent on various things, including playing music on a digital harpsichord. I dig baroque music and solo harpsichord pieces. I find something similar in the sound of a harpsichord and the SID chip. :)
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
On the C64 I've always been Chapelier. It's French and people have a hard time pronouncing it. My choice for this handle came from my inspiration in French which for its part came from my inspiration to French harpsichord music. The full story would be long, so take that and add to it my inspiration in hats (chapeau in French). Chapelier is a guy who makes hats. Not that I have made any ever.
What group(s) were you in?
I was happy to make my debut in The Increasing Popularity Crew. After that I've made some productions and more scrolltext for the past C64hq – now C64.COM.
What roles have you fulfilled?
My productive part on the C64 has been making music. I've done it on many platforms before, but I seem to have always moved towards simplicity. The SID with three waveforms seems to be what I have ended up with. Therefore the SID is the high point of my musical evolution. I also have some programming skills that are yet to be unleashed on the C64. And of course I can write scrolltexts.
How long were you active for?
I started as late as in 2004. Or in fact I did have a C128 already in 1980s. Back then I didn't much understand about the scene or anything but playing loooots of games and typing down the odd BASIC program that drew interesting patters out of circles and lines. Then again, I was pretty young.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
The story starts in August 1987 when I turned eight and got a C128 as a birthday present. It was my first computer ever. It was equipped with one or two joysticks and a stack of disks with some copied games. The following 3-4 years I spent playing those games. One of my all-time favourites was Ultima 5. Its vast gameworld and moody music (only on the C128!) totally captured me.
After those 3-4 golden years, it was time to move on to more modern computers. That's peer pressure for you! I didn't look back much and the C128 got sold with all disks and joysticks included. Playing games never left me, it just moved to manifest itself on new platforms. During the next 10 years I often found myself humming to game tunes from my favourite C64 games. At some point I discovered Sidplay and the High Voltage SID Collection, which brought back lots of good memories. Later I discovered C64 emulators and some games.
In 2002, reading the HVSC newsletter, I found out about a new C64 site called C64hq. I paid it a visit in search of some good gaming memories. Instead of the games I was looking for I found a call for help on the games section. As I was playing emulated C64 games already on my free time, I saw this as a good chance to turn my pastime into something useful. This is how I got into contact with Andreas who ran the site. Two years later I visited his place and got into The Increasing Popularity Crew by writing some scrolltext! Later on Andreas has also used my SID tunes on his productions.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Go to school. After coming back, balancing between playing C64 games, meeting friends and playing C64 games, or doing something creative out of the house.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
In the 1980s, none. But lately I've been madly coding scripts to help me organise files that are involved in game screenshooting for C64.COM.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
From what I did in 1980s, I'm most proud of obtaining good memories and getting a feeling of the early times of computers.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I can't really name any specific heroes as I was never that much into what happened in the scene.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
I think the whole scene is the coolest thing. Surely it cannot be credited as anybody's invention. The social spheres around this magical computer are the most important thing.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
I have visited a couple of Assembly parties in Helsinki. They have their oldskool compos but otherwise its not that much about the C64.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
The scene was a manifestation of an innovative culture that was based around a computer model. It surprises me how people find their ways of getting organised. Think of it; first there are no computers, teenagers hang out together in who knows what outdoor activities. Then comes the C64, people find out how to crack games' copy protections and start making intros, then swapping them to get fame and voilą, we have the scene! If I was an anthropologist, I would definitely study the details of how the scene got started and what it revolved around.
What were the particular highlights for you?
Back in the 1980s I was pretty proud of drawing the Commodore logo in BASIC. :D One of the highlights from the past few years has been the discovery and thorough documentation of the solution to Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I also remember being very joyful when I managed to complete Ultima 2 for C64.COM screenshooting after around one year of on-off playing. Next up Ultima 3. :) Very cool has also been hearing my SID tunes being played to the people at Assembly, and of course featuring in a kick ass demo by C64.COM. ;)
Any cool stories to share with us?
Nothing so cool perhaps. But I do remember borrowing Airborne Ranger from the older boy in the neighbourhood back in the 1980s. He had a modem and obviously had better access to games than me. Anyway, he told me to return the disk soon. I liked the game and played it daily. Unfortunately, while experimenting with the game's menu one day, I thought that "insert Roster disk" meant inserting the backside of the game disk. So, I incidentally formatted half of the game. Of course I hadn't bothered to take a copy for myself before. Eventually the guy demanded me to return the disk. I did, not telling anything about the formatting. I don't remember him lending me games after that.
Another game-related story is about my dad. He has never been into computers like I have, but for some reason he played Q*Bert on my C64 like crazy. My personal record in the game was perhaps up to level 3 or 4. Dad kept on practicing and was more successful. He got better and better, until one day he completed all the levels so that the game looped back to level 1. He was very proud of this accomplishment, and for a good reason too. I screenshot Q*Bert for C64.COM a few years back on an emulator, and I had to resort to the snapshot feature extensively in order to proceed to later levels. All this sounds surprising to me considering that I have always been the family's computer geek who dad asks for help. His bravura was to beat me in Q*Bert.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Not really. I'm in touch only with the new C64 people and whatever contacts we have via C64.COM.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got it in 1987 and it got sold around 1990. That's the last I heard of that machine. Lately I've got myself a new C64.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
For sure it was and still is. The computer is the same as before, only times change around it. I still admire in the C64 its accessibility. You turn it on and it's ready for use in a second. There are no configuration tricks like you may have with nowadays computers. The C64 gives you full control of everything and is theoretically capable of everything people use computers nowadays for; networking with others, writing documents, playing games, composing music, drawing graphics... It's all just scaled down to 64 kilobytes and 1 megahertz.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Definitely! I'm going to make more SIDs and learn to assemble. We'll see what that ends up in...
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Check out C64.COM and don't forget your past!
back to the list of available interviews