Magnar / The Road Busters,
Added on February 27th, 2020 (1219 views)
Hello and welcome to the interview! It's a pleasure talking to you. Please tell us something about yourself (e.g. full name, age, place and/or date of birth, where you live, your current job and/or interests).
Thanks, Andreas. It's a great honour to be interviewed by C64.com. I was born in 1974 and grew up on a small farm just outside Stavanger in Norway. As a child, I enjoyed playing football, martial arts and swimming, and I was the youngest of six siblings, with a large age difference of 22 years between me and my oldest sister. My father's name was Magne Harestad, so my given name Magnar came from him. He was a working man, handling most of the duties on the farm, but he also had a second job as a local supervisor at the Norwegian railway cargo company Linjegods. My mother was a homemaker, keeping the house in order and preparing the daily meals for all of us. My father died before I turned ten, and since my sisters and brother had already moved out to start their own families, I mostly lived alone with my mother in the subsequent years, helping her take care of the farm. It was really hard work, with a lot of animals to take care of as well as all the agriculture tasks to be performed on the farm. It taught me a lot about the grown-up world: the need to help each other and function as a team in order to succeed. There was no-one else there I could point to and say: "Oh, they can do it", so I had to carry out even the less attractive, i.e. dirty and/or smelly duties no matter what, and from a very young age.
My mother saw my interest in technical things even while I was still a small child. I had a curious mind, wanting to try new things and understand how things worked, and I often tried to fix broken equipment, not always successfully, though I normally managed to leave it less broken than it had been. At the local shops, I would always go past the toys section and straight to the electronics department, to browse the new arrivals among the electronic gadgets and computers. Things were difficult financially after my father passed away, we had huge mortgage costs on the farm, and I knew it wouldn't be easy for my mother to help me reach my dream of one day owning a computer myself, so I decided to work harder and try and save up myself. In the summer months, I asked the nearby farmers if there was any work I could do on their fields, though that barely paid for sweets. But I never gave up on the dream, and having a computer was top of my wish list for every birthday and Christmas. My mother finally stepped in and helped me buy a used Commodore VIC-20 in the summer of 1984. It was equipped with a cassette drive, a joystick and a few games on cartridge.
On the VIC-20, I learned how to program simple things in BASIC and how to play the card game Poker. The BASIC programming was just from the user manual examples, but it got me interested in further exploring how to make sounds and graphics on the computer. Unfortunately, I was about the only one in school who owned a VIC-20, so it was very hard to get hold of new things. By then, a few of my classmates already had a Commodore 64 at home, so I decided that would be my next big upgrade. One evening, when I was twelve years old, I broke into my piggy bank and then talked my way into my brother's room, who was 13 years older and had returned home to live after finishing university, where he and his friends were holding a Poker night. At first, they wanted to throw me out of the room, but when I put all my savings on the table, they thought: Let's teach this kid a lesson! But the hustler that night turned out to be me! I did rather well there, and the winnings took me a big step closer to having enough money to buy my dream machine: the Commodore 64.
When did you get your first C64 and how did you come by it?
My mother found an ad in the local newspaper, someone was selling a used Commodore 64 for "only" 1000 Norwegian kroner (NOK). She knew I really, really wanted this computer, so she agreed to help me out with the remainder of the money and also drove me in her car to go and collect the Commodore 64. This was sometime in the summer of 1986. It came with a cassette drive, two joysticks and about 40 different original games on cassette. I was so excited and thrilled to get it home and start playing on it!
Apparently, I played a lot of games on the C64 that first month, because my mother got really annoyed at me hogging the television set in the evenings and stopping her from watching the news. She quickly found another ad in the newspaper for someone selling a Commodore monitor, together with a 1541 disk drive, for another 1000 NOK. At the time, things were still really tight financially, the farm was basically not doing very well, but my mother decided that this conflict over the television set needed to be sorted. She had read studies that said TV could harm children's eyesight and that a monitor wasn't as bad, so she helped me out again. We went to collect the items from an old woman who said she had paid 7000 NOK for them, and they were barely used as her son wasn't into computers at all. A real bargain for us! On top of all that, it even came with an Epyx Fast Load cartridge and several floppy disks.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer (in the 1980s/1990s).
Back around 1986 or 1987, it was still very common to go to the local library to borrow books. In my case, this meant borrowing computer magazines. I remember reading a lot of Zzap!64 magazines at the library, which was just across the road from my school. Each issue had some examples of coding, and I started to learn how to use the Epyx fast loader to read the C64 memory and interpret how the Commodore 64 worked. Mainly, I learned how to decipher machine code and how each value referred to an assembly command that "did something". At first, I was just fooling around and looking in the memory to see how other folk had done particular things in their games, cracktros, etc. The Commodore 64 also came with a user manual that had some simple examples of BASIC programming, like the flying C= balloon and some SID music. I remember I spent quite a lot of time programming simple visual effects or small text-based adventure games with music in order to show off and impress my mother. She was my biggest fan and supporter at the time.
As I explored the features of the Epyx cartridge more, I soon got the hang of ripping SID music, and so I slowly started to piece together how others were coding IRQs to do demo parts with moving raster bars, scrollers, etc.
The computer magazines also contained a lot of contact ads from people who wanted to swap or sell used C64 items. By this stage, some schoolyard friends had formed a group. They copied games amongst themselves and were mostly interested in getting their hands on new titles. Two of my best friends from school also joined me in exploring assembly programming, and we managed to put together a few demo parts. We then started to reach out to people through the magazine ads, and we got back a surprising number of return letters with new content in them. With a steady stream of new stuff coming in every week, we could maintain our cred with the schoolyard kids and also decipher and learn more and more new things, as the letters with new content started to pour in from all over the world!
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
The more letters we received, the more we learned about cracking and the emerging demo scene. We figured we needed to form our own group and choose some handles, and I started off with the handle King Kong. It was the title of a black-and-white VHS movie I had watched a dozen times (the choice of movies wasn't exactly overwhelming back then). That handle didn't stick, and I changed it to Assassin, though I soon realised many other people were also using that name, including as their group name. I wanted something unique, so I started looking in an English-Norwegian dictionary for something that mimicked the word Wizard, because I liked magic. I got to L and found the word Lizard. At the time, I barely knew what a lizard was, but I thought it sounded catchy and cool enough. I used that as my handle for many years on the C64. It was only later, when I joined the Amiga demo scene as a musician, that I got in contact with Lizard King. We shared almost the same nick, and at first I thought it was funny that he was the humble King. Then I found out people were mistaking my music for Lizard King's, so I felt the urge to change my handle again. I thought about my situation and what struck me was that I had quite an unusual surname, not unlike Jogeir Liljedahl, and perhaps I should stop using a handle altogether and just use my real name. Thus, it was decided, and I simply used Magnar after that.
What group(s) were/are you in? (Please include full names and the order in which you joined them)
The first group, which I formed with my schoolyard buddies, was called The Road Busters. I'm pretty sure it was Jack the Ripper who came up with that group name. Being youngsters, we also loved supercars, and The Road Busters seemed a cool way to say we were like super advanced cars, which of course we really weren't, but I think we used that group name for most of 1987.
In early 1988, we reformed and started a group called Legion. In Legion, we focused a lot on sharpening our coding skills. We learned how to create demo parts with scrolling multicolour logos and backgrounds, tech-techs, FLD, DYCP and DYSP scrollers and other sprites flying about in different sinuses and of course the very colourful moving raster bars. All in all, people started to notice us and our productions at local C64 meetings and smaller copy-parties. We made a lot of new friends within the Commodore 64 community in and around Stavanger.
In April 1989, I decided to leave Legion and join Reflex, as evidenced by the membership entries on CSDb for the Reflex production called Flexible. When I joined Reflex, the group already boasted many members such as Unitrax, Control, Adept, Tony, Play Power, Wax, Pee, Dolla and others. These members lived in various places across Norway, so we started to develop different specialities as programmers, graphicians and musicians. I was originally a programmer, but wanted to expand my skills into graphics and music. By then, I had already explored how to compose music in Chris Hülsbeck's Soundmonitor and OPM's Rockmonitor. It wasn't easy to use Soundmonitor songs in demos, but I found a demo on CSDb called Justification that I think is one of the first ever releases featuring an old song of mine. That Reflex demo was released at the IT/Razor 1911/Abnormal/Hoaxers/Network Gigaparty 1989 which was held in June 1989 near Trondheim in Norway. For that demo, I also created a new loader code that could load in separate packed parts once the spacebar was pressed. In addition to the music, I coded most of the visual effects in the demo and drew a lot of the graphics too.
Late in the summer of 1989, members of Reflex attended a small C64 event called the Shape Summer Meeting on the island of Bokn outside Stavanger. This must have been the first time I met Geir Tjelta (whose handle at the time was Predator). He showed me his music editor, which was based on the Rob Hubbard player. I secretly made a copy of it and afterwards started to compose a few songs in it, though I didn't dare show them to Geir or officially release any of them at the time.
Both before and at the Bokn meet, a lot of Reflex members who were also members of Shape announced that they were leaving Reflex and would be working exclusively for Shape going forward. The remaining members of Reflex decided to team up with Megastyle Incorporated (MSI). This change was announced in a demo I coded, called Phonix, released at the Shape+TRC Party in October 1989. The demo code contained many of the effects I had created during the summer break. We managed to put a lot of content together in a very short time. It also recycled the loader code and linking process I had made for Justification.
My role in Megastyle soon changed from programmer to musician. I knew my coding skills were not on a par with Scroll's, nor were my graphics skills anywhere close to Sparkler's, so after some very long and pleasant phone calls with Crockett, I decided to also join Jolly Poppers, Megastyle's own music label.
One of my older Soundmonitor songs was (surprisingly, at least to me) released shortly after that on their demo Fat Oddvar (Piece of Cake 2), because without my realising, MSI had decided to use one song from each Jolly Poppers member for each of the parts in the demo. It felt really nice to get my first song out in a full-on MSI release.
I continued to compose some more songs for Megastyle's C64 demos released between 1991 and 1995, although these songs were all composed in the new music editor Music Assembler created by OPM and MC. This tool became very popular back then for use in demos, as it had a much more optimised and CPU-friendly music player code.
I still however used the Rob Hubbard editor in secret, and only my closest and dearest friends from former group Legion were allowed to listen in. I never released any of those songs.
In early 1990, I became really good friends with Tony of Shape. We met up quite regularly at his place in Stavanger to review swapping content he'd received from all over the world. Tony was the leader of Shape at the time. I don't recall exactly how things developed, but as far as I can remember, Geir Tjelta also sometimes attended these C64 meetings, and he decided in the end to allow me to use his Rob Hubbard music editor. Some of the songs I made with it were released soon after under the Jolly Poppers label.
By then, Geir Tjelta was working very hard on his own new music player (an early prototype version of today's SID Duzz' It), and I was also kindly given permission to try out that editor, although there were some disputes about whether or not I could release songs which I had made using it. I am no longer sure what exactly was said, but in the end, I only dared release two songs which I made with that SDI editor. One was a song for the Mc Gottifant demo, released at Horizon Easterparty 1990. It was very unplanned, with the coder Mc.Sprite basically running around the party trying to find a musician with an unreleased song for them to use in the demo. It was great fun to be able to help them out with that release. The second song, FunkyTown, was released much later, for the music compo at The Party 1993 in Denmark in December 1993. Geir and I disagree a bit here, as I'm certain I was invited to join Moz(IC)art at some point before this release in 1993, whereas Geir has since stated officially on CSDb that nobody except him and Trond Lindanger was part of Moz(IC)art. It may be that when I asked Geir about joining, he blew me off in a way which let me incorrectly think that his answer was that it was okay, that I was a member. I cannot think why else I would write that text in the release. But it's all water under the bridge now.
In 2017, Glenn Rune Gallefoss (GRG) came across a very old 3.5" 1581 floppy disk with some songs on it that I made between 1990 and 1992 using the early SID Duzz' It (SDI) editor by Geir Tjelta. These songs have since been preserved in the High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC). Thanks you so much, GRG! There were unfortunately many other songs I made in the years 1990 to 1993 that were never released or disseminated and are now sadly lost to the sands of time.
How long were you active for and why did you quit the scene?
After organising the Easter demo-party in Norway called Gathering 1995, I stopped following much of what was happening on the Commodore 64 scene, and I slowly lost contact with all my old friends in the community. You could say that was the year I quit the scene back then.
Many years later, you returned to the scene and are actively making demos again. How did that come about and what drew you back in?
It wasn't until 2008 that I started to get the retro feeling again. It all started with some late-night Internet surfing, looking up C64-related articles and videos. It got me all fired up again! I decided I needed to attend a C64 party and meet the people and groups still active, to see if I wanted to get involved again. That very warm summer in 2008, I drove to Malmö in Sweden to attend Little Computer People, a small C64-only party. To my great surprise, one of the first people I met at the party was Geir Tjelta! All the fond memories from the old days then started to flood back as we sat among all the Commodore 64s. I learned about his further development of the SID Duzz' It editor, and someone was kind enough to lend me their C64 so I could try out the latest version of it. It felt like I'd never been away from it! I composed a small song at the party and tried to enter it in the music compo, but it was misplaced by Frantic so it was never actually released or properly entered in the compo at LCP 2008.
Shortly after that party, I started composing again and got in touch with Pantaloon of Fairlight. He was working on a new Fairlight C64 demo for X'2010 called We Are New. He asked me if I was interested in doing the intro music and the end track. Sure I was! And what a hit it turned out to be! The demo reached an awesome second place at X'2010, which I later found out was the new World Championship arena of the Commodore 64 demo scene. To date, it is still one of the most played C64 demos on YouTube with over 230,000 views. After X'2010, I continue to work with Pantaloon and did the music to Lash and We Are Mature, both released by Fairlight. I was never invited to become a full member of Fairlight, though, so it felt more like freelancing. I decided it was time to settle down, and I also wanted a valid reason to attend the next big C64 party myself, X'2012. Pantaloon said I should meet a friend of his called Bob for beers and a chat about that. It turned out to be Bob from Censor Design! He came with his mobile phone full of small video previews of demo parts for what eventually became Wonderland XI, and it looked really impressive to me! With only a few weeks left, I hurried home to book a flight to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and get ready to attend the X'2012 party! I even attended the pre-X and got the full experience of partying all night in Amsterdam with people from Offence, Fairlight, Censor Design and others. It was a blast!
Censor Design is the C64 demo scene group of which I am currently a member, and I have accumulated eight years of wonderful nostalgic moments, composing music for some of the biggest demo productions ever done on the Commodore 64 together with the amazing Censor Design core team, including releases such as Comaland, Wonderland XI, XII and XIII, Fantasmolytic and The Star Wars Demo, to mention but a few. It's been one hell of a ride!
What role(s) have you fulfilled (e.g. coder, artist, musician, swapper, organiser, etc.)? What attracted you to the role(s) and did you gravitate towards it/them naturally?
I think the reason I've undertaken so many roles in the different groups I've been a member of has often been that someone needed to fill a void. Something was missing, such as the music or graphics, so instead of waiting for somebody else to do it, I took the initiative of learning about it and fulfilling the role myself. Luckily, things have gone very well, and I've been a quick learner on new tools and ways of working together. I am very happy and grateful to all the fantastic demo groups on both the C64 and Amiga who have taken me onboard to work with them on all these amazing releases, and for the opportunity to take part in all the fun and experiences, both in my childhood old-school times and in more recent years as part of the larger new-school demo scene community, which has helped me so much in the professional work I do for a living in the IT business.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about in the 1980s/1990s?
In those days, for me at least, it was all about exploring and trying to make something people would appreciate and remember. I never really succeeded in that respect on the C64 in the 1980s/1990s, as I came onto the demo scene just as the Amiga was taking over, so I quickly went on to the Amiga.
I bought my Amiga 500 with money I got as a present for my rite of confirmation in May 1989. I was really impressed by the new graphic and audio capabilities that the Amiga offered. I started working in Soundtracker and also continued to use Noisetracker and Protracker. I made hundreds of tracked modules, and many were released in demos made by Andromeda, Spaceballs, Lemon, The Black Lotus etc. Most of these songs are preserved on the Mod Archive or Amiga Music Preservation sites. I also started to experiment with Music-X and OctaMED in order to compose MIDI-related music for a local rock band. I then became the keyboardist in a pop-band called Night2Day. I spent most of my study-loan money on sound hardware equipment: mixer tables, synthesisers, drum machines, etc., and became quite proficient at doing MIDI arrangements in those tools. The band Night2Day signed a record deal with Sony Music in Norway, which boosted my music learning curve a lot between 1992 and 1995, as I was then allowed to visit paid professional music studios and see how they worked with live music recording, music mixing and studio productions in general.
In your opinion, what is the current scene all about? How is it different from the 1980s and 1990s?
The scene is much friendlier now (no more wars between demo scene groups, no-one sending fuck-you's to lamers, etc). We have also become much older and more mature, such that it would just feel weird now if scene folk got excessively drunk at a demo-party, started fights or damaged the venue facilities with spray tagging or whatever. We expect a certain level of quality at demo scene events now, such as proper sleeping arrangements (no more concrete floors and sleeping bags for me, I'm afraid), clean toilets, and proper audio speakers and projectors for the sound and visuals. Another big difference is that the development tools have been constantly improving over the years, and social media solutions such as Messenger, Trello, Dropbox, Skype, etc. make it much easier to communicate and share content with each other. We also incorporate project management and agile working methods, learned from our many years' experiences in the IT business and elsewhere, into the large development chains of production, which improves the speed and outcome of such projects. In my opinion, this is what enables us now to release those big party compo entries such as the Wonderland series, Comaland, Fantasmolytic, etc.
What were your go-to programs (for programming, drawing graphics, composing music, etc.)?
In the old days, I mainly used the Epyx Fast Load cartridge for coding, although later I also used Turbo Assembler. For graphics, I started out using KoalaPainter, but later moved on to Zoomatic. For music, I used Soundmonitor, Rockmonitor, Geir Tjelta's Rob Hubbard Editor, early versions of SID Duzz' It, and Music Assembler. I created a lot of my own tools, like my own sprite editor and character editor. Who knows, one day they might turn up on CSDb!
Developing for the C64 is dead easy these days. What tools are you using?
At present, I'm mostly using GoatTracker to compose music and PixCen for drawing. I also use ProjectOne, SpritePad, CharPad and Photoshop or ProCreate on my iPad Pro for doing graphics using an Apple pen. For digital samples, I tend to use my Steinberg Cubase DAW solution with many different VST instruments and plugins in order to play "live" on the keyboards in my music studio, so as to come up with ideas for new things. When I'm on the move and a new song idea comes to me, I simply record the audio by whistling or singing the tune into my iPhone.
I recently started to code my own MAGSID music player solution, which I'm developing in Visual Studio and compiling with KickAssembler. This became a very fresh and exciting new project for me and might also end up in an Editor later on. In the past, I had coded a lot of Censor Design demo parts and micro music players with Censor Design's own C6510 macro assembler. On a day-to-day basis, I use VICE64 to run disk images and .prg files. To modify disk images, I always use DirMaster64, and I pack my code with Exomizer or ByteBoozer, using Bitfire as a loading framework. For transferring files to my retro gear, I use a tool called Assembly64. Assembly64 has a great "crawler" solution that gathers all the known released Commodore 64 content from the Internet to a locally addressed database and can therefore keep all my USB memory sticks up-to-date. Assembly64 can even communicate directly with my Ultimate 1541 cartridge on the real Commodore 64 breadbin machine or with my newer FPGA Ultimate 64 Elite computer through the WLAN network and then fire up productions on-the-fly directly to the big projector in my cinema room, which is situated next to my music studio room. A big shout out to all the experts and pioneers who made all these great software solutions!
Do you still have your old machine and is it in working condition? Did you, like many of us, start to collect all things C64? What I'm really asking is: are you a hoarder? ;)
Yes, my old breadbin was recently restored by hedning and Thorin and handed to me in the middle of the competitions at Gubbdata! I was so happy to get it back restored, as I didn't have any working C64 at the time. Since then, I have also taken care of my old Amiga 1200 and got new capacitors for it, so I now have a fully working C64 and Amiga 1200 in my retro corner. I have started to collect some more Commodore items to put on display around my retro gear, such as some old C64 cassette games and more recently released C64 history books and such like, but I don't have a garage full of hardware, and I'm not really a hoarder. I only consider buying items which would be useful or would improve my retro corner collection. I recently bought a new Ultimate 64 Elite and had it installed in a breadbin-type restored C64 cover which I now have connected to the movie projector in my cinema room.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows? Did your group(s) hold many internal meetings? If so, tell us all about them!
I've been a regular attendee at many of the annual Scandinavian parties and local meetings, both in the past and in more recent years following my return to the scene in 2008, quite a few of which I have mentioned already. This year, I will be focusing primarily on attending Gubbdata and Datastorm in Sweden. I will also be arranging a smaller local C64 event in Blekinge. I might make trip to X'2020 in the Netherlands in November. It's that time of year again… ;)
What, for you, was the coolest routine ever invented on the C64? (e.g. sideborder sprites, FLI, sampled sounds/effects)
The FLD effect and opening the top and bottom border were big surprises for me. I remember thinking it would never be possible, and it took me some time to find out that the $3fff byte had a hand in it too. When the sideborder got opened, I was again stunned: there were no borders left! This opened my mind to the idea that there was so much else that could be done on the computer. There was still so much uncharted territory. I found that so cool!
In later years, I must say that The Human Code Machine (THCM of Oxyron) caught me by surprise when he gave me his OxyMod solution for the Comaland end greeting part. I never thought it would be possible to play Amiga Protracker modules and convert them to the C64! Later, Swallow of Censor Design also continued to dazzle me with his extraordinarily clean sample playback solution for Wonderland XIII, and when he first showed me that mind-blowing and veeery looong last part on Side 3, including state-of-the-art jumping street dancers, together with the super crisp and loud bass version of Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up remix on the SID chip, it was just ... wow!
What, for you, were the best demos and games released in the 1980s and/or 1990s?
The game I really loved playing a lot when I first got my C64 was The Way of the Exploding Fist 2. I managed to complete the game, and I really enjoyed it. IK+ (International Karate +) was also a dear go-to game whenever I had friends over and we wanted to play a two-player game, together with the Summer Games and Winter Games. I personally also liked the joystick-destroying sports game The Activision Decathlon. Later on, I got into Defender of the Crown because of the nice graphics, and I also spent many, many, many hours playing Times of Lore. Now I think about it, my favourable games were those in a mediaeval setting with knights, or with martial arts or sport. I also enjoyed Giana Sisters, but I think that was mostly because of Chris Hülsbeck's excellent music.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the demo scene for me revolved very much around the Scandinavian demo groups and their releases. I remember Shape had some nice releases with superb graphics, as did Rawhead and The Shadows with their Pimplesqueezer series which contained some really good code. Later on, Panoramic Designs released the very cool Mentallic, and Hoaxers released Frantic 2. Even later, Megastyle Incorporated released the Brainstorm and Piece of Cake series, as well as the Seal of Focalor demo that had awesome samples by Cycleburner. Speaking of Cycleburner, he also had a release of his own, an amazing single-file demo part called Look Sharp, and later on Sign O' Times from the demo Weird Science. I also remember some very good demos released by Horizon, Beyond Force and Crest.
The ones that stand out the most from my memories of the 1980s and 1990s, however, are That's the Way It Is by Scoop, and Dutch Breeze by Black Mail: brilliant music and lovely graphics, together with some very nice code.
What are your favourite C64 demos and games from, say, the last 10-15 years?
Personally, I still enjoy Comaland 13 by Oxyron as my #1 demo. In my view, it even tops Edge of Disgrace, which I would say shares the #2 spot with Comaland. I've then got four classics at a well-deserved #3 spot, namely Uncensored, Unboxed, X Marks the Spot, and The Star Wars Demo. I should maybe even throw Rivalry, We Come in Peace, Wonderland XII and Wonderland XIII into the mix as well. It's a hard call, they're all truly great productions! But these podium picks are the biggest and most polished demos ever released on the Commodore 64, as I see it. I regularly go back and watch these demos over and over again!
Who are you still in touch with from the old scene? Who do you still look forward to talking to? Any new friends? Drop as many names as you like!
Jack the Ripper is one of the guys from Legion who isn't really on the scene any more, so I always try to find the time to visit him and his family when I am back in Stavanger. I was also really surprised to learn that Pad of Genesis Project was once in Irongods and we actually met back in the early days; now, we're seeing each other again at new parties and doing a lot of productions together. I have quite a lot of friends from the old scene who are out and about on the new scene, like Geir Tjelta whom I met recently at Datastorm. I also stay in contact with some people from Megastyle Incorporated, keeping up with their lives over Facebook and such like. While I was living in Oslo, between 1996 and 2000, I met up quite often with Crockett, as well as Adept from Reflex. It was also very nice to meet ZTH a few years back at X. I always liked his Zero The Hero handle, and I remember I sent him some letters back in the day.
Lastly, my first meetings with Bob, CRT and Lavazza in the early days of resurrecting Censor Design before and just after X'2012, and with the rest of the Censor Design team at different parties and local meetings throughout the last few years, have been truly great!
Do you have any fun stories to share with us from those days? We were after all teenagers, and they tend to do all kinds of fun/stupid/crazy stuff. :)
I was usually the good guy, and I would also say that I rarely drank any booze at demo-parties in the 1980s or 1990s. I do remember a car trip from Stavanger in Norway to Huddinge in Sweden, to attend the Horizon party, felt a bit crazy for me at age 16, especially since we Norwegians thought the wide Swedish hard shoulder was there for speeding past slower traffic. Luckily, we didn't get caught by the police doing that. During that trip, I also got to meet Perplex of Offence for the first time. We stopped by his apartment in Oslo, ostensibly to sleep, though I think we spent most of the evening showing off stuff to each other and coding instead. I also remember some of the local Shape meetings at Tony's place really taking off, we would be laughing our asses off over nothing except playing Oil Imperium on the Amiga in the middle of the night. I guess we pushed the envelope on sleep deprivation quite a bit back then. When I attended the Bergen Party 1990, it was my first chance to meet the Megastyle Incorporated guys from Brønnøysund. I was then sat across from someone who seemed very busy and focused on composing some music. It was only later after the party that I found out it was JCH of Vibrants. To this day, I regret not going over to talk to him back then, although I think that that experience informs the way I am today: always roaming around a party, trying to talk to as many people as possible! I must also offer my thanks to Offence for the thrills at Baroque Floppy People, and for the delightful hotel booking: never have I felt Bob so close to my body as when we shared a double bed! I also remember an edition of Datastorm, I forget which one it was, at which Fairlight, Triad and Offence invited me to sleep in their hotel suite, only the bunk bed came with curtains that literally turned the lower bunk into a gas chamber à la Prompetelt. Oh, well, when you're really, really tired, a whole load of nothing or a few silly jokes quickly turn into a massive laugh!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I truly enjoyed playing a lot of games in my first couple of years on the scene in the 1980s, and then of course Rob Hubbard, Jeroen Tel, 20CC, Chris Hülsbeck, Tim Follin, Martin Galway, Matt Gray, Reyn Ouwehand, Fred Gray and many, many other game music composers won me over. I was truly impressed by their songs when I was firing up the Ocean loader, for instance, or when playing Monty on the Run, Ghosts'n Goblins, Cybernoid, The Last V8, Bionic Commando, Rambo, Giana Sisters, Skate or Die, etc. I probably played many of these games mainly for the sake of the great music (especially if the game itself got boring because I'd completed it or it became too difficult to play).
However, the real heroes for me have always been those on the demo scene! The people pushing the boundaries of the hardware, both in terms of what the CPU is capable of doing and the graphic artists making the impossible possible with so many bitmap restrictions and colour clashes to beware, and all the songs that fit perfectly together with the visual effects in trackmos/demos as well as the audio improvements in digital sampling and SID audio techniques which constantly amaze me: is this all really done and made to work on a stock C64? And is that a single-speed or multi-speed song? It's all just... wow! It makes me so happy and spurs me on to keep being creative myself and create new things within the limitations and possibilities of the Commodore 64 hardware.
I could reel off a really long list of great people here, all the way from the early demo scene up until today, but I think I will only mention my one true hero as of today: my dear brother-in-arms and main composer within Censor Design (whom I luckily managed to recruit to the team before The Star Wars demo), namely: LMan! From being a master of PETSCII drawing in a recent CSDb compo, to releasing outstanding-quality quad-SID songs resembling TR808 sounds in bouncy techno beats, to releasing numerous musical masterpieces with THCM's OxyMod player which have already become C64 classics, such as Hi Fi Sky, Vortex, Rastaline Dub, Amazing Discoveries and more. You keep impressing me again and again as one of the most creative artists on the demo scene, always delivering top notch and totally ground-breaking material, and it all fits so well with the demo productions themselves. My thanks and a big high-five go out to you!
When you look back at your time on the scene and what you created, what are you most proud of?
Comaland is possibly the biggest project I've ever been part of for a C64 release, and together with Wonderland XII and Wonderland XIII, those are the productions I am most proud of from my time at Censor Design. I am also very pleased with how we managed to pull off the release of Sidelined for one of the first Gubbdata events, and also What is the Matrix, which both contained some of my code and graphics as well as the music. What is the Matrix even came third in the demo compo, beating Booze Design's Time Machine into fourth place. We felt really good during the drive home after.
Throughout the years I've been active on the demo scene, I've managed to win a total of 13 gold, 11 silver and 5 bronze placements at major annual demo scene parties and C64 or Amiga events.
Below is a chronological list of all the releases which placed in the top six at competition, major parties, etc. There are various other releases I've made which have unfortunately never got into the top six at competition, which I've left out for that reason.
Fifth place at 1991's Horizon Easter Party for McGottifant, a C64 demo.
Fourth place at 1993's The Gathering for The Perfect Setup, an Amiga module song.
Sixth place at 1993's The Party for Defined as a Mess!, a piece of Amiga chip music.
First place at 1995's The Gathering for Jobbo TG95 intro by Spaceballs, an Amiga intro.
First place at 1996's Remedy for Darkside by The Black Lotus (TBL), an Amiga demo.
First place at 1997's The Gathering for Capture Dreams by TBL, an Amiga demo.
Third place at 1997's Remedy for Panacea by TBL, an Amiga demo.
Fifth place at 2010's Datastorm for Nostalgi, a piece of C64 music.
Second place at X'2010 for We Are New by Fairlight, a C64 demo.
Fifth place at 2011's Datastorm for Five Hours, a piece of C64 music.
First place at 2011's Datastorm for Lash by Fairlight, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2011's Little Computer People for Party Crasher, a piece of C64 music.
Second place at 2012's Datastorm for Fragment by Mahoney, a C64 demo.
Third place at X'2012 for Spasmolytic, a piece of C64 music.
Fifth place at X'2012 for Wonderland XI by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2013's Datastorm for We are here to make some Noise, an Amiga module tune.
Third place at 2013's Datastorm for What is the Matrix by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
First place at 2013's Revision for Rink A Dink: Redux by Lemon, an Amiga demo.
First place at 2013's Gubbdata for Sideline by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2013's Baroque Floppy People for Alice in Wonderland, a piece of C64 music.
First place at 2013's Baroque Floppy People for Wonderland XII by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2014's GERP for Derp 2014 invitation by Scoopex, an Amiga demo.
Fifth place at 2014's Datastorm for Valentine, a C64 graphic.
Fifth place at 2014's Datastorm for The Serpent by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
First place at 2014's GERP for Natsu No Gomu by Lemon, an Amiga intro.
First place at X'2014 for Comaland by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
Third place at 2015's Payback for Revision Party Invitation by Nah Kolor, an Amiga intro.
Fifth place at 2015's Revision for Evolution by Nah Kolor, an Amiga intro.
Second place at 2015's Revision for Momentum by Nah Kolor, an Amiga demo.
First place at 2015's Nordlicht for Fantasmolytic, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2016's Gubbdata for 2 days, a piece of C64 music.
Third place at X'2016 for Wonderland XIII by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
Second place at 2017's TRSAC for The Prophecy Returns 2.0, an Amiga intro.
First place at 2018's Revision for We come in Peace by Fairlight & Censor, a C64 demo.
Fifth place at 2018's Revision for A Blood Moon by Nah Kolor, an Amiga demo.
Second place at 2018's Datastorm for Disco-data, a piece of C64 music.
Second place at 2018's Datastorm for @ by Atlantis, a C64 demo.
First place at X'2018 for The Star Wars Demo by Censor Design, a C64 demo.
First place at 2019's Revision for Rivalry by the Seniors, a C64 demo.
Third place at 2019's Datastorm for Musicbox, a C64 graphic.
Third place at 2019's Datastorm for Melodeus, a piece of C64 music.
Fifth place at 2019's Flashback for Flashback, a piece of C64 music.
Sixth place at 2019's Flashback for Quantum, a piece of MP3 music.
Thank you so much for answering all these questions! Before we end, do you have a message for your groupmates, old contacts and/or anyone else reading this?
I do want to give a big shout-out and "Cheers!" to all my demo scene friends in Offence, Genesis Project, Bonzai, Fairlight, Atlantis, Triad, Oxyron/Arsenic, Booze Design, lft, Pernod, Algotech & Mahoney, Shape & Fossil, Hoaxers, Prosonix, Maniacs of Noise, Vibrants, Hitmen, Artline Designs, Megastyle, Light, Focus and the Polish guys doing the annual BBQ at Datastorm, as well as the BBQ crew at Gubbdata!
Also, a big shout-out to all my new friends in the Commodore 64 community in and around Blekinge who kindly allowed me to present my demo scene history at several IT companies' afterwork events. C64 Blekinge forever!
Lastly, a big thank you to the organisers of the X-series parties, Datastorm and Gubbdata, you are all heroes in my book for keeping these excellent events going year after year and offering us so much at them! I am forever grateful to you all for working so hard to provide us with these great opportunities to meet and compete in the various competitions. It truly keeps my own C64 spirit up and the C64 demo scene community alive! Cheers, guys!
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