My story of a Commodore 64 programmer turned musician

wpid-2673889502819731147-1.jpgSo why am I doing this?

I grew up geek by being part of the, with tongue in cheek, “lucrative” C64 & Amiga demoscene. I was one of those teens that sat in front of his breadbox computer and wrote assembly language programs that pushed the machine to its technical edge and I fancied myself as an understudy of Rob HubbardMartin Galway & David Whittaker. I was always trying to get my music added to other’s demogroups productions. At rare times, I even succeeded. I remember I once had a letter from Charles Deenan, one of the founders of Maniacs of Noise, who wanted a sample of my musical work as they were on a recruitment drive. The Maniacs of Noise “(MoN”) created some of the most popular game music of the 80’s and many of their remixes can be found on http://remix.kwed.org/.

We Australian ‘demosceners’ were dwarfed by our countless European counterparts but we were proud of our home grown technical ingenuity and despite us lacking close proximity (again, that our international counterparts enjoyed) we banded together at demoparties when our parents would allow us.

Recently

But coming back to today. Here I am, early 40’s. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve gone grey and struggle with ‘issues’ in the vein of a mid-life crisis. Part of my resolve is I’ve reconnected with my old geek friends that I haven’t seen in over 20 years. We catch up regularly and talk in zeros and ones just like we used to do after school. One of us has his iPod cranking out C64 remixes while he’s on delivery runs and that showed me his fondness for days of growing up geek.

We even went to a “C64 Night” in Brisbane in 2012. Low and behold when we got there, just about everyone that came was mid-forties and inherently geek. There was even a GIRL there! I don’t know how any of us, bright and therefore socially deficient in some way, nerds ever managed to wind up married. We all showed off our vintage computer hardware and play games. My gang showed them our Commodore 64 & Amiga music and demos and they were very curious about us demosceners, perhaps as if we were the “fabled” few.

There are even preservation societies for all of these old games, demo’s, artwork and music. Although I lost the floppy disks with my creations, I was lucky enough to find them on CSDbThe Amiga Preservation Site andAmiga Exotica sites.

Being reunited with old gang inspired me to go back to the playground of my youth, my music. I haven’t considered myself a musician since those days as a kid. It’s been over twenty years since I made a sound come out of a computer, since I was a demoscener.

I started a project in the winter of 2012 in writing an album. I wasn’t yet ready to write originals again or cover my old originals and make them sound new again with everything you can do musically on today’s computers. I decided on becoming a retro Commodore 64 remixer for my first album called “The 8bit Spindle“. It’s now complete and available on my Soundcloud profile. It also come in hard copy like a real album (see attached). I even found professional Digital Audio Workstation (“DAW“) software that runs on Ubuntu and works in the manner of old Amiga Soundtrackers.,called Renoise. Oh, how my geek heart skipped a beat. I was doing music in the way I did back then on the Amiga. I tell my wife every once in a while that Renoise is the best $80 I ever spent.

Next?

I’ve now started my second album (Paula, Six Five Eight One” – named after the sound chips in the Commodore 64 & Amiga) that is a blend of Commodore 64 & Amiga scores. This time with more original flourishes and themed in cinematic and electronica. The first track is hot of the presses is Rob Hubbard’s “Lightforce”. It is also available on Soundcloud.

By doing all of this, I’ve rediscovered a lost part of my being. We vintage geeks have it in our soul and we are the gamers, artists, musicians, professionals, fathers & husbands of today. We are part of the engine room of society and a band of brothers. This I’ll never (again) forget.

We should all revel in our geekdom.

Thanks for reading.

One Reply to “My story of a Commodore 64 programmer turned musician”

  1. Mark The Outrun guy from 2013 c64 night

    Hello
    I is great to c u have a web site and I learnt just a little more about you now…

    I have been coding a little, just making myself more familiar with amiga hardware

    I dont have experince of you guys , very little my 68000 coding was totaly in isolation when I was about 17 to 19

    Im am progressing though and I am still toying with sprites or dual playfield 1 bitplane deep and the other 3 bitplanes deep.

    remeber 1 plane for road and the other 3 for everything else vs 3 bitplanes and lots of sprites and midscreen interuptions for colors and other things

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