Interviews



Interview with Stein Pedersen

Published in Recollection #1
Performed by Jazzcat



Back when things were heating up in the scene, groups like Prosonix and Panoramic Designs made the headlines and released stuff that is still remembered and watched today.

The Recollection magazine can introduce to you a former member of groups such as The Stars, Newlook, Jazzcat, Prosonix and Panoramic Designs. In which he was a producer of SID, graphic and code.



J)
Greetings Stein,
A pleasure to have you here in the pages of the first edition of Recollection. Could you please introduce yourself to the readers?

S)
Hi everyone,
My name is Stein Pedersen and I'm 34 years old, pushing on 35.

I currently live in Oslo, Norway with my wife and my daughter. I was most active in the scene from 1984 to 1990 and after the Horizon party in 1991 I retired completely. Thanks to the HVSC-people, people might know me best for the music done by our group Prosonix.

I started out as a programmer, cracking various games for my own amusement and later started writing demos and a couple of games. I mostly wrote my own tools for producing graphics and sound and it was thus I got involved with doing music. Later I went to university here in Oslo with the intent of studying computer science. I quickly found it took all the fun out of my hobby though, and I started studying chemistry instead. And no: I've never done drugs! ;) After a couple of years I got a job offer from games developer Funcom, and I jumped at the chance. After doing a couple of games at Funcom, some friends and I broke out and started our own company which eventually became Innerloop Studios. At Innerloop, we made a couple of PC games (Joint Strike Fighter (Eidos), Project IGI (Eidos), IGI 2 - Covert Strike (Codemasters) and Jul i Blfjell (Pan Vision)) and a Dreamcast game (SEGA Extreme Sports) which was later released on PC as well. We were a small company though, and even with a quite successful franchise like IGI, we had trouble recruiting and raising money for new projects. It was a very sad moment for me when in the summer of 2003 we had to shut down all production. Today, I work with some very clever ex-Funcom, ex-Innerloop guys doing 3d-volume-visualization for the oil-exploration and medical imaging markets. Besides my family, my interests are playing guitar, videogames and football. I've got about 13 different consoles and a NeoGeo MVS arcade cabinet in my "office" at home and I'll challenge anyone who comes by to a game of Samurai Showdown II. :) I recently fried the power-supply for my C64 and subsequently acquired my 6th C64 and my 2nd 1541.



J)
How did you discover the scene and when did you first own a Commodore 64?

S)
I got my first C64 back in 1983 and I believe in the beginning, the scene mostly consisted of crackers. It was of course through copying cracked games from friends that these crackers caught my attention. I guess what started out as crack-intros, later evolved into stand-alone programs / demos. At least that's how it was for me. I got in touch with a lot of people because of my early demo/crack-intro work and was asked to join various groups.


J)
So much has happened in scene, a lot of which has been forgotten, could you tell the readers a bit about the groups you have been in, some of the people you have known and respected and some of the groups you remember during the good old days?

S)
My first handle was 1030. The number-handles were something that was quite common back then, but which later disappeared. A friend (whose handle was 1005) and I started a cracking group called NCC (Norwegian Crackware Company, I think it stood foJ). That was the first group I was in, and we also had a games "company" called "Bugbear Software" where we made a game called Bouncing Bill. Bouncing Bill was a Manic Miner-type game with 20 levels. Back then, we were mostly inspired by crackers like 1103 who not only cracked a game, but also would alter the game's graphics slightly to display his handle. We thought that was way cool! He did this with Donkey Kong and Commodore International Soccer as far as I can recall.

Later, I met some guys who introduced me to some more well-known groups, and it's a shame that I can't remember their handles (although I do remember their real names ;). I can't remember the order of which all this happened, but I became a member of Newlook and Jazzcat. Newlook was quite a famous group back then (I think this must have been in -84/-85) and I think even Charles Deenen (TMC) was a member. I remember going to my friend Marius Mller's (can't remember the handle) house to hang out, play games (he had an Amiga! Yay!) and watch (horroJ) videos. I met quite a few people there, JEB and Anon of Newlook and Marius Immerstein (again, handle forgotten) who later introduced me to Jazzcat. In that same period, I was also in some lesser-known groups with people from around the area where I lived. The Stars, The New Stars and E.M.O come to mind. Except for Jazzcat, most of these groups were cracking groups and I mostly cracked games and wrote crack-intros. I remember 1001-Crew, Radwar, Triad, Fairlight and others as "great" groups of the era. I was never much involved in swapping, so I didn't get to know these people.

Next I wanted to focus more on the creative side of programming, and I started a demo group called The Troopers with some friends from the neighbourhood. By then, my handle had changed from 1030, via Idol (I love Billy Idol ;) to Stone. Ole Marius (Devil) did the graphics for our demos in the beginning. At first, we used only ripped music, but later we wanted to write our own. Lars (Shade) was a very musical guy and wrote some tunes in Soundmonitor. We were not satisfied with what we could get out of Soundmonitor and I decided to write my own music player and editor. I remember the first time I heard Lars' first composition in my editor.

I was jumping around the room, screaming at the top of my lungs "this is great! This is fantastic! You're a musical genius!". (This tune can be heard in the Troopers demo "Destination") A proud moment, indeed! Later, Ole Marius started to write music and eventually I started myself. One day I got a phone call from a guy called Diderich Buch who wanted to start a company to produce music for games. This was what soon Prosonix became. In this period we got in touch with a lot of people and went to a few demo parties. We did music for quite a few demos produced by others, most notably Shadows. We got to know Olav (Omega Supreme) and Bjrn (Moonray) quite well and later joined Panoramic Designs. Martin Galway and Rob Hubbard were our greatest inspirations at the time, I also remember enjoying demos from Scoop, Stoat&Tim, Ash&Dave. I think what these people have in common is that they focused on creating interesting content rather than fancy routines with fancy names.



J)
Johannes Bjerregaard was in the same group as you also? Can you tell us a bit about him and when you were group members together?

S)
I'm not really sure, but Diderich said that he'd gotten JB to join Prosonix and we thought that was really cool. Of the "new" musicians in the scene, he was the one we admired most (besides Jeroen). I have never met JB and never talked to him, and as far as I know he hasn't written any music with the Prosonix copyright on it.


J)
Prosonix was one of the crews you were behind. Could you tell us a bit about the group and its members? Also, did you Prosonix to do commercial music for games on the C64? If so, how did that turn out?

S)
Prosonix consisted of Ole Marius Pettersen, Lars Hoff and myself. Ole and I hung out a lot together and we had a lot of the same musical influences. He is the one I have most contact with today and he was my best man when I got married. Both him and I started playing guitar after we got into making computer music and he has played in a rock band ever since. He has studied graphic design both here in Oslo and in San Francisco and is currently working freelance as a graphic designer.

Lars played keyboards and was more into by jazz-flavoured music than Ole and I. Stevie Wonder was a particular favourite of his. I remember he used to sing to a tape-recorder whenever he came up with a new melody and then later recreate it on the C64. Lars has dropped out of sight a bit, but I know he's studied in France and is currently working in the software industry. He has sadly stopped playing his keyboard...

We did some music for some commercial games, but they were only low budget games that I've never heard of since, and I'm not even sure that they were ever published. Of course we didn't get paid much for these pieces and we held back our best stuff for later use. Sadly, later became never as we (I) could never be arsed to do another demo after "Destination '91". Ole and I are constantly talking about compiling all the stuff that we've got lying around on floppies and releasing it to the HVSC, but that hasn't happened yet... Soon though, soon! :)



J)
In the old day's people had to code their own music, eventually players were developed by musicians for musicians and the public. You wrote 'Steintronix', a music editor, could you tell us your experiences with it and other editors?

S)
The initial reason for making my own player was that we weren't happy with what we could get out of Soundmonitor and some other players we'd tried. We wanted to be able to create both the slow pulse-sweeping sounds of Martin Galway and the complex percussive sounds of Rob Hubbard. If you take a look at my player, you see that it's built in much the same way, even though the inner-workings of it are quite different. The great thing about it was of course that I could always modify it to get exactly the sound I wanted. The user interface of the editor was also a lot better than many of the editors at the time. In fact, Omega Supreme once stole my editor (he used a Final Cartridge to freeze and save it to disk whilst serving Ole and Lars milk and biscuits in his kitchen!) and based the design of his own editor around it, even down to the menu-title rasterbars!

All in all, my music player/editor is the one thing I'm most proud of from my C64 days.


J)
In your mind, who were the people or groups in the early days that were the ones who inspired or impressed? Is there any particular products or people that you could mention?

S)
The people that impressed me the most, were those who created something original that looked cool our sounded cool. I remember the "Circlesque" demo from Stoat&Tim especially because it had great music and was interactive in the sense that you could play with many different parameters. There we of course others, but sadly I can't remember too many demo titles or groups anymore. Suicide from War Deal Lamers made some fun demos and he never tried to hide the fact that he was a crap programmer, in fact he bragged about it! I do recall a demo from the 1001-crew which was the first demo I'd seen which opened the sideborder. That was amazing! Also the first sceners that had done a split-screen with scrolling text that I saw were the crack-intro from Danish Crackers. I think that intro was the one that really got me started programming in assembly on the C64.


J)
Having done programming, music and graphics on C64, could you comment on C64 demos and what impressed you on C64 the most?

S) I was impressed by people who could program something new and incorporate it with graphics and music in such a way that it seemed like a "complete" package if you see what I mean, as opposed to a fancy effect slapped together with some graphics and sound. I do remember being blown away by the first demos I saw which opened the borders, though... And multiplexed sprites... Yes and I remember being impressed by the game "Hawkeye", where some notable sceners contributed greatly. I later came to work with both Mario van Zeist (Boys Without Brains) and Jeroen Tel, both of which are great guys.



J)
What do you think makes the C64 something that people keep coming back to? Does it hold some special charm?

S)
It has a lot of great games. It is switch on and play; you don't have to boot an OS or anything, which is extremely handy when you're programming and your program crashes. This was the one thing that eventually turned me off the Amiga, because every time it crashed I had to wait a few minutes for it to reboot and then reload the assembler... Also, there is only one version of it, and except for PAL/NTSC differences, a program that works on one C64 works on all C64s. I will always love my C64, there's no chance I'll ever get rid of it. There's just too many memories attached to it, hell that thing shaped my life!


J)
What would you like to be remembered for in the C64 scene?

S)
The music we did in Prosonix and all the hard work that went into making the editor and player is what I'm most proud of from those days, so naturally that's what I hope people will remember. Quite a few people have contacted me over the music that we did (including you David;), so I guess my wish has come true ;)


J)
Please feel free to send some greetings out to all those you traded with and shared good times with on C64...

S)
I'd like to send greetings and salutations to all the people that I've known from those days and even some sceners that I've only met later through my work in the games industry. Too many names to mention, but you know who you are!



J)
Thanks for your time Stein, any final words to leave a final impression on the audience?

S)
Any time, David. I would urge everyone to download the High Voltage SID Collection and listen to all of the brilliant pieces of music in there.

Thanks to all those people (like yourself) who are keeping the C64 alive!

Finally,

DON'T EAT MEAT! (Just kidding)

Best Regards,

Stein.

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