Interviews



Interview with Dane of Booze Design

Published in Vandalism News #65
Performed by Magic

Please note: This interview was started in November 2014. A few weeks after X 2014 where Booze Design released Uncensored. Then worked on/off for a couple of times during the course of 2015 until it was finally finished in the beginning of 2016. A last question was added in July 2016 regarding the release of a new Booze Design demo at Gubbdata 2016 :)


Magic:
Hi Dane! Welcome to this interview. Please introduce yourself a bit. For example how did you come into contact with the Commodore 64? What did you do scenewise before Booze Design? And what does a normal day look like in the life of Dane of Booze Design?

Dane:
Hey there. I'm Dane of Booze Design and I got into the C64 scene around 1992 with a little help from my friend Twoflower of Triad. I spent the first years doing gfx, but by coincidence I got into composing around 1994 and released my first tune after a lot of failed experiments. From 1994 and onwards I've been doing a little bit of everything scene-related. Music, graphics and every now and then some code. An average day is spent at work, where I work as a headmaster at an upper secondary school in Sweden. Since they are so separated from what I do at my job, my scene activities have grown to be the perfect way to relax and stress out after work. I'm normally active in bursts - having 3-4 months where I produce lots of stuff and then I go back into hibernation. Sometimes I wish I could be a little bit more consistent and instead spend 30 minutes every day as some others do.


Magic:
What's in your way of working a bit more consistent?

Dane:
I think it's a matter of inspiration. When I don't feel that much inspiration I tend to stay away from C64 and scene activities. And then, once you get a good idea or see something that inspires you I find myself sitting in front of WinVICE for several hours every evening again.


Magic:
You told me you are working on a new music disk. What can you tell our readers about the development?

Dane:
Yup, another music disk (the follow-up to Bitter Swede Symphony) is in the works. At the moment I'm feeling pretty good about just doing some music for the sake of the music - with no regards to limitations, code or visuals. It's a great way to relax after focusing so much on a single demo. The plan for the music disk is to have something like 7-8 previously unreleased tunes, and maybe a variation on that track list for the Spotify and iTunes version. So far I have two tunes finished, another two in the works and a Christmas holiday coming up. :)


Magic:
How do you look back to the X party and your live gig? Also: Bummer! 2nd place! Now what!?

Dane:
X-2014 was a real blast! I've never had so much work going on for one single party before, so it almost felt anti-climactic once it was over. The best part for me personally was doing the gig and playing Manifesto in front of a crazy audience. What a rush! It was of course also a great experience to see Uncensored finished at last. At the same time it's almost always a little sad since the projects tend to take up so much time and energy in your life. Releasing them and letting them go feels... sad? As far as the 2nd place is concerned, there's not much more to say than that the audience at X had their say and this time the mega-coop from Censor and Oxyron came out on top. I can feel bad for HCL, because most of the code in the demo this time was from him. He's so good at what he does - and you have to be really aware of the technical limitations on C64 to even understand how hard some of it is. As for the now what...I guess we have to make another demo someday?


Magic:
Someday? This sounds like nothing is planned at the moment? Didn't Mirage joining Booze Design give some fresh motivation for a new big Booze Design demo immediately?

Dane:
I don't know how others do it, but after a big project for us there's always the need for some downtime. Getting Uncensored ready was also kind of hectic the last month, and so as much as I love the idea of finally working with Mirage, we need a break first from big ideas.


Magic:
How do you look back on the period of the development of EoD and finally releasing this demo at X2008?

Dane:
With fond memories, of course. Our work process usually starts with a lot of gathering of ideas. HCL will stack up a bunch of previews or proof of concept-versions of his effects. I will have some random visuals or work tunes. And then from there, somehow we try to achieve coherency. When HCL said 'ok, I'm not doing anymore effects' we linked EoD chronologically over the time of six months or so. He would link one more effect or one more transition, and I would adjust or compose accordingly. Some of the visuals changed a few times along the way and the soundtrack changed almost on a daily basis. I don't think everyone is aware of how tricky it can get to make a continuous soundtrack in a c64-demo, especially when the visuals and effect on-screen gives you limitations concerning memory and rastertime. Apart from solving those technical problems without making the limitations obvious I always wanted that demo to sound like the future, a clash between man and machine. Releasing it was a great experience, of course. We worked on it up until the end - I think I finished some gfx for the FLI-zoomer and the last minute of music at the party. And even though we knew we had made a good demo we weren't fully prepared for the reactions afterwards. As great as it is to still get good feedback on EoD I am a little sad every time someone compares the things we've done afterwards to it.


Magic:
What does music mean to you and SID music in particular?

Dane:
Music means the world to me. I listen to it daily and keep chasing new music. I don't listen to a lot of SID music or chip tunes, but I love that form of expression. Sid music for me is equal parts expression of emotions and solving a puzzle - how can I get as much as possible out of three channels?


Magic:
What are the best tracks you have ever made? And why?

Dane:
The Edge of Disgrace soundtrack is probably the best thing I've done technically. But my personal favourites when it comes to melody are Melonade, Hexadecimal and Eskimonika. They tend to get stuck in my head quite often.


Magic:
Which c64 musicians are amongst your personal favourites? Can you also explain why?

Dane:
I've always been very inspired by Scortia and Deek. Scortia, I feel, has incredible groove in almost all his tunes. It's like a template for making melodic funk. And as for Deek, I really like his dramatic flair and experimental side.


Magic:
What makes composing SID music so special? Is it hard to compose a SID track? What advice can you give to people who want to start make SID music to?

Dane:
What's special about it is the limitations, in my opinion. You have to compromise a lot and make sacrifices musically. If it's hard? Yes, maybe at first but in the end that effort is of course worth it. My advice is to try and try again since that's the way I've learned myself - and still am.


Magic:
Earlier in the interview you mentioned a new BD music disk is in the making. How's this production coming along?

Dane:
After a lot of procrastination I am almost at the point of releasing it - there's just some code and gfx missing now. The name of it is Northern Star, and it will be released on C64 as well as on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. Early on I had planned for something like 6 tunes, but the list kept growing until I had 11... And I also couldn't stop adding and tweaking stuff with the ones I had done early on.


Magic:
Why do you release them also outside the C64 scene on modern distribution platforms? Will the music in the C64 music disk be the same as the ones on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon? Or did you enhance those?

Dane:
First and foremost I wanted a way for people to be able to listen to my music from their phones or while traveling, since that's usually when I have the time myself to listen to stuff. I was inspired by Brandon Walsh who showed me the process of making his own album and decided that would be a fun project for the last music disk, Bitter Swede Symphony.

The tunes from Northern Star will be the same in all formats and the plan is to release it simultaneously. I haven't really planned to enhance the tunes, but might add some extra kick to the drum tracks and a reverb or two. Time will tell.


Magic:
You are also doing graphics on the old breadbin. What do you like the most? Compose or make gfx and why?

Dane:
I could never choose what I like the most, which is probably the reason why I keep going back and forth. Obviously I've devoted more time the last years to music, but it's still really relaxing to pixel stuff. And sometimes I even manage to code something.


Magic:
About your coding. In which productions did you participate?

Dane:
I've already released several things that I've coded. Two one-man demos (Digital Magic, Phases), a gfx format with an editor (X-Fli) and I've snuck a few effects into some of our demos. (the opaque waves in Tsunami, the disco floor in Edge of Disgrace, the cube in Mekanix among others). It adds a lot to know a little assembler and it has definitely been a big help while making music especially for demos.


Magic:
At the current time of writing it's the end of 2015... A year without X. But also no LFP or Datastorm parties... If you look back at 2015... What released C64 productions come to your mind? Please comment...

Dane:
I've had some downtime from the scene this year and stayed away from things, so I've probably missed out on current releases. But I liked both Rocketry, Fantasmolytic and Goatlight, of course. Also, I hope to see some cool stuff in the REU compo at the end of this year.


Magic:
Why did you like Rocketry, Fantasmolytic and Goatlight? Also why did BD decide to make a REU demo? (That's pretty cool!) Who owns a REU anyway? HCL, you, or..?

Dane:
Those three demos were well executed and included some screens that made me puzzled...at first. :) Generally I feel that we are not very spoiled today with productions that show substantial effort and talent in both code, gfx and music and so it's very nice to see when it happens. I think HCL owns a REU, but luckily Vice seems to emulate it close to perfect today - otherwise I think it would have been difficult for us to... push the envelope?


Magic:
We had a 'small' break with this interview. Now it's less than 11 months (at the time of writing) till a new X party... Booze Design planning anything already? Or are you guys still in the mandatory X aftermath 'having a rest mode'? ;)

Dane:
We've had some well-deserved rest. At the moment we're fiddling with a small REU demo to get something out. Something for a new X party... no, we don't plan that far ahead. :)


Magic:
Don't plan so far ahead? You say this with a smile... How long was the development time for Uncensored? Will Booze Design be ready for the coming X demo compo anyway?

Dane:
Apart from some proof of concept screens and effects with random gfx thrown in we didn't have much finished when we met in the summer of 2014 at JackAsser's place for a nice data-barbecue weekend. But from there we sort of decided on theme, I started on some gfx and a linking order came quite naturally. As always, most of the work was then done the three months (and 48 hours) up to the deadline.

I think that's what I like about working with the other guys. Everything is never decided early on, so it's almost always a very organic effort with a lot of intuitive stuff between David and I. After making 9 demos together with a small crew, we've developed a way of working that just feels right. But no promises for X. As always.


Magic:
Northern Star finally got released following a REU demo called Treu Love. How the reactions were and what can you tell us about Treu Love?

Dane:
People seem to like Treu Love! I think they weren't really prepared for what the addition of a REU could do in terms of demo effects. At first I was a little annoyed at one of the rules for the REU-compo in which it competed, which stated that we couldn't load anything while the demo ran. But eventually I started to like this, since it meant we would have otherwise just seen demos with endless amounts of graphics and animations. Now, since our goal was to squeeze as many parts as possible into our demo, we had to be economical with graphics which was - in my opinion - a lot of fun. It was also nice to really go for a demo that was supposed to be positive and warm - as the last one we did was more about anger and sadness.

Northern Star also seems to get positive reactions. Just yesterday I learned that it had been declared the best music disk of 2015 by 4sceners.de, which I think was an awesome achievement considering it was released the day before New Year's Eve. :) Personally I feel that it's great to finally have released all of these tunes, because it means now I can stop making small changes to them and instead focus on completely new stuff.

Magic:
Booze Design released Classics at Gubbdata 2016. What the story behind this demo?

Dane:
It was a typical party release. We started half-assed 2 weeks before the party, and met up the day before with a classic bbq at JackAsser's place (where I got way drunk). Then we finished the demo at Gubbdata. It was a lot of fun and I think it reminded everyone in Booze Design (especially after Uncensored) how well we work together under pressure.

Magic:
The C64 scene is very active. What do you want to say as last words to the readers of this interview?

Dane:
This scene and what we contribute to it always makes me happy. I've made a lot of friends and have so many good memories when looking back. Every year someone says that the scene is over and that there's no point in carrying on. Keep proving those people wrong!


Magic:
Thanks again Dane for this interview! We wish you and Booze Design all the best with your X 2016 demo. Can you promise our readers one thing? Do the best you guys can to win the demo compo again?

Dane:
No promises. :)


Magic:
What can you tell our readers than (from who a lot will visit X)?

Dane:
I can tell everyone it's going to be a great party - regardless of what Booze Design brings to the table. :)

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