Interviews



Interview with Frantic

Published in Vandalism News #45
Performed by Macx


Mats "Frantic" Andren is the man behind the well-known Little Computer People parties in Sweden. But not only is he a pillar in the commodore party scene, he is also a coder and a musician in Hack'n'Trade, with some recent audial scores. On the boards he is known as "Autoboy". This is my feeble attempt of trying to get into the brains of this fellow.



M)
You are part man, part machine, why is that?

F)
This makes it possible for me to kill and code efficiently.


M)
I know many HT-members come from the same town and grew up together. Are you part of that crew?

F)
No. Late in scene history, something like 1996 or so, I decided to get my old c64 back. A few years earlier I sold it to a guy down the street where I lived, but now I paid him a little and got it back. Soon I got in touch with Goto80/HT and got a disk sent to me with some twisted music warez which got me started c64-wise again. Then I met up with Vinzi/HT on a few festivals like Roskilde in Denmark for some boozing action + weed + ansjovisoliver. Then most of the HT crew went to TP97 together. The party sucked a whole lot (they didn't show our Amiga porn demo and they lost our c64 demo entry for the compo) but we had a great time anyway... I think that's how I gradually became a part of the almighty HT crew. HT has a history before my entry though.


M)
Do you see yourself as a group? Do you have internal meetings and good communication within HT?

F)
Yes, we're indeed a group of friends. Some members moved towards the periphery over time but large parts of the group is intact and still going strong (as if!). I think one could consider LCP and Floppy HT-meetings, although not "internal". So at least a bunch of us meet twice a year and smaller encounters take place all the time. There is also a HT-mailling list which is used every now and then (which happens to be hosted by K12, the old c64 scener).



M)
You recently became a father, how has that affected you?

F)
Well, dunno. Changes in personality takes time I guess. I'm still coding on my c64 if that's what you're after.


M)
Will we see demos about your kid?

F)
No, I don't think so.


M)
What are you doing besides arranging LCP, scenewise and in real life?

F)
Scenewise I'm coding a lot on my c64. Secret projects so far. Maybe one day you'll see. Also fiddling around a bit with music and occasionally with graphics (mostly petscii).

In real life I just finished (like right now) my cognitive science and communication studies (human communication that is, talk-in-interaction) in Linköping. I'll spend the summer creating laborations for an AI course at the university this fall which means coding Sony's robot dogs (aibo ers-7). I'm looking forward to that! After that I'm not sure what happens.. Chances are I'll move to Lund for some four or five years of PhD studies, but the issue is not crystal clear (like beer) yet. (Yes, LCP may be in Skauuneland next time.)

In addition to coding and studying I hang out with friends and such of course.. Not much to comment on that.



M)
Tell us of your first encounter of the scene?

F)
In one sense I guess you could say that Turbo 250 by Mr Z was the first encounter. Other things came gradually. Finding tools among the games on your tapes and disks and trying to figure out what the hell that was sometimes hinted about the existence of a scene somewhere in another dimension, and so did crack intros and their scrollers, of course. I never knew any sceners personally really before 1995 or something even though I had a c64 and an Amiga 500 since I was a little kid. The HT guys must have been my first closer acquaintances. Before that my only connections with computer people were local connections.


M)
What differs the “old” scene from the “new”, in your opinion? Has anything improved?

F)
As stated earlier, I became involved with the scene quite late, but it's still quite easy to see that there is a lot of differences compared to the late 80s and the early 90s. I don't think I am the right person to make such comparisons but one obvious difference should be the middle age of the c64 sceners which probably rose by at least 10 years or so since that time. Dunno if that means people got proper and boring, or if it means that they think in directions which people did not do a bunch of years ago. Probably both...

Over time people started to explore new ways of course, but in my view the late c64 history is more characterized by it's conservative conformity to a skeleton structure made up of "releases", "handles", "demos" and such things, rather than actually frontal confronting the old distinctions. The very possibility to order scene productions into a structured database like CSDB shows just how structured things are. Of course there are many aspects of the scene such a database won't catch and I've noticed that there is often problem with the categorization for certain releases, but still... CSDb is useful in many ways, but I hope CSDB won't "become" the scene too much as there might be even more of a focal shift from "the scene" apprehended as made up by the participants (as I imagine it must have been more like in 1988) to a scene understood as a "structure". When will we see releases that does not fit at all into the demo/tool/game/collection distinction? Often people seem to take it for granted. Now I don't say there is really anything wrong with this "structure" and I hope people will continue doing demos, and they apparently do. Also, this "structure" is of course the very reason for talking about a "scene" at all, but seen from such a perspective I think changes in the scene are more like a series of slight alterations in the details rather than driven by innovative thinking on a large scale. I'd be glad to see a scene heading out in the wilderness, rather than converging to stability.

When looking at those years I've been part of the scene, from 1996 or so, I think a lot of things has improved in the Swedish scene. The "core" of that improvement lies in increased activity I think, which in turn is due to many other things. It's been very nice to see the quality at the LCP and Floppy compos getting better each year.


M)
When and how did an idea of LCP evolve?

F)
First, in 1998, I was only aiming to organize an internal HT meeting, and I rented some classrooms in a school in Vaexj0. Then Vinzi/HT came up with the idea of inviting a bunch of other sceners and so we did. At the time I hardly knew that there were any c64 sceners still alive, and in a way I guess they didn't really know that either, since the Swedish scene was very silent at this time. I guess most people were pretty sure the c64 scene would finally die for good in only a few years or so, if they didn't already consider the scene dead. More people than expected showed up and all in all there were about 50 people and the stone started rolling again. This story is more fully explored in a interview that Puterman did with me for the Attitude magazine. I think it may have been issue 6 or so. Instead I'd like to take this opportunity to tell a little story about something that happened before the first LCP in 1998. It was in 1997 and I was in Malmö, Sweden, visiting my sister. I saw a notice about a demo party being arranged in Malmö that weekend so I decided just to drop by for a moment to check it out. This party was called Hype and the whole party place was filled up with super ultra boring pc nerds that didn't seem to have a clue about how to party. Then I noticed, to my surprise, that there were actually a few individuals in a corner that stood out from the crowd. (I didn't know then, but later on I have realized that these people were Jucke/G*P, Skyhawk/Laxity and Taper/Triad.) They played loud hip hop on a ghetto blaster, looked stoned, took control of the big screen (which was only used to display some lame information and party rules) and started broadcasting some cosmic c64 demos (like Achmed/Judas and that stuff). The pc lamers were horrified. Can't really say this experience was the very reason for arranging LCP, but surely it gave me an obvious illustration about differences between boring pc nerds and the good old c64 maniacs.

Jucke, Skyhawk and Taper(and also Iopop of course) happen to be the people who arrange the one and only Floppy-party, and before I realized that I actually met these dudes at Hype the story about LCP and Floppy went something like LCP98 came first, and then they organized Floppy because they thought LCP was so nice and so on, and then the Swedish c64 scene was rolling again. But I just wanted to bring forth the fact here that the nice vibes surrounding these very individuals was an important party of my inspiration for arranging a c64-party (LCP) in the first place. Greetings to you dudes!



M)
After LCP 2004 some people expressed their worries at CSDb about the released lacked coder-pr0n in favour of a more conceptualised theme. Do you see that conflict?

F)
Well, I see what they mean, but I couldn't care less. I never cared much about the (demo) scene in that sense. I like seeing what people do and so on, and I do check out new demos when they pop up, but I don't have a lot of opinions what a "real" demo should be like. That doesn't mean there isn't better and worse demos of course, but I don't see the point in trying to pinpoint some kind of "essence" of "real demos". I like the variety though and would appreciate it if there was a whole lot more variety.

It can be interesting to read such discussions sometimes though and see how people try to make sense of what they do (often in retrospect) and how they try to reinforce social structures upon others. For me, personally, C64 activity is more about the practical lived experience. Turning the machine on and letting the bits and bytes flow trough the veins.


M)
So what demos do you like, which ones and why?

F)
Too many to mention, but mostly I think I like those that I haven't seen yet. Latest demo I saw that I found interesting was Pico by Dekadence and more specifically SounDemon's sound routine in it which used a real cool new hack with the SID control register. This doesn't mean that I generally favour technicalities above conceptualized stuff (even though it also resulted in audible new cool sounds in this case). It just happened to be so in this specific demo.


M)
What role do you think parties play in the contemporary C64 scene? Is LCP any different?

F)
I think parties are very important. Without them the c64 scene would have been just another boring internet community, and not really a scene at all anymore. This is related to what I just said about C64 activity being a practical lived experience. Meeting in real life just matters a whole lot and I think it's obvious that activity has boosted over the years since LCP and Floppy entered this dimension. I guess LCP is a lot different to parties for other platforms, but in many ways similar to Floppy. Not totally similar though, but I think the differences between LCP and Floppy complements each other in a very good way. Floppy is smaller and harder somehow, in the sense of being more underground and straight C64 only which keeps the core together. LCP is a bit more "open", held during the Hawaii heat of the summer, heading in unknown directions, and people meet, sitting in the grass, drinking beer together, no matter what platform (PC people have a lot of other parties to go to).



M)
Is this positive party-effect something that can be imitated you think, like getting some British lads coding for a Newcastle Brown-dependent scene?

F)
LCP ‘98 was held in the last minute sort of, I think, as there we're still actually a bunch of Swedish c64 people that would show up and make the party a nice experience. I'm not too informed about the UK scene, but if I'm right there are far less c64 people still alive over there. I think having parties is still a great idea, and I think the British Coding Lads (BCL) should get together for sure, and that this might boost some kind of activity. However, I'm not sure if it would grow into a "scene" thing, or something else. Probably something more like the "expos" seen in USA and so on.


M)
What other things motivate people?

F)
Knowing other sceners... Seeing releases they actually like spontaneously... Having a lifestyle with room for c64 activity... That's the kind of things that make people step over the threshold of just consuming others releases to actually getting hooked on the business of creating stuff themselves.


M)
You are a frequent visitor to Antidote. Do the boards differ in any way from the other forums?

F)
Yes, I think Antidote differs from web forums by virtue of being cosy. Simple as that. Makes it worthwhile to "call".


M)
You told us earlier that you were coding lots, is it all top secret?

F)
Yep. If I told you I would have to kill you afterwards.


M)
Any other future plans?

F)
I'll keep on doing what I currently do. I guess the LCPs will keep on coming as long as people are interested in it.


M)
Thank you for taking the time, anything final to add?

F)
Stop bloated mags!!!

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