Interviews



Interview with Geir Tjelta

Published in Domination #10
Performed by Jazzcat


A former member of groups such Shape, Offence and Paradize. Formerly known as 'Predator' but more known under Geir Tjelta. Recently he has picked up C64 activities again and has joined Norwegian group Shape to release his productions.




J)
Welcome to the media. It's a pleasure to interview you and I trust you will enjoy the questions. Firstly, could you please introduce yourself to the public, like your name, age and any non-computer related facts about yourself?

G)
Hi, it has been a long time since I've contributed in a C64 program. Probably, this will be one of the last. Grin!!! Well, ok, let's get started then. My name is Geir, a typically Norwegian name (for those of you who might think it sounds weird or look stupid), and I'm 23 years old, 184 cm height, 77-80 KG weight, blue eyes, short dark brown hair, and finally, for the few girls in the scene, a big John Holmes thing. :) Well, the non-computer facts about me... hmm... I can tell you a normal day of my life... goes like this... Wake up (finally) at 0845, take a shower, going (usually running) to the subway, ending up at Funcom Oslo were I compose music for computer games. Well, about 1800 I go work out in the gym (hey, I'm not a fanatic), just to keep in SHAPE, or I'm hell out of here (big smile!). Then it's time for a big meal, rice, meat and something. After that, it's time for Jay Leno on NBC if there are any interesting celebrities on it. I do not have any computers at home, except for a few C64's laying around, yeah!! Don't think I ever will get rid of them. Can't understand how Bjerregaard could dump his C64 in the trash, even if it was broke, I couldn't do that, no way! Ok, back to hobbies, eh, I'm a big fan of Danny Elfman and John Williams, two great film composers (Elfman a more modern composer and Williams a more classical type). I hate techno music, sorry guys. I like jazz, funk, pop, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden. Other interests, eh, science, mars, UFO and stuff like that, don't know if I'm really a believer of UFOs or not, but it's very interesting. There must be something out there I guess. Well, back on earth again, these creatures down here called girls; they got something I enjoy a lot, too bad that many of them got something screwed up in their head.


J)
You have been with us in the scene for quite some years now. Some people may know you under a different name and some new sceners don't even know you. Could you please try and give us your C64 history from the first time you bought a C64 up until present day giving highlights of memorable things that happened and achievements you accomplished...

G)
My parents bought us (I've got two brothers) a C64 with tape recorder in 1984. We got so excited about this machine after a friend of us brought this machine to our house, showing us Forbidden Forest and Motor Mania, the first time I did any typing on the C64 was sys8000 on Motor Mania. Some years went by with lots of gaming and turbo-taping. I found out when typing in basic that I got very interested in music programming. Cos programming something that really brings out some noise, is much more fun that doing some new cool advanced routine. So I found out that music programming should be my speciality on the C64. But it wasn't until 1988 I started coding my own routine. Before that I did lots of demos. I got in contact with a guy named Trond Lindanger (IQ64) this guy bought a printer off a friend of mine, that's how we got together. Trond did music in sound monitor, and he also did some graphics. We did some stupid demos in 1987 with a picture, scroll and music. During that time I visited Dr.Creep of Thunderbolt Cracking Crew (TCC), he ripped a lot of music, and he had this huge stereo with SID music blowing out his windows. Could hear it a long way from his room. He taught me programming more advanced routines and together we joined a Canadian group called Whiz Kids, Trond Lindanger (IQ64) also joined. As the others got interested in Amiga, Trond and I joined the Suppliers in 1988. That year I coded a Rob Hubbard editor, after exploring his music routine, I found out that music routines wasn't that hard programming. I finished that editor under my handle Predator. I made this editor cos Trond was tired of using Future Composer (this editor had some limits in the instrument editor). I also got into music myself when I found out how everything was put together, the chords and so on. So, I did some tunes, the first was "My first SID", look in HVSC for that one, but the first real "good" one was "Remoteness". After releasing that tune, a guy named JCH called me up, I'd never heard of this guy, he told me he liked the "Remoteness" tune, and they'd started a group called Vibrants. Later I told some of my friends about him, they said he was quite known in the C64 scene. I also found out that I'd heard a lot of his music. This was the summer 1989, we released these tunes under the Moz(Ic)Art label, a name that Trond came up with, it means Mozart, music, art and IC for a computer chip, get it? I was hanging out with these Shape guys for some years (the real old Shapers), then finally we all came together. It was a decision between Rawhead and Shape, but I never thought I was good enough for Rawhead so I joined Shape. I told Omega Supreme (now a colleague at Funcom) that I had joined Shape, and he asked me why I didn't join them. Damn! I also missed the opportunity to join Panoramic, I could have done it, but then I joined Offence in 1990, also an Amiga group and Paradize in 1991 because I wanted to join a more productive group. In 1992 I started coding a brand new player and editor, cos the old editor sucked, I wanted to do a JCH type of editor, but a little bit more advanced. With four channels/digis, notes scrolling on the whole screen. And I did! JCH got impressed. The editor is not spread and none of my tunes in this editor has been spread as well. But I think everything will be released quite soon. Hey, maybe we could release it now, with this program? (ED: Sid Duzz It was released on the cover disk of the Domination PAPER edition, a great editor!) Hmmm, well... ok, in 1993 I bought a PC and a sound card, started with MIDI music, and also coding PC's MIDI interface. I did some conversions of Hubbard in MIDI, check it out on the internet, they should be there. Search for Hubbard MIDI Geir Tjelta or something like that. Hm... I got a Amiga 1200, did a player with Dr.Creep, cos he could code the Amiga very well, I said what to do in a typically C64 way. I sold the Amiga after three months, cos I liked the PC better. Omega Supreme (Olav Morkrid) called me up. "Hey what's up?” I said. He told me they'd started their own software company in Oslo named Funcom, and asked me what I was doing. I was doing MIDI on PC. "Hey, why don't you come to Oslo and do some music on Super Nintendo?” So after sending my CV and some tapes of my Sound Canvas music, and C64 music, I got the job. So, this C64 got me interested in music, and followed up by the PC and its MIDI, I achieved my biggest wish, making music for a living. Now, after being in the military, I'm still working for Funcom, but not a single game with my music has been released. They all got cancelled (games, not the tunes!).



J)
Some of the most popular musicians seemed to have grown into the habit of developing their own personal music editors. Do you think it helps the creator more to make better music using his own editor? What would be the advantages here? And have you used many different editors?

G)
I've a bunch of different versions of my editor, but with the various players, the editor is the same, except for my new one, "SID DUZZ IT". This is the editor I started on in 1991/92. To be released, it needs some final touches. This is the C64 music editor of all time! No, I'm not big mouthed; I did this editor just for you, not for myself! The cool thing about it. You need my player source code to pack the tunes, in this source code you can choose from a header which FX's you've used for your specific tune. This reduces the player's length and raster time. Cool? Well, back to your question. Yeah, most of the well-known musicians are good programmers. For my own sake, I was driven to do my own player/editor, cos there wasn't a reasonable editor out there. It doesn't make you a better musician, but your sound-quality is much better in your own player. I can code the Pulse sweeps just the way I want them, also the drum routine. My new player can do multiple drum programs; you can import other drum systems, like Hubbard, MON and Vibrants. You can ignore these drum programs in the player's source code if you wanna save memory. Ok, further on with your question... I've tried using the future composer, but you can't do very much with the sound, and the sequencer sucks. You've to change some bytes in the memory to make different filters and drums. Drax did this, that's how he got JCH's attention. Sound monitor is a real classic, but if you don't know the SID, you've got a problem setting up the instruments! This player is very big and raster-time consuming. But great for its period of time. Good work Huelsbeck!



J)
The C64 scene has had a great share of musical talent; many musicians have come, produced great music and then departed. Which musicians do you respect and for what reasons?

G)
First of all, I respect Tim Follin, cos of his knowledge of music theory, and his knowledge of musical instruments. He can play the fiddle, guitar and lots of other instruments. His music style is great! But lately, I must say I respect Laxity for his knowledge too. He's a great piano player and composer. Check out his music on "Dragonheart".


J)
Do you like conversions of music from other systems or from real life music? How should a conversion be made in order to appeal to the public?

G)
Conversions within the same system are meaningless in my opinion. Why cover an original C64 tune, its original is how it's meant to sound on a C64. But if you really want to convert it, convert it... Converting a Phil Collins song or something like that is good practice. I also think it should stay as the original is, but in the C64 limits. The closer you get to the original, the better you are. Just check out Bjerregaard's "Domino Dancing" by Pet Shop Boys, brilliant, or his TOTO conversions! But I've to mention that I did a program that converts Hubbard tunes to my sequence system, also his instruments. I did this cos of the editor, it's very readable, and you can see Hubbard's way of composing and it is like a music station of your favourite tunes. So actually, it's not a conversion. Only moved from a player to another.


J)
How much time do you spend on one music?

G)
Hours, days, weeks, months, years... depends... The exclusive tunes I've given you for this magazine, was composed last year, in my new player. On 'Blondie' I spent some days tweaking, but the main melody came out in a hour. The 'Blue Mazda' song was originally made on the Amiga (THX system). I spent two days composing it. And some tweaking in between. I always use lots of time adjusting the instruments. I never get satisfied. If you wonder, I've sold my A1200 now. I've never been a Amiga freak.


J)
Over the years skills improve, which skills of yours, musically, have improved most over time? Improvisation musical theory or techniques?

G)
Oh, everything, but mostly music theory. I didn't know very much about music theory when doing my C64 music I just couldn't get it as I wanted, cos I didn't know the basic chords and harmony. I always tried to make as good music as I could, though.



J)
Have you ever had any disliking towards a scener or group before?

G)
No. Never.


J)
What is your definition of lame and elite? Examples?

G)
Elite are just as nerds as the lamers themselves (in a non-computer-guy point of view). Lamers and elites need each other. Elite needs the lamers or they're not elite. Lamers can become elite, then new lamers occur and some elite disappears. That’s how every scene works. Some are more famous than others, and one day, you meet them face to face.


J)
What disadvantages and advantages, musically, has the C64? Have we pushed it to its limits?

G)
There's actually no specific disadvantages of the SID chip. Along with the rest of the C64 hardware, it's pretty damn good. So if the SID chip should have more channels or real digital playback, you'd have to expand the machine's RAM memory. Then it's not a C64 anymore. The technical disadvantages of the SID must be the filter (but...). The creator of the SID chip didn't finish the filter, cos of Commodore's deadline. The machine had to get released. That's why some C64s cut off filter sound differently. But on the other hand, thanks for the bugs, or digi music would never be heard on a C64. So actually it's an advantage as well. Read more about the SID on the SIDPLAY homepage on the net. Just search for it and follow the links. I think the SID has been explored to its limits. Or maybe you'll find a byte somewhere in the memory affecting the SID. I don't think so. There's nothing left. You can call up the player more often to make weird sounds, that's the new thing, but it eats raster time.


J)
Why not use your former handle Predator any longer? Is it because of a more professional approach to the music scene?

G)
The handle sounds silly. I just don't like it anymore. Today I would use a funnier handle I think, a non-serious stupid one, like Ben Dover, Buttman or something (seen their movies?). Hehe... eh... just kidding... Nooo...


J)
What style of music really gives you inspiration to compose a tune? Techno, Jazz, Funk, Classical? And what commercial groups who compose this style do you prefer?

G)
I get most inspiration from film composers, cos their music is more flexible and interesting. To people who are not aware of how cool film music is to listen to, I'd recommend you to listen to Danny Elfman (check out his Edward Scissorhands score!! His latest are Men in Black), Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. For you C64 freaks, John Williams composed the 1941 movie score, a tune that Rob Hubbard used in the Deep Strike game). Martin Galway's in game Rambo tune, themes originally by Jerry Goldsmith. Check out WWW.filmtracks.com on the net. Here you'll find info about the composers and all their film scores


J)
What's your favourite of the following?

Demo group - Crest, Offence, Paradize and Shape
Demo - A cool Crest demo, can't remember the name
Disk Magazine - Mega Industries' Remark
Graphician - Pal/Offence (demos), Dokk (games)
Musician - Tim Follin (games), Laxity/Vibrants (demos)
Coder - Crossbow/Crest (demos), John Twiddy (games)
Game - Murder on Mississippi/The Last Ninja: Trilogy
Notice that this is my favourites before 1992, after this period I've been away from the scene.



J)
What projects have Funcom planned for the future? Also what musicians who were originally from C64 and now in Funcom are currently busy on game projects?

G)
We do online games these days, so we do most MIDI and some real audio. Check out WWW.funcom.com, but you'll have to wait some month till some music from me occur on the web. I'm the only musician at Funcom from the C64 scene. Jeroen Tel was a in-house freelancer. He went back and forth from the Netherlands and Norway. Laxity was here for a year and quit. Danko got some record deal in Sweden. So I'm the only one, besides two other non sceners who work in our Audio department.


J)
What computer/musical equipment do you own?

G)
Funcom owns everything. Private I got nothing, just the C64s. But I can mention some equipment that we use; E-MU's 4k sampler (128 Mb RAM and 128 Polyphony! I love these, we got three of 'em), AKAI S3200 and CD3000 samplers, Roland JD-900 Module, Yamaha Clavinova electric piano, E-MU Morpheus, Yamaha Tg500 Module, lots of Behringer processors, and PC with Cakewalk Pro. Audio. Just an average MIDI studio.


J)
A lot of old sceners return from the 16 bit machines to the 8 bit machine. Why do you think people keep paying attention to the C64?

G)
Well, I think people have their C64 for pure fun and nostalgia. I haven't seen or heard of anybody returning to the 8-bit machine. This is a machine I've always had. After five years of doing nothing, and just pop out with a tune or two. I think it's cool. Also the net has got very much C64 related stuff. I think the internet has kept the C64 alive for the old sceners. I just love to take a peak into the SIDPLAY homepage to see if something new has happened.


J)
What are your goals in real life and musically on the computer/console?

G)
I want a full orchestra to play one of my compositions one day. That's my biggest wish. Making game music on computers and consoles is something I've achieved already. Well, I would like to do music for a big hit game. Haven't done that yet.


J)
Do you think when a musician or talented computer person gets famous that it interferes with their work? Or does it make it better?

G)
It gives me a little kick in the ass, hearing people like my music gives me inspiration.


J)
Ok, here is your chance to give any personal greetings out to the scene...

G)
Thanks for reading. Keep on digging SID music, cos I'm releasing this editor soon. You'll get further information.


J)
Thank you for your time Geir. Is there any last words you wish to make to leave a final impression on the audience?

G)
Thanks for keeping the C64 alive for incredible fifteen years. Keep it that way!

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