Interviews



Interview with Jonathan Dunn

Published in Recollection #3
Performed by SIDwave


Jonathan 'Choroid' Dunn has composed music and sound effects for many C64 games and is one of several talented composers of the loader music for Ocean Software. He was responsible for massive titles such as Total Recall, Platoon, Robocop 2, Terminator 2, Navy Seals and many more. He was also known as a SID pioneer under his handle Choroid, spreading his work on Compunet. Please welcome Mr. Jonathan Dunn...



R)
Hello Jonathan! Thanks for doing this interview!

J)
Hello


R)
First, can I ask you to give us some information about yourself (full name, age, birthplace and date, where you reside, job and interests?

J)
Jonathan Dunn, 40, Born in Preston, Lancashire, England. I currently live in Ventura California and work as Executive Producer at Left Field Productions Inc.


R)
What is the background story, about you getting a C64 and getting productive with it, making music? Did you have musical training; did you buy the C64 to play games? What motivated you to compose with it?

J)
I first got a Commodore 64 to play games, but always had an interest in music. I was studying music technology at college at the time, and decided to try and combine my love of the two things.



R)
Your scene name, Choroid - how did this come about?

J)
This was something I came up with at college, I could try and give you a cool explanation of how, but really I just like the word.


R)
Releasing music demos on the Compunet... as you did, how did this happen? I mean to ask, did you only use CNet, or were you also swapping disks with other people, perhaps worldwide?

J)
I'm not really sure how that started, but I guess it was out of a fascination for technology, and having the ability to download demos and music that other people were creating was great fun. I'm sure my mother remembers those Compunet phone bills.




R)
As early as 1986, in your first year of releasing anything under the nickname Choroid; you were using Electrosound music editor, and later the Soundmonitor, and then finally in 1988, a custom made music player, which was used in the games you did for Ocean. How was it like using these programs? How was your work process?

J)
I started using Electrosound, and I guess that's were I discovered the potential of creating music with my computer. Writing using a step based editor was pretty easy compared to how I eventually used to do it at Ocean. By the time I was working there I had to input all my music data into data statements to be assembled using the Ocean dev system.


R)
How did you make music in the custom player? i.e. Platoon? Do you have a secret editor? Or who programmed the Ocean music player?

J)
The first music player I used at Ocean was one of Martin Galway's, later I used one by Paul Hughes, but eventually I wrote my own driver, the last iteration of which was used in Total Recall.


R)
How was a typical day, being Choroid, before you started working at Ocean?

J)
Before working at Ocean, my time was taken up at college studying music technology. I wanted to be a music producer, and was planning to go to university when I got the job offer at Ocean.


R)
If you take a look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of? The highlights of your career... :D

J)
For me, my obvious highlights are Platoon, and later on The Addams Family for the SNES. Platoon because a lot was expected when Martin left Ocean and I took over. I was pretty young and it was my first job. The Addams Family because by this stage I'd written my own music driver for a brand new platform, and also wrote a converter so I could do the majority of the composing using midi and then convert it data statements so that I could tweak it later.



R)
Did you have any scene heroes, compunetters or professionals, that inspired you or whom you madly worshipped?

J)
Rob Hubbard was a real inspiration.


R)
What do you think of the demo scene back then, the art, the gfx, the scrollers and all that... looking back at it now?

J)
It was fun, I did a few of the demo things with a couple of people, but not too many.


R)
Did you go to copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?

J)
I did attend a few trade shows, but never any copy-parties.


R)
Any special stories from such parties, shows?

J)
I was once asked to sign a Joy Stick, but was too embarrassed.


R)
How was a typical day at Ocean?

J)
Kane would make the tea, and I would make music, then make the music work on the Spectrum, the Amstrad, the Gameboy, and the PC. Later it was also the NES, the SNES.


R)
Are you in contact with old C64 people today?

J)
I actually still work with 2 old Ocean employees.




R)
Do you still have a C64, and what's it used for? Or do you use a C64 emulator?

J)
No.


R)
Do you ever watch old demos, or listen to music from the High Voltage SID Collection ?

J)
I have the SID player app for my iPhone, so amuse myself from time to time by listening to old music.


R)
Was the C64 really that special that we like to think it was?

J)
Nostalgia suggests yes it was.


R)
Does the C64 really have a soul, or was it just another tool in a long process to become a professional musician?


J)
The C64 was a vehicle for being creative. Without it I wouldn't be sat in California right now.


R)
Do you have a message to your old contacts and everyone else reading this?

J)
Thanks for all the support along the way, so far it's been a fun ride.


R)
I've run out of questions and I thank you a lot for a nice interview Jonathan!

[back]