Interviews



Interview with Killsquad

Published in Vandalism News #54
Performed by Jazzcat


Formerly a member of Triad and most recently joining up with his local friends in Offence. Killsquad is one of the main forces behind the winner of the X-2010 demo competition. This coder is another talent to come out of Norway's recent resurgence and he celebrates his birthday two days after Christmas (so make sure to let him know!).


J)
Thanks for taking the time for this interview and welcome to Vandalism News, please introduce yourself to the audience...

K)
Hi and thank you for the work you put into this great mag and for doing an interview with me. My real name is Geir Ytterdahl, I'm 35 years old and live just outside of Oslo/Norway.

I make my living as a web & mobile apps developer at an advertising/production agency in Oslo. Besides coding and computers, my interests are making or listening to music, football & beer or just relaxing at home with my girlfriend. I've become quite lazy lately so it's very often the latter interest. And my handle, Killsquad... well, I was 13, loved heavy metal and was obviously schizo. "So incredibly lame its cool", can I have that one? :D



J)
When did you first get a C64 and how did you get from just a regular guy with a computer anyone could buy to a guy in the underground scene?

K)
I got my first C64 back in 85 when I was 10. We didn't have a lot of money back then and I never expected to get a C64 from my mum. So I sold a lot of my toys and saved up half the money for it myself over a year while I was drooling over my neighbour's C64. One day we were out shopping I went into the computer store as usual and was hanging over the C64 and typing what I always did:

10 print "I want a commodore."
20 goto 10

Suddenly my mum said "we'll take one"! I can still remember the feeling of euphoria, I almost passed out, hehe. I then convinced my mum to drop me off at home before continuing shopping. I rushed home, unpacked the C64... RF CABLE?!! Son of a %$#%% IT'S IN THE CAR! I ran 1KM, got on the subway and took it to two stations, ran into this huge mall where I knew my mum was at. I ran around looking for her until I met one of her friends who told me she had already gone home! Son of a %!$#%%! Back to the subway, two stations back, ran the 1KM home and there she was, the beautiful RF cable! Ready. Blink blink. I guess we had opened the box or something since I knew it was in the car.

A huge disappointment though was that the store was out of datasettes so I had to wait a week or two before I got one. But I had a book on Basic, so the first week or two I learned how to make small programs and of course lost everything every time I had to go to school or to sleep. When I finally got the datasette I was ready to fill my tapes with "Geir's disco 1-xx" (various "impressive" $d020/21 effects) and other fabulous stuff :)

In '88 a big Norwegian magazine (not a computer mag) had an article of the underground youth culture called demo scene and copy parties. This totally amazed me. I knew about groups like 1001 Crew, Dynamic Duo, The Judges and so on, but they were all so far away. Suddenly I understood that there were people "like" me even in my own city. The group pictured in the article
was Rawhead and the article was all about how good they were and that they had just won the demo compo at the Stjordal party. To me they were instant heroes! And to my luck I got to meet one of the guys (Jason) from Rawhead not long after and he gave me an invite to the Spydeberg party in February '89.

When I stepped into that hall... what a feeling. I was finally a part of the scene.



J)
Awesome introduction! Man, running from those stations must have been crazy! Anyway, what happened from then until now? Tell us your scene story...

K)
At the Spydeberg party I met a really bright kid, who was only 12 at the time (I was 14), called Edison. He taught me a lot about assembly and after the party Hawk and I joined his new group Shades. That year was incredible. From knowing next to nothing about assembly in February to coding dysps and dycps in the Autumn, not exactly chart climbing stuff but still. I visited 3 or 4 parties that year and got to know a whole bunch of great guys from all over. That year alone we released 4 demos (if anyone has any Shades demos I'd love it if you would upload them).

Hawk, Gus and I left Shades at the end of the year and founded Accept which lasted about 6 months and 2 demos, until the Bergen party in summer '90. There we met Sato & Coroner of Pirates (later known as JFK & M of Triad) and their bad moonshine. We really got along and together we started Style Designs. Not long after that my productivity was slowly decreasing and JFK was usually left with most of the work. He still seems to get tics when I mention the words packing & linking, hmm, I also remember he was horrified with the way I worked. I hardly ever saved a demo part before I was done with it or at least the main routine, I'd just leave the computer on.

Later on he confessed that he sometimes used to take a memory dump to a floppy while I was doing something else for a moment. It makes me feel violated. :) I don't know how or why, but we were suddenly invited to join Triad.  We felt honoured as Triad were legends already back then, so of course we did. I (hardly) participated in two more demos before I jumped ship and started doing some Amiga coding around '93. That was a mistake. Despite all the great Amiga demos that were released I never had the same feelings for the Amiga scene, nor the Amiga itself. So I lost interest altogether and quit. A few years later, around 96-97 (I think), I had a little nostalgic flashback and started coding on something JFK and I named Doh-Tro, referring to scroll text in old Triad demos: bah dah doh Bob. :) Unfortunately I lost interest again before I finished it. This appeared a decade+ later as Too Little Too Late by Triad at LCP 2008 thanks to Iopop & JFK.



Then earlier this year I was contacted by Bjorn & PAL who invited me to a little meeting with the rest of the guys in Offence. I had only met Bjorn a couple of times before through JFK and didn't know the other guys then. But the enthusiasm I felt at the meeting really got me fired up again. And I was really impressed when I saw some of their work, so much knowledge under the same roof. PAL's enthusiasm has been mentioned before, but it really can't be said enough. He really is an incredible driving force and a workaholic! A few days after I had joined I had like 20+ mails from PAL filled with graphics and ideas. My God, I'm never gonna see the sun again was my initial thought, hehe. I want to take the opportunity and say thanks to the guys in Offence for taking me in.

Phew, sorry for eating all your blocks.  : )


J)
Plenty of blocks to eat here! Who did you look up to? Did anyone in the scene motivate you and why?

K)
I was a coder so obviously most of the guys I looked up to were coders. Kjer and the other guys in Horizon. Who didn't look up to those guys? Some of the routines they did actually took me years to understand how good they really were. Flamingo/Light, a really great coder. Bob/Censor. Omega Supreme/Panoramic, it felt like their demos were about new ideas and routines instead of just breaking records. I guess Bjorn Rostoen should have his part of the glory for that? There were of course several other groups I admired, groups like Upfront, Triangle, Triad, Black Mail, Nato, Origo, Crest ++.

As for motivation, I want to give that credit to the whole scene. Ah, how politically correct :D But true!


J)
What was the scene all about in your opinion?

K)
Friendship, old and new. Travelling to parties and meet guys you've only talked to through letters or even scroll text. It felt like a totally different world. A place where the grown ups didn't make the rules. We were all kings in our own small society. It really was a magical time.


J)
I agree, travelling to parties and meeting those you traded with is great, especially meeting them for the first time in 20+ years etc. Did you ever imagine that the scene would still be alive in 2010? That demos (including records and new effects) are  * still *  being released?

K)
No way. I don't think anyone could imagine that. I thought the scene was dying already back in '93. So for the record I want to give my respect to all you guys, and girls, who have kept the scene alive. To me it actually seems like the scene is getting (a  little) bigger at the moment, people are coming back. Maybe because I've become a lot more active these days myself. You know, it always feels like you're the centre of the universe.


J)
What productions have changed your way of appraising what's doable on this machine?

K)
Oh, a lot of demos have pushed the limit for what I thought was possible. Not being very original here, but I feel Horizon pushed the limit in every demo they released. I hear people talk about their bad design, but seriously, how many groups had good design back then? Some of the Brutal demos by Light, World of Code, Dawnfall, Radio Napalm, Mathematica, Deus Ex Machina. Desert Dreams, a big thanks for the perfect remake of maybe my favourite demo of all time. And of course the demo that blew everybody's mind, Edge of Disgrace, which will probably never be pushed down from the throne. Hopefully someone out there will prove me/us wrong. ;)


J)
Comparing the Amiga scene with the C64 scene, what would you say are the main differences?

K)
The Amiga scene felt so fragmented. OCS/ECS vs AGA. Fast RAM, harddrive and even 030/040/060 requirements. I never liked that demos required more than the stock machine. The C64 had definite limits. When somebody broke a record and pushed the limits, they did it with the same limited resources that I had.

The Amiga scene must have been more fun in the late 80's/early 90's when the A500 ruled the scene. But after having said that, two of my favourite demos of all time, whatever platform, are from the Amiga:  Desert Dreams/Kefrens & Nexus 7/Andromeda. I still love them so much.


J)
I won't hold it against you as those Amiga demos you mentioned are particularly good. The Norwegian scene seems to survive and grow, it is definitely getting stronger lately (PAL seems to be one of the main driving forces with his enthusiasm). There seems to be quite a unique style to the Norwegian demo culture, with more focus on how productions feel rather than technicalities etc. Have you noticed this culture too?


K)
Yeah, you feel that too?! Its so cool that so many of us Norwegians decided to make a comeback at the same time. I've been thinking of making a C64 demo again for a few years now, but inspiration (and lack of time) has always stopped me. But the Offence 'meltdowns' has been a great inspiration. To see the passion of the other guys. Maybe our comeback can inspire other old sceners here in Norway to wake up from hibernation. I've talked to a couple of other guys that are itching for a little comeback, we'll see if they follow through.

About the style of the Norwegian demo culture, I don't think we're necessarily striving to be unique, but having fun is THE most important factor for us. I think the feelings of our demo(s) reflect the feelings we had when making them. And I also feel that visuals are more important than how hard it is to code. A textured phong shaded dodecahedron wouldn't be cool if its updated once per 20 frames.



J)
This new wave of Norwegian activity brings me to my next question. I have noticed you seem to be coming back in rushes, every third year or so... does real life keep getting in the way?

K)
Well, I'm not sure who came back in the previous rushes. I think in today's Offence we rather belong to the 10-20 year rush. I've been out of the loop for too long to know what has happened in the Norwegian scene for the last 10-15 years, but I think it's cool to see that great old timers like Shape have kept it going though. But yes, other things in life need to have higher priority. Sad, but true. But to misquote John Paul II: "Amongst all unimportant subjects, the C64 scene is by far the most important". I understand that now. ;)


J)
X-2010 was a mega party and you Norwegians really seemed to enjoy yourself there, it seems the whole Norwegian scene was there and not only that, Offence winning the demo competition, what are your thoughts on this party and what impact has it had?

K)
X was an excellent party and we had a blast there. A very well arranged party with lots of great people from all over. It seems it was arranged at just the right moment for a lot of us Norwegians and we managed to mobilize the largest (?) Norwegian invasion in about 20 years I think. The party place was great and we found a perfect HQ in the separate building (meant for sleeping I suppose). The big screen area was a little cramped and the award ceremony was a little late (5AM + free beers = not my brightest moment), but I think the party compares to some of the greatest parties I've been to. Unfortunately I fell into the same trap as I used to 20 years ago, I didn't finish my code before the party so I had to spend a lot of my time there fixing it, time that should have been spent enjoying the party. We hoped that other people would enjoy our effort, but to win the compo was huge fun and totally unexpected. I actually was a little disappointed when they announced the 3rd place and it wasn't us :D, because some of the other demos were mind blowing, with We Are New/Fairlight being my personal favourite. I can say for sure that the party has inspired us to do some more work and visit more parties. If I could I would book tickets for X2012 already!


J)
'Press space' versus 'Trackmo' - your thoughts on this, particularly with the latest Offence demo being the less common old-school approach (winning against the more common trackmo style)...

K)
I enjoy good trackmos and I appreciate the huge amount of work that is put into this kind of demos. But I love the nostalgic feel of a good press space demo. It gives some of the "power" back to the user. I like to enjoy great effects & parts as long as I want to (and to skip a part if I dislike it). And I think it gives more flavour to the demo with lots of totally different moods backed up with different great music. That was the state of the scene when most of us left it and since we're grumpy old farts we still like it that way :D. And of course there are different ways of polishing that kind of demos too. We'll see what the future will bring, manual or auto-space demos.


J)
The concept of a disk magazine. What do you think about that in the modern era of twitter, blogs and webpage creativity?

K)
I love this format, please don't change it. What better way to get into the right mood for reading about C64 stuff than to read it on real hardware. I just read through a couple of issues of Vandalism recently. Not in Vice, but on the real deal. Its a special feeling to sit back in a comfy chair with the breadbin in the lap, some great SID's flowing out of the speakers and read  about the "latest" movement in the scene. It's like reliving the time when I enjoyed mags like Mamba, Sex'n'Crime & others. Websites & blogs are great (Twitter is not) for other uses, but disk mags really contributes to making the scene feel alive!



J)
Being a member of Triad, I have to ask, were you ever involved in the cracking scene or had any interest in training games?

K)
Neh. I've never been involved in any cracking or hacking. To be honest, I didn't have any interest in games whatsoever after 87-88. For me it was all about coding my own stuff. It still is. I have enough problems trying to understand my own lousy code.
 : )


J)
The scene is known for its trouble-makers and wars. Were you ever caught up in any individual or group wars? I know some internal rifts between fee. Megastyle and Panoramic...

K)
I personally was never involved in any war, I think. I'm such a nice guy, or rather too stupid to understand insults. :D We had a little feud with Edison around the time some of us left Shades, but never a war. I remember someone released a fake demo in my (and Hawk's) name back when we were in Accept. Never got it confirmed who did it, but I think Edison would be a good candidate, hehe. I didn't really care that much. But all the wars back then made a lot of enjoyable scroll-text.


J)
What happens at these 'Meltdown' meetings, anything that is not X-rated that you can share with the audience?

K)
And break the Omerta?! Well, it's all about sharing inspiration and knowledge. We see each other's recent work, talk about ideas and techniques. I think we all bring different kind of knowledge to the table. They also work as a reminder that this is a very cool hobby and that we do this because it's fun. All is supported by PAL's excellent cuisine. I think I can reveal that there are still some great ideas/parts to be released. ;)


J)
Accept was your original group, founded by you, it was the first and original Accept (unlike the clones from Denmark and Germany that followed much later). What were those early days like?

K)
That was a cool time. We finally had the skills to run our own group and make everything ourselves. Hawk had this great shed in his parents' garden which was filled with 64's. We used to hang around there all the time, skipping school and code all day. Small space, but it had beds and everything so visiting sceners always had a place to crash. We were super productive back then and could code a new part nearly every day. I miss those days, 89-90 was the golden years.


J)
Back in 1989 would you have ever imagine you would be working together in the same crew as the guys from Panoramic and Prosonix?

K)
Nope, but don't tell them that. Those guys were an inspiration back then and they still are. Its cool that they're back and to be a part of it!


J)
Please feel free to send some greetings out to all those you traded with and shared good times with on C=64.

K)
I want to send big greets to the guys in Offence & Prosonix, JFK, M & the other guys in Triad, BHF/Hoaxers, Hawk & Gus/Accept, Stian/Style Designs,  Geir Tjelta/MoN. Especially congrats to Bjorn/Offence & M/Triad and their better halves for their newborn sceners. I'd also like to raise my glass for Jerry/Triad, the man the myth the legend.


J)
Thanks for your time and participation! Do you have any last words for the readers?

K)
Have fun, continue making demos, pictures & music and visit parties, I'm sure we will! Again, thank you for doing this interview with me. I'm off to bore someone else, press space...

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