cxt: Hi gwEm, unlike other scene guys one can find tons of
informations about you on the web. Let's see what it gives away
about you :). According to reliable sources
(http://preromanbritain.com/gwem/ ) your real name is Gareth
Morris and you are an "Atari ST Old Skool Rave DJ and Heavy
Metal dude" which might leave some of us clueless about the
interrelation of all these things. Perhaps you can shade some
light upon this?
gwEm: Hey Cyclone! "Atari ST, Old Skool Rave DJ and Heavy Metal
dude" is a cool description. Sadly, I didn't write it - it was
taken from a really cool press text by Gerd/Golden Pudel.
Anyway, it summarises some of my favourite sounds pretty well -
old skool rave, heavy metal (especially the classic stuff from
the 70s and 80s) and of course the Atari ST.
cxt: Well I am pretty sure there is a lot more hiding behind
that shiny surface, what about your fable for early electronic
stuff like Kraftwerk for example, don't try to be a headbanger
when you love electro secretly :)
gwEm: I love all good music ;) and my love for Kraftwerk is not
so secret really.
cxt: At least it won't be after the "We are the Operators" CD
will be in the shops. Was it your idea to create a chipsound
cover of old Kraftwerk songs?
gwEm: Well I was in a Kraftwerk tribute band even and they are
mentioned on my webpage as one of my favourite bands ;) but no,
it was not my idea. It came from the organiser of the
compilation - ksine.
cxt: Will this CD already be available from the shops when Alive
hits the streets?
gwEm: I doubt it. These things are always delayed, but let's see
- with some luck...
cxt: I see. Beside your musical activities you are going to make
your phd in electronics engineering at a London university. What
are your plans for the future? I heard you might migrate to
Germany when you are finished?
gwEm: Well I have some plans sure ;) but I don't know how
practical they are. First I must finish this thing; it could
take some months…
cxt: Since your girlfriend comes from the city of Hamm
(Westfalen) I am under the impression that she is one of the
major factors for thinking about migrating to Germany, is that
gwEm: Sure of course… but I also spent some time in Munich,
which was a really cool ;) England and Germany make some of the
best beers in Europe I think, so it will be a hard choice. Havoc
/ LineOut suggested the Netherlands as a compromise, but if I
have to choose between a jar of John Smiths, Franziskaner or
Grolsch… I pick the Grolsch last, even if it tastes nice and has
cool TV advertising. The fat monk on the Franziskaner label
looks like he knows a thing or two about good beer and Knoedel,
but if I have to choose I pick the warm English beer that I've
been drinking my life.
cxt: Yuck, warm beer, that sounds disgusting, however so much
for the future let's travel back in time and ask the inevitable
question: "How did you get in contact with computers and
especially with the Atari ST?"
gwEm: Well my old man worked for Digital (maker of the VAX etc),
and computers have always been around my life because of this.
He made a working PDP8 from parts taken of broken machines. The
interface was a DEC VT72 terminal. I made my first programming
steps on this machine. Of course it was his machine, but I got
hold of my own Oric Atmos 48k machine, for free somehow - I
forgot the exact story, since I was very young. This machine
ruled anyway, looking really cool and small, plus it had a
rather decent keyboard. With it came a programming manual, and I
was working my way through it. I got to about 75% completed,
when the machine died. One of the memory chips broke. I was
heartbroken, so my Grandmother brought me an Atari 1040STFM for
my birthday in 1987. It was a pretty powerful and expensive
machine at the time, and I didn't miss the Oric anymore ;)
cxt: Ah well, I had a similar experience with my last ZX
Spectrum (128K-Model), it died because I accidentally dropped
something on the motherboard while it was running. In fact this
accident was the reason to purchase an Atari for me. Apart from
the CT63 which other Atari computers do you host in your flat?
gwEm: In my flat I have the Atari Falcon with CT63 and CT1e3 -
this is my baby! ;) Also not to forget a spare Falcon030, and
the 3 Mega STs which I use to play live with. In the attic of my
family's home I have ten or so 1040STFM (some of which work!).
In my office I have the Mega STe and a dead Mega.
cxt: A dead mega at the office? Hmmm, any plans to resurrect it
there or is it just used to scare off other students?
gwEm: It gathers dust, I should throw it away, it even has the
obligatory SM124 which is still ok btw.
cxt: Nooo! Throwing away is not an option! Think about the
precious chips inside, the blitter for example.
gwEm: j0, and name me a soft that uses the blitter and no other
STE / Falcon features.
cxt: Wings of Death, Lethal Xcess and probably even more Thalion
/ Eclipse games. You know the blitter was used in the Mega ST
models way before there was any STE, so there should be programs
supporting it. And while we are at it: A halfmeg machine with a
blitter is not that bad, it can compensate for the lack of
memory for preshifting.
gwEm: Ah yes, good call
cxt: I've also heard you are desperately searching for a TT030,
what are you going to do with that machine? Use it for
gwEm: Exactly, for maxYMiser. But I can't really afford the
usual eBay price for that machine. I also have some quite nice
ideas for TT-only effects. Maybe a TT comes up somehow, I always
dreamed to own one; I would certainly do something with it…. If
someone wants to donate - I'll swap for some STFM ;)) But
seriously, I don't really want to, but I'd also swap my Mega STe
cxt: From your "tastefully" designed and probably 200 years old
webpage at http://preromanbritain.com/gwem/martbean/ I learned
you might have had contact to a Sinclair ZX Spectrum once. I
also heard rumours about a pdp8 used as a dust collector in your
home :) and you already mentioned the dead Oric. So please tell
us all about your previous machines and what you used them for.
gwEm: I never had any ZX spectrum. Some friends had one and I
really preferred the Oric. The PDP8 my old man used a lot back
in the day for database, ASCII art and programming work. I used
it for coding crappy text adventures ;) The Oric I used for some
games of course, but I didn't really like games because I was
crap and my younger brother always beat me. In the end mainly I
used the Oric for coding as well.
cxt: Since you are using the ST since 1987? I wonder when you
made your 1st contact with the so called "scene". Is this a
recent development or were you coding scene prods in the so
called "golden years" as well?
gwEm: Maybe this will be controversial but I hated these early
scene prods at the time. Now I can look back on them and
appreciate it, but I still don't really enjoy it. During these
classic years I was mainly gaming, coding STOS and doing my
school homework on the machine.
The Golden Age is NOW anyway - look at the cool shit coming out:
best Falcon Demo (Beams), best STe demo (Pacemaker), best ST
demo (Posh), best gfx (excocet / c-rem), best accelerator
(ct60), best music (ym rockerz), best diskmag (collects 50euro
from cyclone ;) ). And of course the best sceners too ;)
cxt: Hey you punk, get my purse back! You like playing games?
I'll teach you ... Hmmm BTW, you said were mainly gaming at that
time, which game genre do you like most?
gwEm: Sure I played games, but as I say, I was crap ;) I soon
got bored of games. Not really a genre, but mainly I liked 2
player games - because I would play with my younger brother.
cxt: Can you name your personal top five ST games? I am pretty
sure Lethal Xcess will not be amongst them since you need some
decent shooting skills to get through the crowded levels, even
though it is a two player game.
gwEm: Sorry but no, my memory is too hazy on that point ;) Not
really my favourites, but some that stick out are Dynamite
Ducks, Xenon 1+2, Space Crusade, Kick Off, Double Dragon, Test
Drive, Lotus Esprit.
Just to motivate Ray/TSCC I'll say 'Wolfenstein 3D' is my
ultimate Atari ST game.
cxt: Hehe, it would have been smarter to say it a bit different
if you are really aiming at motivating Ray but anyway that's a
weird collection, perhaps your favourite tools are likewise?
Which Assembler or other coding tools do you use in your prods?
And while we are at it what's your favourite machine for coding?
gwEm: Just like most of the scene its Devpac 3.1. Not to forget
MS Notepad, QED, QuickDSP, STEem Debug. Of course my favourite
coding machine is the CT63. Second favourite is my beat-up IBM
Thinkpad which I use at demo parties and when travelling. Lots
of coding on maxYMiser was done at airports and stuff using this
cxt: Since you mentioned STEem already, what's your opinion
about emulators like STEem or SainT? Do you consider them useful
tools or are they "devils work" killing the real thing :) ?
gwEm: Emulators rule that's all I have to say. They are
!!boosting!! the real thing. Prods that work on emulator only
are of course lame, but this is the only case of emulators
sucking. If it would not be for STEem Debug version the time I
take to develop things would increase considerably. In fact I
would even say I wouldn't have started to code on Atari at all,
if it would not be for STEem Debug… and it works on my laptop.
cxt: Yes a portable STE is a nice thing to have, especially with
a colour display. Now let's timetravel back to Outline 2005. In
Jookies life interview you mentioned the UK demoscene. You said
the UK scene doesn't take things too serious compared to the
rest of Europe. Besides I remember you disliked the monthly pub
meetings of the London demoscene. Did you change your mind on
that topic and paid them a visit in the meantime?
gwEm: Did I? I was pretty drunk and I forget exactly what I said
;) But anyway I just listened to it again… I basically agree
with what I said then. First though all UK Atari sceners rule!
But other platforms, I'm not really so sure, I'm sure they are
some nice guys. I'm not interested in the nostalgia or pub
meeting scenes. I discussed the same with Pink/RG and he agrees
with me. In fact I would like it in general if the UK could get
a few more European vibes.
cxt: Well perhaps UK should get the EURO first :)) I guess the
vibes will transfer much easier then :)
gwEm: That's pretty political ;) I try to avoid these political
cxt: LOL, well a lot of my friends from UK wished they had the
EURO since they are ordering all kinds of goods from other EU
countries and the fees on bank transfers are insane.
gwEm: Hmmm, if we get the EURO everything will be more expensive
than ever in the UK. That would suck, also the pound is pretty
strong when buying stuff from the states, bur it's not so strong
against the euro anymore.
cxt: Well perhaps it would help to export more wares from UK,
which reminds me of my 1st UK product. As most of our beloved
readers should already know, my first machine was an UK import
made by the company of Sir Clive Sinclair. I remember the price
tag was something about 350 EUR. Of course it was the legendary
ZX Spectrum (16k BTW) and I also remember quite well that it was
capable to produce sound with a simple speaker that could be
controlled by the cpu. These early models had no real sound
chip. Other machines of that era were equipped with much
superior sound hardware like the C64 or Atari XL. Were the tunes
we heard in video games at that time already chip music? Even if
some machines had no real sound chip? When did chipmusic start?
Who invented it?
gwEm: Chip music… I guess it started in the early arcade
machines. But thinking of it, the PDP8 also had a music soft
running with the internal speaker. I think since computers were
made sound people used them for music - it's just the logical
thing ;) Just like if someone gives you a guitar you strum out
'Paranoid'. But these days there is no real doubt that chipmusic
left these prehistoric attempts and entered the golden age when
Rob Hubbard started coding for the SID. But these super-old
school, pre-Hubbard musics also have a cool style, so it was
nice to acknowledge this in the last YM Rockerz disc.
cxt: Well it seems chipmusic has found it's way even into the so
called music industry. Lots of current mainstream songs feature
chip like elements in the background. How do you feel about
that? Is it something that makes you feel comfortable or do you
think chipmusic should stay "underground"?
gwEm: Well y0, at Outline 2k4 I gave a little presentation on
this subject. Elements of chipmusic have always been heard in
main stream styles since the 70s. In Japan you can even buy
video game stuff in record shops. Its true that interest in chip
music got bigger recently, and there's been some more cross-over
into the mainstream. Its cool - but there's no way we're going
to hear Big Alec YM tunes on Top of The Pops or something like
that ;) Looking far into the future probably chip music will
stay underground, with more crossovers if that's the latest
trend at the time.
cxt: I knew I should have gone there. As you have probably
already feared this leads us directly to the "Open letter to
Malcom Mclaren", which some guys published in your name without
your acknowledgement, at least that's what I heard. I don't want
to dig much deeper into this, but what's the truth behind all
this? Take your chance to close this chapter once and for all :)
gwEm: I think its time to bury that shit now…
cxt: Hmmm, somehow I knew you would say something like that.
Well ok then. You are quite famous in the 16 bit Atari scene for
several earth shattering releases like chipmusic traxx for
several YM Rockers productions as well as stunning articles for
a famous disk magazine :) and last not least for maxYMiser, the
perhaps most advanced chiptracker available on this platform.
What was the reason for you to code it in the first place?
Weren't there enough other trackers? Weren't they good enough?
gwEm: Frankly existing YM trackers sucked for the sound I
wanted. Any YM musician will tell you how hard Sid Sound
Designer sucks. Luckily MusicMon2, which is what I was just
before, was pretty decent - but it had its limitations -
especially considering the sounds I knew the YM would be capable
of. I somehow regret coding the tracker now - it was too much
work and MusicMon2 came further since then. Anyway, at least YM
composers have a new toy. It's possible to perform any historic
YM technique using maxYMiser, and many new ones too, the Phatt
Demo is just the start I think. We had the ambition to create
the best chip editor on any platform.
cxt: Besides all its technical qualities it seems you thought
about putting as much controls on one screen as possible, and
perhaps even more :) A famous chip musician once told me he
didn't like the Triplex2k4 interface because everything is so
tiny. Don't you think the maxYMiser user interface is a bit too
gwEm: The alternative would be more menus to find all the
functions, and more scrolling round the tracker display.
maxYMiser works only on a 1Mb machine but recommends 2Mb - it
has many more features than Triplex - more like a modern PC
editor, and PC has usually 640x480 display… if your editor would
even run on a 2Mb PC… if you could find one that old ;) Actually
if you use maxYMiser on a real ST, with a proper RGB screen, and
at the stable 60Hz refresh, I think you can compare to the
tracking experience of a PC editor… At least that's what 505 and
Frequent tell me ;) The interface is a blatant rip of
FastTracker2, so it's comfortable for PC guys.
cxt: Nearly all chiptunes you have released as SNDHs so far
can't be loaded into maxYMiser to be replayed or to use the
voice sets, while other musicians offer their tunes in a non
modified way. What's the reason for this? Do you want to protect
your tunes from the curious eyes of other sceners?
gwEm: Well the first maxYMiser song - maxYMise was using a very
early version of the soft, and it wouldn't work in maxYMiser
v1.00 anyway probably. Also the song for 'Acidic Tears' was
written straight into Devpac and doesn't follow maxYMiser
format. But the Phatt Demo tunes, sure there is a very lame and
simple protect. I did this to encourage other YM musicians to
make their own sounds, and experiment with the new possibilities
of the editor. Sadly, that didn't work out. The voice sets of
505 are a good thing, newbies can use them, and later adjust
them. Looking back, I think protecting these songs was perhaps a
cxt: If you regret protecting these songs, who don't you just
release unprotected versions of them? Or perhaps just write a
little article about the principle behind your protection.
gwEm: hmmmm, hmmmmm, hmmmm... maybe
cxt: LOL, Your latest coding product, maxYMiser DMA finally
closes the gap that has always been there since the STE was
invented. It was overdue that a chiptracker allows using three
YM channels plus the two DMA channels opening a whole new world
of possibilities to composers. We already know who created
maxYMiser DMA, and I also have a slight idea who implanted the
basic idea for it into your brain. But who motivated you to code
it in the end?
gwEm: Well like I said before if you give someone the
possibility to make a sound - they have straightaway the idea to
use it ;) Like smashing a saucepan with a big spoon ;) So the
idea for a combined YM and DMA tracker for the STe probably hit
a lot of people together at the same moment they read the STe
specification sheet ;) Anyway, STe DMA was already planned in
XLR8 and Sid Sound Designer at least, and Tao did his SID
emulation. However, realistically all we had was Blipp Blopper,
which did not have a too modern YM engine. It was Dma-Sc who
reminded me of this possibility, he always made half serious
jokes about a 4 DMA + 3 YM channel editor ;) I was looking for
things to code on maxYMiser, and DMA support came to my head
mainly from talks with Dma-Sc. I didn't want just to code this
for fun - I wanted a demoscene production in mind, so I
discussed with Paranoid / Paradox if he would like such a thing.
Anyway he thought the idea was a bit lame for various reasons
(maybe he was even right ;) ), so I forgot the idea. Then C-
Rem/MJJ requested me some Blitter friendly YM music for an MJJ
prod… I thought Blitter -> STe -> DMA and asked if MJJ would not
like better some blitter friendly YM+DMA music. So really it was
the MJJ guys who motivated DMA support. Some people say MJJ are
just a fake crew… C-Rem, Tobe, Gloky and Floopy are really
talented guys - they're going to silence these people one day.
cxt: Perhaps you should have spoken with RA / Paradox. I think
he is into developing a similar thing on his own. However using
DMA channels is surely not new; it was also used in Jochen
Hippels replayer from the early nineties. But these players used
only three voices if I remember right. And there was something
else, Jochen added support for a cheap hardware add on. I am
speaking about simple DA converters for the printer-port of the
Atari ST, basically these consist of resistors and a cinch
socket and perhaps a capacitor. Are there any plans to add
support for this kind of hardware to maxYMiser? It should be
possible to do 3 YM + 1 digital voice on a plain ST.
gwEm: Yeah, I'm not interested in that at all. Sorry, but there
will be no developments in that area.
cxt: Do you think chiptrackers are fully evolved now, or is
there still more to be discovered? What will be the next step in
gwEm: No they are absolutely not fully evolved. I was talking to
Dark Angel, Damo, RA and Tao… each of us has our own new ideas.
As for the next step for maxYMiser, I think I'll keep to myself
cxt: Beside your own stuff there is a lot of other chipmusic
composers in the Atari scene, could you name your top five tunes
gwEm: Sure, but why not ten ;) (by the way this is not in any
kind of order)
1. Dma-Sc - Visitors From Dreams I think this is one of my
favourite tunes - even including non-chip music. This played on
my MP3 stick at an emotional moment and I'm not too proud to say
some tears came in my eyes. In general I don't like Sid Sound
Designer… but if just this one song was made on it, then it was
worth the effort of Animal Mine.
2. Scavenger - Primus This fucking intro! Show me a protracker
tune that sounds that good. Scavenger is a king of portamento
and song arrangement.
3. Iso - Disk Busters Association 9 intro Iso was the ultimate
of master of single SID voice. Here he shows his magic - buzzer,
YM drums, classic SID… what more is needed for good music? Also
not to forget the low CPU and memory consumption of these tunes.
4. 505 - Posh sub-tune #1 (Tripping) Normally I prefer 505 for
his really skilled protracker music, but of course he makes top
quality chip tunes too. This chip from him is really an awesome
start to a great demo and fits perfectly. I play it often in my
5. Mad Max - No Sheep in Outer Mongolia I could name at least 5
Mad Max tunes alone ;) But I limit myself to one so that I can
mention other composers. Nice pan flutes, great melody, really
catchy and poppy like a Mad Max music has to be.
6. Jedi - Virtual Escape intro music Seriously, listen to this
and tell me you prefer some .MOD metal tune to true chip metal!?
Fast and full of energy, it's by far the best example of Jedi
and Megatizer techniques. A very well tracked guitar solo.
7. Lotek Style - Sad Ah ;) It's back to the times of 'Songs of
Distant Earth'. When this starts playing, and Lotek's nice text
appears on the screen it's hard to avoid the feeling of
electricity moving down the spine and into your stomach. It's
somehow like love sickness and stage-fright rolled into one
8. Tao - Seagulls How can we not mention Tao? He is my YM hero,
and if it would not be for him I would never have been
interested in YM coding at all. His famous myatari article gave
me the kick I needed to start coding my own routines. Seagulls
is another touching one, from the classic STMYGM2 demo… and one
of the few old skool demos I actually enjoy watching.
9. Whittaker - Menace in-game music Rules! Whittaker was never
that technical about YM programming compared to Hippel, but he
made up for it in other ways. This tune is a real stormer -
shame about the slightly disappointing ending.
10. Jess - Concerto for Acid Band The intro is not that great by
today's YM technical standards, but when this thing drops Jess
has no trouble in kicking it big style with some fat arsed YM
bass. Jess can give this hypnotic effect in his tunes which
means the listener can lose themselves in music… 2 hours later
they realise they were listening to the same tune all that time.
cxt: Let's shade some light on a completely different topic. It
seems you were addicted to a certain car model from the eighties
in the past. Are you planning to buy one? I guess with current
gas prices you would be broke in no time :) What's behind the
fascination for this car?
gwEm: yes, but that's all history really. It's hard for me to
connect with that old stuff much. I think most people like cars,
and fast old ones especially. Since I moved to London I sold my
slow old car. In some years I dream of owning a fast old car.
cxt: Besides rare cars you seem to like classic movies. Do you
think that today's movies are just poor copies of the classic
ones? Are today's actors less talented than the actors of the
60s or 70s?
gwEm: Yes I prefer classic movies for sure… These days you have
to search a bit harder for a really great film. In the old days
even the Hollywood shit was cool ;) I think it more concerns the
film plot and themes, the way the film is directed and so on.
Modern French films can often be very cool.
cxt: Ok, since I am running on hot air now, let's go for a
change and start the unavoidable Alive brainstorming test! I am
pretty sure you already know the rules for it so get ready,
there will be no mercy.
gwEm: WTF!?! Gareth Morris Coded maxYMiser... that's a real
torture ;) Ok, lets try:
G: uitar - it's easier to catch girls playing this than an YM
A: lex - my friend and former business partner
R: es Gods - greetz to my fellow UKers
E: ngland - my green and pleasant land ;) this is all getting
T: erry Turbo - promoter of 'One Nation', England's top drum and
H: ardcore - metal is nice, but hardcore rave music is really my
first love. 175bpm is just about fast enough.
M: admax - the very first YM god!
O: MGWTFLOL!!!! \o/ - aka Keops/Equinox
R: eally fucking loud - how music has to be
R: otosound - a very fine English make of guitar strings (I'm
running out of 'r' ideas ;) )
I: ron Maiden - a band who gets played too much on my stereo at
S: teinberger - one of my favourite guitars…
C: olin - the artist behind the unique gfx in the Phatt Demo
O: xygene - great French crew, sorry Leonard if I have offended
you in the past
D: arren - my brother, this interview reminded me of him
E: verything starts with an E - so true
D: une - another great French crew, hi Chuck!
M: otorhead - this music really hits the spot ;)
A: tari - an easy one ;)
X: aaes - a classic example of how really great software can be
Y: M2149 - how could it not be? ;) The chip we like to push
beyond its design parameters
M: ad insane techno - the best kind of techno music
I: tunes taking over in Microsoft and MTV style - fight that
S: corpions - my girlfriend's favourite band. If we would just
not have to listen every morning…
E: vil/DHS - a nice guy
(b) R: eaking the law - "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE!"
cxt: Now, that was "quick". I was under the impression to fall
prey to senile decay while waiting for you :) Anyway, if you
want to add some final words, greet someone or want to make some
enemies, feel free to say whatever you have to say :)
gwEm: of course: Stay Atari
cxt: Hehe, at least you won't make much enemies with that
sentence. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into
answering my questions :) and for supporting Alive in the past
and hopefully in the future as well :).
Cyclone / X-Troll for Alive, 2005-09-13
"WE'RE THE OPERATORS" 8-Bit KRAFTWERK Covers Compilation CD &
"8-Bit OPERAtors" Vinyl album! with lots of other artists 2004
"The Small Hours" - gwEm release on Shitkatapult Records,
Berlin. 12" vinyl compilation with Holz and Peter Grummich.
"Space Trip"- gwEm release on this micromusic 12" from Muller
Records. Picture disc!
"FYMW / Frank Sinatra"- Shitkatapult Records, Berlin. 7" vinyl
"PRB003" - 12" vinyl on preromanbritain, London
"PRB001" - 7" vinyl on preromanbritain, London
"In & Out" - Bootleg drum'n'bass 12" white label (you know where
to get them!)
2004-04-09 128 Byte Matrix
2004-09-07 STj Atari ST DJing software
2004-12-01 maxYMiser - The Directors Cut
2005-02-20 YM Rockerz - tYMewarp
2005-03-21 Phatt Demo (maxYMiser music demo)
2005-03-27 maxYMiser Outline SE
2005-04-22 128 Byte Drum Machine
2005-05-06 128 Byte Theremin
2005-05-31 Virtual Roland TB-303 in 128 bytes
2005-08-07 Acidic Tears sound driver
2005-09-04 maxYMiser DMA