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Alive 11
Interview with
Lotek Style
        "The future has imploded into the present. With no nuclear war, 
        the new battlefields are people's minds and souls. 
        Megacorporations are the new government. The computer generated 
        info-domains are the new frontiers. Though there is better 
        living through science and chemistry, we are all becoming 
        cyborgs.
                                                                                
        The computer is the new "cool tool," and though we say "all 
        information should be free," it is not. Information is power and 
        currency in the virtual world we inhabit, so mistrust authority.

        Cyberpunks are the true rebels. Cyberculture is coming in under 
        the radar of ordinary society. An unholy alliance of the tech 
        world, and the world of organized dissent..."

        Opening Manifesto edited with additions by Billy Idol used under 
        license from "Is There A Cyberpunk Movement?" by Gareth Branwyn 
        (C)1992


        cxt: Hi Lotek, I guess there won't be many sceners who didn't 
        know you already, either by your current nick or by your former 
        alias, which was of course MC Laser. You were born in 1973 and 
        became active inside the Atari scene in 1991. Since then you 
        were spotted on most big party events and aided lots of prods 
        come to life. Your real name is Stefan Benz and you are 
        currently a member of tSCc. You started DJing at the end of the 
        eighties and didn't get enough of it yet, it seems :) I also 
        remember that I read you began composing chip-music in 1998. 
        What else can you tell us about yourself?

        ltk: It looks like you already mentioned most of the important
        informations. I can add that I am genetic male (not looking like
        that all of the time), single and looking. My current age is 32
        and I am working as a salesman selling household machines over
        eBay.


        cxt: Hmm, the term "genetic male" sounds funny, perhaps I should 
        get a bit suspicious here? In addition to that you are "not 
        looking like that all the time"? You have a (secret) life as a 
        drag queen or something? (Sorry couldn't resist ;)))

        ltk:  Hehe well… the term "Drag Queen" is mostly used when it
        comes to overstyled transvestites with exaggerated make-up who
        can mostly be found in gay-clubs. In my case there is more the
        idea of the "androgyne cyborg" like the robots in the video "All
        is full of love" by Bjoerk (directed by Chris Cunningham). Maybe
        this is just a phase like David Bowie's androgyne phase in his
        early years.


        cxt: Why did you change your nickname from MC Laser to Lotek 
        Style?

        ltk: The namechange had a simple reason. I already had the
        "Lotek Style"-projectname for my musicstuff since 1998. Back at
        that time chipmusic wasn't involved in my music at all. I did
        not consider it as "real music". A few years later this had
        completely changed and chipmusic was a major influence and
        output from myself. During my retraining in 2000-2002 I often
        had the problem that people knew me as "Lotek Style", but when I
        showed them some Atari production where I was involved they
        said: "Where are you, we haven't read your name there?". I had
        to explain that for a couple of times so I decided to change my
        name completely to "Lotek Style" to avoid confusion caused by
        several nicknames. Well, on the other hand you can take it as
        another sign of growing up.


        cxt: Since you are no coder, you have to use other peoples 
        trackers instead of creating your own, which has quite a 
        tradition among other famous chip-musicians in the Atari scene. 
        Which chip-tracker do you prefer for your compositions? Are you 
        still using Animal Mine's SSD or have you switched to one of the 
        newer and more advanced trackers like MusicMon2.1, maxYMiser or 
        Triplex? 

        ltk: Recently I haven't been very active doing music at all but,
        yes, I still use SSD and also INSIGNIA TRISOUND from time to
        time. I haven't switched to the newer trackers yet but I heavily
        ogle with maxYMiser. This will be the next tracker that I will
        take a closer look to.


        cxt: At the #atariscne horror cabinet on dhs I saw you own 
        several Atari computers, starting with an 800XL, several (Mega) 
        STs and a C-Lab Falcon MKII, which is probably your main 
        machine. It seems you are a bit into collecting these. Is there 
        a machine you always wanted to have but didn't get so far?

        ltk: Horror cabinet? Doesn't myself look so pretty pretty? ;)
        Well I am not really a hardcore machine collector like several
        other guys around. The amount of machines in my collection is
        really small compared to their collections. There is no machine
        which I am after, except maybe such a nice Atari Androbot that
        you can examine at the website of the Atari Historical Society.
        (cxt: http://www.atarimuseum.com/ )

        cxt: Damn, you got me. Let's google a bit. like the name already 
        suggested it's a robot. I guess these will be somewhat hard to 
        get. Perhaps a more recent product like the Robosapien V2 might 
        fill the gap? It might be a bit smaller (only 70cm though).

        ltk: No I don't think so because Atari wasn't involved ;) The
        Androbot also looks so "Battlestar Galactica-ish" which is a
        plus for me.


        cxt: What do you think about Falcon accelerators like the ct60, 
        would you like to have one, or do you think stockpile machines 
        should be enough for demos?

        ltk: A very tricky question to me. There were lots of
        discussions about that topic in the past. People said that it is
        killing the scene or better dividing a small scene into several
        smaller sub-scenes which cannot be concerned as a good thing.
        I'd love to have a ct60 but in my opinion it is too expensive.


        cxt: What do you think about ST(E) emulators or emulators in 
        general? Would you like to have a real Falcon emulator?

        ltk: Steem is a very nice tool and without it some of my
        projects wouldn't have been realised that fast. Emulators are
        useful but when it comes to watching ST demos I prefer the real
        machine. Emulators can also give you a nice insight on other
        platforms demos. Concerning a real falcon emulator, yes, I'd
        love to have such a tool. It would make it easier to check out
        some falcon stuff if you are working on a huge archive of falcon
        productions for example (hint hint).


        cxt: You are also the proud owner of a VCS and a Jaguar, did you 
        use any other consoles beside them?

        ltk: Well, use or own? :) I "use" several consoles when I visit
        other people at home. A few years ago I had a Nintendo64 for a
        couple of month but sold it again when I needed the money. I
        think the GameBoyAdvance and newer models are quite interesting
        because they have that 16-bit feeling :)


        cxt: You are also the guy behind the Fading Twilight and No 
        Fragments CD series, how many parts for each series can we 
        expect in total? Are you planning to switch to DVD releases in 
        the future?

        ltk: The masterplan for this answer still has to be written.
        There will be at least two more Fading Twilight CD's. Excerpt 10
        and 11 are already under construction but will take a long long
        time unless I got some more support from rippers and converters.
        After that I am planning a dual-layer-DVD-release of the
        complete FADING TWILIGHT - NO EXCERPTS! Wrong files or damaged
        musics, as well as wrong file or composer-infos will be replaced
        or corrected. NO FRAGMENTS is difficult too as there are lots of
        files missing which keeps me from finishing several CD's like
        the diskmags volume or another one full with compilation discs.
        There is also a CD started by Moondog which could be the
        ultimate falcon archive when it's finished. There are also CD's
        for VISUALS (scene-graphics, scans, ads, movies), a PD GAMES CD
        and another party archive CD in my mind at the moment. Progress
        is very, very slow at the moment so don't expect any release for
        2005.


        cxt: I saw you were collecting videos of demos from several 
        systems too, are you planning to release a demoscene video DVD 
        or do you just collect them for your own pleasure?

        ltk: This is just for my own pleasure. There are other crews out
        there doing that already and as you might have read I am very
        busy with the above mentioned projects.


        cxt: I think I can also call you the creator of YM ROCKERZ which 
        seems to act like a kind of independent label to chip-musicians. 
        Why did you thought about creating YM ROCKERZ? Were you fed up 
        with waiting for coders to finish their stuff, while the music 
        was long done?

        ltk: The YM Rockerz idea was born at a time where my own crew
        seemed to fall apart and I was looking for a platform to release
        my current chipmusics. I first told Tao/Cream about the idea and
        it seemed that he liked it. Also 505 seemed very attracted by
        the idea. Some more months passed by until we really started to
        work on the first disc. You already mentioned another important
        point: INDEPENDENCE! Independency from coders who never finish
        their stuff when we already finished the music ages ago. In
        later discs I always propagandised the battle against the major
        record companies and their policy of releasing shit. "You need a
        studio - we only need 3 channels!" - The YM Rockerz in 2005 can
        also be considered as some kind of netlabel for chipmusic.


        cxt: The YMROCKERZ were always good for a surprise in the past 
        and feature tracks of almost all still active Atari chip-
        musicians. What are your plans for the future? When will we see 
        the next release?

        ltk: The new project is currently under construction but the
        concept isn't really finished. We already set a "first" deadline
        for sending in tunes. I know we will need longer than expected.
        It's like that with every new release. That's why I don't want
        to release too much information on the project at the moment.
        What I can tell you is that it will be called "warptYMe".


        cxt: Since chip-music seems to be en vogue ATM I guess its due 
        to ask if YMROCKERZ are only releasing their music-demos or if 
        you can also be viewed live on stage at some mirco-music event?

        ltk: Oh well some of use are already doing that for ages. Guys
        like Crazy Q or gwEm are playing live very often. Unfortunatly
        there was no "YM Rockerz united" live-gig up to date. To be
        honest I don't know if this would work out on stage too good. 10
        or more guys standing behind their ST's clicking around, gwEm is
        starting some Scooter-ish MCing, lotek starts to sing something
        about beams, satellites that wanna kill itself or guys dressing
        up as girls.


        cxt: Ah yes, I guess one can recognize a pattern here :). Did 
        you ever consider using Software YM emulators like the great YM-
        VST?

        ltk: YM-VST is very, very nice but I don't use CUBASE VST on PC
        at the moment. I switched completely to REASON 3.0 from
        Propellerheads Software. If I need YM Sounds I'm sampling them
        directly from my Falcon which is standing beside my PC on the
        desk. Even if I am not using such tools at the moment it is nice
        to know that they exist.


        cxt: What do you think about the strong presence of chip-music 
        elements within the current mainstream music? Is it a good thing 
        to see these crossover effects or would you prefer chip-music to 
        stay more underground, more 1337?

        ltk: As all things, there are some good and some bad points
        about that topic. The good point is that a wider audience gets
        in touch with that kind of sound. The bad thing is that no one
        is educating those masses where those sounds are coming from and
        who the real heroes of this musicstyle are. When People like
        Malcolm Mclaren are claiming to be the initiators of chipmusic
        it becomes endlessly ridiculous. When such things happen I
        prefer chipmusic to stay underground.


        cxt: What is it - in your opinion - that makes chip-music so 
        much more acceptable for the masses than it was in the past?

        ltk: Is it really more accepted? Maybe with all that ringtone-
        shit people got used to that "beep beep beep"-sound in the end?
        I think it is tolerated but not accepted as real music by the
        masses.


        cxt: Compared to other computers the YM was always considered as 
        a very weak chip. Even C64 musicians consider themselves lucky 
        to have a more advanced chip inside their machine. What's reason 
        for you to use the YM to create your music? Why don't you use 
        some shiny studio equipment? Is it just the price tag on it or 
        do you think the limitations of the YM offer more room for real 
        creativity?

        ltk: For quite a few years I had this shiny studio equipment
        standing over here but it didn't made me do better songs. When I
        started to do chipmusic back in 1998 some non-scene-musician
        liked all the stuff and considered it as real music too. That
        made me think about it. The YM is the chip inside the Atari
        computer and I'm an Atari-scener so I use this chip. If I were a
        C64-scener I guess I would use a SID ;)


        cxt: You were a member of UCM in the past, and I am glad you 
        joined the Alive/UCM team again, but there is still one question 
        that is still unanswered: What made you quit working for UCM?

        ltk: The period when I quitted was a very hard time for me. I
        think it was around issue 15/16. Around that time my mother
        passed away (my father just passed away 1  years before) and I
        completely lost motivation for writing articles at all. Even
        years after that when Moondog reactivated the magazine under the
        tscc-label I wasn't able to do more than 2-3 articles per issue.


        cxt: Since composing, mixing and article writing doesn't eat up 
        enough time you are also into editing ASCII logos and stuff. I 
        guess you don't like ASCII generators too much, right?

        ltk:  ASCII generators are lame like demo construction kits! ;)
        Even if there are editors on PC from ex-atari sceners (e.g.
        RISK) the results are mostly crap and can never beat a handdrawn
        ASCII-logo.


        cxt: Selfgoogling seems to be on vogue nowadays. When I search 
        for xtroll I usually stumble over a corrosion protection and 
        removal company and perhaps a spam filter program :). Apart from 
        that, the name seems to be pretty unique. Have you ever tried to 
        search for tSCc?

        ltk: Sure we tried that some years ago with some very amusing
        results like the "Tidewater Sports Car Club", "Tiberian Sun
        Command Center" or "Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club".


        cxt: Very uncommon for any other interview I used a short 
        excerpt from "Is There A Cyberpunk Movement?" as an 
        introduction, do you think these words have lost their edge over 
        the years? Did they become worn off by too many people -
        including me - citing them?

        ltk: The cyberpunk manifesto was written in 1992 and in my
        opinion it's still very, very topical. "Megacorporations are the
        new government" is a fact that is becoming more and more
        reality. Do you really think that politicians rule the world?


        cxt: Lot's of your productions are heavily influenced by any 
        means of the so called Cyberpunk culture. I bet you read William 
        Gibson and others quite a while ago. What's so fascinating about 
        these stories?

        ltk: Sure I read the Neuromancer-trilogy as well as several
        other short stories from Gibson and other authors. Cyberpunk is
        the first genre that I can completely identify with as chipmusic
        is THE music I can identify with. Well what's so fascinating
        about it... maybe it has to do with computers? ;)


        cxt: Also the latest tSCc product "beams" seems to cite a lot of 
        elements from the Cyberpunk world, I remember "Ice" for example 
        was a term for a protection program, something like a firewall 
        perhaps. However within the songtext you refer to the pyramids 
        of IBM? I am not sure about the cross reference here. Are you 
        referring to the "Blue Brain Project" or just too some Website 
        IBM made for Egypt? Well or perhaps it's something completely 
        different?

        ltk: First: It has absolutely nothing to do with the "Blue Brain
        Project" or Egyptian IBM websites. Let me explain. Beams isn't
        only heavily involved by Cyberpunk, it is the visualization of a
        part from "Neuromancer" by William Gibson. The whole demo/song
        is about datapiracy. You were right, ICE means (intrusion
        countermeasures electronics) Electronic protection for computer
        databases. The pyramids of IBM is inspired by the comic from
        Neuromancer that came out in 1991 I think. Case, the datacowboy,
        is entering cyberspace and looking into the distant "land"
        watching the pyramids of IBM. I hope things now look a bit
        clearer. "Panther moderns" is another term where I often got
        asked what it means. Here is a short explanation on that point.

        Panthers Moderns Youth culture, nihilistic techno fetishist
        mercenaries who use mimetic polycarbon suits.


        cxt: Evoke brought beams into the spotlight as the latest "coup 
        de coeur" at pouet. What about the feedback about it? Does it 
        encourage you to create the next blockbuster?

        ltk: The "coup de coeur" was a big surprise for us and made me
        quite happy to be honest. The Feedback is almost nice and yeah
        we really thought about something new but this was independent
        from the latest happenings. A new demo will take some time and
        we haven't started yet.


        cxt: Beams seems to lend some of the visual effects and graphics 
        style from current PC demos, while it's technically far beyond 
        the quality of those prods. Well since a 4 MB, 16 MHz Falcon 
        can't compete with today's PC specs you focused more on design
        than on cutting edge technology that's understandable. However
        However do you think these similarities are one of the reasons
        for the big success of beams even in the pc scene? Or is it just
        the music? 

        ltk: I really don't know but I composed an earwig with "Beams
        are gonna blind me" for sure.


        cxt: It seems the coding in beams had to follow the audio track 
        to get synchronized. Is that right? Did ray actually had to code 
        the effects after the soundtrack was finished?

        ltk: The Soundtrack was already finished back in 2001 before the
        demo was even started. The very first version was produced for a
        Dreamcast-demo from Icebird which never saw the light of day. I
        finished the song after that for a label compilation from
        ELECTRIC SWITCHEZ from Heidelberg. The CD was released as promo-
        CD in 2001. The demo was started in 2002 as far as I remember
        and it looks a bit different as we planned.


        cxt: The greetings at the end of beams seem to be a bit shop-
        soiled probably due to the long release delay of it. I guess you 
        were too lazy to recreate the mp2 with the audio file right?

        ltk: Yes, it was a bit complicated to record the speech voices
        and due to lack of motivation I kept the older greetings.


        cxt: Well you know the schedule, it's about time for the 
        ultimate Alive brainstorming test. Fasten your seatbelts, 
        extinguish cigarettes and get ready. I picked a pretty tough one 
        especially for you.

        ltk:

        L:aser Dance - cool music

        O:xygene - one of my fave demogroups

        T:urrican 2 - my fave game

        E:lectro - music that I spin

        K:raftwerk - originators



        S:uper Trouper - beams are gonna blind me

        T:ransvestites - I like em

        Y:M Rockerz - rockerz of the YM!

        L:azer - was a cool democrew back in the day

        E:kosystem.org - Nice grafitti page from Ex-Eko members



        O:rbital - Cool music group which unfortunatly stopped.

        F:lan - Pixelstyler!



        T:echno - The wave was strong in 1991

        S:exmachine - James Brown that is

        C:ybernetics - Another cool democrew from France

        C:razy Q - Cool YM Rocker ;)



        I:mmortal - A cool movie which I've recently discovered

        S:eXpress - Hey music lover… did you know that Sonique was a
          member of them?



        A:tari - heavily influenced my life

        L:ego - Kindheitszockerei

        I:nter - Another cool crew

        V:ectronix - Metallinos Schmittman rocked! ;)

        E:nd - phew.


        cxt: Congratulations, you just managed to pass the Alive 
        recruitment test. Consider yourself as a fixed member of the 
        team now :). Feel free to say some final words, because this 
        interview is about to end now.

        ltk: Wow finally. It must have been the longest interview that
        I've ever done. I hope it was informative and entertaining.
        Thanx for reading.

        cxt: Thanks for your patience and time, and always remember 2 
        stay Atari ;)

                               Cyclone / X-Troll for Alive, 2005-09-13
Alive 11