DAMO OF RESERVOIR
Oh yeah, I have the faith brothers : I believe in GODS ! Reservoir Gods of
course ! At the tremendous Error In Line 3 party, they released soooo many
screens, intros and demos that... I feel too lazy to name all of them :) One of
the STe intros is called GRIMEY and was mostly done by one guy : DAMO (with
help of Sh3 and Mr Pink).
Now, if you've been reading previous issues of Alive, you surely know RG
has become the biggest Scene Job agency lately as they have had at least 3 new
members. DAMO is one of them and I think he fully deserves this egotrip :)
STS : hi Damo ! Since I don't like calling ppl using their nickname, could
you please tell us about your real identity, age, occupation and any other
intereresting detail like the origin of your nick ?
DAMO : Hey Seb! Well my real identity is no big secret, infact my real name
is.. Damo! short for Damian. I thought about some kind of nick for all of 5
minutes, and well, I couldn't think of anything exciting. So 'damo' it is :)
Anway my full name is Damian Russell, i'm 27 years old, and I try to make ome
money from music production. I make tracks for a couple of independant dance
labels, and also do some more corny shit for adverts, dvds etc etc.. I've only
recently started trying to make this music thing work 'full-time', so it's
pretty tough at the moment. Hopefully it will all work out..
STS : now of course we want to know more about your Scene history as you
told me you once belonged to the REDLITE crew. How and when did you come to hit
the Scene ? And what convinced you to join the Scene again ?
DAMO : Well even from the age of 10 I was maddly into music, electro -
hiphop, and I was always trying to make my own stuff. I remember typing in a
basic listing into my spectrum that let me sample the tape input of my machine.
Crazy shit, it blew my mind ! So when the ST appeared, and people started to
talk about how you could make music with it, I was really really interested.
So I was lucky and my parents bought me an ST for my 14th birthday and I bought
myself TCB Tracker, and started making really wanky mods ;) I remember
discovering 'the scene' through some pompey menus, and once again, it blew my
mind (I'm easily impressed ;)) so pretty much straight away I'd ordered up
every damn demo from LAPD, bought myself stos basic, and wrote off to hundreds
of people looking for 'contacts'..
Redlite was a great little crew, we never really released anything of worth,
but we had a really good relationship with some great guys on the scene, even
went to a few parties 'back in the day', Fried Bits, 680xx.. But somehow,
things just fizzled out. I was getting heavily into making music, and the
nightclubbing research that went with it ;) And slowly but surely, the parcels
of disks that would drop through my door were getting less and less frequent..
I forgot about the scene for a few years, as far as I was concerned so had
everyone else. But in my final year at university in 98, with absolutely no
money to spend on beer, I started to spend hours surfing the web. Man, I
couldn't believe what I found! first stop was the little green desktop. WTF !
people were actually emulating STs on their PCs! Then I discovered Dead
Hackers Society.. oh my god! the scene was alive! and wait a minute, there's
a message from Tat, my good buddy ! So I mailed Tat straight away, and a week
later he was on my doorstep armed with his Falcon and Sonoluminescenz.. And
thus began my atari ressurection.
I started to mess about with Devpac a little, with Tat giving me pointers here
and there. Better still, I started making a few .mods again, only this time
using my own samples taken from my lovely akai sampler.. Tat started to
develop Binliner, and I made easily the best .mod I'd ever done for this
ill-fated project. I had plans to put out a new Redlite demo, I had some
crappy effects, and a couple of nice tunes, but when Tat binned binliner, I
think it kind of deflated me, and once again I decided to focus more on my
music career than my atari. For the last few years I've been following the
scene carefully, checking all the products, thinking about the possibility of
STS : Since there are few UK crews still alive, you joined Reservoir Gods.
Did you know them before ? Over the last months RG has been recruiting a lot of
new members but we don't know how, did you have to bring a CV with you ? More
seriously how did it happen ?
DAMO : Well I never new the RG lads in the early days, I heard a lot about
them from Tat, but our paths never crossed. It was during my scene ressurection
in 98 that I first met Pink. I was working on a little 'recycle' style loop
editor for the ST, and Tat suggested I speak to Pink, who was also working on
some music related stuff. I ended up going to Wales for a little RG party, had
a great time, and we've continued to keep in touch ever since.
I live at the seaside in Brighton, and every year Fatboy Slim puts on a beach
party down here. Last year Pink's favourite DJ, a guy called John Digweed was
playing at the party, so I called up Leon and invited him down. I vaguely
remember sitting on the beach in the glorious sunshine, completely pissed off
my face, telling Leon how I really wanted to do a demo, but moaning that I had
no support/graphics etc etc.. To which Leon replied, 'well, you could always
join Reservoir Gods'. The rest, as they say, is history :)
STS : Then you got started with GRIMEY while no one actually knew what to
expect from RG. They really took us by surprise, invading the many compos at
EIL3 ! What's the story behind GRIMEY ? As far as I know this is your first
step in the current Scene.
DAMO : It was hilarious at EIL, the sheer number of entries we had. I dont
think we could believe it ourselves ! Personally, I was really really happy and
relieved to get Grimey finished. The Grimey development was really strange, 2
months back to back. Originally I hadn't really been thinking about doing a
demo. I decided I wanted to code my own chip tracker, so I started out by
knocking up some grimey (!) 4 bit digidrum routs. I worked on these a bit,
added a few effects like reverse, timestretch, and loop. Pretty happy that I'd
got these working, I added some really basic YM stuff. Working on the tracker
sequencer, I had the idea that I could possibly sequence not only sound, but
palette and fx as well.. So I added the palette code, saving the scariest bit
(the fx sequencer) for last ! I couldn't believe it when it all worked.
Honestly, it was amazing! Sitting there staring at this screen that was
changing colour in time to this really ugly 4 bit noise, it was a big moment
for me :)
So with the sequencer coded, it was really just a case of making a few effects,
and trying to 'track' all the elements into some kind of half-interesting demo.
I'm really into this tracker style of demo composition now, it allowed really
flexible design possibilites and of course ultra-sync ! I dont know if the
whole concept will get a bit 'played-out' over time, but I think I'll have to
do at least one more demo using it :)
STS : Is it fun to work with the Gods ? They are the most organized Atari
crew with a super active leader - Mr Pink - and very reliable members like Sh3
and MSG. How did you feel among them ? Did you have meetings or only mail
DAMO : Boy, what can I say?! No doubt, without the Gods, I would have never
ever made Grimey. Pink has been an amazing source of coding help, and Kev's
graphics and feedback inspired me to actually finish stuff. Their dedication
to the scene is incredible. I hadn't met any of the other guys until the night
before EIL, and well without sounding too gay ;-p they made me feel totally
welcome! Man, spending time with these guys at EIL was some of the best times
of my life! some serious sleep-deprived stupidness! Leon, Malc, Kev, Hans,
what a great bunch of guys.. Gods for life man !
STS : Dunno if EIL3 was the first party you attended, so let us know about
your feelings about this great convention : were you satisfied with what you
met ? Was it different from what you thought of the Scene ?
DAMO : Well the last party I went to was back in '96 I think, the White
Status 680xx thing. And I have mixed memories of that event, to me it was
quite a moody affair.. not many friendly people. Completely the opposite from
EIL. It was incredible, meeting all these crazy characters, mucking about with
computers, getting pissed. An amazing experience ! The scene was even
friendlier than I had imagined, to be honest since I left dresden I've been
feeling a bit depressed ! Nils, Norm, Charon, Joe Cool, all those crazy kids
need congratulating for their effort. Thanks alot guys :)
STS : let's rewind a bit and get back to your own skills. With GRIMEY you
showed that you were not only a great coder but also a neat designer AND a
talented musician ! That's quite a lot for a single man !!! Do you define
yourself as a coder first or a musician ? You told me about other tunes you
had composed, so let's share them with the Scene ! I LOVE your style btw :)
DAMO : well I would never say I was a great coder. Honestly, if you heard
some of the questions that I've asked Leon you would laugh! For me, coding is
just a means to an end, I dont have the brain to tackle the really hardcore
shit. I just hack away until it works.. I guess I would see myself as a
musician first and foremost, but I've a long way to go with my scene music
efforts. Real music and scene music are pretty different things. What Malc
and the others do with 3 channels of YM is amazing. I just love the whole
process of demo making, to me it's much like making 'real' music - technicality
vs artistry vs arrangement. The complete picture, thats the sort of shit I
like thinking about ;) I do wish I was a bit better technically tho, as I've
got some crazy ideas I'd love to realise.. Maybe if I keep pestering Pink,
earx and ray I'll get there..
STS : surely you deserve a rest after releasing GRIMEY but I think this has
acted as a unique motivation to you so that we have to wonder about your new
projects : demos ? games ? What else ? Tell us, tell uuuuuuus !
DAMO : God I have a few mental ideas :) Games wise, i'm not a big gamer, so
I don't really see me being able to contribute too much to that side of things,
sorry lads! Demo wise I definately want to do something else. I guess it will
use the same kind of sequencer as Grimey, but I would like to try to create a
different vibe next time. Most of my ideas at the moment are crazy music
related code things. some kind of new ST music format maybe ?
STS : since you live into the RG grotto, maybe you can whisper some secrets
to our readers ? We know that RG next game is FAERY LAND. Do you have any news
about the game or other projects ? C'mon, no one is reading anyway :p
DAMO : Ha! Sorry Seb, you'll get nothing out of me. I think Faeryland will
follow quite soon, it's looking nice.. apart from that... sorry pal, I know
STS : oki, last question before the final trial :) Hmm let me think now...
Got it, tho a bit late in this interview. Rg seems to focus on STe demos, why ?
From what you said on DHS, GRIMEY mostly uses the STe DMA and blitter. Why Ste
then ? Tell us more about it, especially the player and editor used to create
that AWESOME soundtrack of yours (hmm, need to watch GRIMEY again, I can't help
DAMO : haha! thanks for your kind words dude ! well for me personally, I
really like the idea of mixing YM and digi, and although thats possible to a
degree on a STFM, it much easier and sounds nicer on an STE. And as far as I
can see, 99% of hardcore sceners own STEs. they're not expensive, there's no
excuse not to have one! I dont see a problem with STE only prods. As for the
Grimey soundtrack, well it originally featured STFM digirouts, and my own
awfull ym routs, but it was too damn nasty, so I decided : either rename the
demo to "shitty", or opt for a nice STE sample playback. The ym side of things
was eventually done in Musicmon, next time I promise the soundtrack will be
100% my own :) I think the ym/digi combo has great potential for future
demos.. btw, the samples for grimey come from an old tune of mine you can find
STS : time for the last step in this interview with the usual brainstorming,
shamelessly stolen from UCM btw. Feel free to fill in the blanks with whatever
comes to you now.
D : rum and Bass. Britains greatest musical achievement of the last 25
A : ce Tracker. wow. Now all I need is a replay source..
M : ind Rewind. great concept leon, you nutter :)
O : ptimising. strangely compelling..
R : edlite. who?
E : arx. great tutorials, great asset to our scene
S : elfmodifyingk0d.it's alive! i love this shit
E : asyJet. cheap and cheerful
R : eservoir godz. all completely insane
V : D always use a condom kids ;)
O : oh Crikey. what a demo
I : llness at night.proper sick demo, love it :)
R : 'n'B. great videos, tired sound
G : rimey. thanks for the great feedback, scene.
O : ctalyser lotek style
D : illinja my hero
S : quare waves my favourite kind of bass!
STS : before we put an end to this torture, I would like to thank you and
the Gods for so many sweeties entered at EIL3 ! As I write this, we're still
all waiting for HALLUCINATIONS but already we have lots of stuff to feed on !
Any words you want to add to these ?
DAMO : Thanks seb, sorry kids if I bored you all to death! Atari for life :)
STS : thanks for answering all these buggering questions man ! I hope we can
see more from you in a near future. I LOVE the Scene too ! Keep going !