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Alive 7


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
doing something.

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 
contact ? 

   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
nothing :)

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 
it !!)

   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 :'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 !

Alive 7