Classic Interview with Steffo of Cryonics
We are glad to interview you, Steffo. Please start by introducing yourself to the Hugi readership.
Ok, hello readers, you love me. My real name is Stefan Hallen, and I'm studying at Umea university, Sweden. Eventually I'll be an electric engineer. In the scene I do music and coding, I am the "main" musician in Cryonics, and I also do demos on my own, with code, graphics and musics by me (smiles).
So you are an all-rounder. Great! Tell us, when did you start with all the stuff - music, computers, programming? And what were the first experiences like?
Well, I started with computers when I was like seven, my father bought a msx/svi computer, I remember playing quite a lot of fun games on it, you could connect it to a TV set, so me and my brother did (smiles). After that we had a very boring computer, a 8086, no fun games and no nothing. Anyway, why list all the computers I've had? I can tell you that I've never had a c64 or an Amiga (and that sucks). But when I got my 486 I first had a LPT DAC for enjoying demos and making music, but I bought an SB pro and then a Gravis Ultrasound Max (hey, it rocked), *but*... I actually STARTED tracking on a friend's Amiga 1200, it was great fun, but after getting the Gravis and stuff, the PC easily outrocked the 1200 when it came to tracking. I didn't really start programming "serious" (I'm not that serious) demostuff until before Dreamhack '98, and I released my first demo there, and that was not under the Cryonics label. My second demo was a big improvement when it came to design/code/concept. I released it at Midwinter'99. Ubbe/Cryonics made metaballs for it as well, so it was released under the Cryonics label. My latest demo has been released at Remedy '99, also under the Cryonics label.
How did you find out about the demo scene? I'd had a computer for a long time before I found out that something like a scene existed. Many of you Scandinavians I interviewed write as if it's the most natural thing for a young computer freak to join the scene. How is that possible?
I found out about the demoscene quite late. I think I was 14, watched some demos on a friend's Amiga (the same I started tracking on), and as you can see, I had a computer many years before discovering the scene, like 6 or 7 years (smiles). I didn't join the scene until I was 16, that was when I began doing music on my own computer, and then I saw an ad in a Swedish computer magazine, saying that some fellow wanted to start a PC demo group, and I replied. The one who placed the ad called himself Ticonderoga, and the group's name was e-fect. I joined and started swapping with Ticonderoga and Goofy, who were also in the group. Ticonderoga is nowadays known as Baloo/Replay, and Goofy, now called Roger, is also in Replay. And about why we all join the scene, well, I guess it's a tradition, everyone owning an Amiga around that time *did* join the scene when they got 13 or so, mainly because they all found demos being so cool, and of course, they were, and still are. For a long while I did nothing but swapping and composing, and of course spreading out my works to the masses (smiles). I swapped with lotsa Finns and some people in Denmark, Norway, and like, Poland. It was great fun, until I got *too* lazy and stopped swapping.
How did you get to Cryonics? Can you tell us about this group and a bit more about your role in it?
I had a friend, Java, and he was in Cryonics. When the big Cryonics BBS closed down Java took over and started a BBS called Delusion. I started calling it, although that was not the way I got to know Java - I had already met him in school. But anyway, on that BBS I chatted with Java a lot, uploaded my tunes and downloaded the demos he took home from the Internet and stuff, and after a while I asked if I could join, and I could. Back then, Andromeda (now in Noice) was also in Cryonics. He had joined just before I did. Today Cryonics basically consists of me, Java, Deone, Patrik, Fredde, Tito, Ubbe and Vain, although we haven't worked that much lately (smiles). I used to make music only, but then I coded a sample generator to be used in the 64k intro we were working on, although it never got finished (I did my part though). While doing the samplegenerator I discovered that I find coding EASY. So I tried doing some graphics (with PTC as a base, since I don't know shit about hardware, or at least I didn't back then), starting with a simple 2d effect. You can see it in my first demo, the one from Dreamhack. And nowadays I do quite a lot of coding, and not that much music, I hardly ever track anything, since I ain't got DOS up and running any longer, so WHEN I do track I use Modplug Tracker, but I can't do music as fast and easily in it as I did in FT2. Most winprogs are too "windowish" to be a creativity source, but I do some MIDI stuff in CuBase, since I do have some equipment, and sometimes I use some softsynths, so I'll probably be using MP3s in my forthcoming productions. Cryonics was founded back in 1993 I think (not sure), and the first production was a 64k intro for The Party 4, it placed 6th, and there's of course Crytris, our oh so popular Tetris clone (smiles). Our first big serious demo was "mellow" for The Party 6, and it kinda sucked, it placed like 12th, but then we made "travelling". We all gathered up at Java's place and worked our asses off for a couple of days before going to Asm97 with it... to finish it of course. We kinda boozed on the ferry, and Vain was feeling like shit when we came to the partyplace, he had smoked too many cigarillos, but we finished and the compocrew got it to work after lotsa shit. It got a cool 5th place, and we were quite happy about it. Then we made a VERY VERY bad demo, called Alvin Stardust, and won the democompo at Dreamhack '97 with it. Guess if the other demos sucked? We then decided to put big efforts into sync and design, and we made "loco". We had to remove parts and stuff before the compo due to bugs, and it all was quite annoying. The demo didn't get finished at all, but it placed 2nd, and we were happy and suprised. Since "loco" we've been kinda sleeping, except from small outbursts by me (smiles).
You also composed two tunes for Hugi. What's your attitude to diskmags in general?
I really like diskmags, and I always have, and I really enjoy doing tunes for them, because lotsa people get to hear my stuff, and I want them to (smiles). And some diskmags, like Hugi, and like Imphobia used to be, have lotsa interesting stuff to read, I can sit down and read the whole mag. Although right now the only mags around are Fleur and Hugi, but Hugi is so big that it covers lotsa stuff (smiles).
What is your opinion about the scene in general?
About the scene? Well, you know it's a VERY big question. I am a big fan of the scene, and the art we produce, I am very "pushy" towards some changes, and not all people really like changes in the scene. I'd like to see everyone leave DOS, and I guess they all will when they get Win2000 or something. I really don't bother with non-mainstream OS's since I think we all should try to reach out to the biggest crowd possible, BUT, this only applies to the big scene. I also admire the small scenes, like demos for Gameboy and PSX! I am very confident in that the scene will survive, always, but it will constantly change, fast or slow. Most of the time we're talking about small changes, like moving from DOS to Win32, but I think we'll see other changes such as handheld devices like the Palm V and its friends, which is something everyone owns. One thing I wonder about is why has not everyone actually has moved to Win32, it's easier to develop under it, and it works on every darn Win32 computer, I still can't see the benefits with DOS (smiles). Sorry, maybe this didn't match your question, I just keep babbling. Next!
What do you think about ripping samples?
I don't mind it at all, although I almost never rip, but that's because I got equipment. Of course I dislike people ripping stuff and claiming that they've made it, but I never contact someone who has ripped samples I've made or so, they can do what they like, really, I don't need to be credited that much. But still, it's a nice thing to do, if you take samples someone else has put a lot of effort into doing, you could state in your tune or infofile or whatever that Mr Mister has made sample sample and so on. It's a nice gesture (smiles).
What is your opinion on MP3 music?
I guess you mean in combination with scene productions (smiles). Otherwise it's just music (smiles again). Well, since I'll be using it, I like it, I find it giving me lots of freedom when doing music, but if I tracked, I would never convert the tracked tune into MP3. What's the point of that? I can always make my XMs smaller than 1mb/minute. If they are reasonably long, that is, of course. Tell me when you want an MP3 for Hugi! You could always use mono 22khz, then the tune would take 250kb/minute, which not is that much, and quite soon almost everyone will have a direct connection to the Internet (hehe, well, me at least), so size doesn't really matter as much as it used to do. But I still don't understand what these "demogroups" using ripped MP3s in their demos are doing. I mean, to me, a demogroup consists of at LEAST three kinds of artists, the coders, the graphicians and the musicians. I do not understand why they want to remove one of these. If they ain't got a musician, or if they do and he sucks, they could always ask someone else, someone like me, to make their MP3 music. There ARE lots of sceners doing nontracked music.
What is your favourite scene group at the moment and why is this so?
Right now? I'd say... Replay, because they do stuff with a modern style. Actually I find it being quite compatible with today's fashion, clean and stuff. And hey! They release so damn darn boomering plenty loads of demos/intros, and of course, my scene "career" started together with some of them (smiles).
What do you think about the war in Kosovo?
No true opinion, since I don't really know what it's all about. Is that the place that the USA are bombing the shit out of?
Do you think that modern technologies make our world a better place to live, or do you think the opposite is the case?
It depends on whether we can handle it or not. People will NOT have a job like we do nowadays. Most of the jobs in the industry will disappear, and they already do. So we have to do something else, and that way money won't be as important as they are now, since the people not working in that case would get their money from the state, and why would they then have to pay taxes? And stuff like that. I guess a lot of people will educate themselves just for fun. That's what I'm doing anyway, this is not something I do just to get a job and earn money. I also think people will do research on their own, and this is not for making money or something, consider it something like an open source project (smiles).
What's your personal motto?
Really, I don't think I have one. Although I don't care that much about how things are achieved, just as long as they are good, I can come up with a motto right now. "I don't care how." There you have it (smiles).
What persons do you regard as important for your scene career & life?
Oh, this will be neat (smiles). First of all, Rooster. He used to be a member of different Amiga groups, and a few on PC as well, and he lived close to me, so I watched demos and tracked music at his place in the very beginning. This is where I found and got interested in the demoscene. And when I got in touch with Baloo and Roger I got really active, created lots of music and sent it to them and several Finns as well. Java has also meant a big deal for my scenelife, since he got his BBS, and by him I got involved in Cryonics, where I actually got to be at least a little bit more famous, although I will never reach the top like some other sceners do. I am really envious of those guys (smiles). All the other people I find important to me in my scene and social life have not meant a big deal for my career, but I still care about them and enjoy spending time with them, and I think it's just fair of me to mention them in here, so here we go (no order at all): Java, DeOne, Vain, Ubbe, Patrik, Loonie, Tito, the people in Limited Edition, Fredde, Axl, Gnilk, Iceman, Hubble, Andromeda, Evade, Spruce, Jhg, Lazze, Ihsan, Tobbe, Brittabus, and no, no sorry to the ones I forgot, if you were special I'd remember you, so you suck (smiles and wrinkles his nose).
What are you wearing right now?
Right now I'm wearing a hat and a pornoshirt, and a pair of very baggy pants.
If you were to spend several years on a small island alone and you were only allowed to take three things with you, what would they be?
Three oranges for food.
Describe your girlfriend to us! We're very curious...
Yes, well, I broke up with her yesterday. But she's a nerd, just like us, she is coding some 3d stuff, and she's very good at making pencil drawings. She likes birds.
I guess the interview is pretty finished! Any final words you wanna add?
Sure (smiles). I love my friends. Hello to you! And my ex-girlfriend is a very good friend of mine nowadays. And I'm happy and I will go build a little summerplace in a few weeks. Have a jolly good summer, all!