Interview with LoneStar / Phare Design
Group: Phare Design
Family name: Frédérick
Given names: Fabian
Date of birth: 26-02-1974
How did your interest for computers start? Which year was that?
Informatics is the cause or result of individualism and curiosity. It seems humouristic to say that in the late 70's you could be interested in computers. The domain has not changed at all, neither has its content. What has changed is the definition we give to computing.
The ways to release have been multiplied by 100... The ways to work on several OSes, platforms, languages, IDE, window managers, cross-platforms...
So what was my interest for informatics? It's a domain which gives more questions than answers and where each answer hides thousands more questions...
What machines did you previously have? What did you do with them?
I've been unproductive with my early platforms...
Some forms of creation on Amiga 1200 though: some ASM-C coding, a lot of music, some pixel/pixel rendering. I really thought those machines would stay on top for 5 years but history made a different decision...
For what specific reason did you end up making music rather than gfx, coding?
Tracking was one thing you could do transparently... You didn't have to care about hardware changes... format and coding was still the same... Ok, there was GFX, but I worked one whole month on some pixel/pixel rendering... That required too much time for one picture! I wanted quick results... One hour to compose, one hour to listen...
I begun with some tunes using the NoiseTracker sample libraries in late 80's... Then hardcore and jungle tunes...
In 80's we had good tools for music, in 90's good tools for gfx and now it's time to code on Linux :)
Which composing programs have you been using? Which one in particular?
Well, none in particular, I like them all. If it supports 4 tracks or more with AM-Wav sound and some effects, it's ok. My main interests in music remain:
* Use little looped samples
* Static bass
* Use a lot of tone portamento
* Boosted vibrato
That means I'm not a pure chip-tune composer but I'm not New-Age, either... I like good fx samples (they can be 5 Mb long, I don't care) but the lead has to be pure-digital with full vibrato. So I'd say I prefer polyvalent trackers even if the generated size is not always the best. On the coding size, we've got enough powerful libraries able to read the stuff so who cares?
On the other hand, there's still a lot to do on trackers:
* Network sample-support
* Asynch beatbox support
* Visual effect preview (1st place)
* Style Generator
I think energy must be put forward... Losing energy on compatibility issues is unnecessary.
With which module did you feel you had reached your goal?
What I've done from 1998 is almost good. Some headlines:
* Albums for Ultimate Wall of Sound : "Does 2 mean conflict?","End of your Days", "Travelling"...
* Doskpop tunes like "Mental Force Zero", "Loving Laurence", "Million years ago", "Oceanic Pure Design"...
* New-Age tunes like "Transport to Orion", "Nominal Accuracy"
* Techno : "Sequence Loading", "T-Lab"...
Is there a tune you would like not to remember? For what reason?
My early releases (90->95). Technically uninteresting.
In your opinion, what's the value of a music in a demo, game?
Synchronized tunes can be 50->90% of the demo. Atmospheric tunes 20-30%. But it's an interpretation. Globally, this question sounds like "what's a man without his heart?" or so... When turning speakers off with a synched demo, it's certainly no more attractive... But any 160 BPM will mark the point on any blasting effect.
Gfx and Sfx mutually help the product.
Another consideration should be "What's the value of music without demo"? I mean each component benefits itself of the combination and a lot of tunes are still in our memories due to the context.
Technically, the problem is double by now. You've got to amaze newcomers, you've got to include some oldskool feeling to charm older sceners. We have to face 2 scenes. The scene of slideshows, pixel/pixel fineart, cute zines and the scene amazed by synchro, techno, lo-fi.
At present, are you still composing? For professional or leisure purposes?
Well, I'm mainly coding - gfxing... When a demo is ready, it takes 1 hour or 2 to make a music which fits the stuff. I also make some musics to zines. My prefered style in the last 5 years being doskpop and Lo-Fi, which takes chip-tunes material another way around... By the way, some French sfxers are releasing bright tunes in that range!
What do you think of today's pieces of music such as mpeg, wave, midi, etc...?
Mpeg: I'm using a lot of platforms and I want to watch releases with correct fps (no virtual control ;)). So, video formats are a least bad solution.
On the other hand, 3D tools have reached a development level where you can do demos easily and export the stuff in video format at ease. Those tools being approached differently from coding, we can see different architectures. We're going to pure design, no more "Look at this 30 seconds... It was hard to code".
Media formats are portability leitmotived technically-logically talking. More composers, more public. I'm not surprised it gets spread worldwide... Some companies released complex media formats 20 years ago : )))...
A big problem remains : the compression level. 75% quality picture is a shame in some contexts. It's data sensibility relative....
Midi: Well, midi is one good solution... But the patch process should be expanded to gfx dramatically. We can imagine in a near future full-featured hardware textures based on manufacturer's DB... Maybe there should be a consortium managing 100% quality textures. The same for fonts.
Some nice sound-cards projects have been dropped and I just can't understand why... Midi means low-bandwith, full-quality...
It ought to be mixed with wav formats though for a global sound format. Imagine 32 wav tracks, 32 midi tracks, 32 live-generated tracks... Midi for string chords, Wav for special rhythms, Live-generation for Acid... I know some projects are on the way to gain this, which remains an utopy...
Could you tell us some of your all-time favourite tunes?
* Vangelis : Antarctica
* Def Leppard : Stand up
* Def Leppard : Hysteria
* Def Leppard : Animal
* The Cure : The loudest sound
* Prince : Into the light
* Willy Deville : Each word's beat on my heart
* Sigue Sigue Sputnik : is this the future?
* Tangerine dream : Love on a real train
* U2 : Light my way
* John Carpenter : Escape from New-York
* Johnny Cash : Sea of Heartbreak
* Frank Black : Abstract Plain
* Elliot Goldenthal : Heat
* James Horner : Braveheart
Are you planning to make an audio cd with some of your music remastered?
I released four albums with Ultimate Wall of Sound in 2001-2002 (all available online from fabian.unixtech.be/uws) where we added lyrics dimension... It's a good experience.
A friend of mine released a cd of my best techno tunes some years ago... A great stuff!!! I'd like to release some Lo-Fi cd... Maybe for 2003; but my first objectives are the UWS' fifth album and release long 3D movies with New-Age music.
What bands are you currently listening to?
Def Leppard, Advent, Mesh, Recoil, Cure, Autechre.
What does/did the amiga/c64 scene give you?
Amiga was a very good platform for multimedia approach. The way the operating system was layered is very interesting and is demonstrative in the paranoia we're gaining nowadays. Free of virus and communication in 90% cases, it didn't require any substantive protection which was a boost for that 7/14 MHz monster. When Amiga 1200 appeared, we had the perfect machine on the paper. Graphically talking, the new Aga chips with its 16Mcol ability was perfect. The global memory system was still better and sfxly talking, 4 physical tracks was enough as interpolated trackers were available with up to 32 tracks.
As far as I know, the Amiga 1200 series is the zenith of informatics. We're living now a big fall of the client-side informatic technology. Some sort of an asphyxia within viruses, spam, hoaxes, heavy operating systems, heavy concepts the offensive micro accelerations won't solve.
I imagine the future being a conflict between standards and parallel technologies....
Are you still active in the scene these days?
Well, I've been coding-gfxing-sfxing the following releases in 2002:
* System D. (3D Movie)
* Expressions (Slideshow)
* WiderSinnig (Demo)
and I'm working on FaceCream (3D Movie).
Anyone to greet? Anything left to say? Feel free...