An Interview with Tim Forsyth

by Neil Carr

Tim's First ever remix/remake was back in 1989. Since then he's always followed the scene, and over the years has contributed some fine remixes.

Real name: Tim Forsyth
Handle: Tex (c64)
Born: 1971
Nationality: British


Who were your favourite c64 sid composers?

There's so many that I could list. Tim Follin, obviously, for brining real music to the C64. Rob Hubbard for writing so many memorable melodies. Martin Galway for driving his music without the need for any drums (mostly). MON for defining that classic 64 rhythm sound and funky leads that could, at times, shatter glass within a 10 foot radius (savage). A very underrated musician (IMHO) was David Dunn. He only wrote a few pieces very, very early on in the c64's life, and did things that were unheard of at the time with filters.

What sids are your favourites?

But there's so many to choose from? Ace II, Commando, Crazy Comets, Delta (ingame), Dragons Lair 2 (tune3&6), Flash Gordon, WAR, Thrust, Zoids - and thats just Rob.

I liked the discoveries you made over the years. For example, stopping the tape on Hyper Sports meant that the loader music went all the way to the end. I remember being blown away by the phasey-arpeggios near the end.

Tim Follin probably wrote my favourite bunch of tunes. Body Slam, Ghouls and Ghosts (although amiga version was even better), Bionic Commandos, Scumball (why was it so short?!)?
AgentX II - tune 5. Remember being really freaked out by the telephone ringing in the background at 2min30sec.

RED of the Judges wrote a fantastic tune for Think Twice III (the bit where the picture goes from black and white to colour - from what I remember).

Does anyone remember PC Fuzz (David Dunn)? I think a big oompa-oompa big band version remake is called for here. Its a very silly tune.

Why did you start remixing c64 music?

1989 I think. It was when I first got my A500. Since i used to write demos (that never really went anywhere!) and such, I hacked about with the Maniacs music routine so that I could print out the notes and do a perfect version of Hawkeye. I've still got that and a few other covers lying around somewhere in their 4 channel, dreadful early-amiga-instrument state!!

What equipment/software do you use?

I started with just my JV1080 and cubase, but now I also use a load of plug-ins and other bits of software on my PC. Recently, I've got well into Reason which is an amazing package, so I expect I'll use that in the future.

In your opinion what makes c64 music still appeal to this very day?

Lets leave aside that fact that it was an incredible sounding chip considering it was in a home computer. It pretty much boils down, for the majority of us, to nostalgia. Too prove a point, I was recently (once again - i'm a big reminiscie-trip person) downloading and enjoying themes to Swap Shop and old Dairylea adverts from the early 80's. OK, so its a UK thing, but what I am trying to say is that the things that shape us, the things we enjoy during our childhood and adolescence stay with us forever. Oh bugger all that rubbish! It was all about the limitations of the device at the time, and pushing boundaries. Those who lived through it and heard the SID evolve enjoyed it for what it was. Play the C64 to the un-initiated and they feel like their ears are bleeding, but to the rest of us, it gets to that soft warm fuzzy feeling inside.  :-) I'm sure that so totally doesn't answer the question. There's one thing that stick out at the moment though and that is dance music. So its a fashion, and something that quickly changes style, but currently its fashionable to have unprocessed sawtooth waves and pulse width modulated leads playing melodies. I'm sure that is something, that recently, has given a little more credibility to enjoying SID from days gone by.

In your opinion who do you think gives the scene the biggest boost?

It would be really unfair (and obvious) to mention one particular person like say, for example, Chris Abbott or Jan Lund. They've done so much to draw in the crowds and lure people out of hibernation. However, I think it is a collective thing. Everyone has given the scene a boost, for if it wasn't for the efforts of so many people, I don't think we'd be visiting such a comprehensive site as this, or any other for that matter. So each and every one of you reading this, give yourself a big fat slap on the back and shake your own hand, or your dog's, or cat's or girlfriend's, if you have one or all of them!!  :-)

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

Walking back from town over the bridge clutching a copy of Crazy Comets! Staying up till 3am in the morning on school nights doing geeky things like writing demos, hacking music and games. I remember being really chuffed at finally getting a decent sort routine to arrange sprites to work. That way, you could dynamically place more than 8 all over the screen. Trouble was though, it did go all commando if you weren’t careful and you’d end up with the ill-fated torn trouser incident.  :-) Meeting Ian and Mic at a little gathering round a guy’s house from Lazer only to hear them slagging off a demo I’d written because it crashed the C128. The crash was deliberate, as the scroll message wished C128 owners well just prior to hanging their system. Can’t remember the register you hit to do that, but was kinda funny at the time.

What/who inspires you?

Just recently, um, Goldfrapp, The Hives, Ugly Duckling, Lemon Jelly (the staunton lick!), Mull Histoical Society, Arvo Pärt, Tom Mcrae, Nick Drake. To name but 8!

What non c64 music do you enjoy and does this reflect in your own music?

Think I answered that in my last question! Never forget the Moog Cookbook!

I guess it used to be reflected in my music. Years ago, when I used to write music on this little yamaha keyboard and the Amiga, a lot of influences came through from the music I was listening to at that time. Trouble is though, those were the days when I experimented a lot more, and made really interesting mistakes. I tend to find now, that I aim for a particular sound, rather than muck about. It’s a shame because I feel I’ve lost that accidental inspiration to a certain degree.

I’m really lapping up the bootleg scene at the moment, if you’ve heard Craig David vs Eye of the Tiger you’ll know what I mean !

What other arrangers do you like?

Mahoney for starters. It is people like him that keep me interested, that do something bizarre and creative with melodies and arrangement. Its funny because I was getting a little bored with the scene after BITlive, then I heard the spellbound swing mix. Finally I realised that I was just listening to note for note perfect remixes that just used modern instruments. Although that’s a matter of opinion in some cases as its not necessarily a bad thing).

Ollas did the best version of Hawkeye I've ever heard, it manages to amplify every thing that was great about the original with a great new rhythm section and SFX.

I've got a massive amount of respect for O2 and his total Jarre-ness, however, I hope he doesn't just stick to the same sound for too long.

Tomas Detert does some fantastic arrangements, Spellbound comes to mind.

Has anyone found out who did the bubble-bobble/new Zealand story live band remake? That was really smart!

If there was a piece of music that you’d wish you could claim as your own what would it be and why?

Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa: fantastic bizarre classical piece from an estonian composer. Got introduced to it a few months ago, and it really is inspiring, hectic, complex, desparate and soothing at the same time.
Amarok - Mike Oldfield: Mike's best when he's angry! 60mins of pure experementalism.

You have been creating c64 remixes for some some time now, how do you feel the scene/music has changed?

I think people are beginning to get a lot more creative with the remixes. I’ve heard so much lately that totally strips the song down and pieces it back together in a new unique way. Also, with the addition of sites like RKO and remix64, the community has been brought a little closer together and given a bit more structure. It’s also given new people a chance to get involved, which can only be of benefit.

What remix are you most pleased with?

Agent X II I guess. It was the first thing I tried with my JV and it turned out a lot better than I imagined. I would love to go back and tidy some of it up, but its in the past, and I like to keep things that way.

The funny thing is, Cybernoid 2 was shaping up amazingly well until I heard it on speakers. I had written the whole thing using headphones, and it sounded fantastic. Then thought, wheres the bass? Why are the drums so tinny? Got so fed up at that point that I just released it because I ran out of patience.

Knucklebusters turned out well, and I am pleased that the guitars I added (me playing into a creative long-stick-blankety-blank microphone) drove the piece along nicely.

What are your likes/dislikes regarding the scene?

Likes: Well I guess the welcoming community spirit that’s alive and well.
Dislikes: Remakes that use synthesized brass instruments (arghh) and remixes that show so much potential, but fall over on technical merit.

Once thing that bugs me is the sort of unconstructive criticism I’ve seen on the messageboards when all the comments about a remix are that’s great that is. If something is rubbish, tell the person, otherwise how are we all going to learn and improve? Also, and please don’t flame me for this, just because someone is a popular remixer, doesn’t mean that everything they do is top banana. I’ve seen some of the votes on remix64, and sometimes I do wonder. Controversial, but fair I think (I hope)!!!

In your opinion what should a remix be like to give the original sid justice?

That’s such a difficult question because it is such a grey area. If you are going for a straight cover, It should retain the spirit of the original, which is easier said than to put into practice as everyone has got their own interpretation. Using a SID lead is NOT always the way I think.

If you’re attempting a strip-down and rebuild remix, then your own ideas and creativity need to be just as strong or stronger than the original.

Is there a piece of equipment that you do not already own that you would like?

I’ve always lusted after the Roland JD800. A friend of mine has one and I just love the raw sound and total quick-tweakability of it.

The shape of the scene is changing with more and more CD’s in the pipeline, New websites, better cooperation between web masters, and bigger plans for the future… What are your thoughts on this? And how would you like to see the scene shape up in the future?

The convergence of C64audio.com/kwed and remix64 is definitely a good thing. Its good to see people are thinking about things properly. More CD’s are great, and the hope is that being a commercial product, the composers/remixers will spend more time getting it right.

I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable about trying to bring the SID to the masses though. It is hard to shake off that old geeky image associated with computer music. Also, the current trend in dance music will inevitably start to change, so that lovely raw synthetic sound may well be too much for people to appreciate.

I kind of like it this way at the moment, a nice comfortable nostalgic bubble to wallow in for my own pleasure, but if more people want to come and join the party, there’s plenty of room.

More live events would most definitely be welcome. Just look at what it’s done for the demoscene! It would be nice to think that this sort of thing will continue for years to come.

Lastly, what would you like to say to the scene?

So glad you could all still stick around ;)


Mind you, imagine in the future, trying to explain to your kids why you are going to a nightclub at 45!. This is Rob Hubbard, he’s 80 today you know! Horah! Now isn't that a scarey thought  :-) - Neil

Interview date: 06.06.2002