An Interview with Bjorn Fogelberg

by Neil Carr

Bjorn Ex c64 composer and member of the famous XAKK demo group. He still writes music to this very day, and his latest CD Karooshi Porn actually contains bits of sid using the SIDSTATION.

Real name: Bjorn Fogelberg
Handle: Knatter
Born: 1969
Nationality: Swedish

What other c64 composers did you like?

Galway, Hubbard, Tim Follin

What were your favourite sids from the c64?

Sanxion, Delta, Thrust, Crazy Comets, Wizball, Ocean loader

What were your likes/dislikes regarding the sid chip?

Oh it was a pretty simple chip though powerful if you compare to the competition at the time. More channels would have been great, individual filters on each voice and why not a little less noise and less bugs. But I do love the sound of the chip, and that is why I was the first guy to order a Sidstation when it was released.

What can you tell us about Xakk, the c64 group you were apart of?

We were a bunch of friends at school which decided that most demos that were released really sucked and that we could do a lot better ourselves. I think we proved that with demos like No sleep II and Bound to be best II. I lived and breathed XAKK for three years. Feels so strange when you think about it today, but we really were dead serious at the time.

Which sid of your own were you most pleased with?

The last SIDs I did. They are a bit more organised and professional sounding than my the ones I did my first couple of years. I still like all my SIDs in Bound to be best 1 & 2. They're so full of energy. 😊

Have you ever considered reworking some of your old music with modern sounds?

Actually I've snucked in some of my old C64 music in newer tunes. A remaked version of Inka from Bound to best 2 was featured on my first CD 64 released in 1996 and I also have some unreleased remakes of older tunes.

You still compose to this day, what can you tell us about your music?

Yes, I've released two CDs, the last one called Karooshi Porn was released on Ninetysix Sounds, a german label in 1999. Today I do Ambient flavoured stuff which borders on electronica, house, trance. I've done some remixing of other artists like Dimbodius, Mystical Sun and Klaus Schulze. I will also be featured on A tribute to JM Jarre when it's eventually released". Check out my site for more info.

How much of a different world is it composing with modern instruments, as compaired to the c64?

It's a completely different world. Today you can do anything you want, with the C64 you were very very limited.

What can you tell our readers about the album Karooshi porn?

I'm very pleased with that album. It contains a lot of ambient dub/electronica and one or two more trancier tunes. When I got contact with Ninetysix Sounds I only had three or four tracks finished. Then when I got signed I just sat down and really concentrated on writing good music, so a little more than a half year later I had 12 tunes finished for the CD. Especially two of the tracks, SixFiveOneOh and Quite Derivative, were played a lot on chill out radio stations in the US like Musical Starstreams and Star's End, and Karooshi Porn was voted 7th best release of 1999 by Musical Starstreams. So although the CD wasn't a huge comercial success, a lot of people got to listen to it and enjoyed it... and that's very pleasing to me. 😊

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

Oh I got so many warm memories of the C64. Magical memories. Since I was so deep into the scene between 87-90 I can't really pick one out.

If there was a tune you wish you could claim as your own, what would it be and why?

Any of Hubbard's best. That guy really was a genious with the SID tweaking.

What equipment/software do you use?

I'm basically a hardware guy but I'm getting more and more into software sampling, realtime plugins and that stuff. I'm not ready to throw away my studio just yet though. Synths I use are Kurzweil K2000, Roland System-100, Roland SH-09, Roland TR-606 (very modified), Yamaha DX100, Sidstation, Novation Drumstation. I also got a bunch of effects like the Sony HR MP5 which is a really pro sounding effects box. As sound cards I use SB Live and Yamaha DSP Factory with two AX-44 giving me 8 ins and 8 outs extra.

Software: Cakewalk Sonar, LUI for the Yamaha card, Sound Forge 5 for samples and mastering and maby three or four Direct X plugins.

What piece of equipment would you like to own, that you don't own already?

Think I got what I need now. 😊

How did you get involved in creating c64 music?

By accident. Somebody gave me Chris Huelsbeck's Sound Monitor and I started exploring it, making some silly simple tunes of my own. Then I started doing some simple demos. I was learning assembler language at the time. A friend of mine was a real coding ace so we decided to make a demo together. The first real Xakk demo Another perfect demo was finished.

Where do you get your insperation?

Listening to great music, watching a good movie. I got loads of inspiration when I recently got back from Ibiza.

What music do you listen to, and does this reflect in your own music?

Lately it's been a lot of trance but I also listen to house and various electronica/ambient acts. Everything you listen to reflects in your music, either you want it or not.

What advice would you give to a new composer?

Inovate, don't imitate!

Where can you see your music heading into the future?

I have NO idea! 😊

What can you tell our readers about your latest project

It's a big site for electronic musicians. We feature lots and lots of free samples. Actually we first released this site in early 1999 and it's been growing since then. Today we have around 70 000 user sessions a month and some staggering 700 000 page views. (Not that we make much money on it though... )

Finally, what would you like to say to our readers?

Watch out for my next CD, released sometime during the next five years or so. ;-)))

Bjorn's project: provides many samples taken from various analogue synth. Those interested should check out his site as it contains a vast quantity of these.

- Neil

Interview date: 22.07.2001