An Interview with Jurek Raben

by Neil Carr

There are plenty of tunes from The Last Ninja series of games on rko. Though he has concentrated his efforts on these tunes, he will not carry on doing remixes from this series. He will instead now concentrate on other tunes from other games.

Real name: Jurek Raben
Handle: virtualcreations.de
Born: 1977
Nationality: German


What c64 composers do you like?

In my opinion, Matt Gray and Reyn Ouwehand are the leading dramatic melody composers on C64. Rob Hubbard made the most freaky and trendy songs. I also like Volker Meitz's jazzy styled songs.

What are your favourite sids?

Azzdjazz by Volker Meitz (PRI), Last Ninja 2 (Subtune 1,2,12), 3 Chn. Gametune by Future Freak, Auf Wiedersehen Monty, Delta, Lightforce, Monty On The Run, On man and his droid, Stormlord 2, Last Ninja Remix (Subtune 4,7)

What other arrangers do you like?

Chris Hülsbeck was one of the very best composers on Amiga computers with Turrican 1 and 2, in my opinion. Chris composed fantastic melodies in these tunes, especially in the endtunes. He also developed an own tracker for his songs with 7 voices. I made a Hardtrance remix of a Turrican 1 tune I called Datastron I in 1995, available on my homepage. Also Jochen Hippel did unbelievable ingenious jobs with his Chambers Of Shaolin songs. You have to listen to it if you don't know already! Another great composer of the Amiga scene is Lizardking. He released so much good songs, it is unbelievable. Manfred Linzner was a talent in the Amiga scene, too. He also developed his own tracker called THX for the Amiga. Especially his chiptunes and THX-tunes are one of the best. Other good Amiga composers: Hollywood, Racoon, Wal, Heatbeat, Reflame.

I don't really have any commercial favourites. It changes a lot. But I have been listening to some composers for longer: Daft Punk, Aural Float, Saafi Brothers, Future Sound Of London, Bjoerk, Eagles, ELO, U2, Carl Cox, Madonna, Break & Bossa ...

So far 3 remixes of the Last Ninja series of games have been uploaded to RKO, why Last Ninja?

The Last Ninja tunes are the most expressive in my opinion. You can see that a lot of people think in this way. Today a bunch of these melodies can be found in commercial Trance productions, for example Last Ninja Remix Subtune 4. It was my aim to release a professional remix of Last Ninja, too. But six years ago when I composed these tunes it was my youth and I thought in a different way. I just remixed and composed tunes I really loved, I did not waste a thought on producing stuff for the market. I missed the right moment and never finished a really market ordientated remix version. I believe the the today's producing managers at the big labels would think Last Ninja melodies are too complicated for the today's Trance end consumers. So the most actual Trance releases are crap and very boring, if you ask me. There are a lot of younger people today who call this music. This is very sad.

Can we expect any other remixes apart from last ninja to de remixed by you, or are you gonna continue with this series?

No I think I won't continue the Last Ninja series. But expect a remix of some of the sid songs mentioned above at some time. In the moment I try to produce professional Acid Jazz songs in my home studio. Visit my homepage for some older remixes.

How best would you describe your musical style?

Hmm, I think my old songs sound straight, sometimes a little trashy. I use synthetic sounds the most time, I use Electro rhythm styles a lot, so it sounds electronical. Actual tunes are more emphasized on jazzy or house rhythmics. I always compose in an electronic style.

What are your likes/dislikes regarding the scene?

I don't know the C=64 scene a lot. I really like the most friendly composers and projects like Remix 64, Remix.kwed.org, noerror.org and back2roots.org.

How would you like to see the scene develop/improve?

It would be nice, if there would be more internet pages like remix.kwed.org in the future. It would be also very cool, if there would be a music page for the Amiga, c=64, Buzz and PC Demo scene in one, a non commerical mp3.com for scene musicians.

What in your opinion makes a good remix?

I think the most important is the way you choose and edit your instruments and the effect parameters. You have to move with your own style within a defined music style because the melody is already there. The right selection of speed and shuffle is important, too. My songs from 1995-1996 are always too fast. Sometimes cool can be a improved melody or chord order (listen to the Rising Sun remix for an improved melody).

What equipment/software do you use?

I use Buzz, a lot of VST instruments, my Korg Synthesizers. I don't really like Cubase or Logic for more mathematical jobs. These programs a real professional for entering notes live but you can not edit in detail without a lot of effort, for example high detailed beats. You need very much expensive equipment for these sequencers like the professionals to let the machine do the detail work without effort. That's way I also use Octamed, the leading Midi tracker, and remote control the VST instruments and my synthesizers.

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

I would be proud if I would have composed the Last Ninja 2 Subtune 12.

How did you come across the scene?

When I was a small boy in 1988, some friends of mine got a C=64. I was absolutely impressed by the music from Last Ninja and all the cracktro music (which was mostly ripped from games). I started to program my own songs in Basic on my CPC. Then I was active in the Amiga scene a long time and a long time ago. It was a little bit illegal I was practising there :=). I also composed some chiptunes an a lot of protracker crap. Then I started to compose by heart, I remixed a few C64 tunes and made a big lot of other songs. After the death of Amiga there was a long not very creative period. Now, years later after the Windows introduction, there are a bunch of talented PC musicians and programmers, too. I'm always watching the PC demo scene, watching all the cool 3d 64k demos and listening to the very good songs. Sometimes I release a amateur mix of these songs at mixstation.de. I found remix.kwed.org half a year ago, surprisingly.

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

I listen to electronic Techno or Pop music the most time. It also has influences on my own style, of course, but not very much. I try to create my own style and improve it.

How do you get your inspiration?

I can not rationally get inspirations. It flows or not. Nature and also industry scenes do inspire me often.

Who do you think gives the scene the biggest boost and why?

Projects like yours, remix.kwed.org, demo scene groups. These projects give the composed songs a good sense.

If the was a piece of equipment that you do not already own, what would it be and why?

No external hardware anymore. I already sold a lot of synthesizers. If I would have the money for it, I would buy the mindblowing Pulsar II modular DSP soundcard by Creamware.de. With this masterpiece of hardware you can create *every* sound you like without having a lot of external hardware obstructing your the way to the kitchen.

Why do you remix c64 music?

I love the C=64 soundchip synthesis. It sounds so universal.

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

The game Last Ninja, of course.

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

Amiga, C64 and PC scene - join together! Thanks to the downloaders of my Last Ninja Trance Edit placing me over night on place one at remix.kwed.org. Spread the word virtualcreations.de. Fight the commerce 😊


A non comercial Mp3.com especially for c64 remixes is something we have discussed here at remix64 and this is one of many projects that we have in the pipeline. Plans at this stage are very sketchy and this at the moment is not imminent, though it's something that will definately appear in the future. As always watch this space ;)

- Neil

Interview date: 17.10.2001