An Interview with Mahoney

by Neil Carr

Mahoney of Kaktus & Mahoney fame ( popular demo creators from the 80's) creates possibly some of the most creative music on the scene at the moment. You should checkout his latest mix of Lightforce for a very creditable remix.

Real name: Pex Tufvesson
Handle: Mahoney
Born: 1974
Nationality: Swedish


For those who do not know you can you give us a brief description of Mahoney and Kaktus?

Kaktus is a very good friend I met in 1986. He's smart, good-looking and has an excellent hand with green fireworks and pocket calculators, which was all I was looking for in a real friend! He was also educated enough to break the rules in a stylish manner. Together, we broke the rules, doing 64 demo programming, later Amiga 500 demos and Musicdisks. Some people told the only reason they bought their Amigas was for our Noisetracker. And yes, the only reason I bought my Amiga was to make noise!


Mahoney
So, why after along time out of the Scene have you decided to comeback and remix 64 music?

Comeback! I've always been here, doing the same thing with different toys. Back then we gave people some good laughs, and that's what life's about! I hope to give people listening to my c64 mixes (and that's you?) a smile on their lips. Or give you a good surprise. Or at least make you stop complaining about earthly matters for a while! Life's more than 500Mbits/second, 230V AC and 1.9 GHz. Music is a great way of making people feel good without even being there!


Mahoney is back... What does Kaktus do now?

Kaktus is finishing his PhD, actually with a very similar topic to mine. I get paid for developing ASICs in my daytime (your computer and phone is stuffed with 'em), and he does the same, but in the academic part of the world.

Who are your favourite c64 composers?

Rob, need I say more?

What sids are your Favourites?

Spellbound, Zoids and Sanxion. And then some odd ones like Caverns of Khafka subtune 1 and 6 by Paul Norman, Star Trooper by Clifford Ramshaw and Drelbs by Synapse. And sometimes, I catch myself with whistling Hover Bovver subtune 2 by James Lisney.

What equipment/software do you use to remix c64 music?

WARNING... technical details coming up. If this is too much for you, quickly skip this and go play your PS2/GT3.

I've got a WaMiRack 24 from Ego Systems, mostly for the excellent microphone preamps I use when recording a cappella music, which is another hobby of mine. A 1Ghz PIII does well, together with Cubase and some reverb/compressor/exciter/maximizer plugins. But the best friend of mine when doing these remixes so far is SidPlay together with a time-stretcher/pitchshifter. And the very important fact that nobody forces me to do these mixes! I also use the bathroom a lot, since I drink loads of water during the fun, to remind me that more than 45 minutes of constant sitting is bad for your bones! Before I start with a mix, it is more or less already finished. I've been humming it, singing it and more or less gone through it in my head a 100 times before I actually put it down into music/noise for others to enjoy.

What other arrangers do you like?

Speaking about c64 remixers, I've always liked O2, which I just recently found out was an old friend of mine! (Hej Carsten! Studsbollar I lösvikt? Jodå!) I happened to borrow his Amiga-sampler some 10 years ago, and boy am I impressed with his music! Instant Remedy does his thing as good as it gets. And I also like Puffy64's tunes, even though I happen not to like that kind of music. But the style is wonderful... I guess that's where I want to be, as far from common standard as possible. Slumgud has a nice style and Ollas made a nice HawkEye mix. And Ollas, by the way, should have most of the credits for my Lightforce-mix. I got a copy of some of the music he made for Digital Illusion's racing game Motorhead, got some funny idea of making it c64-style, asked him nicely if I could do it, and did it. He's the genius, not me!

What are your likes/dislikes regarding the scene?

I read some harsh words on the c64rmx mailing list, but that's just kid's talk. If you like announcement-bots or not - might - not be the biggest worry in this world. Sometimes people (and that's you?) tend to forget smiling. Please don't let small stupid things get in the way for happiness!

Your remixes have shown creativity and invention, do you purposely go out and try new ideas and styles?

Well. Stealing is not very inventive, is it? (Do I steal? Hmmm... maybe I should write an essay on that!) Since remixing is stealing in some way, I steal and I enjoy it. I've played the puzzle game doing my remixes so far. One piece of that and one piece from this, and there is a remix. Which, I have to add, differs completely to what I use to do when making music. I compose a cappella music, arrange it for 4-6 voices, rehearse it with my friends and then perform it for people during dinners/anniversaries/etc. Which is an awfully nice hobby, I should say. Next weekend, we're going on an all-expenses-paid weekend trip to Paris, in return for 30 minutes of singing on a boat! Hmm. Back to the question. Yes, I purposely try out new ideas.

What gives you inspiration?

The idea that someone (and that's you?) will enjoy listening as much as I enjoy making/performing. In a live performance, it's the audience's reaction that is the inspiration. In making c64 remixes, it's my made up image of the listener smiling and maybe even laughing while listening that gives me inspiration.



Why do you think that the c64 scene is still active today?

I think it is to prove that mind over matter still exists. Man plays pinball to prove that mechanics can be tamed. I think man over and over again has to show to himself that materia can be tamed. And the c64 was something that computers will never ever be again. An easy, fun target for mankind's total domination (well, in a small scale) over matter. This goes for programming the c64. I think I know every little secret that hardware has - I know the chips (I even built my own SID-walkman back in the 80's, by wiring the necessary chips and crystals together, making a whopping 128KB collection of SID-tunes, and a simple playlist for these, one button for play/pause and one button for next tune. The thing ran 1 hour on batteries, and looked like nothing else in this world! And well, no serious walking allowed, because the thing would probably break instantly if I were to prove it jog-proof. 40 seconds of skip-memory? Naaa...)


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

Mozart's 40'th symphony - the work of a genius. (Sorry, no c64 version of that, as far as I know). I just love it. Classical music at it's best. For c64 music, I guess it's Rob Hubbards Sanxion (subtune 2). By the way, I heard he won some prize for it Best Original Music by some uneducated fool that obviously didn't know that Prokofiev made it for the Romeo and Juliet-ballet. That made me laugh! But, I wish that I had the talent to both compose it, and then also make that excellent SID-version of it. But at least I manage to play it on the piano, that's as close as I get!

What do you look at in a sid when remixing it?

I look for tunes with that special touch. They should have that some easy-to-spot sound, weird sound effects or those blirps you get by abusing the SID. (By the way, combining waveform $10 -sine and $40-pulse is a good start - listen to hvsidsGamesA-fBreak_Dance.sid. Or listen to Hubbard's IK , 6:08 into the song, or 13:49 into the song if you happen to listen to it twice! This is what no SID-emulation I've heard so far manages to reproduce ok!). With this, that special sound will shine through any remix, taking you back to the good old days!

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

10 Poke 53280,0: Poke 53280,1

20 Goto 10

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

The man who invented pornography and violence! Well, I guess I have some explaining to do now: Without FPS games (first-person-shooters, like Minotaur on the ZX-Spectrum, if my memory doesn't fool me. Castle Wolfenstein 3D, anybody? And for the younger audience, I guess you've heard of Doom, Quake, Max Payne, Serious Sam, etc...) we would not have as fast computers as we have. These games are based on violence. These games gave birth to demand for faster home computers, where people playing Microsoft Word didn't need them. And suddenly, there were a lot of money in the race for the MHz. Thanks to violence, we now have fast enough computers, which just recently became fast enough to make music with. And as a bonus, we are able to have a laptop-c64 thanks to emulation! (And somewhere back in my head there is a sad feeling that the whole society is more apt to violence now compared to 20 years ago. But at least it gave me a fast computer good for music. There's no such thing as a free lunch, ever!).

What about pornography then? Well, without pornography, the Internet would not be as ubiquitous as it is today. I would say, without pornography, the Internet would still be an academic thing as it was in 1992 when I first made contact with the online world. Thanks to the Internet, the scene is much closer together. And thanks to Internet, I'm sitting here in an interview, and you are reading... And maybe afterwards you go and hug your girlfriend because I tell you so?

But, big respects must of course go to Jan Lund Thomsen, who was the first to make a serious BBS with c64 remixes. For the joy you give me, I thank you from the deepest of my heart!

What would you consider would be your best piece of music so far?

Of my SID-music, I would say hvsidsVariousM-rMahoneyCP-Demo_V.sid. This tune I made in 1988, and boy do I have fun memories making this at a copy-party in Bjärred. No, this is not fine art - but it was fun, made us all laugh and remember, that was 13 years ago.

Pick of the bunch when it comes to Amiga Noisetracker modules must be mod.Gommolassmot iii, which was a part of the modules shipped with the original Mahoney&Kaktus version of Noisetracker v2.0. And yes, the girl screaming is Japanese. This module is a hard-to-get-item, so throw me a line or two by email and I'll send it to you! email: pex@tufveREMOVE_THIS_FIGHT_SPAMsson.net

Top of the line when it comes to c64-mixes must be the swing mix of Spellbound. One of a kind. I promise! Go and get it at remix.kwed.org!


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

I'd like to see more original mixes. Instant Remedy is great, but not all new mixes have to sound like that! Go find your own style!


If there is a piece of equipment that you would like to own, what would it be and why?

I would like to have a bicycle that never breaks. I'd like a concert piano in my living room, which my girlfriend and I unfortunately have no room for. And the ultimate gadget: a silencer that would give instant silence around you; let's say in a radius of 1-2 meters. Yes, I know this is silly, and yes I know that there is a Science Fiction story about the abuse of such a device, but the few times I actually heard silence is one of the best memories of my life! I found it in Australia and in Egypt, and artificially in Norway in an echo-free chamber, but nowhere else. There is always car noise, airplanes, animals and fan noise, everywhere! Silence is an endangered species!


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

Go hug your girlfriend! Or if you don't have any, go find one! You won't find the meaning of life with electricity!


What can you say regarding the issue of who gives the scene the biggest boost. It's well... An alternative insight into the scene, though it does give you something to think about.

- Neil

Interview date: 26.09.2001