An Interview with Markus Schneider

by Neil Carr

The author of Rolling Ronny, lethal Zone, No mercy, Xiphoids and the Amiga version of Tusker plans sometime this year to enter the remix scene, possibly with Thomas Detert. However Markus is a busy man so finding the time is his major limitation. If Markus or Thomas do re-create some of their music then i for one shall be very interested in the outcome.

Real name: Markus Schneider
Handle: Diflex
Born: 1970
Nationality: German

What other c64 composers do you like?

Especially Tim Follin,Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Jeroen Tel, Charles Deenen, Johannes Bjerregaard, my friend Thomas Detert and nearly all who are listed in the main root of the High Voltage Sid Collection. I think the best composer relating to complexity is Tim Follin.

What are your favourite sids?

Rob Hubbard: Delta, Knucklebusters, and Lightforce (I think Lightforce is the best, although Rob Hubbard doesn’t like it so much If you listen to Chris Abbott’s Lightforce 2000 you will know what i mean. Extremely cool rhythm with a film soundtrack touch. Could be a track from Jarre’s Revolution !)

Martin Galway: Terra Cresta, Parallax and Wizball
Tim Follin: Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Black Lamp
Jeroen Tel: Tomcat F14, Supremacy
Johannes Bjerregaard: Nightdawn
Reyn Ouwehand: Flimbo’s Quest
Thomas Detert: EON
Ben Daglish & Anthony Lees: Last Ninja
Jeroen Kimmel(Red): Think twice III

Which of your own tunes has pleased you most?

Hmm, that’s not an easy question. I think it’s necessary to distinguish between only one tune and a complete game soundtrack. Also you should decide what’s more important for yourself. The composing, arranging or just the feeling. Here is a list that I think are my better tunes:
Rolling Ronny for Virgin
No Mercy
Lethal Zone
And also my first and last tune on Amiga Tusker for System 3.

There has been a fair few covers of your c64 sids, how do you feel about people remixing or covering your work with modern sounds?

It gives me a positive resonance, because nobody would remix or cover a tune he does not like at all. Special thanks to Kent Wallden, CZ Tunes, Darren Shady, Mattias Johannson and King Fisher for remixing some of my tunes and uploading them to !

Have you ever considered remixing your own c64 sids with modern instruments?

Yes. And I will start remixing some well-chosen sid’s. Probably I will do this together with Thomas Detert. We both thinking seriously about that, the only problem is finding time. At the moment I am working on a personal website reflecting my c64 time. After finishing this project I will start remixing. Release date should be this year.

You was in a group called X-ample, what can you tell us about this?

When I joined X-Ample everybody was working on commercial projects. That was also my objective, so we shared our work. More than one man for the same spectrum. For example the last soundplayer based on my old player. Helge Kozielek and Mario van Zeist did some corrections to optimise the speed. At the same time Joachim Fraeder programmed the surface. The idea to share the work was immediate. All actual software companies do that. Everybody who was going that way had to stop projects because development takes too much time and money.

Why did you start writing c64 music?

A school friend, Jens Blidon, wanted to make music on the c64. He did some tunes with Chris Huelsbeck’s well known soundmonitor but Jens didn’t like soundmonitor that much. I promised him I'd write a better player. While I programmed this player Jens told me a lot about composing music and it got me interested.

How did you get involved in writing music for c64 games?

After finishing the player some guys from our school programmed a game for Kingsoft – a German software company. The title was Timezone. They heard about Jens and my project and asked us to produce the music. In the scene more and more demogroups and hackers/crackers got commercial. As i too was also much involved in the scene they asked me about my music for their projects.

Have you worked on any other formats?

Yes. I did the music for Tusker from System 3 on Amiga. This music was developed with Chris Huelsbeck’s TFMX, which he gave to me for free.

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

ECTS in London, Copy Parties in Denmark, Radwar's Parties and working at Starbyte for about 3 months with many, many other people. Also meeting with different people from all over the world was a nice experience which chraracterized my life further.

Did the earlier c64 composers have any bearing on you and your music?

Yes, for sure. Mostly Jens Blidon, Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Jeroen Tel, Charles Deenen in many different ways.

What were your likes/dislikes about the sid chip?

I still like the sid in any form and there hasn’t been any dislikes up to now.

Why do you think that c64 music is still popular today?

Many people who grew up with the c64 nowadays own a pc. Often the music for pc games doesn’t differ from real music. So it isn’t more interesting than 8-bit music.
It is an human habit to love everything which has passed.

What are your thoughts on music in modern day games?

I do not play many games nowadays (except GP Series from Geoff Crammond). So my thoughts about that are not that relevant, i think. If i see a game, mostly i don’t listen especially to the music. So that should tell me something. But there are 2 soundtracks i really like ... Black & White and especially X-Beyond the frontier and guess what ? Those X-Beyond the frontier soundtracks was composed by some of my old c64 mates.

What or who was your inspiration?

Real musicians like Jean Michel Jarre and other C64 composers. But i always tried to be inspired by the game that i composed the music for. It’s a pity that so many game programmers wanted to have covers or disco tunes.

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

I do not wish to claim a tune from another as my own. There are only 2 things i regret nowadays:
First: I started too late working commercially.
Second: I had to stop working in that business.

Have you experienced a situation where you have been unfairly treated?

Yes. When I got a call-up order from the army. Nobody seemed to be interested in my work. I still tried to get some orders, but many people didn’t contact me further. That was extremely disappointing for me and it was also my cut off from commercial scene.

So do you still write music today, if so what can you tell us about this?

I still write music on pc, but only for myself. I use a normal pc with a yamaha based soundcard and i still own my piano. I do not have any synthesisers anymore. It would still be my fondest dream to work in the music business again. But as i am a CEO of a hardware company i do not have much spare time. So it will ever be a nice, but unrealised dream.

What does the future hold for you?

Who knows that really ? I hope my website project will be finished soon. And hopefully i could spend more time with my family.

Lastly, what would like to say to the scene?

Keep up with that good work. Perhaps someone will bring back the c64 to life. Like a handheld with c64 basic ;-)). If so, here’s the first order.
Thanks to all who still make an effort in keeping the c64 alive.

mmmm. A hand held c64... Interesting.. I don't think it'll ever happen, but if it does then here's a second order.

- Neil

Interview date: 11.05.2001