An Interview with Max Hall

by Neil Carr

Max is signed to no-less than four record labels as a producer/remixer. He's also licensing some of his work in Japan. But a musician who hasn't forgot where it all started with a unique remix of Future Shock, which can be downloaded at RKO.

Real name: Max Hall
Born: 1970
Nationality: British

Max Hall
Who were your favourite c64 composers?

I was a speccy user early on but, a guy down the road from me known as (Bounty Bob) , had a c64 and a cassette deck, and loads of tapes (dunno to this day where they came from) i used to go round just to see it loading,.and making noises and looking good when it did load! (flickiring graphics etc)... He also had a good sound system to.... playing Kraftwerk and Jarre, we listened while we were messing round with the c64, the first sid toon i heard at full volume was Frantic Freddie and just blew me away, he also had alot of demos and games on turbo that as u know made cassette look fast back then! but it was when he swiched the sound system from kraftwerk to the c64 , using a DIN connection, and the computer was singing!

Anyway ranting a bit, Favourite composers on the C64 are:
1. Rob Hubbard.(for being a massive influence)
2. Mr Galway.(For making the sid chip sound sweet!)
3. Chris Hulesbeck.(For being Experimental)
4. Dave Whittaker.(For being Brave)
5. Ben Daglish and Tony C.(for living 12 miles north from me and never meeting)
6. Mighty Bogg.(for getting a listen evey time!)
7. Red.(from a hacking group who hacked the Rob Hubbard player and composed new toons using his sounds, fanasinated the F**k out of me thatz)

What are your favourite sids?

Comic Bakery (Martin Galway), (awesome toon) Ocean Loader (Martin Galway), (Cos it was simply ace) Crazy Comets (Rob Hubbard), Reminds me of a great Christmas! Trapm Demo (Ben Daglish, Tony Crowther), So captivating! Futureshock Demo.(Was trendy to have the demo from c-net!) Rasputin (Rob Hubbard).(Sid programming to the limit!) Aztec Challenge (Paul Norman) (For being atmospheric!) International Karate (Rob Hubbard) (made all my m8s listen to the whole mix!) Frantic Feddie.(was a ace game 😊 DELTA.(Rob Hubbard) (Say no more.)

What equipment/software do you use?

Phew!, Lots of hardware now... Getting Well into Software Synths aswell(Native Fm7, Pro 52 etc). I use a combination of analog digital hardware synth and samplers and digital software (soft synths) together.

Big fan of Roland, (SH-09) and Novation (Basstation, Drumstation) and Roland Jv-1080 and W-30 sampler, just add sounds from these to the mix externally via a analog desk to the computer using a Audiophile 2496 soundcard.Still sequence using ATARI ST, (The only program that stops on for days without crashing, and love every bit of it)
looking forward to playing with the P.C version of Absynth aswell.

How did you come across the current remixing scene?

Discoved the internet, Just surfed in, I was missing the C64 Scene (Getting old i guess...)just searched for the C64,on a reminising trip, (too much beer one night)then found out there was still a very BIG interest in the C64 music scene. Got my juices flowing again.

What in your opinion makes a good remix?

One that makes million quid! ($1,000,000) ish.. or more.

Serioulsly, one that captures the hair standing up on the arm like the fist time u heared the Sid, Dosent matter if the mix is compleatly different, just as long as it captures the elements that made the original hot.

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

U mean a sid? If i had to pinch a track i would love to have claimed Rambo (The Martin Galway Loader)and anything Rob Hubbard has done. (erm u sure? what about Action Biker..? E.D) Simply because they could both understand the sid Programing and pushed it to the limits. Both class programmers no doubt about it, also, Ocean Loader (Galway) is still good even in 2002 so that gets a shout!, Crazy Comets aswell, phew the list goes on.

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

A beer factory, pressure vessels the lot!!! and a Novation SuperNova.

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

Wow , thats a question? This is the best i can do, Fondest memories of the c64: hearing computers make music! ? (phew), being able to program a computer using sid mon and actually getting a sound from the chip. Also fondest times was all the software swapping that went on at school, and reading the magazines that were in the newsagents, like Zzap 64! (The latest internet issue is AWESOME) and the other commodore magazines and the buzz that was about everytime a new game or demo was released, and who did the music , was it Hubbard? Galway,? etc... it was a big thing at my school, even our computer teacher got into the scene.

What other arrangers do you like?

Max levin, Chris Hulesbeck and a big fan of Dr Awesome (I know he's Amiga but he gets a mention)

Your remix of future shock varies considerably from the original tune, what were your thoughts when creating it?

I wanted to do a track with a C64 feel to it, so I went trudging through my HV Sid collection to see what I could come up with, Futureshock stood out because of the funky bassline. I sampled and timestreched the bassline, adding Compression, then sampled all the other bits u can hear in my mix sepratly, then re-sequenced the Sid samples back together using Compresion and slight reverb, added all the other elements and sounds using my Synths. The Idea was to create a stomping track that would be suited to the nightclub scene here in the U.K. but by using the Futureshock bit for the Reach seemed to work quite well.

How would you like to see the current remixing scene develop?

I would like to see more different remixes of old C64 toonz, using more new synth sounds combined with the Sid sounds. Too many people are just re dong the whole sid tracks note for note, (Dont get me wrong there are some awesome SID remixes). I would like to see more experimentation in the remixes, not just carbon copy clones. Would love to hear a professional re - worked versions of Trap, Ocean Loader and Parallax.....(will do one when i get time)

Studio of Max Hall

Well There's Trap and Parallax on the BITS. Also Ocean Loader is on our very own Remix64 😊 Who do you think gives the scene the biggest boost?

The people who make it happen, the remix sites dedicated to the scene, R.K.O and Remix 64 are doing a great job the guys and gals? spending the thousands of hours creating new mixes to keep the humble C64 alive and kicking well into the new millenium. also the people who keep getting discussions going on the c64 remix e-mail aswell, although some of them take it all a bit to seriously!! I think some of the classic guys like Hubbard and Daglish (who i spoke to on e-mail recently) are still interested in the scene, thats gotta keep the scene alive! Even now i cant beleive how much interest there is in the whole scene, it certainly struck a chord with alot of people around my age. (old gits) and i think Bouff from Bits made a differnce aswell. (Let me show u my studio?) heheh

Apart from remixing c64 classic what other stuff do you like to in your spare time?

Now work as a producer and remixer, Signed to 4 U.K Record labels, Interflow Sounds, Cheeky Charas, USSR Recordings, and Neuro Communications - Also doing production and mixing work for Tune-Inn records, working closly with Pete Gawtry. Have remixed : Depeche Mode - Gorillaz - Ram-Jam - T-Rex to name a few, probably done about 100 remixes since the c64 hardware era ended. so dont really get alot of spare time.....but when i do, enjoy playing retro C64 and Spectrum games on the emulator enjoy the company of a good looking girl 😊

What plans do you have for the future musically?

Currently licensing some of my tracks for release in Japan working on getting as much Vinyl out for the rest of the year. The goal is to put quality music out to people who appreciate it.... Feedback is important i think.

Has there been a remix that has particularly impressed you?

There is a Max Headroom one, I cant remember who did it now, but that rocks.

Commerciality on c64 remixing, Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs Up - I think it could happen if there was enough quality mixes, suppose its happened in the club scene with Zombie Nation (Lazy Jones) and Future-shock. So who knows, i dont think the c64 is dead yet 😊 Spose its a natural progression for producers who were kids when the C64 was big, lot of influence from those old tracks still gets used to this day.

Why do you remix c64 tunes?

Suppose its a good excuse to reminiss a little, try and grab a little of your teen age years back while you can! but seriously, remixing C64 tracks usually happens after a combination of to much beer and not enough sleep. 😊

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

Keep rocking the Sid chip! Keep up the good work, sites like R.K.O and Remix 64 all deserve a mention, plus all the people on the internet keeping the C64 alive in cyberheaven.

Max may not be the biggest contributor to the community, but he's always around and every now and then he'll treat us to something a little bit different as he did with the Future Shock remix.

- Neil

Interview date: 14.05.2002