An Interview with Seth Sternberger

by Neil Carr

Seth is currently working on an album of c64 remixes called The 8-bit Weapon to be released in the summer of 2002. An exclusive demo of Inspector Gadget taken from the forthcoming CD can be found on the Work In Progress screen.

Real name: Seth Sternberger
Handle: 8Bit Weapon / Naughtyboy / Spanky
Born: 1975


What c64 composers do you like?

Martin Galway, Kurt Heiden, Rob Hubbard, Larry Holland, David Worhol, & Roy Glover. (No particular order)

Seth Sternberger aka 8Bit Weapon
What are your favourite c64 sids?

Bards tale II & III, Times of Lore (all 8 endings), Low-Groove, Ultima III-IV-V, M.U.L.E., Inspector Gadget Demo, and The Adventure Construction Set Sids. There are a lot more I listen to quite often, but these are in my top ten. 😊

Why did you start remixing/covering c64 sids?

I wanted to do remixes that incorporated the entire original sid tune in each. So when you hear my remixes, you’ll hear the true sid sound in every track! Most other remixes are more like covers. Where they take the original sid song structure, and add their own sounds to flesh it out. I want my remixes to reflect the original sid sound.
It all started when I had rediscovered the joy of Sid about a year ago. I was wondering through the web, when I found to my amazement, a program called SIDplay! This was like the Holy Grail of technology for me! I couldn't believe it, no more waiting for Title screens to load, or trying to select out the explosions and lasers out of the background to get to the good stuff! I went absolutely nutz with it! I downloaded the entire high-voltage sid collection! I started listening to sids just as much, if not more than conventional albums. Oh, and I love the auto-pan feature it has…it creates a whole new dimension to the mono compositions. After a while, I got to thinking… Why don't I add a little of my own magic to this mix? So I experimented with the sid tune from M.U.L.E.. Since M.U.L.E. already had a sort of funky disco vibe to it, I just added some bass, and some hat tricks here n' there…sprinkle some fills in…and soon, It had a cut right off of Sid Night Fever! lol! I played it for some pals of mine, and they really liked it. So I decided I'd do a few more and see what would happen…Now I'm up to my elbows in sid remixes! Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have The 8-Bit Weapon available for everybody to enjoy and share!

You have mentioned you have drifted in and out of bands, how much difference has this made as to going solo?

It's made all the difference in the world to me, especially the hours! I hated having to play Ping-Pong with everybody's egos in each of the bands. Now I only get to argue with myself, but I lose more often than you'd think! : P

Your original non c64 Album Unfortunate Brain Chemistry is set to be released soon, what can you tell our readers about this album?

Unfortunate Brain Chemistry will be my first full-length release ever! The album includes collaborations with operatic vocalist Bridget O'Rell, Kurt Harding(formally of Bleed & Human Drama), and a remix (surprise, surprise) of Alien Vinyl's Waiting. It took about a year and a half for me to write, record and produce the album. Each track on U.B.C. is completely different from the next. It covers Big Beat, Trance, Drum n' Bass, and an assortment of other random electronic styles. The full length album is available for FREE @ BrainScream.com, in it's entirety! The album originally had a total of about 16 or 17 tracks, but after careful consideration, I knocked it down to 11 tracks for quality purposes. Not because the songs were bad, I just didn't think the other tracks really fit the album, and would detract from it. So I put them up on mp3.com under my alias naughtyboy. That way they wouldn't be forgotten, and fans could access them for free. 😊

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

I think my fondest memory with my Commodore 64 was the first time I won Samantha Fox Strip Poker! I was just a teenager, and at that moment, I had my two favourite things, in such a way…it was magical…. \[censored\]

Your passion of EA games on the c64 is fascinating, why do you think EA made such an impression on you?

Their games had more in common with actual record albums. They not only delivered the games with great graphics & sids, but even the software sleeves they came in rocked! I loved the artwork EA selected for their games. Take for example, the Adventure Construction Set's Cover. The whole thing with the comet, and the ancient ruins, and the mysterious mage in front….OH man, it had a great vibe to it. Same thing with M.U.L.E., but a bit more towards Andy Warhol. Also, I have to mention the Bards Tale series. The well crafted mosaics of Dragons, Dwarfs, and Drunkards, had a great set of artwork going for it. I'd love, LOVE, to have any one of the artist who where involved with those covers to do the artwork for the 8-Bit weapon! If that happened, I could die a happy man…

What equipment/software do you use?

Equipment: Quasimidi Sirius, Elektron Sidstation, Korg O5R/W Module, Roland Vintage Synth Module, and an Ensoniq Mirage.

Software: SIDplay, Acid Pro, Cakewalk, and Goldwave.

What/who has inspired you?

Everybody in the old school EA family(That includes the older folks at Interplay.) Others include: Devo, Jean M. Jarre, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode then, Recoil now), Alien Vinyl, and My sid Superstars: Martin Galway, Kurt Heiden, Rob Hubbard, Larry Hollend, David Worhol, Roy Glover, etc…

Why do you think that sid music has become so popular?

I think it's partly due to the warmth of the tones you get from sid. Other chips are far colder in tone quality by nature. Take the Chip from the NES for instance: cool sounds, but cold, thin, and dead sounding (just my opinion). With sid, you get the best of both worlds, a kind of warm digilogue sound. Don't get me wrong, I dig NSF's too. In fact I've done a few NES remixes as well. However, nothing is like a sid, nothing.

Your current project The 8-bit Weapon is a c64 classic remix cd. Why have you decided to create this Album?

I wanted to take my favourite sids to the next step of their sonic evolution (or de-evolution for some, lol). ;) Also, I haven't heard many people do a remixes that use the original sid tunes. I think that's what a lot of people would like to hear, ya know? It may help bridge the gap between sid fans and mainstreamers in some way. Like a sid translator. Or not, lol, I donno…Maybe I'll be the only one with a copy, ya know?… :P

What tracks will appear on the Album?

T.B.A

You have seeked advice from the original remix cd musician Chris Abbott, how has he helped you in regards to the album?

He's been a wealth of knowledge. Chris has pointed me in the right direction quite a few times, as far as how to contact people and find information. I've asked him to let me use his format for royalty agreements. Since this is all old hat to him. ;)

You have mentioned that you are too working with some of the best known original c64 composers. What input have they had?

A couple have offered to collaborate on this album and possibly on future projects. For the most part, they are just consulting me at the moment. I had to get permission to use their sids. So I contacted each of them, and they all have agreed to let me use their sids. 😊 I'm primarily asking them questions about their composition construcion and like matters…as well as asking really nerdy fan questions!! (who wouldn't??)

What are your hopes for the CD?

I hope that other sid fans will like the collection as much as I do. Don't forget I'm incorporating the original sids into each of the remixes. I really do love these sids man! One of my biggest goals is that mainstreamers will enjoy listening to this album every bit as much as the hard core sid fans! That's a tall order, I know , believe me! You don't know how many cringing faces I've had to endure, trying to introduce sid tunes to mainstreamers… It's been a long painful journey, as I'm sure my sid brothers and sisters know…

If all is well, will you be doing more of these CD's?

I don't know. I think this will be a one-time thing for me. I only wanted to remix the tunes I fell in love with when I was younger. Once this project is completed, I think I'll probably move on to do another Seth CD like unfortunate Brain Chemistry. But, never say never, right?

What aspects of the orginal c64 classic sids have you taken into consideration when creating the CD?

Hmm… I'd say everything. I've incorporated the original sids (from the SIDplay emulator), in their entirety into each track, and only when necessary have I used re-sids. I hope that answered your question?

What can we expect to see in the accompanying booklet? If indeed there is a booklet?

I would like to see the original cover art, and a couple of screen shots for each game sid on the album. Such that people can get a sense of what each game was like. Also a small paragraph about each game would be good as well…I'm open to suggestions…

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers about the CD?

All the old school EA fans will REALLY DIG the packaging for the album… I'm going to attempt to format the packaging after the old EA 8 ¾" flat sleeves! Now, If only I could hook-up with one of those nifty EA artist from back in the day…

Who do you think gives the Scene the biggest boost?

Other people like you and me, who still enjoy the fruits of yester-year's technology. ;)

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

GEEEEEEZZZZ…that's a great question! I guess it would have to be the music to Adventure Construction Set. That was the first tune I would listen to over and over again. I love all the different sections of that sid set, especially the dirg! Thank you David!

Lastly is there a message you'd like to say to the scene?

I would like to thank everybody who has influenced my generation of sidfans. I would also like to encourage everyone to continue creating, orchestrating, and remixing sid tunes for our generation, and the next…

p.s.- If the sid fits, wear it!


However, nothing is like a sid, nothing. - seth

There's something special about the sid, that has never been repeated on any other format. Whatever the technology, whatever the composition, there's nothing like the sound of the c64.

- Neil

Interview date: 01.06.2001