An Interview with Tomsk

by Neil Carr

Using a Playstation to create his music Tomsk has done two very creditable remixes. Knucklebusters takes credit for being one of the few who have tackled a full length remix of this tune. The results considering the limitations of the Playstation were impressive.

Real name: Barry Thompson
Handle: Tomsk
Born: 1971
Nationality: English

Who were your favourite c64 composers?

The usual suspects (Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Mike Alsop, Matt Gray, Chris Huelsbeck, Paul Norman, Wally Beben.)

What are your favourite Sids?

Again, nothing original here. (Knucklebusters, Tetris, Driller, Hyper Sports loader – fast version!, M.O.T.R., Sanxion, Future Shock, Exodus ?? )

Why do you remix c64 sids?

I never used to, but inspired by some of the efforts on Kwed I thought I’d give it a shot. Also the BIT series helped get me right back into the music.

What equipment/software do you use?

Hmmm. Playstation 1& Music2000. Somewhat lacking but just about functional.

You compose your music on the playstation, what would say are the positives and negatives of this?

Positives are that it’s all I’ve got, it’s cheap, easy to use, and it does the job. Negatives are obvious really. The sound memory limitation and lack of effects options with-in the software (as it was it used up nearly a full memory card for Knucklebusters). Price for product rating it’s still a good/cheap place to start for any would be arrangers out there.

Only a few have tackled a full length remix of Knucklebusters, how long did it take you to remix this tune, and what exactly are your thoughts on the remix?

Okay, I didn’t rip this quote from a Mega Apocalypse preview but; ‘the music took six months to do’, although admittedly this covers the ‘getting on well’ to the ‘getting fed up periods’. Using a controller instead of a mouse made the process a bit longer I guess. I tried my hand at Delta first just to see if I could actually do a whole tune! I’ve had some good praise and constructive criticism regarding the tune and I tend to go along with thoughts that it would sound more interesting with a better choice of instruments (the strings are very ‘samey’) and some neat musical fx. I’m pleased with most of the pitch bends (which were a bugger to do) and the near accuracy of it all, which was what I set out to achieve.

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

At the moment it’s mostly how fond of the original I am.

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

This could take a while, but I’ll try and keep it short. Seeing International Soccer playing in a shop display a few weeks before I got my C64, and claiming to friends that if you stand back from the screen it looks like a ‘real’ game of footy – neglecting the small facts that the ‘ball’ was actually cross shaped and there were only 6 players on either side. It was still a great game. Hearing the full version of Hyper Sports loader without realising it (I must have knocked the tape deck and the game stopped loading but the tune kept playing instead of cutting out when it loaded). Playing Impossible Mission for the first time, buying games just for the music and getting my hands on PCG or Zzap as soon as it hit the shelves. Oh, those were the days 😊

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

Sid tune ; Monty on the Run. It suited the game so well and I never tired of hearing it over and over.
Remixed tune; Nemesis the Warlock by o2. Eases you in, then grabs you by throat. Excellent !

How did you come across the current c64 scene?

A friend of a friend (it might just have been Pete Connoly) gave me a listen to BIT1. I still had an Amiga at the time but contacted Chris Abbott via a works PC. About a month later I had a PC, BIT1 and SIDPLAY and was wallowing in nostalgia!

What other arrangers do you like?

All the top arrangers in the charts. There’s that many now but ‘O2’ and ‘CZ Tunes’ spring to mind.

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

As I haven’t been the scene that long it’s not a question I think I can answer too well. However Mr. Abbott deserves a lot of praise for all the BIT CD’s/ BIT Live, as do all the people who maintain this site and KWED.

How would you like to see the scene improve?

It’s going in the right direction. I’d love to see some of the talent in here get some recognition outside of the C64 scene (who knows eh ?)

What are your likes/dislikes regarding the scene?

It’s a just such a great community. There’s lots of support for the ‘new guy’ (like me)
As for the dislikes - I’ve never heard the OUTPUT 64 CD but cheaply cashing in on the scene tarnishes the ‘good guys’ who aren’t just out to make a buck.

Would you consider remixing sids using a different medium other than the playstation?

Much as I still enjoy using the playstation I know I’ll have to move on if I want to achieve better results in the future. The trackers are an option but no big leap in terms of quality. Reason sounds like the best bet but it’s all down to cash really.

There is no utility like Sid2midi to help arrangers like yourself on the Playstation, so how do you go about remixing using this format?

The old fashioned way using SidPlay’s mixer to pick each note from each individual channel (loads of fun!)

What sids are you thinking of remixing in the future?

Gyroscope ! (only kidding!). I’d love to do Future Shock.

Lastly, what thoughts would you like to share with the scene?

Just like to thank everyone for their support and all their contributions to the remix scene. Keep up the great work. (hang on…shouldn’t this bit scroll ?)

Tomsk has added detailed tune info for his arrangements to the charts section which also includes images. So for detailed information on his remixes you should go and take a look.

- Neil

Interview date: 08.12.2001