Author Topic: Interview with Skipp/PTN&NAH  (Read 4283 times)

Offline 4pLaY

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Interview with Skipp/PTN&NAH
« on: June 24, 2019, 07:20:53 PM »
Hello Skipp. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, everyone. My name is Przemyslaw Tkaczyk, but almost everyone calls me by my scene name, which is Skipp (previously Skip). I`m 40 years old and I currently live in Bydgoszcz, Poland. I`m a scener since 1995.

When did you get interested in computers and what was your first computer?

Oh, I don't remember exactly. It was probably around 1987 or 1988, when I first got to play with some kind of scientific calculator, that I got handed to keep me busy as a kid somewhere :). Some time later my upstairs neighbour and my parent`s friend, introduced me to a ZX Spectrum+ and I got hooked for good. After a few months my lovely parents actually bought this machine for me from said neighbour and it was the first ever computer I owned. I still have it today, but unfortunately it does not work anymore.

What Amiga(s) did you have in the past and if you remember, what were the(ir) configuration(s)?

This is actually an ongoing process, every Amiga I owned in the past is still with me, apart from one A1200 motherboard that I gave away to a friend for his tower project. I never sell or otherwise get rid of my Amigas, I upgrade each of them gradually and use them often. Therefore, my first A600, bought around 1997 or so is still with me, in fact, it's my primary machine now. Started off with just a 1084ST monitor and nothing else, it was upgraded first with just an additional 1MB ChipRAM, then a harddrive, then some PCMCIA-based FastRAM and now it's the fastest Amiga I own. It is kicking around with a 124MIPS 68080@92MHz in a Vampire V2 form with 128MB RAM and a RTG onboard, booting off a CF card as the harddisk.

Along all these years I have collected quite a number of Amiga machines. For the most of my scene years, my towered 040/40 A1200 was my primary machine, later it was upgraded to 060/50 and moved back to a NOS desktop case (sold and autographed by Petro Tyshchenko). I own several A1200s, with various accelerators with all possible CPU configurations (020, 030, 040, 060). One fully equipped 040/25 A4000 (Toccata, Cybervision64/3D, X-Surf, BigRAMPlus), one A1000 (a gift from V0yager/Appendix), two A600s (one "vanilla", one "Vampirized"), two A500s (one equipped with Vampire V4, the other with a rather obscure 020/881 Sapphire accelerator running at 7MHz). I'm also the happy owner of two NG "Amigas", EfikaPPC and a 12-inch iBook G4, both running MorphOS. The collection is still growing as I hunt for some cool Amiga stuff from time to time.

Can you tell us how you got involved with the demoscene?

My involvement in the Demoscene was gradual, although there were a few key points that lead to this. First of all, there was a program in the Polish national TV back in the day, called "Telekomputer". There I witnessed quite a few demo effects that were presented off a real Amiga (if I remember correctly it was most likely the excerpts from "Extension" by Pygmy Projects, "Odyssey" by Alcatraz and "Technological Death" by Mad Elks). Before that, there were some paper computer magazines that I read like crazy, namely "Bajtek" and "Commodore & Amiga" published some articles describing the scene and its events and printed some charts as well. On top of that, my good friend from high school gave me a diskmag called "Paper White" (issue #2) which I read  from A to Z getting to know what the scene was. Further inspiration to get involved was also seeing some Amiga demos played by some shady "traders" at our local "computer trade market" which essentially was a weekly pirate "party" event (eventually busted by the police one day which ended it for good). I became a passive scene watcher back then, but later I craved to try creating something myself. My first role was actually as a pixel artist and I joined the PC group Dark Legions in the early 1996. Later on I discovered Protracker, bought a sampler and basically became the person I am today, haha :).

Could you tell us a bit about the demos you worked in the past and which production you feel was the best one?

Ah, that's a tough one :) and the answer has to be looong :). Well, there were quite a few, actually, my first "serious" production was a PC demo with Dark Legions, called "Experience" from 1996 where I made some graphics and logos (on Amiga) and I was slightly involved in the overall design (but not that much, really).

Later Mavey came along, with his tremendous enthusiasm and skills that convinced me to stick together with him and make something fresh and entertaining for the Amiga. I think our first production together was a 64kB intro called "Spleen", where I composed the tune and pixelled some ambiguous texts (in Polish) based on some classic poetry or prose. Then there was "Grim Leaven", an AGA demo released at the same party, and also a simple 4KB production called "Nomad". These three were all released under Victims and ranked quite high on Quast`98.

I wasn't a member yet then, because I didn't want to leave my other (and first) Amiga group Qualm, which I had high hopes for. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, as Qualm never released anything "executable", just some loose modules by me and pictures by my buddy, Scart. But to be honest, our coder, Shot, was very talented and determined to first and foremost write his own C2P, before making any real demo, and he did. The results back in 1997 were actually very impressive. We also had plans for my musicdisk.

Still, craving for some actual demo making, I later decided to join the newly formed group Potion, which fused two whole groups - Victims and RedBullz. From that moment things have really started to shape up nicely and we were regularly having meetings for all that design and testing, Mavey's code against the new music that I made. We had a lot of fun making "Outgrowing", "Rout", "Vertus" and "Gush". The latter was the first ever production to use my soft-synth for pre-calculating samples at runtime. Back then it was just an extended, fine tuned and slightly improved version of a "tb.c" routine by Lars "Zap" Hamre. This and that 8-channel DigiBooster 1.7 module is what started it all and then evolved into a full 3-osc synth with effects like overdrive, phaser, flanger, reverb and various filter models, LFOs and also a 16-bit output. Later on I also used this synth in all my tunes released as Andromeda, all of which were composed on an 1200/040@40 and DigiBooster Pro 2.21. Sorry, I'm rambling :).

Back to demos, the most fun I had was making the 64kB intro "Gift" from 2000. Working closely with Mavey in his tiny room on every single effect and fine tuning the pallete`s and transitions was the greatest time I had during my Demoscene years. The crowd response at Mekka/Symposium 2000 just sealed this as the highest moment of my scene journey. The difficult part was delivering this entry to the actual organizers at the party, as I was the only one from our group present. Therefore I had to make sure the intro ran like it should. I even used a hex-editor on the exe to hard-code a higher AHI frequency for the compo machine, which was much more powerful than either of us had at home at the time :). It all went smooth and we made ourselves quite a name, winning by a large margin with a 10-minute, 3-part, multi channel intro at an international demoparty (which, by the way, was my first out the country event). 2000 was truly a magic year for me personally, and honestly, it changed my life. By 2002, we had some more or less successful demos, and yet another winning intro ("Option"), but all this was dimmed by the famous "Planet Potion", an AmigaPPC/3D intro that I think everyone knows by now :).

Personally it's hard to pick the "best" one, I think it's a tie between "Gift" and "Planet Potion" with "Option" holding the second place, I also like "Rout" very much. But what I like about this 64kB-trio is that each of them has a completely different style (both in terms of design, as well as music genre and mood) and because 2000-2002 was simply the absolute top of my scene years (for many reasons, not because we were winning this or that). I felt like we were finally giving something amazing back to the Amiga scene as an appreciation and "thank you" for the upbringing.

I hope I did not bore everyone to death just yet?

Is there any musicians, either demosceners or just musicians in general, that have inspired you?

Oh, most definitely. Lots of thing inspire me every single day and when it comes to music, surely there are many names across different genres. For my early scene years the greatest inspiration from musicians came from Clawz, Slice, Snoopy, (Super)Nao, Romeo Knight, Yolk & Legend, Muffler, Ganja, Groo, Falcon, Raiden, Revisq, Timer and many, many others. As you can see, this doesn't cover one specific genre or style, or even styles that I composed. Still, music from these artists had the most impact on me, I guess,  even though it might`ve not been that obvious to notice by listening to my modules :).

From "real life" artists I guess at the beginning it was The Prodigy, The KLF, Grooverider, John B, Goldie, Front Line Assembly. Then I discovered psy-trance and many different artists as Etnica/Pleiadians, Man With No Name, Hallucinogen, Electric Universe, Prana, The Infinity Project, Total Eclipse or MFG. Later on came the fascination with classic electro, when I discovered Mad Mike, Dopplereffekt, Aux 88, Audiowerk, The Sushi Club and Aural Float, among others. Then another phase unravelled and for me it was discovering the nu-skool-breaks, with the likes of Nubreed, Terminalhead, Elite Force, Stanton Warriors, Influenza, Dan F, General Midi, The Crystal Method, BT, Hybrid, Force Mass Motion, Freq Nasty, the list goes on. Then I discovered dubstep, then trap, then future garage, synthwave and dub techno. This process is never-ending and I don't think I'll ever stop exploring as there is so much great music waiting to be discovered.

I listen to tons of music daily. "I`m totally addicted to bass", and I think this quote from Puretone's classic defines me most accurately :).

Could you tell us a bit about the equipment/application(s) you use to create music, earlier and now?

Well, back in the day, when I started my musical adventure on the Amiga, it was a really simple setup of an A600 with 1MB (later 2MB) ChipRAM, so not really the most optimal configuration. However humble it was, for me it became a great tool for learning the very basics. As mentioned earlier I used mostly Protracker v3.61 at first, but as soon as I discovered the 4.00 beta, it became my main tracker. For sampling and editing I turned to the usual suspects, AudioMaster IV and Audition4. After this I discovered that samples can actually be generated, so there was TRSI-SAM (absolutely amazing, forgotten FM-Synth) and WaveBeast (for resonant-filter sweeps and such). Then there was Jeroen Schelleken`s 303Emu (that later become 303Tracker), 3MU (thanks to which I discovered Lars Hamre's 303). It was the greatest "epiphany" for me and it shaped how I worked on my music, because at this point I started generating my own acid basslines and later modified that 303 source code to sound nothing like 303 and enhance it in many ways :).

It was around 1998 if I'm not mistaken. As time passed by, Protracker with its 64kB per sample and 31 instrument limit was not enough for decent quality and long (16 or 32 step) sequences with many tweaks, split into separate samples, that I wanted to put into my music, so I moved on to purchasing DigiBoosterPro 2.18 at that time from Tap and Walt. And there I was, absolutely happy and dazzled by a 16-bit tracker with up to 128-channels, stereo panning, AHI with so-called "DSP Echo" and WAV disk-rendering in full CD quality (and even higher). And all this with only an Amiga. At that time I already owned an Apollo 1240/40 modded for 2x32MB SIMMs, so I could quite comfortably create music with acceptable "preview" quality and not having to wait ages for the full-resolution renders to finish. That moment marked the birth of my psy-trance project "Andromeda" where I only used my A1200 from start to finish, to produce tunes (apart from the "mastering" part which was a complete black magic for me, so at first it was done externally by someone else, hi, Raiden! :)).

After 2002 and Potion sort of "breaking up" (well, I myself actually left back then, rest of the group just remained inactive since that year), I went into hibernation mode with Amiga music (apart from some occasional modules for compos) and moved to BuzzTracker on a PC to work on some more "serious" music, but at the same time I was also working on my music-disk material of 4-channel MODs (never finished these, maybe I should?). More time passed and at the time when Buzz Tracker hit a wall (and its author losing all his sources), crashing on WindowsXP and all this drama, I won a Renoise Tracker license at one of the Symphony parties with my 4-channel module. I remember being a dummy and not properly redeeming this price, though, so I purchased a separate license for Renoise later :). Therefore, today I use Renoise 2.8.0 most of the times, with occasional breaks for finishing my ancient Buzz songs (more recent versions are working surprisingly well on Win7). I use lots of VST instruments and my favourites are SuperWave P8, MinimogueVA and recently the monstrous VacuumPro. On top of that a layer of even more VST in form of reverbs, phasers and delays. My drums mostly come from free sample packs, like the ones that Erb N Dub, High Rankin or Deep In Dub collective released some years back.

As for the proper music hardware, that`s a whole other story and this is something quite new for me. I only started collecting the gear some 3, maybe 4 years ago. But to be fair, my first ever synthesizer was a Kawai K1 II (sounds of which can be heard on my "Noc Samobojcow" track) that I bought decades ago from a friend (dearly departed now, sadly). I never thought I would go that far with audio gear, and yet today my home "studio" is full of cool stuff :). So, counting up synths - there is that K1 I mentioned, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Yamaha QS300, Rolands JP-8000, JV-1010, JV-880 and M-VS1, Novation Nova, Cyclone Analogic TT-303, Korg Volca Bass, Elektron Analog Four (a gift from Chaser/Elude; Bruv, you are the best!). There are also two E-MU ESI4000 Turbo samplers, two grooveboxes - Roland MC-303 and Korg ES-1 MK II, drum machines Yamaha RX-5, Akai Rhythm Wolf, Zoom RhythmTrak 234, a Yamaha QY300 sequencer, Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder and large number of guitar-stompboxes, some rack effects, two 2-octave MIDI keyboards and an analog Yamaha mixer. And before you ask, as for the actual music made with all this wonderful gear, I'm not there just yet. I really enjoy "jamming" as often as I can to get to know the hardware and find interesting combinations of sounds, but I'm still only slowly learning how to properly program MIDI with the hardware sequencer, the only tru-skool way of the "90s electronics. For the future I'm planning to rearrange my small studio and rebuild it from ground up, mostly space-wise, because at the moment it's far from being perfect.

Can you tell us what you consider your favourite Amiga demos?

Tough question, there are just so many. I am a sucker for good demo design and a killer soundtrack synced perfectly together, not necessarily the pure "math" fetish seen in so many of them. My favourites are mostly AGA demos, for me personally this is the piece of scene I enjoy the most. The first chunk of these that comes to mind when thinking about "favourites", would be the CNCD's "Killer" and "Deep - The Psylocybin Mix", and DualCrew-Shining ones like "Klone", "Nebula", "Phenomenon". I love "Shaft7" by Bomb, "Control" by Oxygene, "Massive" by Skarla, "Raybong" by Loveboat and "Passengers" by Three Little Elks. "We Come in Peace" and "Machinist by Elude are also great productions worth mentioning. I regularly run "Software Make the Dance Foam Oil" for its soundrack and the unique style. Then there are space-themed "Carbon Based" by Dekadence and "Singularities" by Unique. "Past is Prologue" by Traction is insanely good. I love Spaceballs stuff as well and my top would have to be the perfect OCS classic "9 Fingers" (waaay better than "State of The Art" everybody seem to love so much)  and from the newer releases "Hog", "Dark Helmets" and "Norwegian Kindness". I absolutely love every single Focus Design demo and the top one would be "Storm Rider" for its epic scene anthem for a soundtrack. I absolutely have to also mention "Prototype 1", "Bizarre Love Triangle", "Muscles", "Psychedelic", "Master Control Program", "Beam Riders", "Metropolice", "Starstruck", "Ocean Machine", "Fake Electronic Lightshow", "Respirator Stories", "Concrete", "Elektroluxus", "Feeling Blue", "Lux Aeterna Luceat Eis" and "Swookie" There is simply too many to list here, as long as there's a true heart and mind put in a demo, I love them all. I think I need to confess at this point that I am allergic to intentional 'compofillers' in any shape or form. Please, just STOP IT already :).

And there are also tons of intros that I love, "Non Stop", "Electra", "2CB", "DeepPan", "Entering Hypnosis", "Omnicrom", "Thrice", "Sil", "Soma", "Fat", "Azuli", "The Electric Skater", "Strukton", "Electricity" to name a few.. and a very special place in my heart is occupied by all the PPC/3D demos by Mad Wizards, "Another Dream Away", "Cruel Karma Forms" and "Own Love Balance" are the in my opinion absolute perfection in all regards, Oh, and Encore's "Sulaco" is simply amazing...

Listing every single one that I TRULY admire is nearly impossible and the list would probably have to be "Top 100 EX-AEQUO", so I think I will just stop right there :), I'm in a hopeless love with Amiga AGA Demoscene, period! :).

What do you think of the state of the scene these days compared to when you started out?

To be honest it's kind of hard to compare fairly. What I mean is, when I started I was a complete rookie, therefore my view of the scene in general was probably very biased and incomplete, to say the least. It felt like something very distant and mysterious. As years passed by it was easier to look at things more objectively and actually spend a little time with the people that you only read about or have seen their handles in a particular demo. Looking back I think what has changed the most is the average age of a typical demoscener, back then it was mainly highschool kids, maybe freshmen at college. It was our "fuck the system" statement, a stand against growing gamer only culture, maybe sort of an art expression in the mass consumption market. Today it`s mostly the exact same people, but 20 years older... Sadly, today there are not that many young people interested in the demoscene, it`s their dads that keep it going. What also changed in Amiga scene in particular, is the sudden turn to most basic 512KB OCS machine as a target platform and a trackloading floppy as a medium, whereas earlier a "muscle" under the hood was required for the most breakthrough demos. It might be interesting for some people, and productions like "Eon" probably justify that. It`s just not my cup of tea at the moment and I will never get why a NDOS floppy is such fetish today. I can respect going a full circle again and rediscovering the original chip set, yet I still enjoy 060/AGA productions that require some more horse power and luckily people are still making these as well :). The thing is, most of A500 demos today are made on PCs with emulation and cross platform compiling and assets made with PC tools. There is surely an impressive result in the end, but try creating the same on a bare A500 (that`s your target after all!), I dare you. It's just not the same, but that`s just my personal opinion and that is I think what also changed the most, the way Amiga demos are made nowadays. I`m not judging if it's a bad or a good thing, there would be probably no Amiga demos at all made today if it couldn`t be done this way, anyway.

What do you feel you got out of the whole experience of being active in the demoscene? for example, did it lead you to make music professionally?

Discovering the demoscene definitely changed my life. This whole experience defined me as a human being and while it sounds almost poetic, I honestly really feel that I would be a completely different person if it wasn`t for the Amiga/scene combination in the past. It`s not just that I semi-professionally actually make music today (heck, the fact that I use Buzz Tracker and Renoise for it says a lot - a tracker-style "DAW" is the most comfortable tool for me and the only way to fly!), it`s also how I see things globally (how I perceive music and art, how I handle interpersonal relations, how I see the power of knowledge share, etc.) and how I approach various problems in real life. Furthermore, currently I work as a video editor and visual communication specialist and there`s a lot of direct inspiration from demoscene art that I daily use, for example with video editing, a perfect A/V sync and all the transitions, highlights and flashes on the snare or bassdrum :). Making game trailers today for me is almost like making demos to some extent, a wholesome experience of a non-interactive audiovisual pleasure in a short form and not just a random game clip mashed together and some generic music on top. I`m aware that it may not sound like a big deal to many of the readers, however for me personally it`s undeniably a direct result of being a part of demoscene and for this I am eternally grateful.

Is there anyone you would like to send some greetings to? Or perhaps you have some other last words?

Well, first of I`d like to thank you, 4pLaY, for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to share my "story" with the world.

I`d like to greet my fellow Potion teammates, especially Mavey, whose enthusiasm and talent kickstarted my further scene journey and also to Idea, Bambino, Luk & Rem of Dark Legions, who were the first to actually include me in any demoscene production ever. Also shout outs to the oldschoolers Tomala, Shot, Scart, and to all the Friends I made in the scene during these 20+ years, especially Chaser, Timer, TZX, Noisy Abdul, Phatwoman, Photon, Dagon, Cizar & Sellen, Payda, xKid, Voyager, XTD, Kya, Acryl, Shexbeer, Traymuss, Kure, Zig, Dodke, Scicco, Stingray, Spiral, Clawz, Made, Marvin, Jamie, Magic, Grogon, Azzaro, Borys, Silentriot, Kiero, Math, Muffler, Scorpik, Falcon, Raiden, Dan, Revisq, Spectra, Slice, Keith303, Snoopy aka X-Ceed, Jazzcat, Slayer, Spark, Caro, MDW, Opal, Nitro, Inqb, KK, Cahir, Deadman, Baderman, Jok, Katod, Sachy, Lycan, Gorzyga, Maq, Gumboy, Mario, Mover, Shyz, Szudi, Malfunction, Hakon, Tomoya, Frequent, Loaderror, Zixaq, Deetsay, Kalms, Britelite, Blueberry, Noname, Hoffman. My sincere apologies if I have forgotten someone (and surely I did... I'm an old geezer you know), there are so many of you, incredibly talented people. Thank you for keeping the scene alive.

And lastly, most special and loudest greetings must fly to the whole Vampire & Apollo Team (current and former), BigGun, Majsta, Ceaich, TuKo, ShK, Flype, Guibrush, Buggs, Claude, CGUGL, Cotter, Arczi, Pisklak, Crom00, Nonarkitten, Grond, Meeku, Jarpatus , AmitenTV, AranaNET, Kipper2K, CanDoo and all the Noble Rest, you are such an amazing bunch and you keep our Amiga dreams alive! Keep pushing forward. 68080 RULEZ, OK? :) Long Live the Red Bat!

That is the end of this interview, thanks for taking the time to do it Skipp, I am sure our readers will appreciate it :).
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 02:43:41 PM by 4pLaY »