Officially, Future Crew is retired. All our members are still alive and kicking, but they have gotten involved with other things, mostly jobs and studies, which don't really allow us to get together to make demos any more. The Future Crew spirit however lives on in form of our members' personal creations (such as my own songs). Psi and Trug currently work at Bitboys Oy while Marvel, Henchman and I now work at Remedy Entertainment. Gore is a co-founder of Fathammer.
In 1997, Remedy Entertainment released a very audiovisually oriented 3D benchmark called Final Reality, which some claim to be a Future Crew production, and others blame to be a lousy rip-off. However, it is neither - it is only a tribute to Future Crew. It's still impressive, nevertheless.
Alas, most of the demos of that era are so DOS / Watcom specific that they cannot be run under Windows - you'd need to get yourself an old 486 computer. However, recent DOS emulators have gotten so good that at least Second Reality can be run under an emulator. To watch Second Reality under Windows, do the following:
Download and install the DOSBox emulator
To make things a bit easier, download and install the D-Fend front-end for DOSBox
If you don't already have it, download Second Reality from scene.org
Create a profile for 2NDFIX.EXE with the following settings:
- Disable XMS
- Enable EMS
- CPU Cycles 5000 or 7000
- Disable Sound Blaster
- Enable GUS
- Sample Rate 44100 Hz
Run the profile and enjoy the show!
Unreal should run with these settings:
CPU Cycles around 15000
Disable GUS emulation
Enable Sound Blaster Pro 2 emulation with IRQ 7, Low DMA 1, High DMA 5, 44100 Hz mixing rate
Panic should also run with the above settings, but it may be unstable.
However, if you want to watch a whole bunch of old classics of the era without the hassle, check out the MindCandy DVD. It contains a set of classic and more recent demos conveniently watchable with a DVD player. (if the site is down, the DVD is also available on Amazon.com).
I'm not educated in music. Music is just a hobby for me, and sometimes a way to earn a few extra bucks. At Remedy, I do character animation, sound effects and audio track work, particle effects and character textures. It sounds like a mixed bunch, but I like variation.
See my profile. However, recently I have moved more or less completely into software.
Yes. The songs are freeware, which means you can use them in your own non-commercial productions, provided the standard copyright rules apply: you must not modify the song in any manner (save for editing, if it's a video / film production), and you must mention the author in the credits. If the product is commercial, then you must contact the author (ie. me) and work out a deal.
Although it's not a must, it's a nice habit to inform me if you use my music in your production.
I may be working on a song right now, or I may not. Quite simply I'm very busy with work and everything else that goes on in my life right now. Nevertheless, I haven't given up the tracker scene. I am still trying to produce tracker music and learn new things about it whenever I can. And am in the mood. And am not too stressed with other things.
If we want to get philosophical about it, one could say that the more you produce, the more the uniqueness of your work suffers. As people change over time, so does their work. Their work represents samples from a continuum of their personal development. More work along the way just gives a higher sample rate of this continuum, and won't necessarily introduce anything new. Not always does increased number of production explore new possibilities, but only dwells on the already explored ones.
Varies between six hours and six years - usually a month or two. This depends very much on the level of inspiration and the available time I have - I don't like the idea of hurrying to finish a song, rather, I hone it until I find it good enough, then release it. I don't consider myself particularly productive - I try to aim for quality rather than quantity, so to speak. However, if asked (or paid or properly motivated or just so damn inspired) I can, at times, finish a song in a day - even a couple of hours. The results are like expected from a rushed product.
I used to use Scream Tracker III 99.99% of the time, until Impulse Tracker (all praise to Jeffrey "Pulse" Lim!) came out. I used that one for quite a while, for it was an excellent tracker. A while ago I felt it was time to move on, and I decided to try out Buzz Tracker. What a great, powerful piece of software.
Since Impulse Tracker doesn't work too well under Win2k/XP, I nowadays use ModPlug Tracker.
I open a little wooden door on my forehead, and dig them out with a tablespoon. For finesse, I use a teaspoon, and for subtle harmonies, chopsticks. If you think I'm kidding, well, you're quite right. This is something I just don't know how to answer. I doubt anyone asked the question does. It seems to happen spontaneously, usually when I'm trying out instruments and samples and happen to stumble upon something I find cool. The rest comes from sheer trial and error. I try out different things until it sounds okay - and sometimes I try out and copy some cool idea I've heard, and try to work on that in my own way. Sometimes, the melody just comes to my head, and doesn't leave me alone before I've composed it into a song. Did I just say I keep hearing strange noises? The truth is out there...
You have probably noticed that almost none of my older songs have a real structure in them - rather, they are but a bunch of different parts welded together more or less successfully (isn't this what they call "progressive" music?). In general, I seem to get a fair amount of loose ideas when composing, but have really hard time arranging them together. The only songs I'm happy with in the aspect of structure are Mercury Rain and War in the Middle Earth. However, after each song completed, I feel I've learned something new. Perhaps that is their main purpose after all - studies.
Okay, I admit it, not all my music comes purely from within. There is plenty of influence involved. Try out, for example, Catch That Goblin!! and try to guess who inspired me to make that one. Consider it a rip-off or a tribute, it's your choice. It won the first prize in the music compo, though, so I don't care. >:)
If I get stuck working on a song, it sometimes helps if I just leave it as it is and take a walk, thinking the melodies over in my head. Leaving the project for a while seems to free my mind and let it process the music undisturbed.
I'm not going into music theory or the techniques of mixing, as I'm not properly educated (nor experienced enough) for that, but all right. What comes to technical tracking tips, there are a few good articles on that out there, such as The Zen of Tracking, which should give you quite a good insight into tracking. Also, the Impulse Tracker document files (included with the tracker) contain many useful tips, so do check them out.
The following tips come from a person who's self-taught, not educated. Keep that in mind while reading.
First of all, no matter how blindingly obvious this sounds, learning to hear what sounds good and what sounds bad is a useful skill in itself - regardless of whether it was done through theory or intuition. This is a kind of skill everyone has, but not everyone has trained it beyond the 'easy listener' level. When taken further, this skill will help you to notice the errors you may have made in your songs, and memorize a few 'tricks' on how to make the song sound better. Try and learn to think somewhat quantitatively and widen the spectrum your attention to all aspects of music - melody, harmony, structure, rhythm, instrumentation, stereophony, etc, and try to seek out and correct the errors you find in all these aspects. Only after you've freed yourself from the basic errors and can compose 'fluently', you can focus your attention from the effort of getting it right, into exploration and creative freedom. Just as the old saying says: You have to know the rules, before you can bend the rules.
Note that a song, or parts of it, can be uninteresting even if there aren't necessarily any errors present. The rhythm and drumming may be too even and repetitive, try breaking them up a little; the chords may be clichey and too evened out with the rhythm, try jazzing them out a little; the solo may follow the melody too closely and blandly, let it roam. Use your imagination - try to do the thing in some less ordinary way - but keep in mind that forced originality is just as bad. If you want impact, add plenty of strong emotions to your song - mind you, melancholy is also an emotion. And, even the grooviest, technically most excellent song will be uninteresting and will be forgotten, if it lacks an idea, a point, a catchy theme. To me, this quite well explains why Catch That Goblin!! has been so popular/successful compared to my other songs, which usually have lacked a point (among other things).
Pay attention on tonal harmony. Fine-tuning your instruments carefully is one way, but the melody itself should also be paid attention to; if you learn to notice what kind of chords and notes go discordant in a way that fails to please the listener, fixing your songs becomes much easier (some people are naturally tonedeaf, but it is only a matter of practice; also, dissonance is sometimes used as an artistic means - but it has to be done right. Personally, wrongly used dissonance or off-key cords give me terrible creeps, so it's easy for me to fix them). Also pay attention on chord progressions, try out a few combinations until you find one that works and sounds pleasant. Don't try to do fancy, overcomplicated melodies and chord progressions before you're sure you make them right. It's better to compose a simple, working song, than a complicated song which collapses into its own cleverness. Like I tend to do sometimes. *blush*
I find composing music analogous to drawing, in many aspects (ultimately you could say that ALL art forms have analogies, yadda yadda). Take Matt Groening's drawing style, for example. It is incredibly simple, but it works very well and is pleasing to the eye. Even if it's not your fancy ultraheroic Marvel action style, it does everything it promises to do. Generally, clarity and structure should always be pursued before adding detail, and compositioning the song correctly, not forgetting the power of silence among louder parts, helps a great deal. As everything is relative, a powerful part, for example, will only sound powerful if there is something less powerful before it in the song to compare it with.
Well, I hope these tips were of help. If not, just check out the Zen. I tried to focus on areas people IMO don't usually write much about.
For most of my older songs, I've been forced to rip all, or at least most of my samples, because I lacked the equipment. I've had the CZ-101 for a long time, but had nothing to sample from it with, unless a SB Pro or Gravis Ultrasound counted. The results I got with those were just far from satisfying.
In other words, feel free to use "my" samples. No-one has blamed me for ripping so far. However, I do try to hide my ripping by mixing, editing or otherwise mauling the samples quite a bit before using them, perhaps that's why.
More recently I've been able to do my own sampling, too, and sometimes a friend has sampled a few for me. Nevertheless, feel free to use them. I know what it feels like to be stuck without means to produce samples. For your own sake, though, try not to choose too recognizable samples. (this applies to any sample ripping, not just my songs)
And finally, if you use Buzz Tracker, you won't necessarily even need samples. Software synthesizer is a wonderful thing to have.
I still can't help smirking at people who think I'm an aspiring, careerist full-time music student who owns a private studio filled with expensive digital music equipment. Well, perhaps that will become true someday. I'd still like to point out I'll keep this as a hobby until... something happens.
Not that I'd mind releasing a CD at all. On the contrary. If my stuff actually is worth a CD, that is. I know there are recordings out there made of tracker music burned straight onto a CD, but I wouldn't want to do something just about anyone can do on their own computers. Rather, I'd like to do something richer, with the aid of synthesizers, something that cannot be collaged together entirely out of samples (not to mention the fact today's trackers don't have effects). However, as upcoming trackers keep getting new, more and more powerful features suitable for even professional work, my ideas about this may be in for a change.
Another thing that has kept me from making a CD is that an album should be stylistically uniform. I have explored multiple genres, but not produced enough music in any of them to fill a decent, stylistically consistent album.
None beyond what everyone's taught at school. My family is very musical, though, and my neighbor played piano all the time, so I can be said to have 'musical background noise'. Hyuk-hyuk. I started with trackers, and learned it all with trackers, because that's all I could afford and was given. Of course, nothing self-taught is as good as proper education, so I might try and attend a music course when I get the chance or if someone convinces me. Or who knows. Vangelis has no formal education either, and he's made it big. His success kind of encourages me to keep hobbying. :)
Does a jaw harp count? :) Now that I have a keyboard, I can of course start practicing on it. I do hope it's not too late for me to start. It's funny, my parents never encouraged me to play anything. Instead they made my sister play the piano all the time and she got pretty tired of it. Or who knows, perhaps I would have become tired of it, too, if my parents had done that to me.
See my record collection - that should reveal quite a bit. Generally synthesizer and ambient/New Age music; I feel deeply influenced by the Great Old ( = commercially successful) masters like Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream - and others - who get the message there without having to use lyrics; pure instrumental.
As most music people listen to relies on lyrics, this sounds somewhat bizarre, doesn't it? This could date back to the time I bought myself the Radio-Activity CD by Kraftwerk. I was very disappointed in it, actually (although it is a very praised record in some circles, don't take this as an offence). I just loved the synthesizer parts in it - the wonderfully rich 'unreal' sounds the synths could make. But when the singer started singing in weak-voiced fractured English, I was pretty gob-smacked. I felt that that kind of singing, with that kind of voice and vocalization, didn't fit the whole at all. Around the same time I heard numerous 80's pop songs, which started with a wonderfully rich synthesizer/instrumental intro, but then flattened completely into nothing but drums and bass when the plaid, character-less singing started. I developed a disklike towards vocals, and started looking for something fuller and richer, and found the aforementioned artists.
Recently, however, I have developed an appetite for more melodic - yet downright badass industrial (such as Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Die Krupps and some Front Line Assembly CDs) as well, so I suppose tastes can change through time. I guess the improvement of vocalisation technologies have also played their part.
* * *
Or, like my arts teacher Brian Omen wisely said, "I like and listen to all kinds of music - but the dominance of any kind is a true pain in the arse." I don't listen to most of the trendy/popular or 'easy listening' music, because top ten music tends to be overproduced in massive quantities, leading to an allergic reaction. Whenever a single genre of music becomes overdominant, you get the feeling that everyone is suddenly producing trendy genre music and not something of their own, hastily rushing their products into the crowded market.
Back to influence. What comes to actual tonal influence, I feel my chord progressions are mainly influenced by Tangerine Dream (notably Paul Haslinger and Chris Franke ), and my instrumentation by Jean-Michel Jarre. Or maybe not - this would depend on the viewpoint (some say I use very 'classical' chords like Bach). I collect bits and pieces everywhere, and invent a few of my own (and then find out later someone else has invented the same already, just like everyone), so it is really hard to tell who I would consider my main influence.
Is invention something that comes from within, or from the outside, anyway? I still haven't found an answer to that question. Everyone influences everyone. Almost.
What comes to the actual tracker scene, I'm influenced - and impressed - by many great talents out there, including names like Uncle Tom, Travolta, Strobo, Purple Motion, Groo, HeatBeat, Tip and Mantronix, Jogeir Liljedahl, Necros, C.C. Catch, Dizzy (in no particular order, probably missing a few), etc etc, ad infinitum. Most of these people mentioned here have broken new ground either in style, or in the level of technical quality, both of which I appreciate. Above all, however, I appreciate imagination.
"Historical" influence? Of course. In the late 80s, I was impressed by the great old masters of the Commodore 64 game music scene, featuring people such as Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Fred Gray, Maniacs of Noise, Benn Daglish, and many others. This little computer was capable of quite amazing SID sounds, when properly programmed - and programming songs in only 3 channels was a labor of dedication and love in itself. I sometimes used to load up some games just to listen to their music. Some performers actually use C-64s in techno clubs to produce bass sequences - they have modified the circuitry so that they can adjust the SID parameters directly with knobs they have built into the chassis, with help of special software which reads the knob readings, and allows the keyboard to be used as a - keyboard. :)
I'm certain there are hundreds of great and talented musicians out there, who were just never given a chance. This is where trackers come in: they give everyone a chance to show what they've got. Some people may complain, however, that now that more and more people can have a chance to produce music, the market will be flooded with substandard material. Partly true, but I tend to disagree; firstly, the music is free, and secondly, in commercial circles the competition will get tougher, and only good enough artists will still survive. And it's been like this since the introduction of the 8-track tape machines. No, way before that...
And so what if there's a lot of crap out there. 'Crap' and 'Hip' are usually only defined by public opinion and marketing, and everything may turn upside down the other day. Nobodies become famous every year.
No, actually not. Never in my life. Just by mosquitoes, as they are quite common in Finland. Have I missed much? I don't even know if I'm allergic to it...
Huh? Er, uh, briefs, I guess. I got a coupla boxers in my wardrobe, but I haven't used them too often.
Thanks to Miss Saigon for this question. It should give an idea of how important this FAQ is. :)
Unfortunately not, that has always been very difficult to me, for some reason..