basehead.txt

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Eight Years of Glory *sic*
a.k.a. How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Scene
a.k.a. Babehead 2: A Tracker In The City


by Basehead


  Hi there -- This is a personal memoir of my art/music/demoscene
involvement that I was inspired to write after doing some searches
several years ago for BBSing history online and found some other
scene people's writings.  In the 3 1/2 years since I wrote it,
my scene involvement has been extremely limited, though coincidentally
as I'm preparing to submit this to The Product 3 (what?! we're only 
at 3?!?!), I've been getting back together with some people to make
a demo, since the North American demoscene has been so stagnant
for years.

  In terms of scene gatherings, the success of NAID was never repeated.
Some people formed a sort of NAID Jr. (called Coma) in 1999 which ran
for 3 years, and I attended Coma2 in September 2000 and submitted
a demo with Gz (aka Gonzo/ex-Surge) and Dr. Zachary Smith (a.k.a.
Lord Pegasus, ex-Kosmic/Noise) called Fuck Modesty.  Being in
Montreal, many of the same locals from the NAID era were still around,
including Da Cheeze Brigade members and several of the NAID organizers,
and they all attended, so it was good to see that group of people again.
Though the parties peaked at about 150 people, and had questionable
venues (a church basement?!), a good time was had by all.

  The next party is called Pilgrimage which is in, of all places, Utah.
Find out more at pilgrimage.scene.org - I'm not going, and I don't
know why you should either, unless you're in Utah anyway.  However
we may try to submit our demo to it if we can maybe bribe a BYU student
to join our group for a weekend.  Incidentally, this group of ours is called
K-Rad Productions, and no, that will never get old.

  As for me, I work full-time at a recording/production studio in 
Connecticut, and do some game work still along with Jake Kaufman a.k.a.
Virt of VGmix.com fame.  I'm still on scenenet #trax if you remember
me and wish to chat me up.  Replace my handle's 's' with a 'z' and
put it @ yahoo.com and you have my email address (spam avoidal the
old fashioned way!)  

  A hasty congrats is in order to those troopers over at ACiD, and Mr.
Christian 'RaD Man' Wirth, for surviving this long.  Sure, iCE STILL
hasn't missed a pack to my knowledge, but this is YOUR time to shine!
I told him I would correct a small error (!) in the material below.  In
the file I state that I was told that Gothic was merging with ACiD,
but found out later that it wasn't true.  I take this back and now admit
that the merger did happen, though many people did not end up moving over,
and various bad words and bad blood i witnessed at the time probably
swayed my opinion in the direction of thinking the 'merger' had been a
bit of a misnomer.  You have my apologies!

  I also want to apologize for the dry, didactic tone of a good part of
the file.  I wanted to treat it more as a real history, and not another
textfile where I just go on and on about how 'totally awesome!' 
everything was back then.  I diverged into more anecdotal style as it
goes on, but hey, I tried.

  I hope you enjoy it.  I'm sure you will be able to get more information
than you've ever wanted to know, in the historical texts section of this
mag.

  Take care, hip hoppers.

  Signed,
  Dan / Basehead (iCE inactive, ex-everything else)
  June 29, 2003



=================================================================================

My Scene History - Written on 18 October 1999
---------------------------------------------

   This is cliched, I know, but I thought I'd take some time to write
about my own history in the scene.  Hopefully it will be interesting and
some of you will also relate.

   My initiation into computers came in 1984 with the purchase by my
father of a Commodore 64.  Sometimes called the mother of all scenes, and
rightly so.  It's the first platform where not only was there cracking
going on, but a community developed around it, and the demo scene came
from that cracking community.  I recall my mother not wanting me to get
into 'games' right away so I was forced to deal with this edutainment
game called 'Addition Magician.'  It was boring at best, but it did
introduce me to the basics of using the computer.

   I played witness to the situation of a coder staying up all night
working on projects, as my dad programmed games on the C-64.  He wasn't
really a programmer, by trade, but he did it to pass time- basically
learning from scratch from the C-64 Programmer's Reference Guide.  He made
some fairly astonishing things, most of which I still have on disk.  Also,
he typed in a fair amount of those games where the code came out in
Compute! Gazette and magazines like that.  I never quite got what the big
deal was, and I played games; that was about it.

   My first real exposure to modems/bbs-ing/demos/cracking and such would
come not long after.  In 1985 and 1986, I used to receive disks of
programs from my cousin Ray Serafini.  There were games on there, and the
occasional application, but they were all on these disks that were
obviously not commercial releases.  I took this for granted back then,
and was just glad to have the programs, but it turns out Ray had been
on BBSes in Pennsylvania and he and his friends had traded and 
occasionally cracked their own games.  Stuff like Zaxxon II, Starfire,
Star League Baseball- these were what I started out on.  Names like
Synapse, Bad Brothers, the Penna Pirate- all flew across the screen and
I had no idea that these were cracking groups or people.  It would be
another 10 years before I would think to contact Ray about all this
stuff and see what he could remember, but, approaching 30 with a wife
and kids, he barely could tell me what had happened to his computer,
let alone details about the scene back then.

   QuantumLink was the online service for Commodore users, and was, as I
hear it, quite successful.  I had gotten a disk for it, but I never did
have a modem for my Commodore, and my father didn't seem too interested
in the prospect.  I used to load the QuantumLink disk, and it would say
that it was dialing out, and it took me awhile to realize that this
wasn't a game of any sort and that without something to connect to the
phoneline, it wasn't going to do me much good.  Incidentally, QL is
what became America Online, though it was quite a bit smaller then. 

   The first I saw of demos and bbs-ing was in 1987.  A kid who my mom
used to hire to come over and watch me, named Matt Hibbard.  He was
apparently very much into the pirating scene, except this time it
was in my local area in Connecticut.  He never quite explained
anything to me, as he probably figured I wouldn't understand.  I recall
him playing a lot of games at my house, bringing over boxes of disks
of cracked games and such.  A few times he tried to give me some things
as well.  He copied a few programs such as Burp! Con Set, Top Gun Demo
][ by Future Projects, Stooge Demo by WASP, and Abstract Reality by
Death Demon/FBR.  These were all quite new in the summer of 1987, and
I guess he thought he was giving me some fresh warez, but I obviously
didn't care at the time.  The one that struck me most was Abstract
Reality.  I guess I thought it was a preview for a game that would come
out later, which is what I thought all these demos were.  There were
some really nice SID tunes (though I didn't know what they were at
the time) and some screens of raster effects- you got to the next screen
by pressing the spacebar. The second main screen of the demo is the
one that sits in my memory the most.  It had a box at the bottom with
a flashing font that said 'Call these FBR Exchanges' followed by
two names 'The Nimitz' and 'Ninja's Realm.'  Little did I know these
were the first BBSes I'd ever heard of.  I don't recall what I thought
at the time, but I don't remember being particularly interested.

   I would get into the Amiga as well but it would be a long time before I
would come to be actively interested in any sort of scene, or take part in
it.  Sometime in late 1991 or early 1992, I was in a band with a fellow
named Jason Magness.  I used to spend a fair bit of time at his house.  
He had a twin brother named Chris Magness, who I always thought was the
more nerdy of the two and he used to get picked on quite a bit.  One day I
wandered up to his room to see what he was up to, and lo and behold, he
was on his computer.  I saw this very silly looking color screen (ANSI)
and the word Skyland.  Apparently, he was a BBS sysop, logging in locally
to his board.  I don't quite recall if I was hooked that day, but it was
some time very near then that I became incredibly interested in computers
and especially this online community of BBSes.  They had cool, dangerous
names.  Illegal stuff was available there.  There was an attitude, a
sinister nature, and a sense of mystery about the whole thing.  Above all,
it was just something new, and it sounded fun, and I dove headlong into
it.

    My father now had an 8088/XT in our basement, which I'm not sure he
used for much besides some spreadsheets.  He was already using a 386/25
for work and probably considered it puny.  Hell, it was puny.  But it was
my opportunity so I took it.  I got a disk with Telix v3.11 on it, from
Chris, along with a few BBS numbers to start out calling, already in the
phonebook file.  My dad found a modem for me at work, a Practical
Peripherals 2400bps, and a modem cable as well.  A few days later, I was
calling out.  There was a certain excitement in applying to these boards.
Some were PD, they were no big deal, but some seemed to want me to prove
myself.  Of course, initially, I didn't get on to these but I didn't
really care.  I was having fun just perusing all the aspects of the places
I did get on.  It was early 1992 now, and it was a rather golden period
for BBSes.  There were tons in my local vicinity, well over 100 that
I could call free of charge, and I would download BBS lists from all
over the place, just to see if there were any I had missed.  I believe
the first board I actually applied to was called Green Acres.  It asked
for a 'handle' and I didn't really know what that was.  Off the top
of my head, I decided on 'The Mystic' - I'm not sure why.  I liked the
sound of it, and I believe it was the name of a character card from
an AD&D Gamefolio called Mertwig's Maze (a game I was heavily into at the
time- it was more of a boardgame, not an RPG).  I would use this name
until the middle of 1993, when I chose 'Basehead.'

   A lot happened during the next year.  My parents became both sick of me
using up their phoneline all the time, and sick of me spending so much
time on the computer.  Before I had been really active, played almost
every sport, and was always doing something social.  I was not the typical
loner kid.  This stuff just happened to swallow me whole for awhile, and
it's over 7 years later as I write this and I still haven't gotten it
totally out of my system.  Spending a lot of time calling BBSes, meeting
sysops (not in person), becoming a cosysop, posting, playing doors,
trading files, and what not.  It was also later in 1992 that I put up my
first board.  Kevin Ring a.k.a. Weird Ed, the SysOp of one of my favorite
BBSes (The Pharaoh's Tomb) who was a year younger than me and extremely
bright, helped me set up my first board.  I called it 'The Masquerade'
and although I'm not sure why, it might have stemmed from the Phantom Of
The Opera song 'Masquerade' as I had just finished being the piano
accompaniest for the local high school's version of the musical, so the
titles were fresh in my head at the time.  I had the board set up and for
a few tentative weeks I attempted to make it a 'night-time only' board on
my parents' phone.   As you might guess, this didn't go over so well, and
that was sort of the last straw for them.  I got my own phoneline finally,
and that set me free.

    It was at this time that I was really no longer a 'newbie' and was
getting a bit more into the dark underbelly of this whole ordeal.  I
revamped my BBS, called it The Crack'd Mirror (loosely after the movie
'The Mirror Crack'd' which I don't recall anything about, nor do I recall
liking it) and taking on a different approach.  I now had sections for
pirated software, and met two older kids named Walter Schweitzer and
Todd Johns who ran The Dark Gate and Pirates Plunder, respectively.  Todd
a.k.a. James Bond, would come to be a rather good friend of mine, but it
was through them that I got my first taste of scene bullying and the
'elite' vs 'lamer' attitude.  They had 386's, 9600 baud modems, VGA
monitors, and tons more harddrive space than I had.  I started out with a
20meg MFM harddrive in that XT, and when I upgraded to a 65meg RLL that I
got for my birthday in order to run a bigger BBS, I was more than pleased.
To them I was lame though, and although it didn't bother me near as much
as they probably expected it to, the taunting did become annoying.

   At some point though, my BBS did attract some very interesting users.
A few users from Todd and Walter's boards liked what I was doing with
mine, and uploaded some games and such.  I eventually became one of the
better boards in the area, despite being 2400 only.  It was around this
time that I became good friends with a guy named Danzig, who ran White
Nights.  He would later become known as Kinayda, a member of Nemesis, then
Gothic, and then ACiD where he was a staff member.  My relationship with
him was one way I was dragged into the scene.  In late 1992, we came
across some iCE and ACiD packs and were astonished by the ansi art, which
was miles ahead of anything any local board had in their setups.  I tried
to draw some, and being a horrible visual artist of any sort, I was
terrible.  Dave (Danzig) had some talent, as did my other good friend at
the time, Crackerjak (Pieter Van Winkle).  We decided to start our own
group, called ORB (named after the band I had gotten into at the time, and
which remains my favorite).  We only released one pack, but we really
put our hearts into it.  This was also around the time I called my first
out of state BBS, Eve Of Destruction in 201, run by Scatterbrain.  It was
a distribution site for one of the fairly big art groups at the time, UAA
(United Ansi Artists), and Scatterbrain agreed to be a dist site for us.

     Kinayda had been trying to run a serious BBS now, and as I let my
own BBS slide, I sort of took on the role of second sysop to his board.
Two things happened around this time, simultaneously: my reintroduction to
demos, and my first real initiation into mods.  In very early 1993,
I also was met with another nice surprise: my dad's purchasing a decked
out 486/33 with an SBpro.  It was supposed to be a family computer, but
as I slowly moved it into my room, it was obvious who's it was.

     In some old ACiD packs, it turned out that there was a viewer program
that used the MOD-OBJ .MOD-playing code and could play mods.  I had gotten
some smaller demos, like Ultraforce's VECTDEMO, Cascada's Cronologia,
stuff by the Space Pigs, and one who's name I can't recall, by Otto
Chrons' group VV and that used ODYSSEY2.MOD for it's background music.  
These had reintroduced me to the kind of demos that Matt had shown me 5-6
years before, but I'm not sure I made the connection.  It was also around
this time that I got the Renaissance demo, Amnesia.  It had come out a few
months before and had circulated to the decent boards all over the country
(as well as europe).  The first time I saw it, with the beautiful
digital+fm music and, at the time astonishing effects, I was truly blown
away.  I remember sitting there staring at the ending ansi screen, which
listed the Renaissance BBSes, and literally being in awe.  I had to get
in touch with these guys, and I did.  A new friend of mine at the time,
Majesty (Patrick Jordan) would also become obsessed with all this new
stuff we were finding, and we would make many calls to The Sound
Barrier (Renaissance's WHQ in New York) in 1993 and 1994. 

   At this point, a rather huge thing happened: we found the internet.
Pieter (Crackerjak) called me up one day and told me that he and his
friend Cory (Cory Visi aka Merlin) had found a way to get on to the
internet.  I had heard of it, but still wasn't quite sure what it was.  
The deal was that through Tymnet (a gateway network that many business,
research, and educational establishments worldwide took part in), we could
get access to the frontend BBS to the NES (National Education
Supercomputer, a Cray mainframe), a machine called NEBBS
(hotsun.nersc.gov). It just so happened that, as long as you could
convince the sysop upon login that you were a teacher in the public
school system, you could get an account.  You got an account based
on your last name, and in a rather hilarious test of stupidity that
could've rendered this whole thing useless for me, I chose the name
'Dan Mystic' and so, my first internet email address was in fact
mystic@hotsun.nersc.gov.   

   With my ACiD Viewer in hand, I listened to several other mods, those
by Pianoman (from ACiD packs) and others.  I soon found 'Music/Mods' 
sections on other local BBSes and began my collection.  I also spotted
the first DMP version released (which also happened to be by that same
Otto Chrons) so I had the best player around at the time, rather than
MOD-OBJ which was utterly horrid.  I found a tracker to make these
modules, called Whackertracker (by the swedish group Codeblasters) but I
found it to be impossible to use, as was Modedit.  Being a more
traditionally trained musician, I thought that a tracker with notation
would be my best bet.  I found one, KingMod, and in what would become a
great source of hilarity for other people I would meet who tracked, used
it up until Screamtracker 3 was released in March 1994.

   Majesty supported the music I was doing with this tracker thing, no
matter how awful it turned out.  Indeed, the first thing I did was load up
ODYSSEY2 and the complexity was so ludicrous, I didn't understand how
someone could create something like that in this sort of environment.
Looking back at it today, it still does look ludicrous in KingMod, but so
did the things I'd eventually create with it before giving it up for a
'real tracker.'  Upon completion of my first module, 'Out Of Time
Again' I signed the sampletext as 'Basehead'.  I knew it was a
turning point for me.  I was no longer just a BBS dork, I wanted to 
be a musician, and felt a name change would do me good.  It was
taken most likely from the Public Enemy song 'Night Of The Living
Baseheads' and it would be the only name I would ever use from then 
on.

   Kinayda was at this point (June 1993), involved in a few local groups
and I was sort of attempting to get in with them by contributing some
music.  I wasn't too insistent about it, because I knew the stuff was
crap, and I basically gave up trying to get involved with them.  As it
turns out, another local friend who was a regular on my BBS, Aaron Marasco
(a.k.a. Hacker I) would use several of these early songs in his amateurish
but well-meaning diskmag, Virgin.  Around this part of 1993, I spotted an
ad on a local BBS for 'Paradigm Communications, the first internet
provider in the state!' and told Majesty about it.  I didn't have money at
the time, and being about 10 years my senior and with a steady job, he
paid for a PCnet account, and we both never touched our hotsun accounts
again.  He would become entirely immersed in the internet, becoming a
sysadmin and networking type, and would run Linux from nearly the very
beginning, while I stayed away from the nuts and bolts and concentrated on
composing.

    I had used IRC a bit ever since we got our Hotsun accounts, since it
had a client.. but mostly I would ftp around looking for songs and demos.
I email contacted several of the addresses I found in modules, seeing who
would respond.  The first two mod trackers I really ever spoke with
through email were The Finn/VLA and Jester/Sanity, the famous amiga
musician. 

    I found AmiNet, and the amiga composers would become a huge source of
tracking inspiration for me over the next few years.  Of course we were
introduced to Future Crew and all the big names, and I did kind of like
what Purple Motion was doing (certainly the multichannel S3Ms that nobody
else could create yet were intimidating and impressive), but they did not
influence me like the amiga composers did.  I would download stuff from
The Party '92, The Gathering '92, and artists like Dizzy, Audiomonster,
Heatbeat, Moby, Mr.Man, Vinnie, Lizard, Sidewinder, and Lizardking would
be the ones who inspired me musically.  Sometime in fall 1993, I completed
the first song that I really was proud of: Transflux.  I thought it would
be good enough to get me into an art group (most of which had a MOD
composer or two at the time), and indeed it was.  I joined the art group
BAD around August, simply by calling their WHQ Board (Chasm of Doom in
Florida), and sending the song to Black Knight, head of the group.  I
joined up and until December or so, was composing modules for them that
were coming out in packs attached to a sort of viewer/intro that
accompanied them every month.  It was a good time, and they were great
people to work with, but I was improving and I wanted to move on.

    I quit BAD on Kinayda's suggestion and joined Gothic, one of the
legendary art groups that was unfortunately short-lived.  In Gothic is
where I met someone who I considered to be one of my better scene friends
for awhile, a very talented yet odd musician named Timelord.  He would 'go
solo' after Gothic died, and did quite well for himself just distributing
his music on the net.  As far as I know, he still does to this day.  
Almost at exactly this time, I was desperate to be in a more demo-oriented
group where I could play a more important role.  I joined TNCS (The
Northstar Coding Syndicate), run by ex-iCE VGA artist DarkSider. They had
high hopes, but nothing ever came of it, so after releasing two of my last
KingMod modules under them (Euthanasia and Shades Of Night), they died.  

   I was told that Gothic merged into ACiD, although I would find out
later it really had not, and so I joined ACiD.  The year 1994 was well
underway now, and with a real internet account under our belts for
about a year, Majesty and I had trolled IRC for a good long while, 
myself inparticular.  I hung out in #ice and #coders since in 1993 there
weren't many other channels related to what I was interested in, and
that's where I met a lot of people I would become friends with: ShadowH,
Necros, GodHead, Khyron, Charlatan, Maral, Maelcum, and others.  My
relationship with ACiD was basically nonexistent as they never had
anything for me to do, and I was never really treated as part of the
group.  I continued to compose though, now with the newly-released
Screamtracker 3.  Psi/FC had been a regular on IRC for quite awhile
(keeping in mind EfNet was the only real popular network at the time, all
the european servers were on it as well) and one day, before my very eyes
(and partially due to my relentless prodding), he dcc'd me Screamtracker 3
for public release.  I believe I was the first person to get it beyond PM,
Skaven, and Edge so I feel a tinge of pride to this day.  I was so excited
by the prospect of multi-channel tracking, that I got off the internet,
added a 'No Joke' bit to the file_id.diz saying that I had really
legitimately gotten this from Psi on IRC, and called The Sound Barrier to
upload it.  God knows how many places that thing got in the next few days,
but as anyone who was around knows, it became the standard for awhile.
Around the time ST3 came out, the musicians among us in the
demoscene-channel #coders realized we were beginning to takeover the
channel, and it was starting to bug some of the coders to hear music chat
all the time.  This led to the formation of the famous/infamous #trax,
where the musicians of the scene still reside today (albeit on several
different nets).

    I kept on improving, doing about a song a week.  To me, this seems
rather ludicrous, since I don't even remember composing taking up very
much time, but it must have.  Being on IRC, being introduced to other
people with the same interests, I was bound to have other opportunities,
and I did.  Being around other KLF members (the group that would later be
known as Kosmic, or KFMF) on IRC, I began to like the idea of a group that
was focused entirely on music.  Probably, this was a response to being in
a group like ACiD, where they could care less what I was doing.  So, in
the summer of 1994, I was united as a member of KLF, and for the next year
and a few months, I'd release 10-12 of my most known and most distributed
modules under the group, even though I don't think they are some of my
best work, looking back.  I tried to quit ACiD around this time, but
somehow this was impossible, and it would be another 8-10 months before I
would be removed from the member list, with the info/news saying that I
had been 'kicked out due to inactivity'.

    The summer of 1994 was another turning point for me, musically.  I had
always been scared of the traditional trackers, and even though I knew ST3
was an important step, I still didn't think I could ever get used to it.
I had tried Tran's Composer 669 and just was too intimidated by it to
begin.  Slowly I worked my way into it, and got used to it.  A few weeks
in the middle of the summer in 1994 were really when it all clicked.  I
don't quite recall what happened, but I lost internet access for several
weeks.  I tracked up a storm and composed 3 songs in 2 weeks that I
thought were the best I'd done up until then (Nostalgic, High Velocity,
and Hologram Rose).  I came back on the net rejuvenated and ready to share
what I'd done and I was glad to get good feedback from them.

    IRC was a good chance to meet the european crowd and I became good
friends with several including Darkness, Zodiak, Fear, and others.  I had
gotten some recognition, musically, and it seemed like my hard work and
practice was paying off.  Zodiak even greeted me in the sampletext to his
music for the Cascada demo 'Holistic' at the same time complimenting my
KLF release 'Shades Of Night ][' and crediting me for some samples from
it.  I briefly joined Mental Design (a mostly Finnish group which at one
point consisted of Dune, NiK, Fear, and others) but it was another case of
high hopes and low output, and that group died as well.  I also joined
Imphobia/Cascada (not surprisingly, a combination of the magazine group
and the demogroup) on Darkness' request and it would be much the same
situation, something that pretty much permanently soured me to being part
of a demo group.  I did contribute a song to a Wired party report (perhaps
two of them, I can't recall), an small ImpCda BBS intro chiptune that was
packed in with files on the BBS, and I did two songs for Imphobia
magazine, only one of which was used (Cloud Nine) since the player was for
8-channel .MOD and could not support .S3M yet.  Several demos and other
projects were planned, including a more advanced remake of the game
Sokoban, coded by Walken/Impact Studios and with graphics by PL/Imphobia.  
This would not come to pass, of course, so my song for it (Sokoban-main,
or CDAGAME) became just another song I'd later release.  Even so, I met a
great many people through my involvement with the euro side of things, and
I was thankful for the opportunity.
   
    As 1994 came to a close, a famous milestone in the scene came about:
the Epidemic musicdisk.  Combining coding, design and art from
Renaissance, art and music from Future Crew, as well as music from several
of the both more prominent and up-and-coming musicians at the time
(including myself), it was a sort of monolithic achievement of
organization, follow-through, and quality.  Looking back, it's lost it's
appeal, as the music has gone out of style steadily, but I was still proud
to be a part of it, and I contributed my tune 'Forever' to it.  I also
joined iCE in November, which would be the last art group I'd ever join,
and I'm still part of it to this day, despite never doing more than a few
chip and adlib songs for small intros, and helping out various members
with sound effects and music for their webpages.

     Something extremely important was now on the horizon, as 1995 dawned.
The North American scene was fairly large now, the Hornet archive was
moving gigs and gigs of files all over the world, Demonews was reaching a
great many people (if not by direct email, then by BBS spreading and
such).  Renaissance may have been a sleeping giant by this time, but
things were at a boiling point. There were lots of parties: Assembly, The
Party, The Gathering, tons of smaller ones all over Europe. But where were
the US parties?  How about Canada?  No, we still hadn't had one. 
Enter: NAID.  North American International Demoparty.  It had been planned
since somewhere in the middle of 1994, but it wasn't until just a few
months before it happened, in the middle of April 1995, that people had an
idea of how big a deal it would be.  As the scene gradually found out
about the party, held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, plans were made,
carpools and caravans were formed, and competition entries were begun.  It
seemed a sure thing, and the tension in the scene channels in the months
before the party was palpable.  Also in these months before NAID, my
good friends Mellow-D, BigJim, Necros, and I formed FM (then Four
Musicians, a name suggested by BJ) which would go on to be the group
under which I released what I consider to be my best work.  This group
also exists to this day, although we are a lot less active than before.

     I was really glad that I'd finally get to meet some of the people I'd
been talking to all this time.  It turned out that the party was not all
that big, but it was several hundred people, almost all dedicated sceners,
and a good portion of whom I had conversed with at some point.  People
came from all over the US and Canada, from literally every corner.  I was
extremely excited to meet the Renaissance guys, who had really been the
people I looked up to starting out.  I wasn't quite sure how I was going
to get there, but it ended up being rather simple.  My father was nice
enough to drive me up from Connecticut, and stay there at a hotel over the
weekend, working on some things for work via computer, while I was at the
party.  It was not that bad a trip, maybe 6 hours, but it was snowing at
the partyplace and quite cold. Eventually I found my way in, and found the
KLF/FM/Renaissance classroom that I heard was going to be set up.  I wish
I could remember who I met first, but I can't.  Among the first however
were Maelcum and Necros.  

     Myself and many others found NAID to be a very surreal experience.  
There's something very profoundly strange about taking our 'online world'
with all it's strange friendships, groups, rivalries, etc. and being
thrown face to face for the first time.  I sort of felt like I was
floating in a dream world most of the weekend.  There were a lot of
strange experiences.  I met some people I thought I'd get along with and
then didn't get along.  Also vice versa.  I dealt with even more surreal
things like randomly passing by a group of people surrounding a computer,
listening to Shades Of Night II and complimenting it, wondering if I would
be at NAID.  I was so horrified and embarassed by this that I ran away
instead of introducing myself, and I would run away in a similar fashion a
few other times before I realized how silly I was being.  It was odd being
treated as sort of a 'celebrity', as were many KLF members, but everyone
has people they look up to, including me, and I kept my distance from
Kenny (C.C.Catch) and Ray (Mosaic) because I didn't want to make an idiot
of myself saying what I really meant.

     Overall, NAID was simultaneously one of the best and most bizarre
weekends of my life, and I'm really glad I experienced that 'first time'
(there can never be another, like Snowman said in the final issue of
Demonews).  I don't expect anyone who wasn't there to fully understand
it, but trust me, it was a trip!

     The aftermath of NAID was also something else.  It spawned a huge
rush of interest in the scene, with people starting more groups, becoming
more active.  IRC channels filled up with more North American sceners, and
very few of the old ones seemed to have left or been soured by the party
experience.  I pushed ahead with FM, and in a week of inspiration very
similar to the one I had the summer before, composed three of what i
thought were my best songs to date: Freedom At Midnight, Steppin' Out, and
Smooth Operator.  I released Lotus Position, my first musicdisk, in
September.  Necros and I got our first game work, with Origin, doing the
music for 'Crusader: No Remorse'. A lot of things were happening outside
of my 'scene life' that made me feel the need to be done with it.  I
wanted to move on, and I wanted to do other things with music, spend more
time on academics, relationships, and the like.  So I released that disk
saying it would be my last and that I was basically out of the scene.  I
quit Kosmic.  I became an 'honorary member' in FM.  I got a lot of flack
for not really doing so, later, but I don't care.  Sometimes things just
don't work out like you plan.  There were three months of mixed feelings
about a lot of things, and brought on partly by really great response to
that disk, I finished up other songs for another disk (Oddities), and
released a large disk of 'oldies' that I'd never been able to get widely
spread (Basement Material), and I really did figure that would be my last.  
Once again, it wasn't.

    By this time, FM was my only scene responsibility, if you could call
it that, and it remains so.  My old SBpro was finally replaced, thanks to
Guitar (SysOp of the scene bbs The Whammy Bar), by a Gravis Ultrasound
MAX, so I got the urge to track once again, and released another disk,
Soul Elements, as well as worked on the second Crusader game.  All my
disks had been well-received, which I was glad for seeing as I put a lot
of work into them, and I really found them cathartic.  Combined, they say
a lot about me if you listen carefully, and they say a lot about what I
was going through.  At this point, Impulse Tracker was all the rage, and I
couldn't deny that it was the logical jump to make.  A few weeks after
Soul Elements and fiddling with IT, I released Indigo, my first IT under
Hollywood's group Mono as a guest release.  It was around this time that
the year-in-planning followup to last year's party, NAID '96 happened.
I spent a good bit of the time pre-judging for the music competition,
dealing with a lot of different people, and generally not getting to have
a very good time.  It was a much bigger party, and I knew that was a
good thing, but frankly I was not much into the whole thing anymore.

   Later, in October, I released the all .IT disk (my first) 'Sleight of
Hand'.  This was the point at which I was releasing less and less.  I
would only complete 9 songs in the latter half of 1996, and I came to the
realization that musically I had less to say than ever.  In what would be
my last (to date) musicdisk, in a familiar one week rush of inspiration in
April 1997, I completed 5 songs from scratch for my musicdisk 'Heavy
Shadows' and after that felt completely ready to give up tracking
altogether.  Apart from a pair of coops with fellow FM member Hunz, a
single release 'Wisdom Pearl', and a pair of coops with long-time friend
Dr. Zachary Smith (formerly Lord Pegasus) I didn't put anything else out
into the scene after that disk.

     I was now working on game-related projects and although they paid
money, they weren't fulfilling me creatively.  My biggest creative gap
came when I finished no music between November 1997 and March 1998.   This
was due in no small part to not having a working computer (not a reliably
working one anyhow), going to college, and having a very serious
relationship going on at the same time.  A host of commercial projects
came my way during this few year period, and I got a chance to work on a
handful of games, including Unreal.  Necros and I started out composing
for Origin under the name 'Straylight Productions' and that name exists to
this day as the name under which Alex Brandon (Siren) and I work.  

     The advent of MP3's, the blindingly fast explosion of the internet
and accompanying internet culture, accompanied of course by the rise in
amount of people using all these technologies, have combined to
essentially get rid of the scene as I knew it.  Many people moved on into
their lives, getting married, having kids, getting jobs in the private
sector working with computers.  Lots of 'groups' are around now, putting
up webpages, trying to get exposure, trying to make a buck even.  There's
always someone new making music, and it's just too much to keep track of.
The european parties have turned into LAN-gaming Quake-fests, and although
demos still come out (and are still impressive), something seems to have
been lost.  I see it as the end of the scene, as the people who knew it
the old way warily hand all of it over to the culture at large, the global
culture spawned by the internet.  I don't know if I'll release again to
the massive worldwide scene that now exists, but I'll continue to hang
around, and see what's going on, talking to old friends, making new ones,
and moving on with my life as well.  One thing is for sure, I won't forget
the scene.  It played a big part in shaping who I am, as silly as that
sounds.  And as Snowman said in his final interview, maybe these are the
words of someone who took it too seriously, but none of the above and none
of the current 'scene', in all its vastness could have been possible
without the work of people who took it all too seriously.

    That's it for me.  You can catch me on SceneNet #trax, where I will be
on and off until it ceases to exist.  Ciao.


 -- Dan/Basehead


     

     
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