Rendered _ Interview with Ronny Pries
With an involvement in Techno that stretches over 2 decades, you would be correct in assuming that Ronny Pries has had an interesting career so far..
Founding the first ever Techno netlabel – rohformat, back in the mid 90’s, he is strongly influenced by the Detroit & Birmingham sound, as well as acidic and dub styes. In the past he has released under a variety of different names and disguises, but as we are finding out, a new chapter has begun with the relaunch of rohformat.
As well as being a software developer for AudioRealism (303 anybody?), commercial sound designer AND providing the official mixes that shipped with Native Instruments Traktor (ever heard of that?), Ronny is a forward thinker and great guy.
Evidence of all these things shall be present in his mix for subsekt 026.
I know a fair bit about you Ronny, so I know that if I ask you about how you got into music that it’ll probably go hand in hand with Commodore 64’s haha.. maybe if you don’t mind you can let everyone know how it all began for you?
While the C64 influenced my taste in music a lot, it started earlier with my parents’ birthday gift of a radio cassette recorder when I was 6. There was a certain kind of magic while tuning through the bands and I soon started recording all kinds of noises and music. Another thing that played a role was movie and TV series themes, especially the ones with lots of synths – which I didn’t realize back then.
When my parents got a C64 I was so eagerly mad about it that they had to get me my own used one, with tons of floppy discs. On one of those I found Sidmon or something and started tweaking sounds on my own. Didn’t really end up anywhere before discovering the Ultimate Soundtracker on the Amiga. One day a friend of mine showed that “Budbrain Megademo” to me which totally blew my socks off. The visuals, but especially the music made me want to create something similar. That really got me going in first place.
Actually, will you do one thing for me and explain in “civilian” terms what the demoscene is / was?
Oh dear, let me try. It is a sub-sub-subculture of computer arts with maybe 2500 to 5000 activists who gather in groups, usually consisting of a programmer, a graphician and musician, creating executable programs to display something in real time on a computer. Think about Autechre’s ‘Gantz Graf’ or the Fight Club intro and imagine you could download a rather small .exe, rather than the finally rendered video file to your computer, which would create a similar audio visual experience. That’s a demo. The real time aspect is very important since it limits what you can actually do with a standard computer.
I understand now Ronny. I’ve always thought it was something like that, but I’ve never actually had a conversation with anyone about it before. Cool. So it sounds like there was a lot of music in that scene? I was reading about different formats and it sounded a little confusing.
Yes, there were lots of musicians and graphicians – most likely because it was easier to get started with music or graphics than programming. The most spread music tools were Protracker .mod’s on the Amiga, Fasttracker .xm’s & Impulsetracker .it’s on PC.
Were the trackers weakened by restrictions, or what was their strength?
They had very limited capabilities and couldn’t do much else other than playing samples. There were no synths or effects to properly mix your music. Computers neither had the processing power nor the memory. You had to squeeze all your samples and notation data into ~500 kilobyte while utilizing only a very set of commands to trigger your sounds.
That was even less on the Amiga, as it was only capable of playing 4 channels simultaneously. The thing is, if you couldn’t afford expensive music hardware but wanted to make some noise at home, they were pretty much the only option. Due to their limited capabilities, Tracker produced music was easily comparable. There were certain tricks to bypass problems, certain ways to make the most of it. If you didn’t have a clue and sucked at it, the outcome clearly reflected that.