Oldskool Interview with Zodiak of Cascada

Written by flux

Flux: Hi Erik!

Zodiak: Hi Vlad!

Flux: So let us start. What is your real name? Age? Where do you live at the moment? Where do you work/study? Just a short introduction for the readers, please.

Zodiak: My name is Erik Stridell and I was born in 1976. I currently live and work in Vasteras, which is about 100 kilometres west of Stockholm. I work as Internet solutions consultant at a small company, where I have been for 2.5 years now.

Flux: All right, let's get to more scenish stuff: Why such a nickname? Any special meaning or just a nice word?

Zodiak: I don't really remember where it came from, but I recall looking for a spaceish nick (grinning). I made sure to spell Zodiak with a 'k' to show that I was Swedish.

Flux: What was your first group? Does it still exist? When and how did you enter it?

Zodiak: My first group(s) wasn't very serious, but the first real group I joined was Omega which was founded by Pharos and Iceman, two coders who had teamed up to try out what the PC could do. We all got to know each other by swapping PC games by snailmail. This was in 1988 or 1989 (so you can tell I wasn't very old, really) (smiles). Anyway, we formed Cascada in 1990 when we decided to stop cracking/releasing games and trainers like we did with Omega. Besides, there was already a famous Atari ST group called Omega so we really couldn't keep the name. I guess Cascada still exists, even though no one does anything anymore. (grins)

Flux: How did you learn about the scene?

Zodiak: I discovered the scene from watching intros and trainers that preceeded the C64 games I played with my friends. We were very young and these crackers were sourrounded by mystery... I really wanted to be one of them. So when I started swapping games I took on a handle (no one had PCs back then, so I had to find the people who could supply stuff). I don't remember my first handle, though (which is probably a good thing).

Flux: What did you find most exciting/shocking/unusual when you entered scene?

Zodiak: Nothing was done back then! For that first time period there were maybe 3-4 PC-groups in Sweden (the Spacepigs being the most competetive one), a few in Finland (Future Crew, Sorcerers) and not much else. Really! So everything had to be done from the top. Especially the musicsystems/modplayers were the most exciting things in the beginning. Imagine having Amiga-music on the PC! It was like a dream back then. There weren't even soundcards, we had to build our own D/A-converters for the parallel port to hear anything but internal speaker buzz.

Flux: What equipment were you using at that time?

Zodiak: The first years I used an Amiga to do my music (there were no trackers on the PC - just attempts to create modplayers; Cascada's x-mas90 demo was the first PC demo ever to include a real modplayer). My first PC was an Amstrad PC 1512 (8086 proc, CGA, 512 kb memory, no harddrive). In 1991 my dad bought a 16 MHz 386 SX with VGA display. That was incredible stuff.

Flux: What was your first module like? Is there any way to get it somewhere?

Zodiak: I think not, it's probably buried on some Amiga disks that I still have. I couldn't tell which one it would be though. I have about 30 Amiga disks with stuff that I've made that I haven't seen since I sold my Amiga in 1992.

Flux: Several 'nowadays' questions now: What group are you in at the moment?

Zodiak: I guess Cascada, if that's a proper group these days (smiles). And yeah - I claim to be in the Canadian division of tpolm, too.

Flux: Do you have any scene skills besides tracking?

Zodiak: Not really, even though I started in the scene as a graphician. Anyone who has seen our early stuff knows why I didn't continue there.

Flux: What gear do you own now?

Zodiak: The sad thing is that I don't even have a proper trackable soundcard. My soundcard is a hd-recording device called Gina. I like it but Fast Tracker doesn't (sad smile). I used to have a GUS max, but it's broken. My computer is an old P133.

Flux: Do you do MIDI?

Zodiak: I try to, even though I'm not that good at it (yet). Haven't figured out which program to use so I try a lot of different approaches. But I do own some MIDI gear.

Flux: Are you doing/are you going to do something commercial?

Zodiak: I try to do commercial stuff with my band, even though we don't have a record deal or anything (go to http://www.m-media.se/pippin/ if you're interested). And I also do some things at home, but I'm not that serious about it right now. But I just finished a track for the ultimate scene-musician CD "audiophonik" that is in the works right now. I recommend everyone to get it when it's released in September, it's going to be great. See the list of composers and you'll understand why!!

Flux: Are you going to write something for Asm'99? What was the last party you participated in?

Zodiak: I won't go to Assembly this year (even though I would if I could!). Actually I went to a party just a few weeks ago, Remedy '99 in Stockholm. And before that I was at The Party 8.

Flux: What tracker are you using now?

Zodiak: I haven't tracked for over a year now, but the next time I will do it's definately going to be with FastTracker.

Flux: Do you often use softsynths?

Zodiak: Never.

Flux: Where do you usually get your samples from?

Zodiak: My CD collection, or I make them myself (especially my guitar samples).

Flux: What should the 'Next Generation Tracker' look like in your opinion?

Zodiak: Windows, and good MIDI support. Realtime filters and mp3-style compressed instruments would make the filesize quite smaller. Maybe someone is doing this already? In that case, let me know! (smiles)

Flux: Do you think tracked music can get really professional?

Zodiak: If you listen to the instrumental music that is on the charts today it would very well be tracked. I was at a chemical brothers concert recently and it struck me just how much their show looked like a demo compo at a party. So why not, it's a cool way to make music.

Flux: What are the advantages and disadvantages of today trackers and tracking in general?

Zodiak: Advantages: Pattern based musicmaking rules. Disadvantages: You can't control the sound enough.

Flux: How are trackers compared to MIDI?

Zodiak: It can't be compared, it's a totally different thing.

Flux: What do you think about the future of the scene and its tendencies?

Zodiak: I have no idea. I haven't been active in the scene for quite a while.

Flux: How is the modern scene compared to the 'old' one?

Zodiak: The pioneer-days will never come back, and that was really the fun part of the scene for me. But I hope the ones active today are having a good time too (smiles). I did a big thing out of the lost friendliness in the scene in an interview that Ryan Cramer did with me for DemoNews a few years ago, read that if you want to know more (it's surely in the net somewhere, perhaps at Hornet).

Flux: What do you think about using MP3s in demos?

Zodiak: Sounds to me like a great idea, and something that could really give the scene a good push again!

Flux: And what about ripped MP3s?

Zodiak: You mean just using MP3s from other artists? That sucks, a group should always make their own graphics and sound.

Flux: Don't you think that scene loses its feeling by using not-tracked music?

Zodiak: Nope. That feeling was already lost with the arrival of the huge 3D demos in 1994-95 and on.

Flux: What's your opinion about parties that don't hold 4k intro and 4-channel module competitions? Do you think those compos are really that old and useless?

Zodiak: 4k intro and 4-channel music are more technical skill compos than the demo/multichannel ones. I don't think they should be skipped.

Flux: What do you think about ripping samples?

Zodiak: I think using other people's samples is totally OK if you just give them credit in your file.

Flux: What if someone rips your samples?

Zodiak: Be my guest...!

Flux: What would you do if someone recorded your tracks on Audio CD and sold them without your permisson?

Zodiak: It never crossed my mind. I doubt it would happen. (smiles broadly)

Flux: Do you often hang on IRC?

Zodiak: I used to (on #trax especially), but I don't do anymore.

Flux: Is IRC good or bad for the scene in your opinion? Is Internet in general good or bad for the scene?

Zodiak: It's all good!!!!!! The scene is all about sharing an interest (and almost a religion). Anything that helps the communication is GOOD! (Even though I miss the diskswapping and messageboards sometimes.)

Flux: Do you read diskmags? What are your favourite parts in them? Do you fill in polls, support sheets and this kind of stuff for diskmags?

Zodiak: Sorry, not anymore. Actually I hardly watch demos anymore. It's probably because I hardly know anyone who is active in the scene. No one recognizes me at parties these days (smiles).

Flux: Do you ever listen to unknown tracker musicians/beginners?

Zodiak: Not really. Unless they ask me (grins). I don't download much tracked music.

Flux: Who are your favourite trackers?

Zodiak: Necros is the man. He's got it all - skill, harmony, melody. And I've also had the opportunity to watch him in action. Besides him my favourite trackers are Mick Rippon, Mellow-D and Basehead.

Flux: What kind of 'real life' music do you like?

Zodiak: I like almost any kind of music, even though most of my records are rock and indie.

Flux: Do you play musical instruments?

Zodiak: I play the guitar in a band called Pippin (see web-adress above!).

Flux: Do you have musical education?

Zodiak: Nope, except for playing saxophone in a big band when I was a lot younger. (smiles)

Flux: Where do you get inspiration from?

Zodiak: Melodies come into my head, usually when I do other things that I enjoy. Travelling really works for me when it comes to making music.

Flux: What is your favourite demo? What is your favourite demogroup?

Zodiak: My favourite PC demo ever is Crystal Dreams 2 by Triton. It really kicked ass at the classy TCC'93 party in Gothenburg.

Flux: What is an 'ideal demogroup' from your point of view?

Zodiak: Small and effective. One or preferrably two REALLY dedicated coders, a good graphics artist and a good musician. Triton was a good example, Complex is another.

Flux: Do you like modern demos?

Zodiak: They're really cool to watch, but I don't do it much. It's just not a part of my life anymore (for different reasons). But I really enjoy the democompos at parties, not only for sentimental reasons... hehe.

Flux: And a couple of 'your favourite' questions:

Flux: What's your favourite book/writer?

Zodiak: I don't have any real favourites.

Flux: What's your favourite artist?

Zodiak: Nick McCabe, the guitarist from the Verve.

Flux: What's your favourite meal?

Zodiak: I like all kinds of food.

Flux: What's your favourite drink?

Zodiak: Irish beer and single malt whisky.

Flux: And totally non-scene questions:

Flux: Do you drink alcohol?

Zodiak: Sure.

Flux: Do you smoke/use drugs?

Zodiak: Rarely.

Flux: Are you afraid of AIDS (not the computer one)?

Zodiak: Never considered it.

Flux: And what about Y2K?

Zodiak: No, that'll be a caper.

Flux: Do you think world will end this summer as many predict?

Zodiak: That'd be pity. I doubt it.

Flux: Zodiak, what's your zodiak? (Whoops!)

Zodiak: Virgo.

Flux: Do you do sports?

Zodiak: Not regularly.

Flux: What are your hobbies (if not mentioned in any question above)?

Zodiak: Music, music and music!

Flux: After the short questions, now the final part. Do you have a webpage? URL, pleeease.

Zodiak: http://www.m-media.se/zodiak

Flux: Is there any place on the net where one can get all your releases?

Zodiak: They got a lot of stuff at ftp.scene.org/pub/music/artists/zodiak but I'll also try to update the webpage with my stuff soon.

Flux: Do you have a release list?

Zodiak: Nope, nothing complete anyway.

Flux: Have you ever read Hugi? What did you like/dislike in it?

Zodiak: I'm sorry, I've never read it. Guess I'll try to do that now (smiles).

Flux: Do you feel really f@$#ed up (sorry, the only right phrase) after answering such a bunch of questions? (smiles)

Zodiak: Well, it took quite a while. (smiles broadly)

Flux: He he, thanx for answering, bye.

Zodiak: OK, bye.

- flux/t-rex