In Focus: Pex 'Mahoney' Tufvesson
Written by Magic of Nah-Kolor
An interview with the man who is doing new stuff with old stuff.
Magic: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Mahoney: I am Pex 'Mahoney' Tufvesson. I do new stuff with old stuff, that's the short version at least.
Magic: What else can you tell us about Mahoney and the man behind Mahoney: 'Pex'?
Mahoney: I do a lot of things. I swam half a marathon when I was 12. I used to be a swimmer training 11 times per week. I was very good at ping pong, and I was part of the a cappella group winning the Norwegian Championship in 1998. I try to spend those few leftover minutes wisely - when my family is asleep, I try to create innovative stuff. Last thing I did was my Wild Compo entry for a C64 meeting. You can find it here.
Magic: You got the first place in the music competition at Datastorm 2013 with Monophono. What can you tell us about making this tune? What makes it so special?
Mahoney: This is the first time a Commodore 64 plays two channels of 8-bit protracker samples with echo. Normally, samples on a memory bound platform like Commodore 64 are really short. Using echo, I tried to make the impression that samples are longer and more musical.
It is hard, actually very hard, to get this to work, and without the groundbreaking work of Uwe "The Human Code Machine/MDG" Anfang and Jouni "Mixer" Ikonen, I wouldn't be able to do it at all. But it's fun, highly complicated, and compelling task to make music with old computers. This time, I used GoatTracker for the two channels of SID sounds, I used OpenMPT for two channels of ProTracker. I wasn't able to play these simultaneously except in my demo, so this is more or less two separate tunes that happens to play nicely together. I wouldn't recommend anyone to try to do this, there's a slight risk that it'll drive you crazy, sooner or later.
Magic: Have you seen Safe VSP and Shards of Fancy (both released in 2013) by LFT? What do you think of those productions and the "breaktroughs" in them. Is this something you could have done as well?
Mahoney: I know LFT - he actually lives just a short bike ride from me. No, I could not do the Safe VSP investigations, since I actually don't own any Commodore hardware at all. My house is small, there's no man cave here, and I sold all my hardware back in 1992 when you still could get money from it! Optimizing disk speed and gcr decoding is a very nice brain puzzle to solve, and I'm impressed.
Magic: Why were you impressed? Do you think LFT's loader will become the standard instead of Krill's loader? Could LFT's loader open new possibilitys in making demos on the Commodore 64? What do you think?
Mahoney: They do different things. Krill focuses on portability and features while maintaining a one block firmware size, afaik. LFT solved the gcr realtime decoding problem in the slimmed down hardware of the 1541. It is a mental exercise and an astonishing achievement. However, a potential uplift in bandwidth in one model of a disk drive for a 30 year old computer makes little difference for the rest of the seven billion people who won't understand the challenge.
Magic: Please look back on 2012 and 2013 so far. Who / What else did impress you on the commodore 64 scene and why?
Mahoney: I am impressed with the sheer amount of releases for c64. We're doing good stuff, beautiful stuff and we're all having fun. I'm also impressed by the friendliness around it all. We have this worldwide network of friends, and being at a c64 party nowadays is pure joy! I was impressed by the nocode-slide demo by tlr/VICE team. It's another one of those technical achievements that there's only some ~50 people in the world that could understand and appreciate!
Magic: You told me earlier in this interview that you don't own any Commodore hardware at all. Do you only use emulators to code, compose etc? And are you temped to buy something Commodore related again?
Mahoney: I use emulators. And I have friends who own real hardware to do the final touches and checks, thanks to Triad and G*P! I don't see any need to buy Commodore stuff, "their" new stuff is just not right, and the old stuff would just be left rusting in a corner.
Magic: The Bitlive4 demo in 2003 was your first demo since 1988 on the Commodore 64 according to CSDB.net, while C64MP3 was your first C64 release in 2010 after Exit by Defiers in 2006. Since C64MP3 you have been on a steady, regular release course till now! Please discribe the process of returning to the Commodore 64 in 2003 and 2010. What is it that makes Bitlive4 and C64MP3 so special for you?
Mahoney: In 2003, I got the idea of looking at state-of-the-art C64 demos again, and see what new inventions that might have been done. I was really impressed with all the new VIC-tricks that the scene had come up with, so I tried to get a good cross-development setup - back in the 80'ies I had been doing all of my demo coding in the Disasm disassembler - writing assembly code directly into memory. Coding with an assembler opened up a lot of new possibilities, so I made a one-part demo using all available memory, something that just wasn't possible 30 years ago. It was fun. The demo was shown at the C64 remix community gathering in Brighton - and for a while I became a very active C64 music remixer. Have a search for 'Mahoney' or 'Visa Röster' at www.remix64.com - you'll find a bunch of fun remixes there!
Then, I got kids. And when kids grow older, they give you some fragments of spare time every now and then - which meant I had lots of time to think, but little time to code. C64MP3 and my Cubase 64 demo were the results of lots of thinking, I'd say. Of course, without the excellent 8-bit sample playing technique invented by Mixer in 2008, there wouldn't be any of it. So, again, new possibilities on an old platform - I get the feeling that there's something new that can be done. And I do it.
Magic: What kind of technical achievements are yet to be explored, discovered or made into a reality on the Commodore 64? Do you think there are still some major breakthroughs ahead of us? Or has everything technical been done already that can be done on this old piece of computer?
Mahoney: There's always something new that could be done. I was impressed by Censor Design's "Daah, those acid pills!"-scroller, just because it uses technical excellence together with out-of-the-box thinking and great graphics and music. There is room for more experimental demos. I try to stay away from the mainstream crowdpleasing ones, they waste so much time on implementing transitions - and I get bored.
Magic: You were once a dynamic duo with Kaktus. What can you tell us about your Mahoney & Kaktus days? Are you still in contact with Kaktus? Would you consider a comeback production from you guys?
Mahoney: I've written many meters of scrolltexts about us, some which I recently rediscovered through my pet project. We gave eachother the right mental feedback to make us both very productive - a chemical catalyst, sort of. I've got the brains, you've got the looks, let's make lots of ... er, money it's supposed to be, but for us it was just fun. Kaktus lives 500 meters from me, and we're having lunch every now and then. There won't be a comeback production from us. At least not on Commodore 64 or Amiga. As far as I know. But, stranger things have happened, and I won't promise a M&K-free future.
Magic: Where did you get the idea to create www.scrolltexts.com?
Mahoney: From a discussion with Ziphoid online. I just realized that it was feasible to actually grab all scrolltexts from the c64 era.
Magic: All? How did you do THAT?
Mahoney: My laptop has been busy for the last two weeks taking almost every c64 crack intro and demo and emulating them for 4.1seconds each.
Magic: How does that grab all scrolltexts?
Mahoney: By taking a snapshot of all 64kB of memory and search for texts in it. It's a program doing the selection, of course I don't have time to do 97000 scrolltexts in two weeks time!
Magic: How did you experience the last Datastorm party ever ?
Mahoney Great party, with loads of friends. I loved it!
Magic: Offence & Fairlight & Prosonix won the Datastorm 2014 party. What did you think of their winning demo?
Mahoney: Wonderful graphics and nice snippets of animations. A worty winner, indeed.
Magic: How do you see the future of the Commodore 64 demoscene? Also please use this opportunity for some last words and greetings...
Mahoney: It will get smaller. And it is always changing, which is a good thing. As long as there is laughter and fun, it will stay alive and kicking. I'll play my part, as long as I like and as much as I like. Summer is soon here, and there's absolutely nothing I have to prove to anyone - so we'll see what happens! Umbrella drinks, here I come!
Greetings? Uh. You know who you are. I love you all!
Links related to this article
Mahoney official website
Mahoney page including releases on CSDB