THE DELIGHT OF ETERNAL MIGHT - THE HISTORY OF FAIRLIGHT
Presented by Jazzcat
Special thanks to The Shark and various members of FairLight.
FairLight has survived the ages and hit nearly ever major computer format in one way or another since their inception in 1987. It has become a name that has earned respect and praise from both the pirating and demo scenes, achieving two decades of activity on multiple platforms.
The first revision was released in the C64 digital magazine Recollection edition three; this is the most comprehensive journey into the Swedish legend ever published, taking you to the roots of the group before it was born right up until the present time.
1. EARLY DAYS: THE TIMES OF WCC AND SCM. (1986-1987)
West Coast Crackers (WCC) was founded on 19th September 1986 by Zeb, Mr. Pinge, Waco, HJ and Nobody. WCC was created by the members of Swedish Copy Masters (SCM) who renamed the group to WCC to honour the members coming from the West Coast of Sweden. The group rapidly expanded as a result of taking in some members of We Against Software Protection (WASP) on the 10th of October 1986. The new members included No.1, Sir Galahad, King Arthur and Lancelot. In the next few months WCC released quite a few cracks for titles such as Glider Rider, Judge Dredd, PSI Warrior II and Fist II. They showed the early signs of becoming a well-rounded group with the release of a number of demos also. Their reputation soared to new heights, building on their existing status already established under their former name Swedish Copy Masters.
WCC organised a meeting called ‘Hacker-party’ in Gothenburg between the 19th and 23rd of December 1986. Members were present but also some of the members from SCC (Swedish Cracking Crew) and Triad turned up. There were some disruptions at the party that were caused by Inferno and Covenant of SCC and also Ixion and 3D of Triad. The members from SCC were uninvited to Zeb’s flat (where the meeting was held). The first demo from WCC discussing this was entitled "Hi-Letter 3" and later discussed in Mr. Pinge’s "WCC’s Revenge". Basically SCC was accused of re-cracking, (i.e. Soldier One and Sigma 7), and lame behaviour during the meeting. Triad brought their so-called enemies to the party and released "Location Demo" which makes fun of the location of the members of WCC.
INFERNO/SCC: "The only problem at the meeting was that both SCC and Triad thought that certain people from WCC’s Kalmar-section had a crappy attitude. Shortly said, they weren’t very social (quite boring actually) and didn’t let us use any of the computers they had brought along. The result was a fast hack the same night by 3D (Triad) where both Triad and SCC ragged down on WCC. The theme was that they called themselves West Coast Crackers while actually having members from e.g. Gothenburg, Falsterbo, and Kalmar (for example, Kalmar is located in the South East). It was a joke really but it wasn’t received like one. :) I don’t think the anti demos or the angry scroll text that followed were that serious and I guess both sides mostly thought it was fun to be a little destructive."
West Coast Crackers were quite successful in their own right, becoming a solid group with releases including 1943, Delta, Aliens, Arkanoid and Uridium. Their member list consisted of: Crusader, HJ, Janitor, King Arthur, Lancelot, Marwin, Mr. Pinge, Nike, No. 1, Nobody, Sir Galahad, Sparrow, Waco and Zeb.
Activity levels for the young teenage data-addicts were buzzing and a new plan was afoot.
2. THE BIRTH OF FAIRLIGHT - Choice of the Anti-Communist Generation (1987-1988)
WCC eventually disbanded due to disagreements between members and what can basically be called a clash of egos. When the group became divided and two key members left, two new groups emerged, FairLight and Relax. FairLight was founded by No. 1 and Sir Galahad on the 17th of April 1987.
STRIDER: "Sir Galahad and I (No. 1, at the time) were driving back from Öland Island after a WCC meeting. We had some differences in leadership at the meeting but I can’t remember what about. Maybe it was about who to let in, who to not let in, or the direction of the group. Not sure..."
It appears that during the internal WCC meeting arguments arose out of simple things such as who was going to sleep in the only bed available in the small house that had been rented for the meeting. Of course No. 1 wanted to use the bed, but since WCC was not "his" group, he had a hard time asserting himself. So the meeting was quite sour, to say the least. The group name was discussed by both members during a train ride from the meeting back to Malmö. The name was decided on for two reasons; one was taken from the FairLight CMI synthesizer which No. 1 saw Jean-Michel Jarre use on some of his records and the second was a reference to the Spectrum port of the game called ‘FairLight’. In the early days No. 1 had an idea that members should use handles from the characters of J.R.R.Tolkien’s Middle Earth (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Simarillion etc). No. 1 changed his handle to Strider and Sir Galahad chose Black Shadow as his. Although many of the original FairLight members followed this style, over time some members who joined were allowed to keep their non-Tolkien related aliases.
STRIDER: "Sir Galahad and I decided it was time for a new group and came up with the name FairLight based on a popular synthesizer used at the time by Jarre. We also decided to pick new names based on The Lord of the Rings. I picked Strider and Sir Galahad became Black Shadow. We were teenagers at the time and this was a popular book Black Shadow got me into during those years. We also added The Sarge, an artist who was one of Black Shadow’s local friends. For WCC, this move was the beginning of the end. Some came to FLT where others went with Mr. Pinge to Relax and eventually to Triad. We had a great time in WCC but Black Shadow and I wanted to go our own way."
Most of the other members of the dissolved West Coast Crackers created the crew called Relax which did not last long and disbanded some months later. The guys who founded Relax were Janitor, Mr. Pinge, Crusader, Sparrow, Nike, Marwin and The Boss. When Relax came to an end most of the members were absorbed into Triad.
JANITOR: "I know very little about what happened in the first year since I never climbed the lamer-ladder the hard way. I spent my time working through every corner of my little 64. Early ‘87 I joined the WCC which by then was rather unstable. Soon WCC split into RELAX and FairLight. After a while RELAX and TRIAD were merged following the retirement of MR.Z."
The first months of FairLight were spent releasing quite a few cracks. Their first crack was Samurai Trilogy which was followed later on the same day with 500cc Grand Prix. Their very first outside recruit was Night Hawk, an unknown friend of Black Shadow. Their most significant early recruit was Gollum, formerly known as Junior from Crackforce Omega (CFO) who was a coder and cracker and joined in July. He also changed his handle to Gollum at this time. In the third quarter of 1987 they recruited a sysop called Zike (previous Mawda/The Silents/XL-Crackers) who launched their first bulletin board system called ‘The Pleasure Dome’. The group expanded in October with two new recruits, Woodo (formerly known as Crap/Razor Express) from Denmark and The Hobbit (formerly known as Anubis) who was a graphician from Belgium. They were followed soon after by The Sarge, Excalibur, Gandalf (who was to be later known as Lord Blitter on the Amiga) and Wilfo.
During these early months, Woodo and Gollum coded a crack intro for FairLight which was used frequently. It featured the catchy main melody from the game ‘Druid II’ composed by David Hanlon. The intro became one of the most famous on C64 and became an icon for the group with many variants of it being created over the ensuing years. In fact, it became so iconic that when people hear the intro tune, they tend to think of FairLight rather than ‘Druid II’. Some people still get goose bumps when watching this intro, even members of the group.
BACCHUS: "Very few intros give me goose bumps, and this is one! I would agree this is not the best intro ever done, but the idea of an intro is a really compact piece of code that adds the crackers sign to the release without adding to much weight. In the days of Gamer’s Guide, there was a ranking on size and even if we had access to crunchers better than what most people had, why waste this head start on a bulky intro? It’s SUPER efficiently coded and the tune stays with you. It for sure does what an intro should."
Strider’s two brothers, Aaron Deveraux (later shortened to Aaron) and Richard, were to later also become involved, which helped shape the group in the early days as they perfomed a lot of data-work from their home basement. From this downstairs data room they sold C64 software by advertising through Datormagazin and other Swedish publications. They openly called their shop "FairLight". STASH recalls: "I remember back in the days when I first ever saw any pirated warez on the C64. My brother was friends with Richard, the youngest of the Krvaric brothers. This was also the first time I had ever heard of and saw a BBS. When I was old enough, my brother took me with him to visit. This was when WCC was still alive and Strider was called No.1. It was really cool to get my hands on new releases from them as I got it a lot faster than the other kids from around the block. My very first spread disk when I started was a disk I got from Richard. Strider was a bit older than me so I never really talked to him. I remember meeting Ogami at the house of Krvaric and also Aaron, he was a fun dude as well. :)
The cellar of the house was some kind of holy place for Strider, so most of the time I was there it was when he wasn’t home. :) We could spend hours playing games or watching demos. Other nice memories I recall was when Strider visited my brother and he brought with him his latest release which was IK+. So, basically my swapping time started just because of the three Krvaric brothers, good times!"
Towards the end of their first year Black Shadow got more and more active on the Amiga, but still found time for a few cracks on the C64 now and then. In November the group gained Dragonlance as a swapper. Gandalf left the active scene for the Amiga where he became known under the new handle Lord Blitter. On the 18th to the 21st of December they co-arranged a copy-party with Triad in Stockholm, which ended the year with a demonstration of Swedish power combined. This party was held at a school in Stockholm, with around 180 guys showing up. Since the school was three floors, with an open space in the middle, the arrangers had divided the visitors into three floors; the most elite groups were on the top floor, with the lamest groups on the bottom floor.
I asked HO/Science 451 about any animosity between Triad and FairLight at the party:
"I couldn’t find the invitation anywhere, but if I remember correctly, the party started out as a Triad party, but then branched out as a joint venture between Triad & FairLight. Keep in mind that this is almost 25 years ago, so my memory could be playing tricks with me, but I have a vague memory of the party being referred to as "the Triad party" at one time or another.
The party itself was a bit interesting since it was both an elite-party, and an open-for-all-party. There were three floors in the school they used for the party and on the top floor were the elite groups (FairLight, Triad, Dominators, Science 451, etc -- can’t really recall all the groups) and the second floor had known groups that weren’t considered top teams at the moment, mostly Swedish groups. The bottom floor was for the locals, the unknown groups, the lamers (god, I really hate that word) etc.
I was late for the party, since I had to visit my grandmother’s funeral on the Friday, so I arrived fairly late on the Friday and everyone else had already arrived. There were no conflicts at the party as far as I can tell, but since most groups had a room to themselves there wasn’t as much inter-group mingling as there was on some other parties.
As for the Triad vs. FairLight conflicts, I only have an outsider perspective on this. But, basically, before WCC split up (to form FLT & Relax) there were three major groups in Sweden; Triad, West Coast Crackers (WCC) and Swedish Cracking Crew (SCC). SCC had a conflict with Triad (or mostly with 3D/Triad and the Stockholm-based members as I remember) and during a WCC-meeting some Triad-members were invited to visit.
The surprise in that meeting was that the Triad-guys brought some SCC-members, without telling (and without informing WCC that their conflict was ended). This caused some bad blood, which I think was carried into both Relax and FLT. Like most conflicts, this was more between members (3D was known for being good at what he did, but also for creating conflicts now and then) and if it had been a major conflict you never would have seen Relax joining Triad soon after. Also, my impression is that some of the conflicts were "staged". Both Triad and FairLight were gunning for the "Sweden’s #1" and it looked good to show some conflict in scrollers. Anyway, back to the party. Yes, there was alcohol on the Saturday. Some Triad guys went out and bought some beer (my impression was that it was "folköl" a slightly weaker beer (maximum 2.8 %) and there was some drinking. I really wasn’t in the mood for partying (coming from a funeral) and at that time I preferred wine (and I actually brought a bottle, but someone accidentally smashed it) so I didn’t partake much in the drinking. But, since a lot of people was away drinking (where? not in our room at least, not sure where they sat) I spent my time talking to some of the people who weren’t away, such as Natas from SSS, some of my contacts in Denmark, etc."
Once the hangover of the party had subsided, a new year sprang upon an unsuspecting audience. For the commie-killers it began with the departure of Woodo, who left the scene to work on games. He released a small note entitled "Woodo is dead!!!" (Written using his own tool Woowriter) to announce it. His place was temporarily filled by a sub-group The Platoon (TPL), consisting of HAM, Brain and Orco, however their cracker HAM, who joined in February, left pretty quickly. Dragonlance also ceased to be a member sometime around January/February of 1988. Surprisingly this meant that, at the beginning of March, only Gollum and Strider were left as active C64 members. On the 14th of March Strider released his ‘final C64 crack’ and left to work exclusively on the Amiga. He returned for a couple of cracks in April and May, but was eventually gone for good. Gollum was now the sole active C64 member, holding the flag aloft valiantly despite the odds stacked against him! I remember this time quite well as one of my favourite games was released under the FLT label by the name of Gothik. The x-rated scroll text of the crack intro still echoes in my mind and it made me start to consider an intro even more so that the game crack itself. With the focus on the Amiga, the situation on C64 looked grim but fate shone brightly on the future of the group as Gollum managed to recruit the Swedish members of Front in July, gaining three new crackers called Sauroman, Olo, Getafix and Audrey as graphician (the latter left the group for a crew called Life after only one month).
The year was quite a big one for the group, not only through membership changes but also with their releases. Coming out in 1988 were big titles such as Predator, Rastan, Platoon, Batman, Cybernoid, Rolling Thunder, Ikari Warriors and Target Renegade. One of the most memorable FLT moments as well as one of the biggest cracks in their history was The Last Ninja II, released in October 1988...
The first copy of the Commodore 64 game The Last Ninja II had just landed in the computer shop in Malmö where Strider used to work after school. Strider had an exceptional opportunity to be the first kid on the schoolyard with a cracked copy of the game everybody wanted.
But to do that, Strider needed to pass the game over to his friend Gollum. Gollum was a cracker, specialising in removing copy protection from the games Strider provided him with. But Gollum lived in Ronneby. Mailing the game to him would not suffice, because then he would not get it until next day. That would give other groups time to get ahead and cheat the two friends from the release. Strider had to think.
The solution became one of the linchpins of Fairlight, the worldwide pirate empire that Strider eventually found himself being the ruler of. A couple of chocolate bars was all that was needed to convince a train conductor at Malmö central station to assist. Strider gave him the cassette with the hot ware in Malmö. When the train arrived to Ronneby, Gollum was waiting at the station. A couple of hours later, the game was cracked, signed with a FairLight intro and ready to spread across the world. Strider could lean back and enjoy all the talk and nobody understood how FairLight could be that fast.
"That was the secret, a train conductor. Not many people know that today." says Pontus "Bacchus" Berg.
STRIDER recalls: "Last Ninja II was soon to be released and we were frequently checking with our store. The game was finally released so I ditched school and got on the bus to go home, and I called Gollum at the time and I asked him whether he could put it on disk if I gave him the tape version. As time was of the essence I had to get it to him quick so I found the train schedule. I took the bus down to the train station that was headed to Gollum’s city. I gave the conductor some sort of incentive like chocolates or whatever so he would personally give the package to Gollum. The conductor agreed but those were different times when security wasn’t such a focus. I would have taken the train myself though had the conductor not agreed as this was such a huge release. Gollum worked all night... and I stayed up out of sympathy as well to make sure he wouldn’t fall asleep. I’d call him every hour or so and by the morning he had it on disk. Then he posted it to all his contacts."
The game was imported to the United States by the guys in International Network of Chaos (INC). THE SHARK recalls those times well: "One last incident occurred in the 2nd half of 1988 that I must tell you all about. After Duplicator got busted, INC went two months without a release. There weren’t many releases coming out in Europe outside of England, so FairLight was hurting for about 3 months as well. FBR was doing quite well although the group they were trading with was freezing everything in sight (Steve/Zenith), but they also inherited SCG after ESI had died. It was a good time for Oahawhool (FBR) to see INC doing so poorly. There was, however, a game coming out that EVERYONE wanted -- Last Ninja II. Considering that System 3, the company who made Last Ninja II, was based in England, Oahawhool thought it would be a sure bet that either one of his English groups would get the game first. This led Oahawhool to proclaim, "Whoever imports Last Ninja II will be the greatest importing group ever!" I kid you not. To Oahawhool’s surprised, the game was released in Finland (I think) first and word quickly spread that Gollum/FLT was working on the game. Just as Gollum was wrapping the game up, Strider received a call from Oahawhool where Joe was begging Strider not to send INC the game. Here is an exact quote, "Tony (now it is spelled with a ‘y’), I don’t care who you send Last Ninja II to, but whatever you do DON’T send it to The Shark!" Poor Joey."
What is even further interesting about this crack is that it is strongly rumoured that System 3 used it! Because they only had a tape master at the time, they did something that was not uncommon and used the cracked disk version so that they did not have to concern themselves with the mastering of the disk version (cost reduced method also).
3. IMPORTING and EXPORTING (1987-1990)
Back in 1987, FairLight exclusively sent their releases to Fucked Beyond Repair (FBR) for USA importing. Trading with the USA was significant at the time because once a game reached the USA BBSes it could then be spread back into Europe faster than using standard postal mail. FairLight was one of the few European groups at the time to have modems of no less than 1200 baud. Making them more attractive to USA groups, FairLight was also releasing a lot of the multi-loading games, that at the time, were considered some of the most sought after games.
Around 1988, a new trend was emerging in Europe that saw Europeans using AT&T, MCI, or Sprint calling cards to call long distance. Due to difficulties for USA companies to trace European lines as well as complications with international law, phreaking Europeans were relatively safe during this time. Having such cards was particularly liberating to Europeans as they could now call BBSes and Europeans. However obtaining such cards was quite difficult and involved USA groups supplying the calling cards in exchange for exclusive trading.
The FBR-FairLight relationship was strong, but perhaps due to arrogance, FBR failed to adapt to the changing times which would prove to be a costly move on their part. TBB/FBR: "The relationship between FBR/FLT was a rocky one. The deal was that we kept them supplied with AT&T’s and they would stay exclusive with us. The guys in FairLight had big heads but they were good, and we wanted to trade them because of their quickness and quality." Realising the demand, an up and coming importing group named International Network of Chaos (INC) began to contact FairLight in an attempt to convince them to trade with INC instead of FBR.
THE SHARK/INC recollects: "FBR was not supplying many cards to FairLight at the time, and if they did, they were cards that were spread on the scene thus giving them a short lifespan. Meanwhile, my group started to supply Strider regularly with exclusive cards only used by FLT which could often last 2-3 weeks a piece depending on how many group members they spread the cards to. There was already bad blood between the new leader of FBR (Oahawhool) and INC due to one of my members, The Butcher, having a falling out with Oahawhool. Although FBR sensed that INC was trying to take FairLight from them, I know first hand that Oahawhool had little respect for INC and never thought for one moment FLT would drop them. I think he thought the FBR name alone was powerful enough move mountains. His big mistake was not realizing that although cards were important on the C64, they were even more important to the European Amiga scene due to modems being more common in Europe compared to the C64 scene. So one could say that through FLT’s Amiga aspirations, INC was able to secure FairLight as a C64 trade partner. I do recall how sad Strider was to give Oahawhool the news as they were friends, but at the same time Oahawhool was neglecting FairLight as Oahawhool wasn’t supplying cards and only seemed to show interest in FLT when they had games which was offensive to Strider."
INC and FairLight remained trading partners until early 1990 when INC retired.
4. HOWDY HACKERS! - PART I (1988-1990)
1988 was coming to an end and the Alvesta Party had reached its climax with "Love This Now" by Horizon and "Bonanza" by MDT finishing neck and neck. "Demo Of The Year II" came out in December and there was high anticipation for further action in 1989 in what is now considered "The Golden Era" by a large number of people. During this time Strider became more focused on the Amiga and felt that the group could do with some extra support at the helm.
BACCHUS: "I got into the group on December 1988. Andreas Svensson (Mr.Lead, who became Grayhawk when joining FLT) swapped with Strider and he was the one that was brought in with a few friends. Gollum wasn’t too happy about it, but I think looking back it was a fairly okay move. We had formed Oneway but were only to leave one week later! I was the spokesperson for the Oneway guys that joined in December it was kinda natural to keep that up."
On the 13th of December Strider asked Mr.Lead together with Bacchus, Mr.Wedge, Questor and Ade to join the ranks of FairLight - all former members of Crackers & Programmers Unlimited (CPU) and Oneway. Strider wanted the guys who joined to rename, fitting into the history of Tolkien related handles. Some changed their handles. Mr.Lead became Grayhawk, Mr.Wedge became Wedge (Strider wanted him to be "The Dark Overlord" but he did not like that) and Ade renamed to Phred (who was later kicked for serious laziness).
The first crack Bacchus made for FairLight was "Batman - The Caped Crusader". Strider envisioned Bacchus not only as a cracker but having leadership-material (with experience as leader of CPU and spokesman for Oneway), it soon became evident that Strider was taking a backseat and that Bacchus would lead the group. Shortly after the beginning of the New Year Bacchus was more or less left to run the C64 section of FairLight, he was the natural successor of Strider but did nothing without his approval.
BACCHUS: "Regarding leadership, there was no formal handover. A key success of the group is that it was WELL established when I took over and my key task to maintain and develop. During my period we maintained a leading group, with highly regarded individuals doing good jobs for the group (this being both in terms of crack, spread and also the demo section).
The key challenge was setting up a group with the expectations it had but with members busy in other areas. Gollum and The Sarge doing their games and with Strider, Black Shadow and the others active on the Amiga. Quite frankly - the core from my group Lunds Cracking Team that one week was the spine of Oneway, the next week became the spine of FairLight (on the C64).
I’m very much a playing coach - the role model, setting standards. Barking from the side is easy (swappers kind of leadership) but if you do the key part of the production yourself it hard for any member to get away with laziness. I was much into bringing promising people in, and let them bloom in the group. Some other group leaders only brought in people who had already bloomed in other groups, and most of them had their prime in the other groups. It’s like Swedish ice hockey players playing in Swiss clubs. The requirements are lower and they already proved themselves so get fat and lazy.
I wanted them to bloom in the group and allow FairLight the benefit of being the group where they enjoyed their prime!"
1989 was another big year for the group, this time under the guidance of Bacchus with Strider and Aaron in the background. The group had established themselves as a cracking powerhouse and also started to shine as a demo force too. On New Year’s Eve the commie-killers recruited Rowdy (coder and cracker), Dino (coder) and Viper (cracker), all of which proved to be valuable. Viper had a way with words, was a cracker and was the leader of Heptagon. There were two big months of recruitment - firstly in February they inducted Pernod, a quality coder who would move on later to become very popular in the Swedish demo scene. In March Viper helped get in some ex-Heptagon members such as Salt who renamed to The Alchemist (a highly qualified cracker that boosted the cracking section). Pepa - a hacker who actually did very little for the group and was removed soon after joining. Bolstering the group further was Judge/Sphinx, a good coder who debuted in March with the FLT demo "Digesta" released at the Ikari & Zargon Party in Slagelse.
May ‘89 saw the group travelling to the Horizon and Equinoxe party in Eskilstuna where Seagull and Smirnoff from Absolut Vodka Team (AVT) were recruited. FairLight came third at the demo compo with Pernod and Judge’s "Algot’s Revenge" and later in the same month they came second with the demo "Megabmxninja" at the Defiers Party. BACCHUS: "MegaBMX Ninja is driving a joke to the extreme. Judge invented this bird of chars and we had a brutally fun weekend with some 15 people in my 27 M2 flat in Lund. Then that little char-bird was taken into a full demo part. Released on it’s own I guess."
Towards the end of this busy month Viper was visited by the police for credit card fraud. VIPER: "I was accused by Elric/Agile, freed of all charges and released two days later. He succeeded quite well, the phone rang off the hook for weeks with angry people accusing me for whatever lies and stuff. :D Until everyone found out that Elric just blabbed his head off to the police. My involvement in the program ‘Credacalc’ and cracking the credit card algorithm was purely for fun. Then I was visited by the police again, they seized all my equipment for all kinds of fun accusations, all I got back so far was my phonebook. I was accused for doing computer stuff for "the mafia", very funny!" During this period, Karl XII/Agile made an appearance on Swedish national television selling out the Hacking/Phreaking scene. He explained the easiness of cracking the credit card algorithm and showed the incredible lack of security in the general use of credit cards. As a result, the police hit the scene hard, not only taking down Viper, but also busting Injun Inc., The Alchemist and Bacchus amongst others. BACCHUS was one of the only guys not getting a sentence, he recalls: "K12 is a strange guy so he did it to show off I guess. Elric was talking a lot and gave the list of names to save his own ass". PERNOD recalls those times as well: "At the time when phreaking and stuff were most popular, some people in the scene were caught and put on trial. Bacchus was ‘kinda’ involved so I went over to his apartment and pushed the button to the door-phone (he couldn’t see me there) and after he answered I said, with a very mature voice:
- Hello, I am Lt. John Doe from the county fraud squad. I believe we have to talk!
Bacchus said "yes of course, come on up!" when I had walked the stairs up to Bacchus’ place he opened the door, and boy was he upset!!!! He bought it all."
In late October the group organised the Transcom & FairLight Copy Party which was held in Paris, France. However, unlike the other parties organised by FairLight, this one was the least successful with mainly Amiga guys showing up and hardly any Transcom members at all. Nevertheless, some cool demos were released as well as Goblin/Genesis*Project stealing the original of Cabal from a group called the Yankees and releasing it live at the party.
The demo section worked independently from the cracking section with Bacchus checking on progress every now and then. One of their big demo hits this year was "Rutig Banan" which rightfully gained the number one placing at the Light Bålsta Party in November ahead of groups like Flash Incorporated and Light who were also strong forces in the C64 demo world. The demo showed a talented combination of skill from the likes of Pernod, Judge, Mr.Wedge, Danko and The Sarge and featured some hardcore effects that were big for 1989!
DANKO, on his memories from the Bålsta party: "I started fussing about more seriously with 8-bit sampling at that party with a guy called Dino, also in FairLight, and we broke into an office there and most Censor guys got kicked out. And one guy was chased by looooots of angry guys (because he was hitting on a girl) from a hamburger restaurant to the school, we saw him running like nuts and a huge mob after him. It was kinda funny. We just went out there, the mob stopped and left. And there was this guy from Holland who was very sick...... He was sleeping, and so we dipped two big fries in tomato sauce and stuffed them up his nose. Then we put him in a shopping cart, and started running like nuts in a very long hallway. We woke him up halfway and he could see himself being thrown towards the stairs, so he was screaming a lot the instant he woke up. Then we stopped the cart just halfway over the stairs. Fun times."
Christmas 1989 was dire for the Swedish might, with their Belgian member Hobbit leaving the scene. Misery turned to woe as further departures occurred with Danko deciding to leave (later to become quite a famous musician in Censor) and Pernod and Judge deciding to try their luck with Horizon (as most know, that venture is another scene success story). This left FairLight without much of its former demo-power and the search began for replacements. The Alchemist had been back for some time, though under an ‘anonymous’ handle, but began signing his own cracks again in December. On the cracking front The Alchemist replaced a very busy Gollum, who together with The Sarge was busy making the game "No Mercy", under the label Twisted Minds (which got released through Double Density and Digital Marketing). On the cracking front they were still pumping with titles like Speedball, Stunt Car Racer, Hard’n’Heavy, Ghouls’n’Ghosts just to name a few. During this time, Bacchus worked in a computer shop, contrary to certain views, it seldom produced first release originals for the group.
1990 was the dawn of some big changes within the group, following the departure of some members. BACCHUS: "Pernod and Judge was a major blow. They were the spine of the demo section so I was seriously pissed when it happened. Bringing the Mute 101 guys (mainly Tron) was hence a very lucky save for me." The search for new demo-making members eventually turned them to the Danish demo subgroup Brain Using Demo Section (BUDS) from Nobodies Are Taking Over (NATO), who first collaborated with FairLight before becoming full members soon after (Maduplec, Conix, Tiger, and Greco). The NATO connection continued further, when FairLight and NATO went into a very short lived cracking cooperation around March. BACCHUS: "Grayhawk was in contact with Megasnail. He is a REALLY talented guy, check his intros to see example of some pretty amazing stuff when if comes to writing efficient code using illegal ops and the lot. Anyway, he joined together with Maduplec."
Swedish coders Dino and Rowdy joined from Altobrows on New Year’s Eve but they could not announce it until Rowdy’s "Official Version" demo was released in March. It was also around this time we first saw ads for a FairLight board, ‘The Boardgazm’. Further good news for the pride of Sweden was the return of Hobbit to the scene, who also rejoined Transcom at the same time. Whether he was to do anything at all for FairLight was another matter, but the mere presence he had in the scene with his fantastic artwork did wonders for the morale of the group. Swedish cracker Viper was kicked from the group in March due to extensive lying - I tried to convince VIPER to write a statement from his side on the whole matter, after repeated attempts I have given up, however he did mention: "Just one thing, see to it that what you write about me is the TRUTH. Everyone else has failed so far. Of course it was a good time from the start but then some members stole stuff from me and started to bullshit me, and it somehow got the grip of the whole group - isn’t life great!". BACCHUS comments: "Viper ran Heptagon before joining, and I willingly admit that he was the one digging up people like Pernod, Seagull and Judge for us and when joining he also brought in his team with Gerwin (RT at the time) and The Alchemist (Salt as the time as we discussed earlier). He didn’t code, and he was at best an average cracker. His key part was being a spreader and a guy with many contacts and he arranged one of the productions of T-shirts for the group. I don’t have any reason to slander him, and he did have some merits that I don’t want to take from him. His problem was (and most likely still is) that he can’t tell true from false. I thought we were mighty kewl at first but eventually you find is strange that if I had been in the US he had been on the moon. He could always top your story, no matter what! And he was a true master covering it up, giving you a trustworthy explanation. Honestly; it takes a really smart person to do it well as he did it!". Still to this day the rift between Viper and FairLight continues; showcasing one of the internal disputes that a mega group is bound to have.
In a course of events that is best described as ‘what could have been?’ the guys from BUDS decided to return back to NATO, the reason why? MEGASNAIL: "I returned to C64. So they rejoined NATO. I persuaded Ulrik and he spoke to the rest of the chaps." The Brain Using Demo Section was more like a trademark for Maduplec’s best work, than an actual group. Members inside this trademark as explained earlier were Maduplec and Conix.
5. IRRESISTIBLE FORCE MEETS AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT (1990)
Of all the wars that FairLight had on the C64, none were more furious than FairLight versus Censor, easily on par with the famous American war between Eagle Soft Inc (ESI) and Untouchable Cracking Force (UCF).
In early 1990 a war of words had started between some members in Censor (Bob, CRT and Dr. Cool) and Strider’s young brother Aaron. This continued to simmer and then finally boiled over - which made it official; a war between two Swedish scene giants had begun. The usual slag fest expected of a scene war continued through the scroll text of crack intros. Eventually Censor stumbled across FairLight’s Intro Editor and started releasing bugged games under the FLT-label. FairLight struck back hard and decided to take things even further at the Horizon Easter Party in April. A little release at the party fuelled the war with Censor to another level. Aaron stole some unfinished demo files (intended for Wonderland 6) from Censor and released them as modified versions. He did this by stealing a password from Slaygon/Censor and logged on to their BBS ‘Testure’ to check their private drives. JERRY/Triad was not impressed: "That kind of behaviour is outrageous. I, personally, will support Censor 100% when they go to war against Aaron". BACCHUS wrote in Mamba Issue #8: "A demo part was released and it was said to be from Censor. Right, it was Censor’s unfinished code you all saw. As Jerry of Triad got mad at me I felt ashamed of the occasion and have this to say to the world: I wasn’t the one who did it but, never the less, I take full responsibility for the occurrence. I gave the clearance signal for our censor killing wolves to bite the meat they were given. I now admit that it was a bit naughty of us to do such a thing, but I admit our step over the line. After all, I keep calling myself ‘a noble knight’ and I intend to be here. So, I hereby send an apology to Censor for this, and only this. Not because I feel they didn’t deserve it, but for reasons like - we don’t drag our name in the dirt but messing around with piss ants like Censor and - I wouldn’t risk the friendship of Jerry/Triad for something like this..."
As a result of the ragging and demo parts being released, a federation against Aaron was created called All Against Aaron (AAAa). Groups joining this federation were Censor, Faces, Mute 101, Dynamix, Rizing, Royalty, TERA, Unit 5, Vision and Warrant whose sole purpose was to ensure that Aaron left the C64 scene completely. Censor re-cracked Asterix under the FairLight label using their intro editor and in turn FairLight replied with "Censor Invaders +2" by Bacchus (which is a Censor version of the Invade-A-Load game. Mute 101 were also active participators against Aaron, especially with their magazine, Dick Almighty (100% media propaganda but fun nonetheless).
Their long war with their fellow Swedes (aka the "press-play-on-tape-crackers") finally ended in October after conference calls and negotiations between Bacchus, Bob and Aaron. The two groups decided to collaborate on a small peace demo called "Eye Damage". The war featured much ragging and also some demos, like the hilarious "Censor Logo Destruct Editor" (aka Die Hard Censor, of which 3 of them were released), "The Cool Dentist", "H.T.M.A.A.S.W.H.H.D.A.T" (How to Make an Aaron Suffocate with His Head down a Toilet) and "Eardick Aaron". BACCHUS: "Press-play-on-tape crackers were to indicate that they had routines for transferring from tape (bypassing the loader). Any idiot can run such a program to dump the content of a tape, again assuming that they were idiots. Routines done by someone else that is (K12 had made a really good set of transfers)."
Despite the war being ‘officially’ over, some skirmishes still took place. The main one that most people may have forgotten about occurred at the Censor Party 1990, which took place on the first weekend in November in Gothenburg. The party was big for the Censor guys, in the sense they wanted a booze-party only. Members of Censor went and confiscated all the alcohol people had brought along to the party and took it to the Censor room and drank like crazy. Particularly drunk were Dr. Cool and Adrian. During the party Aaron/FairLight had stuck FairLight stickers all over the place as well as breaking into the storeroom at the school where the party was held and stealing some calculators. Dr. Cool was really upset about these facts and confronted Aaron. He forced him to peel the stickers from the walls and return the calculators. He then hit Aaron with a retractable baton, Aaron fell to the floor and Dr. Cool dragged him down some stairs and outside and then proceeded to dish out more punishment. It was quite a severe beating. Dr. Cool was quite aggressive, often getting into fights that he created himself for the pure adrenaline of fighting. Aaron and Dr. Cool were the worse combination of scene characters you could imagine, Aaron with the arrogant and at times foolish attitude and Dr. Cool with his Nazi like behaviour. Surprisingly, this fight did not reopen the old wound between Censor and FairLight but can be seen as the final action between the two groups of any real significance.
6. THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD (1990-1991)
1990 was shaping up to be an interesting year indeed as it really showed that the old FairLight had departed and a stronger version of the group was starting to take shape. Membership churn continued at a brisk pace with Finnish sceners Servant (supply) and Rockstar (crack) joining in from Contex at the Swedish Elite Easter Conference; only to leave again in late May to start a new group called Extasy. Both of them felt a bit uncomfortable in the group and when Contex disbanded it was the perfect opportunity for them to leave and together with ex-Context members form a new crew. Back in those days being ‘elite’ was a big deal, particularly in the cracking scene, lots of guys would boast about being elite but most were average to say the least. Elites would not exist if it was not for the lamers, of which there was a plentiful supply. Admiral/Transit demonstrated his ability to be lame in May by pretending to be a member of FairLight as well as Genesis*Project and F4CG.
The cracking section was bolstered further with RT changing his handle to Gerwin and joining in but the demo section had a loss with fellow Swedish graphician moving on to Dynamix. Around this time there was a brief war with Mute 101. The group had been in war with the FairLighters before but they had the support of Censor and other groups. This time around they were alone and the war only lasted for around 3 days. The main offenders were NRJ and Apache.
In June, something dramatic took place. Bacchus announced he was going to quit as he had found the girl of his dreams (who would later become his wife and mother to his three children) and was leaving the scene. His girlfriend was due to return to him via the InterRail in summer, giving Bacchus one full month of freedom before he commenced law school and a serious relationship. Bacchus announced that he would devote his entire free time during this month to crack games under the FairLight label to leave a final impression on the scene audience. This announcement was a pivotal moment for the group sending shockwaves through the very spine of the group. The news of Bacchus leaving almost immediately caused two members/close friends to leave the scene as they found not further reason to continue, these guys were Rowdy and The Alchemist. Whilst this was a big loss to the group, Bacchus just could not put the C64 away and continued to operate in the background. Recruitment continued with Ghost (crack) joining in from Ruthless (his stay was a brief one as he soon left again after only a few days). Another cracker showed up, signing his cracks as the ‘Wild 1’, the true identity of this interesting character was eventually found out to be Watchman. He used this handle as he was in Rebels under his real handle, eventually when Rebels disbanded later that year he joined completely and the Wild 1 was no longer of any use.
September dawned on the scene, a new month ushered in times of change for Mute 101. The group disintegrated and FairLight pounced seizing Tron (coder), Terrax (coder) and Sledge (sysop and swap). These members proved to be invaluable to the group to the point of steering the ship out of troubled waters and saving its future. As Bacchus mentioned earlier, it was a lucky save for the group as during this time a lot of their legal power had been lost, particularly with Pernod and Judge going back to Horizon. Tron was the ideal save here and Sledge was to become a central member in terms of leadership and his BBS ‘Warez Aquarium’. SLEDGE recalls the board in its prime: "The most exciting time was 1990-1991. I had so many callers a day that it was incredible. Tron ran the board for a short time between 1991 and 1992. But as he was joining the army, I took it back and reopened it in late 1992. In the beginning I ran C*Base 2.x together with 1 1541 and 2 1581 disk drives on a stock C64 and JiffyDOS, and did so until 1992 when I started it up with 3.x. Then I had a 120MB CMD HD and later on even a 16MB RAMLink. In 1995 I even ran the board on a Flash8 accelerator for a while. The board have used different C*Base mods from Tao, Tron, Cyborg and so on. Tron even coded a C*base replacement BBS software for the PC that was about to be released, but that never happened in the end. The board had every FLT crack and demo ever released on it. Gerwin/FairLight leant his disk collection. I sat and zipped every disk and uploaded it to WAQ. It too ages to do it I remember. FairLight and Hitmen got their own sections for members only. This was a good way to distribute originals, code, gfx and music among the members."
In October a new Swedish coder left the ranks of his local group The Killer Muttons to join FairLight, his handle was Harlekin and he was another lucky score for the group as he was to prove productive. Some of the group visited Censor’s party in Gothenburg in November and Harlekin and the others planned a small demo release, but nothing came of it. However he managed to release his three-part demo "Algot" early in December, which became the group’s first demo since Rowdy’s "Official Version" in March. Also in December the original of the game ‘Hellhole’ by Interactive was stolen by FairLight live at the ECES 1990 (European Computer Entertainment Show in London, an annual trade show for the European computer and video game industry). This was in turn first released by Bacchus, one of the few first releases for the year from FairLight. Aaron spread the original everywhere with some guys accusing him of leaving out parts of the graphics memory at $F800 (meaning that when other groups cracked the original the game would be bugged, thus no matter how you look at it, the group was portrayed in a superior light - the cracking scene was never about friendships). If what people say was true, it was a dirty yet clever tactic - to rub mud in the face of your opponent and portray your own group in a shroud of glory!
In the months leading up to the close of 1990 Bacchus still could not keep his hands off the C64, despite having officially left the scene, and several cracks from his hand appeared in October, November and December. At the end of the year, nearly the entire group travelled to Odense to attend Dexion’s X-Mas Conference party, and the group released their third and final demo for the year, "Vir Optimus" which placed 6th. It was their best demo for 1990 and featured code by Bacchus, Tron, Rowdy and Terrax. Strider also made a nostalgic return for some of the scroll text in this demo.
1991 began with the communistic Soviet forces storming Vilnius to stop Lithuanian independence. FairLight were able to kill even more of these commie bastards than usual as Bacchus decided to face the fact that he could not stay away from the scene "I’m not 100% back, but I’m not 100% gone either" he wrote in a scroller.
Triad had released their new magazine "Gamer’s Guide" late in 1990 and the magazine had quickly became an integral part of the cracking scene, shaping the way that people released their cracks and making crackers strive for improvement. The idea of ‘The Guide’ was that of Injun Inc., and it caused some motivation in the ranks of FairLight. BACCHUS: "It was the key driver for me. I was later in the year totally in it for the competition of being on the GG lists - the objective reference to how I did as a cracker. We rarely had the games soon enough to compete on the first release scene so this was the area where we did really well". During this period FairLight cracks became even sharper in size, trainer amount and bug fixing. A good example of quality difference is Dragon’s Kingdom from Wild 1/FairLight having 6 trainers and sitting at only 98 blocks, compared to the version by Destiny with only 2 trainers and 167 blocks.
The cracking duo Duncan & Turner started releasing games in early February, but this was in fact just Rowdy under a different handle. I approached ROWDY on the matter of this handle and why it was created: "Well, we started to make a game while in Altobrows and a friend with a non-computer background made the graphics outline for it. He needed a handle and a lot of respected demo teams worked in pairs - Ian & Mic, Ash & Dave etc. It felt kind of natural that I also had a "legit" handle so there it was - Duncan & Turner. Of course the game is still subject for "heavy regression testing" - a term I used to keep Bacchus off my back... Anyway - there was no need for a legit handle so I used it on some cracks to create a fuzz instead. I also used "FunkLord Freak Factories" and "3xF" on some stuff... 801 DC/Triad and I had great plans for that name but then he died in a tragic accident in June 1991. Then I used it more as a tribute to him. Unfortunately most of the stuff is still on my work-disks..."
During March the group gained two new members. A new supplier from England joined called Suckpipe, who improved the original situation with the hope of bringing in a lot of new games. Secondly there was the joining of Flood/Antic, he was a sysop and brought with him his BBS ‘Wonderland’ to add to the FairLight 1200/2400 fleet.
Easter Bunny was no where to be seen at a private meeting that was held during the Easter period at the end of March, at Bacchus’ place in Lund. During the meeting Gollum’s return to cracking was announced. Gollum returned in April 1991 with his crack of the Last Ninja III, it was one of the smallest versions available at that time showcasing a stylish come back to the cracking scene. His absence was caused due to his work on his game ‘No Mercy’ in 1989 and his upcoming game ‘Rubicon’. Speaking of which, FairLight released ‘The Sarge Show’ in the early months of 1991 and in its scroller Gollum and The Sarge hint on their new game Rubicon for the first time.
The C64 scene posed several risks back in the golden days. Long before the rapid speeds of internet we traded via mail and BBS. Aaron had a turn of bad luck on the 16th of July, his packages were sent on by the post office but instead were confiscated due to cheated stamps (stamp fraud using a technique called "lackering"). He was called into the police station for questioning on the 20th but nothing further happened despite several addresses on unsent packs being recorded.
The legal section showed a lot of promise, especially in years to come. In July 1991 Ogami released a small collection called the "Stan Kajman Pictureshow". It was coded by Harlekin and despite having the name Ogami behind the pixels, the highlight of the show was the music by Kristian Rostoen (who unfortunately was not credited in the production; the result of an honest mistake of which was corrected in their next demo). The decision to allow Tron into the group was beginning to pay off. At an internal meeting at Harlekin’s place Tron (together with Bacchus, Harlekin and Rowdy) released "Legoland". Their first mega demo in quite some time. The pride shows in their intro... "Howdy hackers!! The wandering souls of the demo lovers have long suffered from the draught in the sea of FairLight demos. Not any more will thy send lingering eyes to the Warez Aquarium for a release from the noble knights of programming fortune. Thy will be done; a new FairLight demo has found its way to your computer..."
The demo captured the spirit of "Quality, Tradition and Pride" and it truly completed the changing of the guard in the group, as a new generation of Legoland linkers ramped up the legal section, headed by the mighty coder Tron. Some trivia about this demo; there were two versions released. One at the internal meeting and then another a short time later which included an extra intro sequence that was not included originally due to time constraints. The meetings themselves created an opportunity to boost group morale and to have a bit of fun. Prior to the meetings at Harlekin’s the group would meet up in Bacchus’ small student apartment.
Back on the illegal front, the group started producing cooperation cracks with Triad in October and originals were apparently plentiful, judging from comments made by Aaron in the documentation for their joint release of "Turbo Charge" on the 14th. A very strong and persistent rumour was spread that both groups were in official cooperation based on the lack of time FairLight had to crack their originals. The rumour started due to Aaron asking Triad to do some cracks for his spread disks during a period when FairLight crackers were busy working on first releases. The group had to release an official statement saying that the rumour was totally false. They did manage a big first release for 1991 and that was "Speedball II" which was later imported to North America by the NTSC fixing group Empire. The game was quite a special one, easily beating the Amiga version at the time, it was amazingly fast and playable, and the game was something like a futuristic version of football. Further membership shuffling rounded off 1991 with Flood leaving to join Censor, taking his BBS ‘Wonderland’ with him and a new member from North America called Zapped joining as modem trader.
7. FAIRLIGHT - THE SOFTWARE HOUSE (1989-1991)
Decades of piracy and demos make FairLight one of the most enduring and well known groups across multiple platforms; but what people do not know too much about is the games that they helped produce. Two of them stand out and both involved the duo of Gollum and The Sarge. In 1989 they had decided to make some serious games for the C64, a step up from the SEUCK (Shoot ‘Em Up Construction Kit) games that were made by The Sarge when he was in Triad. The banner that this new adventure was to appear under was entitled Twisted Minds.
The first title that the duo worked on was "No Mercy". This was a superlative ‘Operation Wolf’ clone that played hard and took no prisoners! It featured code from Gollum, graphics by The Sarge and music by Markus Schneider. The game was very enjoyable and contained fresh graphics and game play. Operation Wolf still holds the crown in that genre on C64 but this game did a great job of stealing it in the minds of some! The group released a demo of the game in the December issue of the Magic Disk publication. In 1990 Magic Disk expanded and started releasing its special editions called "Golden Disk" and under this label via Digital Marketing/Double Density, the game was finally published in July. It was protected against those naughty pirates (especially those in "Amok") with Timex V2 by Ivo-Jürgen Müller-Herzeg, Markus Wiederstein and Matthias Heilmann. The game intro contained some words against Genesis*Project, in particular Antichrist. The text was written by Mr. Cursor (Ivo Herzeg) and MWS (Markus Wiederstein) and sent a message that if the game was cracked there would be trouble at the upcoming Radwar party if the crackers were to attend. It was a precursor to further hostile involvement that was to slightly tarnish the release of the next game from Twisted Minds.
"Rubicon" was one of the biggest game releases in 1991. The story of Rubicon concerns a catastrophic nuclear accident in Russia. The player must work through seven levels inhabited by mutated super-intelligent animals in order to diffuse each nuclear reactor. The game was dressed to impress, with an array of phenomenally good graphics and code. It also featured absolutely awesome music by the legendary Jeroen Tel from Maniacs of Noise. It received good reviews from the magazines, but sadly never lived up to its high quality, due to various troubles with software houses Hewson and 21st Century Entertainment. Although the game was released, it never got the full spread as it should have done, which probably contributed to its low sales. The game had average playability and mediocre replayability (at best). In saying that, from a technical view the game is quite special with huge enemy design that will leave you gasping for air (compared to other C64 games). THE SARGE: "Some parts were interesting to see coded by Gollum from my ideas, such as the lava sequence in the end. If I look at it now it somehow makes me think that the graphics was OK but the game play REALLY sux. No surprise there, we didn’t work much on the game being fun..."
Genesis*Project disliked Aaron/FairLight and when they had an opportunity to release the game and insult him, they seized it. SNACKY writes: "The turmoil around Rubicon arose when Tyger of Genesis*Project released a crack of the game. When I heard that Tyger got the game, I was shocked. I called Antichrist and asked him about the game. He told me that he got a non-protected version of it that Tyger would release. I tried to convince him that I would be in trouble if he released a version. As you know, Genesis released a version of the non-protected Rubicon, which was easy to release obviously". Digital Marketing had used Snacky to write protections for their games previously and had approached him with the Rubicon contract, Snacky used the Timex V3 system and modified it slightly for both the disk and tape versions of the game. There is still no 100% crack for this game in existence, even the so called 100% Genesis*Project version fails (in the section where the boulder comes from behind), nor is there ANY existing crack for the protected version of the game. The reason being more so that people did not do it rather than couldn’t do it. Why? Well, the Genesis*Project versions with North East Importers (NEI) and Black Reign were released in October ‘91 and the protected release from 21st Century/Digital Marketing was not released until sometime in Spring of ‘92.
The relationship with Genesis*Project and FairLight was quite sour at this point, but despite this FairLight showed its creativity with a smashing game of promise, so much so that a sequel was on the cards. Rubicon 2 was in development in early 1992, initially for the Amiga, but consideration was also given for a C64 version. The game was to be coded on the C64 by a new set of programmers, while the first game’s original coders would concentrate on the Amiga version.
THE SARGE: "After Rubicon we decided to move over to the Amiga. We hoped that the game we just had completed would sell truckloads and that the world would demand a sequel. Well, Rubicon was not a success as far as I know but we decided to try anyway. Game making was fun! We stopped developing Rubicon 2 right after all the planning was done. It was going to be another type of game. With a map, picking stuff up and using them to unlock different areas of the game. Much bigger. We made the C64 version too. The whole thing fell through because of lack of time I guess. Me joining the army and Gollum studying in Lund."
FairLight’s adventure in the world of C64 games also had some less known feats. Such as "Mega Thrusterball" and "Sword of Honour" - games that were created by others but improved for resale by Rowdy and Bacchus.
8. DISK MAGS, BUSTS AND COMMIE-KILLERS (1992-1995)
The year is 1992 and the commercial scene on the Commodore 64 in Europe was on the decline. The big companies were pulling out in favour of 16 bit machines but there were still enough budget games coming out and the occasional full price title to keep most of the cracking scene busy. During this time the focus of the scene was leaning towards legal, (demos, magazines, tools), rather than illegal (cracking, boards, phreaking) - for years the scene had been dominated by the father of activities on the C64; cracking. Now it was time for the demo groups to blossom. When thinking of legal productions we must remain open minded. There were not just demos; but also the growing popularity of disk magazines, music/graphic collections and tools that made our 8-bit life easier.
One of the reasons FairLight survived for so long on the C64 was that the group had a willingness to evolve with the times. So a move from cracking to demo scene as a priority was a natural progression for the group, something that was to take several years before it came to fruition. This change truly started in 1992. To start the year off, the group released a small production in cooperation with Wrath Designs called "Policy of Truth". It was a tribute to the music group ‘Depeche Mode’ with a nice depiction of the album cover pixelled by Ogami.
Swedish sysop Sodapop was kicked from Flash Inc and joined FairLight together with his BBS ‘Paradize’ in February. Tronic (previously in Genesis Project) also joined the group; he was the first and only member to my knowledge that resided in Japan. The group expanded further with the induction of Ayatollah/TAT who joined as dual group. He brought with him his magazine "Emanuelle" which was formerly released under The Ancient Temple (TAT). Almost every group had a disk magazine, a trend which started with the Sex’n’Crime magazine back in 1989. This was the first real voyage into the world of magazines for FairLight and a major step really, as any group-magazine can be used as a public relations platform to enhance the group image. Four issues of Emanuelle came out under the FairLight brand in 1992 and they were well received. Issue #8 was the first, coming out in the month of March. Ayatollah not only brought his magazine to the group but also started releasing cracks under the FLT-label. A good example of his ability was his 9-trainer version of ‘Hagar the Horrible’ released later in the year. Also joining together with Tronic and Sodapop was a German coder called McQuade. Sometime early in 1992 Savage/Ancient 3 joined the group. His mother worked for a software company and because of this he supplied the group with a lot of floppy disks for free (both 5"25 and 3"5), he later the FairLighters in May for demo rivals Light.
During the Easter period the group attended the Light & Phenomena party in Alingsås, Sweden. Here they entered the sequel to Legoland, made by the same team as the first demo. It ranked number 5 out of 17 demos at the party (and should have ranked higher). To go along with the demo the group members were walking around with "Legoland" sweatshirts advertising the demo. The release contained some really cool ray tracing parts and a little game that you had to play to advance further in the demo. This little game was called "Linking Leroy". This was in fact a standalone concept by Bacchus before the demo came along. Bacchus did the joystick routine, the scroller, the editor and the basic detection of the environment. Harlekin took over the source and ‘perfected’ it further including the implementation of real graphics and so on. Why this Linking Leroy and why "Lego Land"? I asked BACCHUS: "We are into this LEGO thing. I had a connection with the marketing manager of LEGO and we got sweatshirts, bands and some other giveaways calling it LEGO. So we added ‘Lego Linkers’ to a few of the productions and added LEGO to the design".
Moving to the month of May, new members Sodapop and his close friend Tronic left to form a new group called Caladan (the group name was inspired by the novel ‘Dune’ and only managed a handful of releases). FairLight did however gain a talented young musician from Just Another Miracle (JAM) called Red Devil, who was to prove an active member in upcoming releases. Towards the end of July, Creeper/Death Sector joined as a graphician. He was only in the group for some weeks and left in September for demo rivals Flash Incorporated.
Throughout the year the group managed to release approximately 60 cracks, including some of the bigger full price titles on offer (usually handled by Bacchus). In December 1992 the Swedish demo group Wrath Designs folded, this created opportunities for recruitment with the intake of personalities such as Avalon (music), Stash (swap), Ed (code) and Oxidy (code/graphics). Also joining during this month was Enduro/Intruders as a swapper (and later as a diskmag editor) and Ranger/Noice (graphics). Stash later left to join the newly formed group Epic. The end of the year not only meant new members but also new releases. The platform for these releases was The Party 1992 held in Aars, Denmark. The group attended this event, visiting their Viking friends in the south. Red Devil and Mac/JAM powered through the music competition and attained the number one ranking. Also released at the party was a graphics entry by Ranger, a promotional demo for the Warez Aquarium BBS and a quick crack of a game called ‘Slide’ that many other groups had also cracked and released during the party.
The doors swung open to another new year in the world of C64. 1993 gave us "Mayhem in Monsterland" from APEX and Thalamus’ last C64 game "Nobby the Aardvark" and an exciting new cracking group called ‘Avantgarde’. A friend of FairLight, Natas/Horizon, who happened to be one of the organisers behind the Vårby Easter parties near Stockholm. Natas wanted to organise a gathering of sceners and decided the movie premiere of ‘Sneakers’ would be the right place. The idea grew and he dug through his old contact books and suddenly he had 170 names registered on his list for those who wanted to attend!
The ‘Sneakers Reunion’ took place on the 12th of February 1993. A lot of the really famous guys from the old days were there. Ixion (the former leader of Triad), Mr.Z and the guys from FairLight showed up which included Nobody (ex-WCC), Black Shadow, Bacchus, The Alchemist and Rowdy. Also in attendance was Karl XII and Elric of Agile, Natas, Zagor, Bagder, Sony, Mastermind and Kjer of Horizon, Mr. Big and fellow members of Swedish Hackers Association (SHA), Danko/Censor, Mr.Pinge/Relax, Janitor/Triad, Creeper/Flash Inc, Goblin, Flamingo and Spirou of Light, Motley/Genesis*Project, Necromancer/Paragon and more. After the movie some of the guys hooked up at a club called ‘East’ for an after party. Natas managed to get Denniz Pop (RIP) and The Snake to DJ for the night. Arriving at East were some of the FairLight clan, Mr.Z, Karl XII and the guys from Swedish Hackers Association (SHA) (the latter had become quite well known for their exploits at hacking, particularly their hack into the Swedish military defence system amongst other things). After the night had come to an end Danko was quite lucky to share a bus ride home with Mr.Z. During the ride he had a good conversation with him on the hour long journey back home (they lived close to each other).
Back in the late eighties and early nineties it was quite common place that people got busted for illegal activities. Either for hacking/phreaking or for stamp cheating. Hard to imagine that people would risk their freedom for their scene activities but it was part of the thrill, the excitement of being in the scene, to go against the mainstream and to be a bit different without even trying. Austrian member Ayatollah was no exception here; he got busted and spent about a week in jail before being released, he was involved in the SNES section of FairLight as well as the C64 and was narced on by a guy called Alligator (a friend of his). Most of his machines were taken by the police but they did leave a C64 and Amiga 2000 behind, as a result he left the scene to code on SNES, but later returned to crack only, his comeback release was ‘Karamalz Cup’. This whole process killed off his magazine Emanuelle which released its 13th and final issue in early March. The bust was not totally sour, at least in regards to Ayatollah’s input on the magazine-front for FairLight. The sequence of events continued with Black Priest/Cross joining the group as swapper and editor (World News). Both editors (Ayatollah and Black Priest) were tired of their magazines and they both wanted a new outfit. Enduro came up with the bright idea that the two magazines (Emanuelle/World News) should fuse and that they should combine their resources and share the work load to release issues more regularly. The result of this was the ‘Reformation’ magazine released in early April featuring a new outfit by Tron, Creeper and Red Devil. The magazine made a monthly appearance and was well received by the board and mail scenes alike.
Membership churn continued; the first change was the removal of Avalon who was to rejoin later in the year. The same happened with Lexi, joining and then leaving, only to rejoin later in the year together with his BBS ‘Cyberdome’. German scener Mendrake joined in May with the promise of some first releases, but was immediately kicked the same month because he joined Bodycount as a second group (double membership was a sensitive issue for the group and was to be discussed with the leadership council first). Another member to go was Ranger, who jumped ship to join Noice on the Amiga.
Ogami released one of his better graphics shows aptly titled "Visual Orgasm". The slideshow featured unreleased artwork created between 1989 and 1992. A quick IRQ-IFFL routine was managed by Harlekin with the jingles by Red Devil. During this time Bacchus moved to the Swedish capital Stockholm and Strider made the journey to his new home in the USA.
In July the demo legend Light broke up and FairLight seized the opportunity to recruit the remaining active talent from the group. Joining in on a trial basis was HCL, Vodka, Spirou and Bappalander. Spirou brought with him his BBS ‘Future Zone’ which also joined the FairLight BBS fleet. In August Lexi/Legend rejoined as sysop and cracker and Dishy/Dominators joined as original supplier and swapper (only to leave a bit later to rebuild the old group Vision). Also in the busy month of August, one of FairLight’s old members, The Alchemist, returned to the scene for a brief time as cracker. Membership changes continued into September with Blackdroid/Wrath Designs (graphics) joining on trial and the group letting go of their long serving Dutch sysop Duvel due to no contact in a very long time. Also during this month Red Devil released volume 1 of his ‘Devil Tracks’ music collection. The collection was put together by Bacchus and Rowdy, with beautiful graphics by Ogami and Redstar.
The month of November arrived and old group Illusion from Norway was almost dead due to internal disruption between their Norwegian and US sections. Susieuzi/Illusion decided to leave the sinking ship and joined FairLight together with her board ‘The Intersection’. During this period of Illusion dying and the group taking other paths in the scene, a heap of ex-members got busted. Amongst these were; Derbyshire Ram, who suddenly had Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) wanting to interview him and also his connections to UK Software Houses becoming obsolete. Grego/ex-Illusion got busted by AT&T for "950" abuse and shortly before that a raid took place in Susieuzi/FairLight’s home in Texas. Susie’s home was turned upside-down, the 7 federal agent’s confiscated unrelated material such as a bible and even her underwear! No charges were laid but ultimately this whole event was to be the reason Susieuzi left not only FairLight but also the scene and her BBS ‘The Intersection’ was never seen again. Several people were quite suspicious during this period that it was more than a coincidence that three members of Illusion all got busted at the same time, but naturally there was no hard evidence to even begin to suggest names to the public.
Avalon, their former musician who had left to rejoin the rebuilt Wrath Designs team rejoined FairLight only after a short time in Wrath Designs, he immediately went to work on music for an upcoming demo. Around the same time as Avalon rejoining, the group lost HCL who left to join the forces of Censor Design. In early December, long time member Aaron and Ayatollah decided to call it a day and left the scene.
As usual, the end of the year meant that another trip to Denmark was called for, to visit the increasingly popular event known simply as ‘The Party’. This year the group showed off another dominating performance. Sealing 4th place with "Legoland 3", coming first in the music compo (Red Devil, again) and first in the graphic compo (Oxidy). Some important trivia relating to this event is that some FairLight members collected a lot of the "vote-disks" and made mass-vote-cheat for the collected disks so that it favoured every FLT production in all compos. However, they got the entry-number for the C64 demo compo wrong and ended up voting for Focus instead. If they had the entry number right, "Legoland 3" would have achieved 3rd place rather than the Focus demo which was called "Visual Delight 2". LEXI recalls the party: "That Party was the bummer. 1st of all I was told to go back to Germany at the border as the officer saw that my passport has run out. I had to get a visa on the German side of the border and it was snowing like shit. Then at the party place I got my FLT jacket (the one in the FBI Style) and hung around with Bacchus, Vodka, Ogami and the rest trying to get the Legoland 3 parts together which Tron was still coding kilometres away in Sweden. We finally got ‘em via Modem. Bacchus was running around mad as the time was short to the demo deadline. Vodka was the "Caffeine Pill" Man. I don’t know how much of ‘em he ate but at least he fell as well and went up again as the disk throwing contest started (or was it the burping contest?)."
The memberstatus of FairLight in December 1993 looked like this: Bacchus, Bappalander, Black Priest, Dino, Enduro, Gerwin, Grayhawk, Harlekin, Lexi, Ogami, Oxidy, Red Devil, Rowdy, Sledge, Spirou, Tron, Vodka, Watchman and The Alchemist.
1994 dawned on FairLight and the illegal scene was truly in decline. The American scene had died years ago and crackers were now relying purely on the budget game labels to create the competition between groups. A really sad state of affairs for crackers but an exciting change as the demo scene became increasingly prominent. Despite this, the old 8-bit beast continued to struggle and defy time itself - there were still the boards, there were still cracks - there was still a scene!
The membership shake-up that has been wedded to the group for several years continued. In January Black Priest was fired for his below average effort for issue 6 of Reformation released at the Camelot party in Denmark, he went on to join a group called Territory. Bappalander left FairLight and the scene for study as he felt he could not fulfil membership demands. In February Tabasco/JAM joined as a mega-swapper.
March was a busy month for the choice of an anti-communistic generation. FairLight released a trackmo-styled demo called "Skaaneland", which was coded by Oxidy and included over 1400 blocks of graphics (unpacked) by Ogami and Oxidy. As well as "Devil Tracks Volume 2", the new music collection by Red Devil featured some pretty neat pixels by Ogami and code from Bacchus. During this month Mendrake was allowed back in the group, he left Sacred to rejoin. Snooze/Bronx renamed to Rage and joined on trial as cracker and coder, his good friend Volunteer/Bronx joined also on trial as original supplier. Not long after they left to form the new German cracking group Hardcore.
Since 1993 Horizon and FairLight were organising The Computer Crossroad 1994 party for the second time. Sadly the event could not be held due to a budgeting problem (more money was needed). The sponsors couldn’t fill the gap so the party was cancelled. The gap for this party was filled by the Tribute 1994 party in Gothenburg organised by the duo Avantgarde and Genesis*Project. BACCHUS: "At the Tribute party, the group had a serious discussion. After a long time running the group, I felt it was time to leave the leadership to someone else. My wife was expecting our first kid and I had to focus a bit more on work than I had been able to so far. The successor was actually two - Sledge and Tabasco, but rather soon it showed that Sledge was the only one doing the job as requested so he was left alone at the post."
With Sledge in control of the group all further changes were under his watch, in occasional consultations with Bacchus. Sledge did move to Stockholm and for a short while their world headquarters Warez Aquarium was offline due to the number change. Generally speaking, 1994 was a slow year for the group as were the following years until the crew settled back down into a regular team again with less membership changes. Mid-year some of the FairLight power was lost with Oxidy leaving for his old group Wrath Designs and Tron joining the army in mid-June (meaning his PC program called colourBBS was never released, which would allow PC boards to use C64 graphics). An Australian scener Highlander joined on trial and brought with him his BBS ‘Fishbowl’. This Australian BBS was on PC, running on something called 64NET to communicate between the C64 and the PC. In August Swedish cracker and sysop Lexi released the "The SidPlay Collection" as his farewell to the C64 scene, which he was leaving for the SNES scene.
Bacchus did do one more first release for the group on December 15th, this release required a lot of hard work and was his finest and proudest production thus far - he became a father to a baby girl he named Matilda!
Their magazine Reformation had been quite successful, giving serious competition to other top magazines during that time. Enduro had taken over as main editor and in 1994 the group released five issues of the mag, finishing in November with their special final edition called ‘Reformation Recycletion’. Issue 10 showed the magazine’s potential with its best issue yet, however sadly to be the last under this title.
During March of 1995 their magazine "Reformation" and the Equinoxe magazine "Ingenious Brain" merged into one big magazine called "Shout!". The first and only issue was released in March. The magazine was something quite special with hires graphics amongst the pages and a huge amount of text. The reason for the merge from FairLight’s point of view was to fill the coding gap of Tron (in the army) and Bacchus (stepping down due to fatherhood) by getting the guys in Equinoxe to handle the binary, thus allowing Enduro to be creative without restrictions. After the debut issue the mag faded, partially due to the moving around of Enduro and the size of the project becoming difficult to manage. The guys in Equinoxe moved on to their new mag project called "Passion" which was eventually released in August independently. Despite this setback, FairLight would return to the world of magazines in dramatic style a couple of years later.
Stasi/Noice and Sledge/FairLight organised a mini gathering of sceners called The "Ekerö Meeting", which was held in the countryside outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Originally it was supposed to be a Noice, FairLight and Triad meeting only but in order to drum up some interest for the scene it was converted into an official C64 party. Around 30 sceners turned up including guys from Genesis*Project, Censor, Flash Inc and Booze Design. Some fun trivia for this mini-event is the fact that Jerry/Triad showed up about 30 minutes before the party ended on the Sunday. :D
After two weeks, trial member Iceball announced his return to Motiv8 as they were showing a sign of life again. Around this time Bungalow/JAM renamed to Pharao and joined on trial as swapper taking over most of Tabasco’s contacts who slowed his swapping down due to study. Moonchild, a well reputed cracker from Poland, left Fatum to focus his cracking ability for the commie-killers.
Not much else happened in 1995, a shift in power from Bacchus to Sledge, some minor membership changes and just over 40 cracks. The group was truly going through a rebuilding period and Sledge wanted the group to have more focus on the legal scene than ever before. The impact this had on the group was less activity which more or less continued into the following couple of years.
9. THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM (1996-1997)
In 1996 Sledge tried to get some sleepy heads active again (not an easy task in the scene). Rumours circulated around the scene that FairLight were planning several productions which was an obvious sign of activity from an organisational level. Amongst these were a third Red Devil music collection, a sequel to Ogami’s Visual Orgasm and the return of the Reformation magazine albeit in an online format with Enduro at the helm. It was also rumoured that Tron and Rowdy were working on a demo called "Legolize It - A Decade of Glory". The latter was cancelled due to missing the anniversary deadline.
Some new members were recruited to try get some activity happening in the sleepy group. Firstly the Polish section expanded with Diverse/Fugazi joining as cracker and original supplier and not long after that he joined Hitmen as second group. He was to support Moonchild as a fellow Polish member. After a little while Diverse left the scene and Moonchild left FairLight to team up with the guys in Hitmen. Lexi rejoined the group and brought back his BBS, this time under the name of ‘Legoland’, the group also signed on MacGyver/Airwolf-Team as a swapper. During this period of recruitment the group employed many trial members who would have to prove themselves before full membership was attained. Amongst those were Big User, Headhunter and Petrus from FLP-Group and Delta, Lightside and Phantom from Airwolf-Team (AWT). The guys were mainly trialled due to their knowledge on the Flash8 (8 MHz accelerator card for the C64) and it was hoped this technology would take off and the group could be on the forefront of it as far as productivity and experience.
Things were slow throughout the year. Highlander, the Australian scener was no longer on trial and helped FairLight enter the 4K compo held by the American Driven magazine in July. In September Spirou closed down the Future Zone BBS after 5 or more years of operation and together with Grayhawk left the scene. In November Vectrocon joined as coder. His first release for the group was "Ultraflash Noter V2.0" and also a modded version of "Supersorter III". These tools fitted in with Bacchus’ vision of FairLight maintaining a prominent tool section. Before the end of the year Vectrocon changed handle into Thunderblade.
A slow year for the group, again no demos and only a dozen or so cracks released.
A new year and a new page turned in the book of eternal delight - the year is 1997 and the tenth year on the C64 for the Legolanders. In March SILIconvention 1997 took place in Bremen, Germany. Officially a Plush & FairLight organised event, it was mainly made possible through Thunderblade and MacGyver. The party was held on an unfortunate date as it took place the same time as the bigger MekkaSymposium (also in Germany). Still, lots of people showed up including people from the Atari and Acorn scenes. In May, Thunderblade got tired of the inactivity within the group and left to start up a new group called DMAgic. MacGyver followed not long after and joined DMAgic also as well as most of the guys on trial that were recruited earlier in the year.
Mid-year Harlekin showed a sign of life with the release of a HTML viewer with REU support. "FairLightML" was the first HTML viewer for the C64 and was sold earlier to Magna Media under the name "64erHTMLviewer".
The situation of the group was bad to say the least, with the memberlist in July looking like: Sledge, Bacchus, Rowdy, Harlekin, Vodka and Red Devil. All that was left was the core of the group, what can be done when members are in a coma and refuse to seek inspiration?
10. HOWDY HACKERS - PART II (1997-1998)
...and then something big took place, towards the end of the year, Bacchus took a big step towards a real comeback for FairLight. Seeing no real future in a cracking section, he focused instead on forming a powerful demo group, and recruited several members towards this end. In November Gum, Logger, Wiggen, Hollowman and Rooster from the Swedish group Alter were allowed in on trial, providing they deliver a demo for The Party 1997 to prove themselves worthy of membership. Then two weeks before The Party, established disk magazine editors Duke and Sun Dancer/Success*TRC joined, bringing with them a new diskmag project, "Scene+". Bacchus made Duke the new main organiser of the C64 section, replacing Sledge who was more focused on his other group Hitmen. Duke quickly recruited Crossfire (crack) and L.A. Style (sysop of ‘The Hidden’) from Motiv8, also Mendrake (again), Goat and Animalo of Laxity joined as double members.
The revitalised group was once again buzzing with activity, the magazine by Duke "Scene+" was to be the first major group release in quite sometime. The entire diskmag (using existing code) was then put together in just 10 days, and "Scene+ #1" was released live on an unsuspecting audience at The Party 1997, rounding off what was perhaps the most important month in FairLight history for some years.
BACCHUS: "On the 16th September 1997 Sledge claimed that he no longer wanted to be a part of the group. He joined "Hitmen" but we actually discussed this thought and we agreed that Warez Aquarium would be a shared Hitmen/FairLight board, and that Sledge should have dual membership! This meant that I was back in control of the group... however in December, the hard part about leaving someone else the group is feeling confident about the fact that the one taking over is up to the job! I can then say that I’m fully confident that Duke is up to the job. Under Duke’s leadership a cracking section was recreated and he’s also gathering a demo section!"
SLEDGE recalls those days of doubt: "This was a strange time really. I was somewhat irritated and bored about the laziness in FairLight when it came to BBS support at that time. Hitmen were more active on Warez Aquarium at that time, and I had some really good friends in Hitmen. They asked me to join, and I felt that it could be a fresh restart for me personally. But Bacchus and I talked, and for that I’m glad :)"
Duke had quite a lot of scene experience, with a background in The Dominators and Ikari, as well as his world leading ‘The Pulse’ magazine. He seemed to be a good choice and someone that had what it takes to lead a big name group like FairLight. Duke now lives in Canada and is still around in the scene, I asked him for a statement of this time in his scene career.
"It’s 1997, and the history of FairLight continues. 1997 was a bittersweet year for many of us - and for many reasons. It was now pretty official that the scene was dying, and at an escalating rate. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never subscribed to the idea that the scene is dead, or was dead - or that it is only alive if new games are released weekly. But the mid-90’s was pretty sad just the same.
I left the scene in the mid-90’s after a long run of releasing The Pulse, and I only returned to the scene because I wanted to work once again with some of the great people that made me love the scene in the first place. The thing I wanted to bring back to the scene was Scene+. A brand new magazine, pretty much like The Pulse, but just under a different name and outfit. Now, the idea was there, and I had my partners: Crossfire (involved from pretty much the very beginning of The Pulse) and local side-kick Sun Dancer - graphician and early, as well as integral, contributor to The Pulse as well. However, we had no label. Sure, we could go ahead and simply release it as a no name magazine. I’m all for that. But this time around I would get involved with more than I bargained for - and at the same time fulfil an old C64 dream of mine as well.
1997, still, and I’m at "The Party" in Denmark. For those of you who have never attended The Party I can tell you that it used to be a pretty big party indeed. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people would gather in major halls and completely give in to scene life - be it the C64, Amiga, or PC scene. It was scene culture, and it was hardcore on all levels. I arrived with Crossfire and Sun Dancer, and we wanted to inspire the scene with a brand new magazine: Scene+. Now, please keep in mind this is 12 years ago, so the details are VERY fuzzy, but at one point during the party (which lasted a couple of days) I found myself with a cell phone (at the time it was more like a huge brick, hehe) in my hand and Bacchus, boss of FairLight, on the other line. Pontus (Bacchus) was an old friend of mine, and I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him - and not only for his accomplishments, but also for his personality and integrity. He truly is one of the finest sceners I have ever met. The event that was "The Party" now turned into a recruiting event for me, personally. Bacchus wanted to work with me on Scene+, and at the same time wanted me to join FairLight and lead the group. I was hesitant at first, but at the same time I was very flattered to be considered for such a great opportunity. FairLight is without a doubt one of the finest groups ever, and at the time it had hit a bit of a slump, so I saw it as a great opportunity to perhaps help FairLight boost its profile in the scene, and bring it back to its former glory. The initial idea, however, was to release Scene+ under the FairLight label, and then later figure out a way to revitalize the group as a force in the cracking and demo-scene as well.
Now, the months following are more than a little fuzzy, so please excuse my lack of details. Now, looking back, I admit my leadership of FairLight at the time was very weak. I was too busy in my personal life with building a business, and as a result Scene+ was shut down after only two issues. Crossfire managed to release quite a few first-releases, though, and really worked hard to make the group competitive in the cracking scene once again. I never really had a chance to assemble and inspire the legal section, but since then FairLight has truly brought itself back to the forefront of the scene. All told, these were a fun couple of years, and I remember them fondly. It’s a shame that real life gets in the way of our C64 activities - but that’s the way it goes.
Now, in closing, a fun little story to share with you before I wrap up my FairLight experience is one of my personal conversation with FairLight founder, Strider, only days after I had been selected by Bacchus as leader of FairLight. Strider wanted to talk to me personally to find out more about me, and to make sure that I was indeed FairLight material. He asked me many questions, and I tried at best to answer every single one of them. One question stood out, however: what is your political affiliation. My answer: liberal. Now, this was a huge problem, and Strider was not happy. You can imagine this was a very sensitive issue and at the time I thought my days as FairLight leader had ended right there. However, it had all been a huge misunderstanding. Liberal, in Denmark, is basically Libertarian. But in America, where Strider lives, it means left-wing. Please understand that through time FairLight has been notoriously known as a right-wing group. Needless to say this was a rather humorous misunderstanding. When, however, Strider understood that indeed I was right-wing as well, and that we shared similar political views, he was very supportive of my candidacy as leader of FairLight. Unfortunately, though, it was going to be short-lived. Less than two year’s total, but I enjoyed every minute of it."
Early in 1998 the ex-Alter guys were removed from the group, with the exception of Logger who later followed them to Triad anyway. After having left the group behind a few months ago Sledge/Hitmen (sysop) was convinced to return as double member thus bringing back the Warez Aquarium BBS under the FairLight flag. Duke continued to employ the services of additional members to bolster the reborn group, to help spread the wares Clive/Motiv8 joined as a mail trader. Soon following was Nostalgia, who changed handle to Mindflow and joined in as swapper.
The legal section expanded with Druid/Agony Design (code) leaving his second group Chromance to join as a double member and DeeKay/Crest (graphics) leaving his second group Onslaught and joining as a double member. DeeKay was only in FairLight for a very short time as he started to miss his friends in Onslaught so he decided to rejoin them. Also joining in was Oswald/Coma/Pulse (code) who joined in as a triple member.
Bacchus wanted to move further with his idea of FairLight being the dominant tool supplier to the world of C64. He created a "Tools Section"; a platform independent section with the aim of creating the coolest tools around! Bacchus and Highlander were the main members of this section but soon other people joined in also. Inside FairLight itself there was a small cleanup of existing members, Tabasco and Lightside were removed due to inactivity. Enduro, a former member who was the editor of their old magazine Reformation, expressed some interest in helping the reformed group in the way of developing a web BBS. Legend and later Success&TRC were the first scene groups to develop "web boards", as the move from traditional BBS went to the internet. However, for unknown reasons Enduro did not finish his BBS and for that reason did not regain membership inside the group.
FairLight faced harsh criticism for Crossfire’s activity in the cracking scene, with the amount of ‘basic’-code games that were obtained from the Loadstar magazine as well as some re-releases. Regardless, they were in a good position to show other qualities with their magazine Scene+ (continuing the trend of the old The Pulse magazine) and a demo section consisting of names that could possibly deliver remarkable titles.
In March, the group expanded with members from Norway like GRG/Shape (ex-Shark, music) as double member and GHD/Impulse (code). Bob/Nostalgia joined to serve as a cracker, he would operate under the new handle of Paranoid. Skinhead, former member of groups like Alpha Flight 1970, Avantgarde, F4CG and Hysteric, offered his services as cracker as well as magazine editor to celebrate a re-union with his former comrades from The Pulse magazine staff.
During this period of high activity, quite a few people left the group also. Sun Dancer decided to quit the scene, Goat, LA*Style and Mendrake left to focus on the German based cracking group called Laxity followed by Mindflow a few days later (thus the group lost both their German boards The Dragon’s Tower and The Hidden). Later on Clive decided to leave the scene completely and Red Devil decided to leave the scene also, as he felt it was time to move on.
Early in May, the second issue of Scene+ came out, with a beautiful new outfit by Oswald, Sander and GRG. The issue was very well received and was the best 8-bit publication by the group so far. It featured articles by The Dark Judge, Strider, AMJ and Shuze and interviews with Burglar and The Dark Judge.
Further membership changes took place with Gene, the notorious board caller with backgrounds in Illusion and Legend was recruited to the forces of FLT. Norwegian musician GRG/Shape left his second group FairLight and joined up with Onslaught. Along with these membership changes Duke announced his retirement from the scene as he wanted to focus his energy on building his own business. With Duke gone, other members that he had brought into the group started to dwindle away also. The group had refound old heights in the scene, was it now just a distant dream?
11. THE DELIGHT OF ETERNAL MIGHT (1999-CURRENT)
The group was once again commanded by Bacchus, who was quite busy in real life but found some time to continue working in the tool section of the group.
1999 was the year that FairLight’s final crack on the C64 appeared, which was "Double+3" by Crossfire. This closed the door on FairLight’s decade long affair with cracking C64 games and renewed the attention towards the demo scene. The only other release this year was a graphic entry from Vodka at the Remedy party which came in third. Around this time Oswald left to join the forces of a local Hungarian group called Resource. This year was the slowest year on record and one that the group would rather forget.
The new millennium dawned on the world of C64, a magical feat within itself as the old machine should have expired long ago but continued to defy. This same will to survive existed in FairLight also, as it struggled to come to terms with the fact that another leader had left the group and again there was no direction. Bacchus knew something had to change and appointed a new leader to govern and shape the group towards glory, the person who took this task was Vodka. VDK as he is otherwise known was another good candidate, he had good credentials with loads of experience within the group and most importantly he was entirely from the demo scene; which was the direction the group had to take. I conducted a small interview with Vodka to capture his impressions during the handover of leadership.
VODKA, current leader:
J) What were you doing before FairLight?
V) After the success with "Totally Stoned 2" on TCC, HCL and I left Booze Design to join Light. Some weeks/month later I got a call from Bacchus with "an offer we could not resist". After some time HCL changed school and ended up in the same school as guys from Censor. He swapped team but I have stayed in FLT since then.
J) What was the impression of the group before joining and how did you feel when being involved?
V) Just play the game "Korvjakt" by Judas Design. Try to fly as high as possible. After a while you see the message "You have joined FairLight". I think that pretty much explains it all. :-)
The first graphic I did for FLT was used in the end part of Legoland 3, and that was really nice to be part of. At that time, FLT already had at least two other very talented and active artists (Ogami & Oxidy), so the expected standard was high.
J) How did you become management of the group?
V) Some time after Duke left, I was pretty much the only active guy in FLT, and my main problem was to get my graphic used somewhere. I checked with Bacchus if it was okay for me to join Onslaught as a second group (something that normally never was allowed), and I did some logos and stuff for them (my gfx-collection "VodkART" was released jointly under the FLT/Onslaught-labels).
Around year 2000 I got in contact with an old C64-coder (Dwangi) who wanted to start up again, and I saw his potential, and he was very motivated and active. I then saw the possibility to get FLT more active as a group again, and I called Bacchus and asked if it was ok for Dwangi to join. He then told me that all kind of decisions like that were up to me now, and I was free to run FLT-C64 as I liked (we agreed to keep in close contact over the phone though, so Pontus was still up to date with major changes).
J) Do you still have to pass things by Bacchus or Strider if they are awkward?
V) No, not really. I speak to Pontus on the phone from time to time and over the net, and offer him to show up at meetings / parties (last time he accepted that offer was when you showed up at Datahelg 5. ;-)
J) The group is now totally legal on C64. The demos really started to pick up from around 2000/2001 onwards. Can you tell us about those demos, the likes of Wok Zombie and the whole concept based productions by Hollowman etc...?
V) Wok Zombie was one of the funniest project I have ever been involved in on the C64. Everyone was highly motivated at the time, and the project was progressing very fast. The concept was from a conversation on IRC with Jucke if I remember right. He was very tired one Monday morning and wanted to say Zombie@work but missed the "r". Rest is legend. :-)
J) Axis of Evil and even to a smaller degree the Datahelg party are some of the events you have helped organise. In the last 10 years it seems FairLight has thrived on the party scene in Scanda, in particular the Axis events and of course stuff like Floppy and LCP. Can you give us some insight on how these events have shaped the group, and FairLight’s involvement in organising etc?
V) Axis of Evil is/was really special, that deserves some explanation. In 2003 it came to my attention that my old pal Oxidy from FLT (who I had not seen for over 10 years) was coming from "Skaaneland" to my hometown to attend a big car show. He and his family had rented a cottage near a beach, so me and my fiancé went over to visit them. It turned out that we still got along well, and I’m happy to say that so did our girlfriends. We agreed to invite some C64-friends to come over from Stockholm for a BBQ. The fun side note was that the meeting had visitors from the major active groups back then (FLT, Triad & WD), so we made a joke to divide what parties/compos we should participate in/win. "Cartel" is the English word for it, I think. ;-)
And this is a tradition we have kept since then. Oxidy and his family still come up once a year and we still BBQ.
J) What does the future hold for the group on C64?
V) Wok Zombie 2? The revenge of Linking Leroy? Legoland 4? Who knows? But make no mistake: Legends may sleep, but they NEVER die.
In 2001 the demo scene was still alive and well, particularly in Scandinavia. This was largely due to well organised events such as Floppy and Little Computer People, these events stirred the bellies of those in slumber and kindled competition between the old and the new generations. In fact over the following years FairLight focused almost exclusively on demo competition and really began to fill their trophy cupboard with well-deserved awards.
In February Vodka released a graphic entry at the Floppy 2001 party in Helsingborg in which he won the 4th place. In 2001 he also left his friends in Onslaught to focus totally on rebuilding the demo power of FairLight. Perhaps the biggest move of this rebuild was the recruitment of Hollowman, a coder who had left Triad after some internal disagreements and rejoined. Hollowman had made quite a name for himself under the Triad label with a fresh style in demo creation, stirring the mind were titles such as "Manhood", "Manhood 2" and "Feedback". The X’2001 party in Gelderland, Netherlands was announced so Hollowman (code) teamed up with the guys in Damage (graphics) to make the cooperation demo "Drop the Basics". This outstanding demo obtained 3rd place at the party and it featured some refreshing animations based on some funny ideas. This demo was hardly about hardcore code, but more about fresh screens encased with beautiful graphics - a fitting debut under the FairLight label and a prelude of what was to come.
In the following year the Floppy 2002 party arrived in late February. FairLight had been busy again on another demo, this time something of a conceptual nature. The party arrived and Hollowman conquered all with his "Pretending To See The Light" which came in 1st place at the demo competition. The demo is definitely one of those entertainment packages that gets you thinking about modern society. Also quite significant is that it is the first time the FairLight team reached number one in a demo competition. They had come close many times previously and had always ranked as a top contender at any party. With "Pretending To See The Light" the importance of new key members was very obviously illustrated. Later in April, Vodka entered a graphic entry at the Mainframe party in Norrköping and got first place also!
Expanding the memberstatus in July the group recruited two musicians, firstly Finnish musician Reed/Damage followed by the Swedish scener Maktone. Also in July the group participated in the "Singles Collection Volume 1", which was a multi-group contribution demo featuring a single part from each group. FairLight’s submission was coded once again by Hollowman.
In 2003 things got a bit busier with multiple productions and new members joining in. Strangely during this year there were a lot of rumours spread that the group was dead or dying. They were all proven to be mere ramblings of the uninformed, if anything the group was as active as any in the scene to the point where other teams could be envious.
BACCHUS made a statement during this time to allay fears that the group had folded:
I’d like to add to what’s been said here by quoting a document I recently produced for serving as a scroller for an upcoming demo:
During the long years, since the group FairLight first saw its dusk, we have seen lots of time phases. We’ve created a reputation by our activities on C64, Amiga, Super Nintendo and PC. It’s in the news that ‘FairLight is dead and that 16 years is enough due to the dangers involved in the business’. Let me point out a few things; One of the mottos of FairLight was ‘Built stronger to last longer’ and this is ever more true today than ever, so let me be very clear - WE ARE NOT DEAD!
The holder of the name is the council trio, Strider (founder), JBM (Amiga and PC) and Bacchus (Commodore 64). The group FairLight is then made up of independent sections on different platforms. Some people know each other across the section borders but this is a limited few. No member is entitled to kill the group, but their section might be closed. This happened to the PC ISO section recently but this is nothing new. It has happened with the SNES section once and the PC section once before. The latter, due to the bust of the "Not So Humble Babe", in case anyone around has a recollection that reaches that far back. The group is stronger than the sections - the group is an organism with more than one cell. If a dedicated team of crackers looked us up and wanted to continue where the last ISO section left, we might consider the offer to work under the FairLight brand. For now our activities are limited to demos on the C64 and PC, kindly supervised by VDK and Pantaloon respectively. So we are in the somewhat unfamiliar position of not having a cracking section, but it is a girlfriend in a coma - not rigor mortis.
So until you see a statement by Strider, JBM and Bacchus declaring our death, don’t believe what you read. And perhaps you shouldn’t anyway, as both Strider and myself have ensured that there is a new generation of FairLighters ready to take over from their fathers when that day comes.
Remember that FairLight was built stronger to last longer. Remember that legends never die. Remember that FairLight is like space - if we have an outter border, its well beyond human grasp. Remember that we’ll give you reasons not to forget again and again."
On that note, the group expanded their position a bit further with Puterman/Civitas (coder) and Chromag (musician) joining to re-enforce the legal section further. Earlier in the year the Floppy 2003 party arrived once again to Helsingborg. It was the third time that FairLight was to show their warez in front of an enthusiastic crowd of demo sceners. This time they submitted not one, but two demos into the competition. The first one is called "Loaded" which ranked 2nd, another triumph from the winning combination of Hollowman and Goto80. The second demo was called "We/Laser" which ranked 4th and was the FairLight debut for Puterman together with graphical assistance from Hollowman and Vodka and a soundtrack by Maktone.
In mid-March FairLight dominated the Deadline 2003 party with two demos. Coming first at the compo was their demo in cooperation with Crest called "Anyone" (Hollowman, Puterman and Dane) and coming second was "14 and Life" (Dwangi and Vodka). Both were smaller productions, particularly in light of the fact that they had only released two demos the month before! FairLight dead? Far from it, during that time they were the most active demo group on the C64. In July, they ventured down the 8-bit highway to a place called Linköping where the LCP 2003 party was held. Here they released "Emanation Machine" which took first place (psychedelic input by Hollowman, Puterman, Vodka and Goto80) and "Legends Never Die!" which took 3rd place (Hollowman, Puterman, Abaddon, Maktone and Vodka). LCP 2003 had over ten demos in the competition, when the results were announced the group could not ask for much more.
Halfway through the year and the group had already amassed six demos. The "Singles Collection Volume 2" was released in July containing a contribution from Hollowman. During this month, at a meeting in Finland, two Finns had a bit to drink and then made a call asking if they could join FairLight. The duo was Abaddon/Damage (musician) and Tempest/Damage (graphician/musician) they were already good friends with fellow Finn Reed/FairLight (who was also in FairLight’s PC demo section).
The hype continued in the following month as the commie-killers released "Bigbud" at the North Party 8 in Warsaw, Poland. It won the 4K intro compo. Another little meetings in-between the parties took place again, these meetings helped boost morale and keep the union tight. Vodka’s home played host to such a gathering in August with a lot of sauna and alcohol involved. Some local people were also invited but generally it was a FairLight only event. During this month their Finnish member Reed conquered the Assembly music compo with his entry ‘Cyberdragon’ arriving at first place.
"Götta" was released in November and is a music Collection featuring the work of Maktone with code from Puterman and a lovely portrait of Maktone pixelled by Vodka in its main menu. The collection was a nice out-of-compo export and a suitable prelude to activities in the Christmas month and close of the year. At the very end of December there were two further events FairLight participated in that rounded off one of their most active years. The tUM 2003 party in Hemsbach, Germany, in which FairLight came 1st in the 4K Intro compo with "Blueberry" (Dwangi, Vodka, Maktone). Secondly, the group showed up at the Stockholm University to attend the Deadline Reloaded party. At the event their demo "Game Over" achieved first place. This demo was again in cooperation with their friends in Crest and contained the combined effort of Hollowman, Puterman and Dane.
2004 arrived and just as in previous years the Floppy 2004 party took place in February. The group continued their activities with the same fervour as the previous year. At the party their new demo "Wok Zombie" was released (Hollowman and Puterman) and stole the second position. The demo has an interesting background, as the title is quite obscure. JUCKE gives us some detail on this obscurity: "One morning I went to work in my office and connected to the IRC. I was feeling real tired that morning and was going to write ‘Zombie at work’, which turned out ZOMBIE AT WOK on the screen. Then this little ball started rolling and together with Tranziie and Puterman we come up with this story about a new restaurant chain called WOK ZOMBIE who only serve a special wok with body parts from Zombies. I recently found this note I scribbled down at work the same day... "WOK ZOMBIE. Everyone knows zombies eat brain, and brain is good nutrient, so now we open Wok Zombie, first out in Skövde, then Tarnow and Ulan Bator. Just like DoubleHeadBurger have their double-head gimmick among the staff, Wok Zombie have the zombie theme. Wok Zombie is spreading like a Z-virus. Z-Food for a better future. Smart peoples eat brain-food, with extra green stuff." The next thing I know, I’m at the Floppy party and the demo compo and on the screen comes WOK ZOMBIE by FAIRLIGHT! I thought my brain was going to explode, but I had to hold it together, as I knew some visitors might have tried to eat it if it left my head". Also at the party Maktone took out the music compo with his entry called ‘Harrier’.
Some new music collections arrived in May and July. Firstly "Re/struction" featuring the work of Puterman and followed some weeks later by "Re/store" containing further output by Puterman. At the end of July, FairLight proved their love for the Little Computer People party, this year submitting multiple entries in and out of the compos. "Postcards from Stockholm" (Hollowman, Puterman, Maktone, and Goto80) wooed the crowd enough to gain 1st place in the demo compo. Their other demo "Ultragui" (Puterman, Vodka, Dane, and Blackdroid) came in at number 4 out of 10 or so entries. They also released a mini-music collection called "We/knutby" outside of the compo also with work from Puterman. Later in the year the Finnish section of FairLight (Abaddon, Reed and Tempest) attended the Assembly 2004 party held in the Finnish capital Helsinki. They released their "We Control" demo which gained the fourth position. The demo could have easily ranked higher with some rather nice graphics and a smashing soundtrack by Reed.
In November, Vodka organised "Datahelg 5" - a meeting in his local town Västerås. At this meeting the group released "Göttart", a music and graphic collection featuring the creative output of Vodka and Maktone (with code by Puterman). Around 20 visitors arrived including Vengeance and myself who were on holiday from Australia visiting our old friends in FairLight for the first time in person. Coming down from Stockholm was Bacchus and Pantaloon which added a real variety of people at the event. The meeting gave us all an opportunity not only to be humbled by Vodka’s hospitality but also to drink his vodka and large quantities of it too. I fondly remember the last men standing were Maktone and myself (although Vengeance may have stayed up later as he somehow had ended up at Pantaloon’s place in Stockholm at some absurd hour in the morning).
In May 2010 the Puterman was on a train and to kill the mundane journey he answered some quick questions about these mysterious demos both Hollowman and he had been involved with and the even more mysterious internal meetings otherwise known as Datahelg...
J) Both Hollowman and you are considered saviours of the legal section of FairLight C64; the spine of the demo section, particularly in the early part of the new millennium. You both worked closely together on several productions, how did the demos get made and what inspired the "fresh" themes and designs that many now regard as classics?
P) How they got made varied a lot depending on how ambitious we were and who came up with the ideas. I consider a few of the demos that we made together to be "mine", as they started with my ideas, but Hollowman always has a very strong sense of direction and always seems to know where he wants to take a production, no matter if he came up with the original idea, or if he’s joining someone else’s project. Sometimes it can feel a bit like he’s does a hostile takeover of my project, but that’s just because he’s so productive and always takes such an active role in the development. He’s also really good at taking responsibility and has high standards, so whenever he’s involved in anything, you know that it’s going to be good. I’m sloppier. My emphasis is on saying something, rather than how I say it. I don’t really get why you’d want to make a demo without any sort of narrative or why you’d want to make something that’s just an improved version of something that’s already been made thousands of times before. But I guess people are just different.
As for inspiration for the stuff we did, it varies too. But when I started producing for the C-64 in the late 90s, a huge majority of all the demos that were released were recycled crap and boringus maximus. All those Polish and German trackmos with black background, 8x8 plasmas and filled vectors, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I definitely didn’t want to do that. There were some demos that that were inspirational though, like React’s The Last Reactor, Refugee and Red Storm by Triad, everything by Panoramic and lots of weird old Compunet stuff. Especially the Compunet stuff is great, because back then, there was still no clear concept of what a demo was supposed to be. It could be anything. It was something that you put together for others to watch and interact with. That’s it. You didn’t have to break records, you didn’t need scrollers or logos, you didn’t need to make your own music or graphics, and everything was just open.
The traditional way of telling demo scene history is to say that it started with crack intros that developed into their own entities. I see that as the ugly father of the demo scene, while Compunet is the beautiful milf mother that I’d fuck all night if she’d want to, but I’d be just as content with cuddling with her. When demos started turning into a known concept in the late eighties, it started getting boring. People started to think of conventions as rules, and when you get stuck in that way of thinking, all you’re ever going to do is shit. Of course, it’s never been quite that bad, there have always been good productions among the conventional ones as well. But most people just copy each other’s ideas, it’s seems like such a waste to not try to say anything. Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t understand what it’s all about. Or maybe it’s just everyone else who thinks they know what it’s about. Whatever. (And while I’m at it, this seems to be a great opportunity for me to commit scene suicide by telling the readers of this splendid mag what I think about Dutch Breeze: it sucks. There.)
But back to me talking about myself instead of me being insensitive and offensive to others. I can’t really speak for Hollowman, but I think in most of his demos he’s been trying to tell a story about himself, the same story, but different aspects of it. It’s not always as obvious as in Pretending to See the Light. I guess that’s how you can tell when he’s being serious and doesn’t get his vision soiled by my bad influences. With me it’s more random. I tend to change preferences a lot. I couldn’t possibly have made a demo like We/Banana back in 2000, because I was much more of a stupid asshole back then than I am now. I don’t understand what I was thinking back then. How could I ever be that piss-serious and moralistic? I don’t know... it might have been my Christian girlfriend who sabotaged my otherwise lovely personality.
I have a feeling that my rant here is drifting away into something that looks more like a scroll text than an answer to an interview question, so I’ll move on to the next question, but first I’ll throw some greetings: Hollowman (hey, let’s drink some sportdryck and ragga brudar in Gothenburg sometime soon!), Twoflower (monsieur Cordon Bleu), Moh and his best friend Ulf, the legendary The Cracker of The Gang, Jucklo the cosmic DJ who is consistent in succeeding in breaking my legs, Zabutom the gruvfyllo and of course the freshest man alive: Maktone. Oh, and the forgotten ones. Hej svejs!
J) The whole Scanda scene seemed to come alive with LCP, Floppy, Axis of Evil and more... you guys ruled those years of Swedish-renaissance!
P) Well, at least Hollowman did, scene-wise I tend to see myself as his stupid hillbilly cousin.
J) What are your favourite self-participated productions under the FLT-label and why?
P) I’ll break the rules completely here and mention some non-FLT productions first, because I think they’re important as a background. The first thing I did that was good was Square, where I tried to make a demo without much of the regular demo-stuff. Straight lines and jerky movement instead of smooth sines, bleeps instead of music and a completely different sort of emptiness compared to the conventional demo emptiness, which is more of a muteness.
Then of course I have to mention Thief as well, similar in concept but different in details, with influences from Swedish educational material from the 70’s and early computer games. And green instead of red.
I like quite a few of the things I’ve been involved with in Fairlight for different reasons. Like the first Fairlight demo I made, We/Laser, mostly because it’s slightly weird, has the kickass smoke part which was my first and probably best attempt at doing something with particles, a great catchy tune by Maktone that Cadaver had to write a special conversion tool for me to fit into the limited amount of memory I had left, and awesome Burzum quotes in the end scroller. Burzum’s first album really is the best thing ever. Maybe even better than some of my demos.
I like 1000000 Light Years from Earth, because it’s the best thing I’ve been involved in that’s a very regular demo. It was supposed to be completely different, much better of course, and lots of beautiful ideas had to be removed because my limited design skills just weren’t good enough, and because I didn’t have enough time. It’s one of those demos that started with my concept, and that Hollowman managed to save with one of his super-productive periods. So while it’s not at all what I wanted it to be, it’s still quite good. Like the music by Jeff, which was really different from what I really wanted, much more bombastic than the nihilistic emptiness I had envisioned. This might have been a good thing, as people love the music.
Emanation Machine was pretty much the same thing. It started out with my concept, and with Hollowman’s parts (first half of the demo) and Goto80’s music it turned into something completely different. I really like some of my parts in that one, like the repelling balls and the slowly drifting balls. It seems I like balls. But I think I managed to capture the atmosphere I wanted here and there, a sense that time stops and that everything is safe. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like being back in my mother’s womb. Kind of like the My Beauty, which I wasn’t involved in at all, but in a much less disturbing way.
First You Live and then You Die was good as well, although everyone seems to interpret it very differently from me. I think I pretty much nailed big history narrative style and told the whole history of the universe from the big bang to the big freeze or whatever the stillness that might come at the end is called. That might not be crystal clear though. Kind of like this thing with lids on coffee mugs. I like it, but I don’t understand why. And that sort of thing is also in there. And the word "cocksucker", which is the most beautiful design decision I’ve ever made.
Finally I’d like to mention my We/5, which is the continuation of We/Banana. I know I did something right there, because Hollowman complimented me on the story-telling, and if he says so it has to be good. There’s something I like in almost all of my releases, but none of them comes closer to being as true to its original concept as We/5. It was actually fun to work on, for once, I liked adding the references to my earlier demos, and horribly disharmonic colour scheme is something I’m really proud of. It might just be ugly in your eyes, but to me it means something.
J) What are some funny things or memorable things that have happened for you since being a member of FairLight - surely those saunas at the Datahelg can’t be too friendly right?
P) Lots of stuff, and before going into specifics I should mention that I really like us as a group. It’s a nice mix of people. We’ve only recruited people that we liked. I mean, take a guy like Dwangi. It feels like a privilege to me just to be allowed to exist in the same universe as him, a universe that he decorates with a sense of magic, mystery and wonder by just being the intensely weird person that he is.
The Datahelg’s at Vodka’s place have always been really fresh, it was after one of those meetings that I decided to join Fairlight in the first place. We’d sit in Vodka’s basement and watch demos and drink beer and sometimes listen to Mr. Smirnoff complain about everything. I think the biggest one of these meetings, when you and Matt were on your European tour, might have been the best one, but that was more like a party than just a regular Datahelg meeting.
Quite a few of the parties have been great, including the less known ones, like Deadline and Backslash. You know it’s a good party when the 16 year old organizer has already passed out when the party starts. I think it was probably Maktone who started the extremely annoying tradition of shouting Fairlight slogans all the time, or if you’re too drunk to pronounce "Fairlight, Fairlight, looking for a fight", you’d just should "Fairlight" over and over. Great fun for those involved, really irritating to everyone else. There was this Floppy party when I went up at seven on Saturday morning to have some breakfast before going back to sleep, I was trying to eat my sandwich and drink my orange juice, and Maktone, who’d been up all night sat beside and just shouted "Fairlight" constantly the whole time. Great memory, but a horrible experience when it happened.
J) You have been inactive for a little while now, some guys have asked where you have gone to etc. Gazing into the crystal ball with the all-seeing power of the future, what will Puterman being doing on the C64?
P) I’d guess I’ll never ever release a demo again, but it kind of has a false ring to it. So I don’t know. I have some great ideas, but it’s just too much work coding a demo. Unfortunately I’m too good at it to really be productive anymore. And I got fed up with the whole demo-coding thing a long time ago, but for some reason I kept doing it until I finally quit. I actually coded a "demo" for some party last year, kind of like First You Live and then You Die, but when it was finished it just felt empty, and not in a good way, so I threw it away. But we’ll see what happens, I guess.
At the start of 2005 the group gained a new graphician in Sweden by the name of Oys. He contributed to the group’s first production of the year at the sweaty databoy inferno, otherwise known as the Floppy 2005 event. FairLight placed 2nd with perhaps their best demo to date called "One Million Light Years From Earth" (Hollowman, Puterman, Oys, Vodka and Jeff). The demo produces an amazing outer space atmosphere that takes you beyond the exosphere and into a void - quite simply it is mind warpingly fantastic! The group also ranked second in the music (Puterman) and graphic (Vodka) competitions. The mini-meeting Birdie 15, held in early May in Uppsala, produced "Axis of Evil" (Hollowman, Puterman, and Maktone). The demo/party-invitation placed 4th in the Mixed compo.
The tempo of the group was high and it was quite easy to see that the recruitment made by Vodka was paying off big time as the group was in top gear. In July they hit nitro and blasted to 1st place at the Assembly party in Finland with their demo "Boogie Factor". The demo stole the podium with a 70’s style theme created by the Finnish section of the group; groovy disco entertainment lies herein! The accolades continued for the group at the LCP 2005 held in Linköping in early August with their "Hello:Friend" demo entry. It came in 3rd place and was another winning demo that could have easily stole the compo. The mind of Hollowman was behind this demo supported by a Goto80 soundtrack. The demo really tells a story, just like "Postcards from Stockholm". Hollowman demonstrates that demos are not just about how effects have been created (which most tech-heads seem to sweat about) but also a platform to involve the viewer on a more emotional level (what is art?). FairLight also came 6th with a smaller demo called "We/banana" (Puterman and Maktone). The party also yielded another release, which was Sledge’s comeback to the scene as a graphician (rather than BBS sysop), he won first place in the graphics competition!
FairLight have been in a few cooperation’s over the years; an example was together with Crest (Dane). Their next production brought them together with the guys in Instinct (Pernod/Horizon’s brother JackAsser to be precise) and they brought forward a commemorative demo called "LCP Memories" (Hollowman, Puterman, JackAsser, Maktone, Oys, and Zabutom). The production took the 1st place at Black Birdie II held in Vittinge in early October. It featured music from Zabutom, a new scener who later joined up with the group in November.
The party action continued into the following year with the group releasing "Axis of Evil 2006" (Hollowman and Zabutom) which came 1st at the demo compo at Deadline Harakiri which was held in the Swedish capital Stockholm. In July the group attended the Big Floppy People, which was a combination of the LCP and Floppy parties. The meeting was one of the biggest in recent years with over 70 visitors attending and around 10 demos in the main competition. You can guess who won? You bet. The guys in FairLight brought forth the winning demo called "WWIII" (Hollowman and Zabutom) which had some stunning effects and strong theme, it also had a bonus tune that Swedes would love called "Boten Anna" covered by Zabutom. Beware of this demo, it takes you to scary heights via parallax aeroplanes!
Later in the year the focus shifted to the Dutch event X’2006. Down in Gelderland the group finished off 2006 with two productions in and out of the compo. The X parties had gained a reputation for having quality releases and tight competition. This year was no exception with 12 productions in the demo compo, the top 6 or 7 were all good quality releases. FairLight finished 4th with their release "Romeo" (Hollowman, Puterman, Oxidy), which had vector people and a touch of melancholy as the central theme. Outside of the compo the group (Puterman) released "X2006 Slideshow" in cooperation with Booze Design and Shape. The slideshow captures some of the moments from the party in digital 8-bit format.
FairLight welcomed in 2007 with a big birthday grin. The group was 20 years old this year and has arranged to hold a celebration birthday party in Copenhagen, Denmark. The ‘FLT20’ party was planned in 2006 to take place in June 2007, but was later cancelled due the death of group friend and the party’s main organiser Turtle/Danish Gold. Despite this the group shaped up to be a good year for the group. Early in the year Oys left the group for the guys in Oxyron. Some months later in early April FairLight released "Axis of Evil 2007" (Hollowman/Vodka) at the Breakpoint 2007 party in Bingen, Germany. It ranked 4th which is quite high considering the demo is a party invitation for the upcoming Backslash mini-party. This party took place in Västerås in July and FairLight had two entries into the compos. The small meeting had two demos, both from FairLight, placing 1st was "Sharp" (in cooperation with Instinct) (Hollowman, JackAsser, Goto80). This demo was quite brilliant, with many well designed screens and not your usual Hollowman-style, but something completely different, possibly due to the influence from JackAsser? The group’s second placing "WE/5" was totally put together by Puterman (code, graphics and music). HOLLOWMAN comments: "Puterman going back to the we/roots, filled with references to old masterpieces like theory of remote plane hijacking, we/banana and visitors. The demo is not perfect, but shows the power of combining sound and visuals, as well as telling new surrealistic stories where one sentence can be more intriguing and fascinating than the majority of scene releases for the last couple of years".
The month of July was a busy one for the group. Late in the month they attended the Helsingborg event Big Floppy People and released some more demos (which we were now expecting each time a party occurred). Placing 2nd with "First You Live and Then You Die" which is a strongly poetic demo made solely by Puterman, 3rd with "Copycat" (Hollowman and Oxidy) and 6th with their fun little one-file demo called "Mushroom Soup" (Oxidy, Vodka, Zabutom).
In October the group released version 1.1 of their demo "Boogie Factor". The demo was previously released two years ago at Assembly 2005. The new version contained bug fixes, better linking, remixed intro tune and improved music synchronization. The fixes were made shortly after the party, but various circumstances prevented it from being released earlier.
In the next year the group put the brakes on their fast moving vehicle. Is that really a bad thing? I do not think so, the year is 2008, and the scene is no longer full of teenagers with all the time in the world. Despite the slow motion of the scene, the group continued to move forward. In early August, the group released "V3locip3d3" (Oxidy, Puterman, Avalon) which achieved 4th place at St LCP 2008 party in Lund, Sweden. Later in October their "My Beauty" (Hollowman and Goto80) demo placed 5th at the star-studded X’2008 party in Gelderland, Holland. The demo gives us another rich narrative by Hollowman, superb visuals and excellent music. Top scene poetry once again from Hollowman!
Hollowman agreed to be placed under interrogation by my intelligence agency to report on his membership.
J) You left Triad and joined FairLight - a big move, from one Swedish giant to another back in 2001. What did you think of FairLight in your younger years? How did you join? How has the journey been for you through the group up until now?
H) I think I was about 9 years old when I saw the classic FairLight intro on C64 (Pacland) and I was 11 when my family got an Amiga and I saw the intro on games like Loom. The little I knew about the scene was what I had read in the demo corner and reader’s letters in the computer magazine Datormagazin, so there was so much mystery surrounding the scene and especially the group FairLight. Did they really have a member in Abu Dhabi? Was Duck Tales really cracked by Allah in Kuwait? Bacchus was also a very important person with his presence on the scene and in magazines.
I have sometimes thought about the demos Puterman and I have made and if they have had any effect on the image of the group. On one the hand it’s perhaps like Puterman once said "FairLight used to be something unique, with their communist hating and all. Now we’re just another group of weirdos", but then as one old C64 scener told me "I have always disliked FairLight, but now with your and Puterman’s demos the group is actually cool."
When I was 14 years old I became friends with Wiggen who was in the same school as I. He had ordered some disks from Jerry/Triad who had been writing a column in the magazine Svenska Hemdator Nytt and offered disks with legal stuff like tools and demos. Wiggen was also active on Fidonet. Wiggen and I started calling some of the remaining boards in Sweden like Warez Aquarium, Future Zone and The Studio and we tried to make our way into the scene. We struggled with coding and started drawing c/g, Wiggen who was quite good at petscii was soon taken into the group Accept. And we released some demos ourselves under the name Asgaard Designs. Wiggen went to the Ekerö meeting in spring 1995 and met Logger who a few months later joined our group. I went to an Alter meeting in Stockholm a few weeks before the Remedy party and met Gum, Logger, Lynchbit, Brax, Sicking (later changed handle to Rooster), Zatt/Jam and Sailor/Triad. At one Alter meeting in autumn 1995, Wiggen, Logger and I joined Alter.
Alter was one of the most active groups in Sweden at that time, and we did have some quite talented people in the group. Omed96 shows some of the potential that was in the group. But shortly after that demo was released there was some tension in the group and Lynchbit left and tried to take other members with him, but we all kept hanging out together occasionally anyway. By the end of 1997 we were getting more and more tired of not getting any recognition and as FLT seemed to be in a bit of crisis we thought that perhaps they would actually let us join, and with a big name people might actually bother to check our demos.
Wiggen hosted a small meeting where Logger, Gum, Bacchus and Vodka showed up, and we were let into the group on a sort of trial basis. After we had signed up on the FLT mailing list Bacchus sent out a mail with some information and rules. One thing was that we were not allowed to have any drug propaganda in our demos (see Meeting October, Omed96 and others by Alter to see what he was referring too). The email pissed off Brax enough so that he pulled out of the deal, writing a quite funny reply addressing the points in Bacchus’ mail. One thing being the possibility of getting a fairlight.org email address if we did well (his response was something like "So what? Get a hotmail address instead, they are free and available for everyone.")
Logger went alone to The Party 97 (I bailed out for some dumb reason, despite that I had already bought a ticket to go with Spirous bus) and failed to finish the demo "Marabou Fantasies" (Bacchus tried to get us sponsored by a Swedish chocolate manufacturer, but it turned out that companies weren’t as interested in C64 demo groups anymore). Duke and Sun Dancer joined FLT, and the trial members except for Logger were kicked out. Taper didn’t waste much time and quickly brought Wiggen and I into Triad. Logger followed along as he saw no point in being in FLT without us. I had some contact with Taper after calling his board and chatting with him on IRC. Getting kicked out of FLT seemed to be merit enough to be good enough for Triad.
We released "Spice Up Your Life" at LCP98 but after that Logger disappeared more and I had to take over the coding duties to get something done. 26 KG was probably my first demo I could feel sort of proud of. Being under the leadership of Jerry was a good thing, as the demos needed his approval before being released, and he accepted no bugs, which forced me to be very careful and always plan well ahead so I could snail mail the demo to him before the party to release at. Occasionally working on demos together with Iopop and Twoflower was a privilege as I adore their skills. I consider their demos Borderline, Over The Edge and The Throckmorton Device to be a few of the finest demos ever made on C64.
I left Triad in autumn 2001 after some stupid arguments with people in and surrounding the group. Vodka noticed my bitching on IRC and offered me a membership in FLT. He was the only member of the group left then, but as I was mostly working on my own, at that time with graphical support from Bizk and Tempest of Damage I thought that it didn’t matter. And FLT still had that tempting aura surrounding it.
J) The Swedish scene seemed to be reborn with your activity at LCP, Floppy, Axis of Evil and more... your feelings?
H) The first LCP and Floppy parties were quite depressing in a way. It was fun to meet other C64 sceners, but the releases were mostly awful (very much including the ones where I was involved). But something happened around 2000-2001, when a few groups had one or more active coders, so there was actually some competition and it was inspiring with the releases at each party. And we felt quite proud of what the Swedish part of the C64 scene contributed with during those most active years. We rented a mini bus which Wiggen drove to one of the floppy parties, my memory is quickly getting quite fuzzy, but I think we had members from WD, Triad, FLT and BD in the van and we joked about how Wiggen could kill off most of the active C64 demo scene if he didn’t drive carefully. But he only bumped into a metal pole in a parking lot and kept forgetting to release the handbrake.
J) What are your favourite self-participated productions under the FLT-label and why?
H) I don’t really like any of my demos one hundred percent, but some of the ones I feel good about in one way or another are:
Pretending To See The Light. Jazzman’s comment on pouet: "a rare example of GOOD scene poetry" makes me very happy.
hello:FRIEND. Probably my most personal and daring demo so far. As some scene.org awards jury members wrote: ‘hello:FRIEND is to some members of the jury, the most significant demo released in the past eight years. It is important for showing how narratives, ambiguity and nuance can be weaved into a demo. A demo must show things. hello:FRIEND shows us things. But where it surpasses others is how it actually lies to its spectator. In that respect, it is the first literary demo.’.
Romeo, I like it especially since it only took 2 weeks to make. It has simple graphics, the text is stolen and all the scenes except Oxidy’s intro picture are copied from two music videos. But apparently few people except from evil paul/ate bit have tacky taste enough to notice the source, most other just label it as emo. My famous demo dictatorship was quite apparent during the stressed making of it. I hope I made up for some of Sander’s hurt feelings by using his beautiful face in the demo.
Which leads to the question, from where I get inspiration. And the answer is anything I like. It might come from an old game like scarabaeus, from the illustrations of the Spanish edition of 20,000 leagues under the sea, or just a random Google image search based on Puterman’s description of an image he wants. If I see something I like, I will try to incorporate it into one of my projects and pass off the idea as my own.
J) What are some funny things or memorable things that have happened for you since being a member of FairLight?
H) You will always have fun with the people in FLT as we are a bit picky about who can join and if they fit in. We have people like Vodka - the mature leader who can start lecturing you at the restaurant, telling you "It’s considered bad manners to start eating before everyone have gotten their food." and then fart loudly a few seconds later.
Dwangi - he’s like an older mysterious relative. No one knows exactly where he lives, what he does for a living, or if there is any truth to the stories he tells: "So I arrive for my first day at work and these two guys are jerking off over my keyboard. That’s not cool!", "No I can’t come to the party, me and my dad are going out to smash speed cameras along the high way", "I have to quit IRC now, the plumber is here, I had to call him because I clogged the pipes after puking too much", "At every Bålsta party I always got pissed upon!"
Puterman - a well educated, shaved and dressed man who will get you thrown out of the sleeping hall at the party because he thinks the "no talking" rule is less important than sharing your most dirty sexual fantasies in a loud voice.
Maktone - the guy who’s first thought after waking up at the party place with a bleeding wound in his face is "Oh, some guy must have landed a good punch on me yesterday. Sweet!" (Actually it was only a fight between Maktone and the bar desk)
Zabutom - he’s not the last man standing. He’s the last guy laying over the table, with his fist raised, shouting "Wööh!" or "FairLight! FairLight!"
Oxidy - to quote some of his former group mates: "He has a wife, kids, a house and two jobs. He is so disgusting!", "He sold us Coca Cola at the meeting and made money off of it!". Definitely capitalistic FLT material.
Pantaloon - whose faith in the group’s might is so strong that when the traffic lights on a heavily congested road in Stockholm shows red for pedestrians he simply stumbles straight out into traffic, puts his hand up against the cars and declares: "The traffic lights don’t rule over FairLight!".
And then there is me, always well behaved and nice (and if I am not, I make a demo about it and get thumbs up on pouet). Except that one time at LCP when Morphfrog refused to take a bite out of Chavez delicious water melon. If you have ever used an electric juice press to make your breakfast orange juice you might imagine the effect with the melon and Morphfrog’s face when Mindflow and I refused to take "no" and heavy resistance for an answer. Sorry about that Morphfrog!
There were no releases in 2009 for the group at all. The first year since 1987 that the group had nothing to offer the scene. During the year FairLight had been working on their new demo for the upcoming mega party called Datastorm 2010. The party was held in Gothenburg in early February and it filled a large gap left by the Floppy party which was last held back in 2007. At the compo the group returned to form with their demo "One Little Wish" (Abaddon, Pantaloon, Zabutom, and Louie64). The demo claimed first place in the compo with some nifty screens and awesome graphics. The graphics were provided by Louie64 who is in fact Louie 500/The Black Lotus (PC) who was later recruited as a new member to the FairLight payroll by Pantaloon. Another interesting point is that Bacchus made it to the party and did a bugfix on the demo whilst at the event. Not only did the group brandish the desire to conquer the demo battle at the party, but also the music department with Zabutom coming number one in C64 Music. Later at the Breakpoint party in April Finnish member Reed also arrived at number one in the Mixed Music category. Later in the year the mighty X-2010 event took place in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The October event brought people from all over the world to the rural countryside to wreak 8-bit havoc.
Present at the party was a whole bunch of Fairlighters. The theme for them was moustaches and they even decorated their room and front door in the same theme (despite an angry CBA who got them to correct some of their efforts on their room’s door). Chants of Fairlight echoed in the party hall as their demo unrolled on the big-screen. They arrived in a close second place with "We Are New", which featured some tight parts and one of the best panoramic scrolling scenes I have seen in a very long time. Danko returned to the world of C64 in the demo and Hollowman was also present, this gives us hope that the return of Puterman is also possible.
Louie64 has made a big splash into the C64 scene with high-quality pixels, he arrived in a respectable 5th place in the biggest graphic competition on C64 ever (38 entries) followed closely by Oxidy in 8th position.
The group continued to gain new power through a new addition to the scene, Wiklund (Andreas Wiklund is professional DJ and quite known in the electro-scene). He came in 2nd place in the SID compo at the Edis Meeting 2 in Stockholm (at the time he was only 18 years old!). He was approached by Pantaloon at the party and accepted the offer to join the ranks.
Pantaloon promised he would release a new demo if I was to come and party with him at Datastorm 2011, whilst I did not have enough funds to do that I felt that he would release a demo anyway together with his fellow coders Abaddon, Hollowman, and Oxidy. There was a lot of hype built up around the demo by FairLight that was to be released at the soon coming event in Gothenburg, Sweden. The hype did not let the viewer down either, the group romped into first place with their demo ‘Lash’. Whilst it did not deliver as huge an impact as their previous ‘We Are New’ production at X-2010, it did present some kinky effects, cute pixels and music to make love to. ‘Lash’ struck the right chord with the voters, just like the year before with their winning demo at the previous Datastorm. Not only did they triumph in the demo battle, but their new member Wiklund proved his worthiness of the FairLight name by conquering the music compo with his number one entry ‘Dunk Brothers’.
Little Computer People 2011 was creeping up the calendar and when the moment in Lund finally arrived, the party where the Swedish scene had been reborn set off some fantastic fireworks with over 15 C64 demos. Booze Design came it at number one with their time machine journey in ‘1991’. The competition was very strong, with huge entries by the likes of Offence, Camelot, Mahoney and Arsenic. FairLight placed an honourable sixth position with their digital experience ‘We Are Mature’. Thumbs up for another commie killing production was the general reaction. We Are Mature – Clean & Simple – the audience found some of the highlights in the Mario part, graffiti train and the starfield intro sequence. Their next outing was with their 10th place release at Evoke in Cologne, Germany. This event also had taken place in the same month that LCP did, double the action! ‘Techno Viking’ was a fast paced, quickly produced demo that entered the WiLD compo.
Membership had been stable for quite a while but in September the group lost Abaddon who went solo for a few months before teaming up with Triad. However, balancing this out was Avalon, a member of the group between 1992 and 1996, who re-joined as musician.
Another active year for the group arrived and what better way to start it than to win the Datastorm demo competition for the third year in a row! Their demo ‘One Quarter’ celebrates keeping things “authentic” in the scene for 25 years. And what a great way to do things too, a double sided piece of art from the new generation of commie killers. Danko had released yet another tune in the winning demo by FairLight and in March decided to make it official, he was back in the group and ready to get serious. FairLight’s other musician Wiklund continued to impress everyone. Earning 4th position at Revision 2012 with his music entry ‘Six Hours’ – WIKLUND writes: “It was composed in 6 hours before the deadline at Revision 2012’s oldschool music compo. I just wanted to release something, hehe.” And then at Flashback 2012 in June he came second place. The following month he followed this with second place again at Edison 2012 with a song titled ‘Nice Pantaloons’ (which was a drinking song for FairLight’s main programmer Pantaloon). At the same party, the group did a “one two” with Danko rocking the world again with his winning number one resulting composition ‘Ignorance’.
Placing a humble 12th, their WiLD demo entry ‘Hällarna HQ - A Midsummer Madness’ at Evoke 2012 in Cologne was in cooperation with Panda Design. The demo celebrates an old tradition as VODKA writes: "Midsummer’s in Sweden is one of the oldest and finest traditions. In Hällarna, Moh/Panda Design and myself have got two summerhouses that we together call Hällarna HQ. These two are placed about 20 minutes by car outside of the city called Arboga, right by the lake Hjälmaren. At this place we’re annually celebrating this fine evening, by dancing the little frogs around the huge fallos, and by having our traditional "sillunch" - a humble event when we eat herring and potatoes for lunch, together with big amounts of Swedish spiced vodka. Many people have visited this fine place, and had a few drinks outside by the ghetto-style old oil container that we use to burn random things. A paradise for people who wouldn’t say no to an early morning drink. List of Sceners who have had the pleasue to visit Hällarna HQ so far: Trash / ex. Booze Design, Oxidy / Fairlight, QDor / Panda Design, Malmat / Galm and Puterman / Fairlight".
Later in the year arrived the most anticipated event – X’2012. The X parties now have a reputation of being the main event in the C64 scene, growing numbers at each event, growing reputation, C64-only, rural countryside in The Netherlands, these are some of the ingredients that make this event the perfect scene party. The 2012 edition did not disappoint, over 20 demos were released with over 220 hardcore sceners and enthusiasts present to witness a pretty decent demo battle on the bigscreen. When a group like Censor Design comes in fifth place, you know that the competition is fierce. FairLight placed 3rd with their epic demonstration ‘Trick and Treat’. The nerds of steel released this orgy of bits and pixels together with their close Norwegian friends in Offence and Prosonix. The demo is their biggest production ever, featuring 4 disk sides of quality code and music with the centre stage being the overwhelming graphic show by PÅL, an amazing feat of pixel power on display here. This demo to me demonstrates one big message – heart. The effort that was given I cannot begin to imagine how it was done.
Questions come to mind such as how the relationship with Offence/Prosonix developed, considering Offence and the music label Prosonix are from Norway and FairLight being based in Sweden. I had a chat with PÅL regarding how it worked for the release: “We are just best friends so that is the essential in that story... We have been seeing each other on parties after our comeback to the scene, even competed and then we just fell in love with each other in a buddy friendly way”.
Datastorm 2013 was next party on the radar – could FairLight maintain their flawless number one record at this event?
Their demo released is funnily named ‘Too Old to Ror and Rol’. Another demo gem from the holy trinity FairLight, Offence and Prosonix! It placed a close second, yes, they were trumped by fellow Swedes Triad, but only just! The demo effects were varied, from the Sergio Leone spaghetti-Western style intro sequence, swinging pendulum bobs, to the fun parts such as “Unlimited Bobs” (taking a pun on Bob/Censor and welcoming that group back into the scene after their coma) and the spoken greetings part with animation! Punchy effects, crisp music and beautiful pixels. The demo was yet another highlight of the group, now with increased potency due to their killer cooperation with their Norwegian bróðirs. Also at the party, Wiklund came 3rd in the music compo with his first attempt a multi-speed SID on the breadbox aptly called ‘Multiverse’.
In the same month as their second placing at Datastorm they recruited Sander as a graphician. He had approached Pantaloon and asked to join. For him, it had to be FairLight or nothing. The group was the best match for him as FairLight was a demo machine and his current group Focus was a dead end, also because the productions coming out of the FairLight stable were both ‘mainstream’ and conceptual, which was to his liking.
Some people were asking who is Winks? And why is ‘he’ a member of FairLight? Well, quite obviously, it is Wiklund under this handle. He came in 3rd place using the nickname in the mixed music compo at Revision 2013 with his entry ‘Mini-bus and us’. Following this the Flashback 2013 event was looming, held in Sydney, Australia in June. Admittedly, I had nagged the guys in FairLight/Offence/Prosonix for a contribution (as remote entries were accepted). They did not seem to mind much, despite the pressures of coding a much larger demo mentioned for the Swedish event Baroque Floppy People. The result of my annoying messages was the fantastic little demo ‘Famous Australians Volume 1’, it had the party hall singing along to ‘Skippy The Bush Kangaroo’ with lots of merriment and laughter.
Baroque Floppy People (BFP) 2013 was perhaps the most anticipated scene party since the previous year’s X-2012. This data adventured gathered the filthy gutter of hacking culture into a single ballroom venue in Helsingborg, Sweden. Leading up to the event, Censor Design, the old Swedish power who was on their path back to the dizzy heights of demo-splendour, challenged Pal/Offence in public to a demo battle at BFP 2013. Pal could not refuse this, despite having hardly any code ready and not much else, he accepted their challenge. Offence and FairLight were the underdog from the very beginning, largely because Censor has demo parts laying around and had a six month headstart compared to 11 weeks for Offence and FairLight. Demo or Die!
BOB: “Well easy, Offence is the only team to beat Censor twice... it is payback time ;) Great combo Pantaloon + Offence I meant FLT+Offence ;) true fighters that managed to do "Too old to ror and rol" within 3 months after X,... it is better to announce the fights before ;) in this way we can raise the expectations of the outcome. Censor challenged Offence... and Offence named the event "Thrilla in Helsingborg" ;) and there we stand. May the best demo win... 8)”
PÅL: “I had to do the Scrollwars demo, a demo I really did not plan for... but it turned out to be something I am happy I did and that we all in Offence and FairLight made possible... we really did not have the time to create a great demo but in the end it turned out to be a super demo in my mind! Just had to do it, to make something to answer Censor’s challenge! I really had to give all, my work in professional area had to wait!”
And so it was on, FairLight/Offence/Prosonix versus Censor Design!
The Thrilla in Helsingborg took place in August 2013, Bob of Censor was perhaps more nervous about his nice car and where it was parked in the surrounding neighbourhood than the looming battle that was to take place. ‘Scrollwars’ by FairLight, Offence and Prosonix was the first on the bigscreen and then after that the Censor Design demo ‘Wonderland XII’.
Both demos blew everyone away – the battle held up to all the hype around it – but who was the victor? Censor won and the second place went to FairLight/Offence/Prosonix. Both entries were extremely close, ‘Wonderland XII’ with technical proficiency and ‘Scrollwars’ with huge theme/design. The recent interview I conducted with Bob in Vandalism News #60 sums it up better than my own words, BOB: “We had 15 parts of hard core code pr0n, nothing should beat that...
And guess what!
Offence had the red thread throughout the demo, with fantastic design and theme, we have seen demos like that before taking top places at demo compos. But with the Offence demo you also have amazing new ideas and code pr0n, obviously people have a soft spot for well-designed demos... Yes we were fucking worried!!
We knew we had something amazing, where every single part holds something mind blowing, whether there it is a new idea, code record, graphics etc, something special, we had it all was our feeling... not to mention the sample ;) that was the main purpose of this demo, to blow your mind!
Finally we got the recognition by winning the BFP, and now afterward we can see how the audience liked it... but it was a close call... Scrollwars is an amazing demo. And create such a masterpiece in such a short notice + 2 months, shows how tough the team Offence/Flt/Prosonix is to beat... hence the "Thrilla".
And at the end it is up to you to decide, the audience of the demo compo. I bet this wasn’t the last time such a challenge has been witnessed, the scene has never been more exciting :) time for more show downs! The time for empty discussions has come to an end ;)”
At the event, Pantaloon joined Offence as second group. This surprised a few, I asked PÅL about it: “it happened because he really is our best friend and we have the best of times together... We also make PC demos together and I have been involved in the latest FairLight PC demos... but the real scene is the C64 you know and Pantaloon and us, well we just have the greatest times... Magnus is such a nice dude, the coolest and best friend there is...”
Also at BFP 2013, Bob and Magnar stayed with the FairLight/Offence posse in their honeymoon apartment. They were all there together, friends, despite wanting to beat each other up digitally.
Moving on from BFP 2013 to recent times, I can report some gossip that has come to my table on the pride of Sweden.
In October, Pantaloon finally finished his work for Battlefield 4 (PC) and the game was released to the public via Dice/Electronic Arts.
At the end of November 2013, Sander left FairLight, this kind of surprised a few people… was he up to their intense activity level? Did he not fit in as far as the design he wanted to deliver? A few questions, there seems to be no animosity between him and his former crew, SANDER tells us “I couldn’t live up to my promises and I didn’t want to retire as an inactive member. Would be wrong in my eyes”.
Rumours says Tron might come back. Bacchus, Pantaloon, Danko and Bob/Censor attended a Swedish beer and whiskey festival, they had a lot of drinks and beers (Danko’s girlfriend’s brother was really drunk and ran into a stop sign and got knocked out). According to rumours they had a really great time.
Moving to Finland and the renown Zoo Party held in Pirkanmaa, the group released the winning graphic entry by their local member Tempest, who is part of the organisation of the event which also officially flies under the FairLight banner, together with Finnish legends Byterapers and fellow Swedish giants Triad. Tempest actually had two entries, his second graphical exploration placed fifth, which was also performed in the classical multicolour graphic-mode.
Despite rumours saying that there will not be a FLT+OFFENCE+PROSONIX demo at this year’s Datastorm in Gothenburg and that the groups would bring their own demos instead, they decided to join forces again and release “We Are All Connected”. This three-sided affair smashed the competition out of the water resulting in a well-deserved numero uno ranking in the demo competition. This impressive show made the hair raise on the back of my neck when I saw the big FairLight logo enter the screen with the tune from Druid II playing… this graphic driven output has superb transitions, formidable programming and a fantastic soundtrack. What more can you want? Other scenes, pay heed to the way us oldies get things done on the C64, less is more! I guess the one word to sum this all up is beautiful; due to the demonstrated love for the scene and those friends in it.
Not only did they win the demo battle, they fought and triumphed with their 4K entry “Rewarped 4K”, which heralds the comeback of Dwangi working together with 4-Mat and Vodka. They also placed eighth in the graphic challenge with the fresh piece of pixel by Vodka and Maktone called “Five Shades of Götta”.
Datastorm is no more, the last edition is now a memory for all. But out of nowhere, surprisingly some, was the FairLight and Offence demo at Revision on the 20th of April entitled "Redefinition". This production was pushed out of the data workshop just two months after Datastorm and it claimed 3rd place in the mixed demo competition.
PANTALOON: "Redefinition was a quick hack by Pantaloon/Pal/Danko. We just felt we couldn't go to Revision without a demo. We just tested some ideas out that we felt wasn't of that high quality to be saved for a real C64 party. We didnt have a name of the demo until we had to submit it, then i asked someone standing next to me what the demo should be called, and the person said: "Redefinition". The demo wasn't planned at all, I just started on one effect and then asked Pal for some gfx".
Looking into 2014, we all know that the real battle is awaiting elsewhere, a place where a group can show off the size of their balls painting with their digital pencil of creation - that event is X-2014 in The Netherlands. You know, every kitten grows up to be a cat. They seem so harmless, at first, small, quiet, lapping up their saucer of milk. But once their claws get long enough, they draw blood. For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted. We all await October and the answers to our questions via digital consumption.
This article was made possible by exhaustive research and dedication over a long period of time. It is a living document and will continue to be refined and updated in accordance with the FairLight leadership council. My goal through this research, is to illustrate the achievements of one of the few remaining scene legends and provide an accurate account of the ever evolving FairLight profile. For those of you yearning for Amiga and PC coverage, fear not… do you think I would forget? Research has begun and you will bear witness to the fruits of my labour in the near future.
The group that created a myth on boards, at old demo parties and in the school yards of Europe continues not only to surprise the world of C64 but the much wider data-community with its releases and its mere legendary presence. The aura around the group and the power of its name is a testament to its achievements; and the fact that it has withstood the test of time, now in its third decade of dominance. Indeed, FairLight is built stronger to last longer. "FairLight" is bigger than one and even all of its platform-sections. FairLight is and you can rely on the fact that FairLight will continue to be!
Current active memberstatus (C64): Avalon, Bacchus, Danko, Hollowman, Louie64, Maktone, Oxidy, Pantaloon, Puterman, Reed, Tempest, Vodka, Wiklund, zabutom.
13. DID YOU KNOW?
- Strider, Richard and Aaron are brothers.
- The origin of FairLight’s anti-communist republican messages were inspired primarily by Strider’s family history. Strider’s family, immigrants from former communist Yugoslavia, were involved in a successful business in Sweden where he felt the country took more than their fair share in taxes. Hearing Ronald Reagan’s message while growing up, a vocal message of anti-communism and pro-capitalism, it naturally resonated with Strider, and the US president became one of his top role models to this day.
- The "Censor Logo Destruct Editor" originally had another logo and had nothing to do with Censor originally.
- Hold "FLT" down in the Rubicon original to get unlimited lives.
- Fairlight vs. FairLight... It is suspected that the ‘L’ was not originally capitalised, and at some point years later they started to capitalise it.
- At a party in Denmark in 1989 a lamer tried to climb up on the "POTBT" (Platform Of The Best Together) and Strider told him: "How dare you meet us!" and kicked the lamer’s ass off the platform.
- In FairLight there is something called the "Hall of Fame". This is a special memberlist for the ones who have contributed to the glory of FairLight but who have now retired. No ordinary members will enter this section without some special talents, years of devoted work and a worldwide reputation.
- MWS knew some guy from his town and that guy’s father was the local leader of the German Communist party. MWS told Strider about that on a conference and they both decided to phone this guy up in the middle of the night. Strider shouted at him in German "DU DRECKIGER SCHWEINEHUND" (something like "you dirty pigdog")... MWS almost wet himself with laughter.
- Aaron was nicknamed "Doxie" because in the first two years of FairLight contributed the "Docs" (documentation) files for the group’s cracks.
- The first PC cracking group to release 1000 ISO images heralded a special mention in their NFO:
“In Their 24th Year Of Glory, FairLight Released #1000!
Total War: Shogun 2 (c) SEGA
Two boys sit on a train, in rural areas of a low density populated part of the world. There and then they form a pact that will forever change the course of the computer industry, marking a shift in culture that is soon to reach far and beyond their own expectations, and the horizon of their own vision. There and then, the group FairLight was born.
April 1987 was the year when the infant was conceived. The infant is now a grown man at the age of 23 who made significant impressions on Commodore 64, Amiga, Super Nintendo and the PC scenes, both for demo and cracks. Today we celebrate a historic day, a day few people would even envisage could ever come - FairLight celebrates its 1000th release! Well, this is naturally not entirely correct, it’s release #1000 on PC ISO which followed hundreds of on C64, Amiga, SNES and earlier PC floppy scene appearing in parallel, or the dozens of mind boggling demos ever seen on most consumer hardware. So, rejoice and celebrate today as you are one of those who can taste yet another fruit, resulting from our blood, sweat and skills. Hours, days, weeks and months have been spent - both screen time and in some cases also prison time, for you to enjoy our work. Rejoice and celebrate with us, the efforts earning your respect. We are still here; we are still the sentinels of a world free of copy protections. We are still here as we were built stronger to last longer.
We are FairLight, standing up for quality, tradition and pride!
The FairLight council stands with eyes wet in admiration from the work of the PC ISO section. "Boys, you have all done well. You bow to no one!" We are proud to be the first gameISO group reaching #1000 gameISO releases. FairLight started the gameISO division in late 1998 and is still going. For your pleasure, check the FairLight dir for all the #1000 nfo’s, and the releases.txt for all the game releases both in the included zip-file. Special thanks to our lost/retired members that made this possible! In April 2012 we will celebrate our 25th anniversary. Stay tuned!”
14. BULLETIN BOARDS
Aaron King (Aaron, Sweden) (HQ)
Beyond (The Anarchist, USA) (HQ)
Fish Bowl (Highlander, Australia) (Support)
Future Zone (Spirou, Sweden) (HQ)
Cyberdome (Lexi, Germany) (HQ)
Kingdom of Rats (Ratman, Germany) (HQ)
Paradize (Sodapop, Sweden) (HQ)
Shadowland (Duvel, Holland) (Support)
The Boardgazm (Seagull, Sweden) (HQ)
The Pleasure Dome (Zike, Sweden) (HQ)
The Dragon’s Tower (Mendrake, Germany) (HQ)
The Hidden (LA*Style, Germany) (HQ)
The Intersection (Susieuzi, USA) (Support)
The Viking’s Citadel (Valhalla, USA) (HQ)
Warez Aquarium (Sledge, Sweden) (HQ)
Wonderland (Flood, Sweden) (HQ)
The Dungeon (The Alchemist, USA) (HQ)
- FairLight - The Delight of Eternal Might
- FairLight - Kill a Commie for Mummy
- You’re not kewl b’cos you’re a FairLighter - You’re a FairLighter b’cos you’re kewl!
- FairLight - The LegoLinkers
- FairLight - Home of the REAL crackers
- Built Stronger To Last Longer
- FairLight - When might is right
- The touch of a legend
- The choice of a republican generation!
- Quality, Tradition and Pride
16. GOOD TIMES
Rowdy, Watchman, Strider, The Shark, Bacchus, Celebrandil, Danko, Pantaloon - on the terrace of the Dice office the day after the 25th Anniversary Cruise.
Fairlight, Haujobb and Black Maiden riding in a limo sponsored by Nokia at the European Game Awards in 2010.
Pantaloon, Louie, Oxidy, Puterman and Ugha at X’2010 in Someren, The Netherlands.
FairLight + Offence fixing their X’2010 demo - Stein Pedersen and Ole Marius Pettersen behind Pantaloon, Louie next to the camera and Kriburst and Pal on the right.
Prosonix - Stein Pedersen, Lars Hoff, Ole Marius Pettersen.
‘We might be old, but we’re still the elite’ - Pantaloon and Bacchus interview published in Computer Sweden, celebrating 25 years of FairLight.
Strider, Bacchus and JBM - the FairLight council on-board the 25th anniversary cruise ship from Sweden to Finland.
Bacchus and Strider - taken around 2000 when Bacchus went to San Diego to visit Strider.
Pantaloon koda koda koda…
Battlefield 4 celebrations.
Fairlight versus Censor.
COMING SOON - FAIRLIGHT - AMIGA - PC