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Interview With Radiantx/Panda Design
by Motion/Triad

Welcome to my first (but surely not the last) interview for Attitude! You know me as Motion of TRIAD, and the subject of our attention today is none other than Radiantx of Panda Design. Let's not waste any time but let the interview begin!

Hi Radiantx! Thank you for doing this interview, and please introduce yourself to the readers!

Hi! I'm Martin, or maybe better known as Radiantx in these circles. I'm the remaining founding member of Panda Design. In my mind we're still kind of a new group, but we're actually (quietly) celebrating our tenth anniversary this year, so I guess we're not so new any more.

When and how did you first encounter this phenomenon we like to call "the scene"?

I got my first Commodore 64 when I was eight, back in 1990. Being eight I didn't really understand much of what was going on at the time, and I only had one friend who was also into computers. We were of course into games, but I remember that he also showed me how to write some BASIC programs, and that I started dabbling with it myself after that.

I don't have many vivid memories, but I had a few turbo tapes back then, which introduced me to "Turbo 250" by Mr.Z and "Super Tape Turbo" by Elgar. I can also recall the TRIAD logo from that time.

Some of the files on the turbo tapes weren't games, but "demos". I marked them as such on the listing so I wouldn't load them by accident, because they weren't playable. :)

I did however write some BASIC programs which I called "demos", with some very primitive effects, so I guess I wasn't completely uninterested. When I was 10 I got an Amiga, and that's where my interest in the scene started in earnest really. Groups like Kefrens, FairLight, Quartex, Crionix/The Silents and Spaceballs were early inspirations. Me and my friend from earlier had some sort of "group", but we never really made or released anything, and neither of us were into swapping or knew anyone who was, so we were very much not part of the scene at all. The Amiga introduced me to all kinds of creative software, and I actually started out as a graphician in our group. :)

My friend was the better programmer and musician, but I found out that I had more talent for making music than graphics after having dabbled in OctaMED for a while.

After learning more about programming I slipped into more of a coder/graphician/musician role, often working on my own games doing all three. Programming wise I continued with BASIC on the Amiga, first with Amiga BASIC, then AMOS, and finally Blitz Basic 2. By the time I'd learned Blitz Basic 2 I was in my mid-teens and the Amiga was dying. At the end of the millenium I bought a PC and taught myself C and Java.

Is this where I should shout "amig***h"? But then you left the computer hobby for a while?

The period between 2000 and 2004 are what I consider my "dark ages", entering adulthood suffering from a severe depression with general anxiety and not doing much fun on my computer at all. I still read about programming from time to time, but rarely wrote any actual code, so most of my knowledge was pretty theoretical.

Around 2000 I got to know a few Amiga sceners through IRC though, and it turned out one of them was also into the C64 - Misfit/d4rkn3ss. I met up with them at LCP 2001 in Stockholm, which was my first contact with the C64 scene. I remember I thought it was a pretty surreal event, but I guess not sleeping at all the night before the party contributed to that. Unfortunately I was in a really bad mental shape and had to leave very early on Saturday, so I missed all of the compos. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had been feeling a bit better.

In late 2002 (I think?) I got introduced to GoatTracker by Morphfrog/ex-Hitmen, whom I knew from Fidonet. I'd continued using trackers to and from since the early nineties, and I still loved the C64 sound of my youth, so it hit home. Misfit caught wind of this, and used two of my tunes in d4rkn3ss demos that he released in 2003 - my first actual contributions to the scene.

I was keeping a half-hearted eye on sites like Pouet at the time, but I didn't have a very good picture of how the scene actually worked, and I certainly didn't understand how big and vital the C64 scene was - I thought it was just Misfit and a handful of others who were still into it, and viewed it as a curiosity more than anything else.

So, where did you go from there?

In 2004 I was living in the smaller town of Katrineholm, and my mental health was slowly improving. For some reason I don't remember I decided that I'd visit LCP again, this time held in the close by city of Linkoping. I was still considering myself an Amiga guy, and in preparation of the party I hadd dusted off my Amiga 500 and coded a small demo in Blitz Basic 2, which I thought I might compete with, just to have released a demo once in my life. At the party my life was changed forever. This was the first pure demoparty I'd visited with at least a half-working mind, and while I met some nice people I could talk Amiga stuff with what struck me most was how many people that used a C64.

I sat next to The Gang, having met Fred/The Gang earlier at some IRC parties, and soon realized that the guys with the C64s sitting behind me were none other than TRIAD. TRIAD! One of the legendary groups from my childhood! I caught a glimpse of what they were doing on their C64s, had another look at what I had done on my Amiga, and then decided I wouldn't release a demo after all. ;)

The compos were just magical, and that's when the power and vitality of the C64 scene hit me with full force: I was completely blown away by how the C64 entries just dominated the entire party. I remember almost crying with joy when suddenly it was announced that the next demo was made by FairLight - the actual FairLight. I felt as if I was in some wonderful dream, and it was the happiest I'd been for a decade. When dreams come true... The scene never really left me after that and in November 2004 I visited DreamHack (which back then still had some resemblance of a demoparty), where I formed Panda Design. The rest is known history.

Thank you very much for sharing this with us, Martin. I believe that depression or, in more general terms, "mental unhealth" is a lot more common among "the general scene population" than one might think.

So, what are you doing these days, scene wise?

I do a lot of stuff really, but nowadays I'm perhaps mostly involved in the scene on a meta level. I'm the main organizer of the demo party Edison and chairman of the non-profit association EDiS which is involved in all kinds of scene related outreach and activities in the Stockholm area, and I'm fervently working on promoting the scene and trying to get more people involved in it.

I used to code quite a lot of demos and stuff, and I hope I can get back to that eventually. Oh, and nowadays I'm also a co-editor for Nordic Scene Review, if anyone missed that.

I really enjoyed reading the last issue of NSR, I was on a 8h+ busride when you guys released it, so most of that long ride to Sweden was spent reading NSR and looking at the releases discussed. Looking at your profile on CSDb one might get the idea that beside going to a hell of a lot of demoparties, music seem to be "your thing"? Please elaborate on this subject for the readers and myself.

Funny that you bring that up. I consider myself a coder first and foremost, and nowadays a graphician secondly. Prior to Datastorm I had a break from making music for almost a year, and while I've started again it's not something I'm very happy with - but for some reason it seems I can't quite keep away from it. I don't like any of my tunes and I feel I don't have anything valuable to contribute to the scene music wise, but I guess there's some part of me that still has a need to make a racket. We'll see where it goes. I had a massive burnout after Revision 2013 and I doubt I'll get back to the level of productivity I had before that.

I see. And what about the more traditional forms of music?

I've made music since I was 10. I think I started using OctaMED on the Amiga at the same time as I learned to play the guitar, and I was quite active in various school ensembles as a guitarist, keyboardist and bass player until my late teens. I was OK at all those instruments but there were always others who were much better, and I realized that wasn't where my talents laid. Since my late teens I consider myself a singer and nothing else.

Is there any musical groups that you find worth mentioning?

I listen to quite a lot of music, and a broad selection of it. Pop, rock, industrial, hip hop, techno, EBM, all kinds of metal, synthpop, progressive rock, neofolk, jazz, baroque, neo-classical etc. It's hard to mention any specific names since there are so many, but I feel that Anekdoten, Meshuggah, Devil Doll, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Mantronix, Rimsky-Korsakov, Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, Bach and King Crimson are some of the artists/composers that have influenced me in my creative process. There are of course many more.

Ah, you managed to nail a few of my favourite bands there. And in regards to the holy Commodore?

Talking about C64 music I have some of the mandatory influences from Huelsbeck, Hubbard, Jeroen Tel et al, but that's not very interesting to talk about since everybody shares them. One person I truly regret never meeting is Kjell Nordboe (I guess I technically "met" him at LCP 2004, but it doesn't really count) - I feel that his music is something on a completely different level than most, and I've never been so emotionally affected by any release as I was when "Larger than Life" was shown on the big screen at LCP 2005.

I've been a big fan of Ed/Wrath Designs for a long time as well, he's one of the very few composers in the scene that feels completely original, and also one whose style I feel I can't emulate with reasonable accuracy even if I try. Apart from those two there are many I could mention, but I'll settle for a few: Zabutom/Fairlight, Linus/Viruz, Hein/Vision and of course Tonal Teapot.

A big thanks for putting up with all these questions, Martin! We wish you all the best for the future, and long for more productions from Panda Design down the road!


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