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Interview With Autoboy
by Puterman/Fairlight

So, here's an interview with a pretty unknown guy outside of the Swedish scene, Autoboy of Hack'n'Trade, who's gained some deserved fame in the Swedish scene by arranging the LCP parties. The first one took place in 1998, in 1999 there was a small LHCTPK instead (with only 9 visitors), and then there have been "real" LCPs in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and right now we're looking forward to the next in July 2003.

I decided to do an interview with Autoboy because lots of people seem to think that the positive trend in the Swedish scene in the last couple of years have been pretty much due to the LCP and Floppy parties. If you haven't woken up at 10 on a Saturday, on a hard floor, surrounded by people you love, and opened your first beer immediately, you need some LCP medicine!

- First of all, I guess you need some kind of introduction (to the Polish, German and South African readers, who don't know you), so please start by telling us all the stuff we don't know about you, and really don't want to know!

- I'm known to (some of) the scene as Autoboy, and my skills include coding and making music mostly, and less of graphic related stuff.

I'm a member of the Swedish group Hack'n Trade, which has been more or less the same for 10 years now, sneaking in the shadows of the scene. It's the first group I joined, and I won't ever quit it. Some people seems to join new groups as if they we're going for some kind of career. I guess that's the way they want it, and I guess it works for them, but it would feel very unnatural for me to do such a thing. I'm in HT because the dudes in HT are my friends, and I tend to believe that there would be some kind of HT even if the c64 or the scene never existed.

However, I don't think the most important thing about being in the scene is doing something scene-related just for the sake of keeping the scene alive, no matter the quality, as some people seem to think in these days. Rather the opposite. I think quality is what counts from a scene perspective. The friendship-thing counts too, but that's from a personal perspective. I don't see how low quality stuff could ever keep anything alive. No soul, no scene.

- LCP... Little Computer People... Where the Swedish scene gathers once a year to get drunk, stoned, sweaty and release their productions. You started it. Why? And what were your initial goals? I guess you were frustrated with the Swedish scene at that time, right?

- The first LCP was not really arranged with the purpose of being against something. It's true that I did not like the current scene atmosphere and situation very much at all, but I'd rather dress it all up in other words.

Some time had passed since I joined HT, and there was some image starting to appear in my head. It was an image of hardcore computer people having a good time together because they really had something in common. Not just in the sense of owning one or a few computers each, but in the sense that they all carried a piece of the spirit that older hardware seems to inject in people. When I say "older hardware" I refer to hardware where concepts such as "full framerate" and "cycle exact timing" are intact.

Somehow, and I'm not sure I can explain exactly how, the mental image started to turn into reality. It was not like I just decided one day that I would arrange a good old copyparty. The whole thing just evolved from the situation, like water naturally filling up an empty hole, not really knowing why. One day I just asked my mom (hi mom!), who is a teacher, if I could borrow her classroom for a meeting. What I had in mind at that point was mainly to invite the dudes in HT and to do some hacking and good old ultraboozing. However, the idea broadened a bit and I asked Vnz/HT to smash together a little website (which is still available on the net) just to tell the rest of the world that they were very welcome too. Some HT-d00d (don't remember who) came up with the name of the party. I dropped the URL to some people and the rumour spread like a cozy little fire among good old sceners. That's a good start, and...

The rest happened by itself.

- I've always perceived LCP as pretty much a one man effort. Did you ever feel that you needed assistance in any way (except in cleaning up after the party), or do you think it works well the way it is now?

- It is true. It could be described as a one man effort. I do almost everything by myself. That way I can arrange things the way I want them to be. Still, people have always contributed in different ways. Like Snuskis/DCS supplying a bigscreen projector for both LCP98 and LCP2001. Many others have helped like that too. The HT-crew is always by my side when the parties is running and help me fucking up the compos and so on.

You ask if I think it works well the way it is now, and my answer to that is party yes and partly no. I think that the basic concept of just getting the right people together under the right conditions will always work. The no-part of my answer has it's origin in a strange feeling I got after LCP last year. After the other LCP-parties I got loads of massively good feedback, but all of a sudden, I only got a few comments at all. Morpheus/Flash INC even wrote some pretty critical stuff about LCP2002 in a Norweigan computer magazine. And somehow I felt that he was right, at least when looking at LCP from his viewpoint. He said that he had not visited any parties at all in X number of years and that he got a little disappointed when he went to LCP because he had expected more from a c64-party being as popular as LCP.

That was right at the spot. 2002 was the 4-and-a-half'th time LCP was arranged and people had started to count on it. Expecting things... First I thought about just skipping LCP for a year or so, so people would not count on it as much, but I gave it some more thought and changed my mind. My current position goes something like this, I think.

OK, so people started counting on LCP a bit. That's... Good! The fact that I didn't recieve so much feedback did not mean that people didn't like the party. Little feedback is not the same as bad feedback. All of the other people who actually gave me some feedback were as positive as ever. The fact that LCP is now pretty established and well known can be used for something good. It means I've got something to build on. Something which, when carefully nurtured with experience, can grow into higher heights. People do not have to worry. I won't do something completely new or different this year. LCP will not be transformed into something that is so serious that it will become boring. What I WILL do however, is putting some more effort at the right spots and also to involve some selected sceners a little more. LCP2003 will contain a bunch of features and happenings that will add a few grains of pepper into the stew, so to say. I hope people will like that, because I do my best. Things like 5,25"-disks for sale, a speech by Twoflower and Iopop about Swedish scene history, a demonstration of the Contiki OS, a cool votingsystem for the compo coded by Magervalp, and so on... More things will come up.

- What kind of experience did you bring back from parties you visited prior to arranging the first LCP? Was there anything you were ever impressed with at any party, and was there something in particular that you didn't like?

- I found most of them quite boring, to be honest. I always missed some true spirit. It's almost as if people were satisfied if the event looked like a good event, rather than really being one. Then they would talk about it afterwards and saying "woha, that was really fun", leaving me confused and wondering what was so great about it. Maybe I'm just fucked up. Remember I'm only talking about parties after 1995 or so now, since I wasn't really a part of any scene way back. At that time there wasn't really any true c64-parties. At least none that I visited. Also, I'm only talking about Swedish parties, except for one visit to The Party 96 in DK.

Dunno really what exactly was wrong with them. I think I just had this idea about things being better before I was even a part of the scene, and somehow I compared the parties I saw with this dreamlike image of what it could be. I'm not saying that LCP always lives up to this image in every respect, either, but I try to put some feeling and soul into it. Trying to ensure a good mix of people and so on.

- ...and what about parties you've visited after 1998, is there anything in particular that you've found positive or negative (in light of arranging parties yourself)?

- I think the Floppy parties are really great. Somehow I feel LCP and Floppy are cousins. Of course they are different in several respects, but still they have something quite essential in common. I'm discussing party philosophy every now and then with Jucke/G*P, one of the main Floppy organisers, and I feel that we understand each other well.

From an organizing point of view I must say I think Floppy 2003 was even extra cool. They really made an already good party a couple of units better by putting a little thought in there. The breakfast was great for example. It's a lot about details. Small changes can make a world of difference and that's especially interesting for me, of course, since I'm on my own when organizing.

From a personal point of view it can be said that I probably enjoy Floppy a little extra because I don't have any responsibility for stuff when I'm there. I feel free when I'm there.

- LCP is a pretty anarchistic party, you're pretty much on your own when you're there, there are no rules, no guards, no executions, no evil dragons guarding the entrance. Did you ever consider trying to enforce some kind of rules, and in that case why?

- No, not really. My way of thinking goes in the opposite direction. If there is some discrepancy between the party I organize and what people want, then the correct thing to do is not to change people by enforcing rules. Rather you should change the concept of the party. For example, if people wanna booze (a common "problem" for some party organisers), then you should simply not hire a partyplace where you can't allow people to drink alchohol. When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten, and there is no trouble.

- Another question about rules: some people who arrange parties seem to think that they need to point out that the laws of the country in which the party takes place apply at the party too. What's your take on that? I'm thinking of the Swedish laws on drugs here. I mean, if someone would smoke pot at the party, that'd be illegal in Sweden, but would it affect the party in a negative way?

Haha, yes. We live in a strange world. Swedish laws in Sweden, how odd! Erhm..

Ok, now we're one step deeper into the rule-question, I guess. In short, I'm no believer in objective morality and strict obediance of laws. On the big whole, there is some point with having laws of course, but weather a specific law is right or wrong, that's something that each individual has to find his own answer of. Personally, I have no problem when people smoke the herb and thus they may smoke as much as they want. However, I'm glad if people respect the fact that I may get in trouble if the wrong people would hear about it, and keep it at least somewhat discrete.

- Basically, LCP seems to be about giving the visitors a good party experience, which eg. means that the entrance fee will be low. This also affects the prices for the winners of the compos. Have you ever considered that thousands of dollars to the compo winners might make even more people contribute to the compos?

- Giving away lots of money or expensive hardware has never been a realistic alternative on LCP. At the current entrance fee, I can't be 100% sure to cover all the expenses for arranging the party. Still, one of the news for LCP2003 will be "real" prizes. They will push a bit more on the honor of winning, like gold medals, diplomas and so on. I bet you would kill for a framed golden 5.25"-disk with a little sign saying "Honored Master number ONE of Demo Coding at LCP 2003" on the wall above your bed, wouldn't you? ;)

I bought three frames today for this purpose...

- One of the (few) rules at LCP is that you have to be present to take part in the compos. What's the reason for that? Do you see any negative consequences of letting Argentinian sceners release stuff at LCP? And what about the exception for GBC demos?

- I believe it's more fun for the people who are actually present. Watching unknown peoples demos is something you can do at home. Seing the entries of people actually being present in the same room is a whole lot more exciting than just watching entries in general. People at the party often know each other and it makes the whole party atmosphere more tight, competing against your friends. Of course, if there was some totally unknown japanese dude doing a ultracool demo whipping Grahams ass, then people would not start crying if it were shown to them, but that is not the normal case in my experience, to say the least. Letting people compete with whatever just paves the way for a lot of lazy internet'ized suckers to send in some half finished stuff just for the sake of competing. I don't see the point in that. The feeling you have when actually being on LCP is more important than the competition itself, in my view. If people have different views on this subject, just get in touch with me and give me some good arguments. I'd sure like to hear from you...

The GBC-exception is not there anymore. In any case, the difference between GBC and C64 is that there isn't really any GBC-scene worth talking about. Not demo-wise at least. It was just an attempt to inspire GBC coders to do something cool, since they do not generally meet at demoparties anyway in a scenelike way.

- And now, here's the big question: lots of people seem to think that the reason for the recent upswing in the Swedish scene is because of LCP and Floppy. Being the organizer of LCP, what's your take on it? Can you imagine a Swedish scene in 2003 without LCP and Floppy (or other similar parties)?

- It's always hard to say what would have happened if things had been different from what they are, but of course, LCP and Floppy have played a significant role in the last years. Maybe not in the global c64-scene, but I think that the main benefit the scene have had from LCP and Floppy is that without these parties, it would have been a lot more internet based, and thus it would have a lot less soul.

I know that I wouldn't have had much interest in the Swedish scene if there were no good parties.

- Your group, Hack'n'Trade, released a couple of demos about 1997, but have been pretty inactive since then, isn't it somehow odd that you've managed to get the Swedish scene going again, but your group hasn't been able to release anything substantial in the last couple of years?

- True. Except for Goto80 releasing tons of music we have not released much at all. You must have good parties to release your stuff on first, right? ;) But just wait and see, and things will appear from the depths of the HT diskboxes. There is cool hardware, wholly new kinds of tools and other things in the making... Does that sound tasty? I don't care so much if we do not release a single thing until 2050, as long as we like what we release

But you're right, of course. It's maybe a little odd. But not extremely odd. After all, organizing a party is something you can do well even though you don't code hundreds of demos. I believe it's more about knowing what people want, and adjust your party to that.

- ...and the demo you competed with at Floppy this year wasn't finished. When will it be released, so that the rest of the world can also awe at your advanced computer hacking abilities?

- Hehe, time will tell. It is occasionally being worked on and we'll just put it out the other day. Other things are being prio number one now. It was just something quick we hacked together for our own enjoyment a few days before the great Floppy-party and to celebrate HT being 10 years old. Now that we did not really make it to the deadline after all, we aren't that hurried anymore. Maybe we will put it out on LCP. We won't compete with it though, of course.

- What's your take on the scene these days? Do you follow what's happening, or do you just lean back and mind your own business? Does it seem odd to you that most of the action seems to take place in Sweden these days? Do you feel responsible for that in any way? It seems to be an established fact that the uprising in the Swedish scene is because of LCP and Floppy...

- I'm not extremely involved. In HT we have our own little c64-world, I think, and within this world I have my own little universe. I always have some personal projects in the pipeline. Both c64-related projects and non-c64-releated. However, occasionally I hang around in #c-64 and I read some news every now and then. Checking out a few releases and so on.

One of the reasons to go on and organize one LCP after another is partly because I feel it is quite obvious that people wants something like LCP and Floppy. The process of organizing becomes a process concerned with giving people a place to be, to do what they want to do. Like a growing seed that needs some things to survive, but has the power to grow itself. I notice I'm starting to sound like an old sorcerer, using metaphors from nature. Hehe... However, that's the way I view things.

So, my conclusion is that LCP and Floppy really have had a significant part in the way things have moved, but that you also have to look at each of all those individuals all around in Sweden that actually do something. They are the building blocks of those parties.

- And in reference to the last question, there are underground parties in other countries, like Forever in Slovakia. Still, their scene doesn't seem to get a burst from that. Do you have any idea of what the problem might be?

- I'm sorry, but I don't know very much at all about the scene outside of Sweden, except for wellknown productions by wellknown groups and people.

However, if I may throw of a wild guess, I would say something like this:

Sweden have a very strong c64-party culture, with roots way back in the middle of the 80's. In many other contries the tradition is not that strong, and not that old. According to Jucke/G*P a C64 was about six times a normal monthly pension in Budapest 1988, and thus the scene in some countries are somewhat younger. That means also that those parts of the scene emerged at a time which naturally made them more internet-based (less personal). It could be said that the older Swedish scene was BBS-based instead, but BBS'es is still a very much more personal medium than internet, in many ways. And not everyone was involved in the BBS-world.

Parties in those "other countries" would thus have a slightly different role to play. Probably having less to do with deep friendship, and more to do about meeting people you've only chatted with before and about achievements in the compos. That is a generalization, of course. Note that I could just as well be right out in the blue here. When it comes to the core, I really don't know. Sorry if someone even feels offended.

- You (personally) haven't really done much in the C-64 scene, but you've released some kickass GBC stuff. Are you currently coding anything, and for what platform? Do you see it as a problem that your fave platforms (C-64 and GBC) seem to be dying, and are there any other platforms that you could see yourself moving on to?

- Currently I'm doing a lot of coding on the c64. I've got two quite big projects in the making. Neither of them is a demo though. I won't tell you much more about that, since I like it better when releases comes as at least something of a surprise. I'm not so sure that the C64-platform is really dying. Not yet.

According to me, the GBC-scene was never even really alive, and now it's defenitely stone dead. However, there are some rumours about a cool gbc-demo maybe being released on LCP2003, and I really look forward to that. If it containts some new coding tricks we'll try to beat them badly next year for sure, with some super hitech coding tricks!

Some of the other coders in HT currently work on some SNES-stuff and the SNES hardware sure looks tasty. However, I'm quite satisfied with the platforms I currently use. I've got plenty of ideas left.

This whole thing is not really a concern for me. When I do things I do them simply because I want to. I would code a c64-demo in 2037 even if I would be the last one on the planet to own a c64, if that would be what I felt like doing. Nevertheless, I hope the C64-scene will stay alive for many years to come. I think it's starting to get funky now...

- You and Goto80 perform music live at parties, with C-64s, eg. this year you're performing at Sweden's biggest rock festival in Hultsfred. Do you think that this kind of activity might bring some more people into the scene? If not, does it serve any other purpose than yours and Goto80's personal enjoyment?

Hmm. I don't think our gigs have any impact on the C64-scene, and probably it does not serve any deeper purpose from a scene viewpoint. Maybe some old C64-sceners happened to go there and got to know that the C64-scene isn't dead, but we don't currently talk about the scene on our gigs. Maybe I should have printed some LCP-flyers for the Hultsfred gig...

- Is it really important at all that the scene lives on? If the C-64 scene dies, do you have any idea what people like you and me will spend out spare time doing instead? And what will hacking kids do in 20 years, if they can't just hack code into their C-64s?

- Depends on how you see it. It is not important that it lives if nobody cares and wants it to live, but I hope it won't die any day too soon. I'm almost starting to believe in the Swedish C64-scene again now. I think the quality of releases and stuff might even be generally better in the near future. I don't see why we would ever have to stop hacking our c64's if we didn't want to. Who knows, maybe there will be a LCP2017? Someone said "If you're still in the scene now, then you really can't quit", and I think he has a point. I don't remember who it was though.

Whatever kids do in the future I hope they will be doing something which comes from themselves, and not just consume what they are fed. Probably they will still strive for control over their bodies and brains, so they can gain bad ass control over their machines so they can show off their skills. Just like today...

- Any closing comments? Any special message you'd like to send out to the readers of Attitude?

- Impress me!

Right, we'll do our best. :-) Thanks to Autoboy for taking part in this interview, and let's hope that LCP will go on forever...

PUTERMAN/FAIRLIGHT

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