Remix64 Editorial: March 2004

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
I'm ve-rr-y tired
And I smell like wee!

(badger badger badger)
Chris Abbott

Welcome to the March *cough* editorial for *shiver* Remix64. This month, I want to ask you to examine your stereotypes and assumptions. We all have them, but often they don't stand up to scrutiny in the light of facts from the real world: though it's surprising how stereotypes persist in the population no matter how well publicised they are. Even the remix scene has developed its own stereotypes. Are your stereotypes as factually based as you think they are? Admittedly, a stereotype wouldn't be commonly held if there weren't a grain of truth: but unfortunately what starts out as a grain of truth gets grown into a small kernel of wheat, and a lot of rationalising chaff. I'll leave you to think about what I'm referring to obliquely… 😊

A change in direction

This month, I've finally made the decision to commit all my available energy and time to making (and associated ventures) work. Oooh, mogulesque, what a greedy grasping commercial bastard, some people might think, somewhat stereotypically.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am, and always have been, a musician first and foremost. I became a businessman because no one else was going to make my dreams happen: bringing C64 music to more people, bringing fans and composers together, etc, etc.

I've been spending these last years desperately trying to make the time to do music, and occasionally succeeding: there would have been even less of it without Boz and Kenz to inspire. But even as I was trying to earn a living in IT, I got more and more depressed about how empty it was. I want to do music, I thought. I want to spend my life producing stuff and generally being creative. Most people don't get the chance to turn their hobby into anything resembling a living: it's quite a tough thing to do, to retain the love for something when your entire life depends on it!

For some time, I've been thinking of the C64 music thing as a sideline: something that couldn't possibly generate enough to support me and my family, as well as paying the composers and remixers enough to buy new equipment and home improvements. Now I think it can, along with the other plans we've been working on, which will bring C64 music, Trojan-horse-like, into a bigger domain and into other media. Of course, the copyright work has been taking more of my time as well.

But anyway, this effectively leaves me in the position where I have to make a profit from music to survive, purely because I want to be a musician, and don't want to do anything else.

There are some in this scene who apparently think this is repugnant. To them I ask: why? If you want to do something as a career, it has to support you. I want my career to be in retro music. Therefore it has to support me, because the alternative is losing my house, and starving my kids. Just how is that repugnant? Just how does committing myself 100% to the cause of C64 music offensive? If there was no need to make money to have a house and food, then I'd still spend my time making music and being with my children. But you can understand how hurt and angry I get when people automatically try to equate the pursuit of a dream with a cynical attempt to make money for money's sake. I'm getting angry about it even as I type this.

And you know what? None of the above matters. It won't change anybody's mind, because the stereotypes are too ingrained, too resistant to change to be affected. I care about what those people think, because they just don't know me, despite my numerous attempts to explain myself. I shouldn't, but I do.

The future of C64 music extends into other media than MP3 and CD: we've already seen video and radio: well, there are other media. There will be commercial aspects to those too.

My goal has always been to give people something they didn't have before, because no one could be bothered to do the work. But there will be people who think I should have either done it for free, or shouldn't have bothered at all. And that makes no sense, because it takes away choice. There are people who would rather the CDs didn't exist: and that would have deprived the community of many things that couldn't have existed outside a commercial setting. How does that benefit the scene exactly?

We've been through this before, and it's a bit of a ramble. And it's hopefully the last time I raise it.

I'm actually excited that I get to be a C64 music person full-time, and looking forward to getting back to the sequencer: I'm living my dream, but I'm still made to feel guilty about it. I hope one day I learn to be less sensitive.

Oh, and please don't discuss this on the messageboard: it would be a very tiresome discussion indeed.

Chris, and not this chap, who's very happy indeed 24/7, and who here demonstrates the Wax On/Wax Off technique of DJing.