Vegard Skjefstad

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TechnoHead

I’m not sure how to write this without sounding like a total dick, so I’ll just write it: I’ve always considered myself rather creative. As a kid I drew a lot, nothing particularly great, but my production was impressive. I’m guessing there are quite a few boxes hidden in my parent’s attic filled with my drawings, which was mostly, for no particular reason, of war. Huge theaters of killing and maiming made up of several drawings taped together.

This site is also a result of my sporadic creativity. Although my posting has become less and less frequent, I’m still pumping out a little something-something every now and then. I also have a job where I have to be creative or wither and die. As a computer programmer, you continuously have to solve intricate problems that all demand some sort of creative solution.

But I was on my most creative from 1995 to 2000 when I composed music. The Amiga and PC music scene was exploding with talent, and I rode the shock wave. With the help of FastTracker 2, tons of samples downloaded from the internet and the inspiration from thousands of other basement musicians, I – using the artist names HYPERSPACE, Milo and Timid – crammed out almost 40 tracks over that five year period.

But before we continue, let’s have a look at another guy who I guess looked at himself as a pretty creative guy expressing himself through music.

Yeah…

I had three heights in my short musical career. The first was when I went to a party where I was approached by a guy I’d never seen before. He was so drunk he could hardly stand or talk, but he was very happy to see me because they’d played some of my electronica at a party he’d been to earlier that night and they’d had a very good time. Of course might never have been another party, it could just have been him, drinking by himself in his mother’s basement – but the point was that he’d enjoyed listening to something I’d made, and that sure felt good to hear. The song was called “TechnoHead“.

The second peak came with lyrics and vocal. Except from a few vocal samples, all my music was exclusively instrumental. This is partly because I wrote unbelievable cheesy lyrics1, but mostly because I can’t sing. I have a terrible voice, and there’s a fair chance I wouldn’t be able to sing a pure tone to save my own life. But there is still one exception to my “exclusively instrumental” rule. The second to last tune I ever completed was an actual song, with lyrics and all. Of course, I was not the one who did the singing, that was some random guy from Australia I met on an online forum. But I wrote the lyrics. Oh. My. God, the lyrics. The singer couldn’t actually sing very well, either, but the end result wasn’t that bad. The song was called “Breathe“.

My third and final height came with my brief appearance on the Norwegian radio show DJ Friendly. It’s a typical morning show, playing mostly chillout and ambient tracks from 5 to 7 on Saturday and Sunday mornings. As you can imagine from when it’s on, the show doesn’t have tons of listeners, but it’s been on Norwegian radio for as long as I can remember. I was unable to find exactly how long, but I’m pretty sure it’s been at least ten years, maybe as long as 15. To me, getting a tune played on DJ Friendly was a pretty big deal, even if it was just five minutes of a two hour radio show on a random Sunday. The song was called “As The Sunlight Hit Her Face“.

I’ve managed to salvage all my musical creations from old backup discs, and I’m putting everything here. I wouldn’t recommend that you download and listen to it all, because that would just be a waste of your time. But at least now I’ve saved everything from the inevitable doom of broken backup CD-Rs. Everything is listed in chronological order, and it’s actually possible to hear that things change for the better over the years.

Title Year Notes Download
Freelance Matrix 1995 Techno piano tune with very heavy use of vocal samples. XM | MP3
Response 1995 My second tune. Not sure which genre this one falls into. XM | MP3
Camilla 1995 Piano ballad I dedicated to my primary, secondary and high school crush. I’m such a romantic. XM | MP3
Velocity 1995 First use of guitar, which is so out of tune I was either tone deaf or didn’t give a damn. Most likely the former. XM | MP3
Babylon 5 1995 I was a huge Babylon 5 fan, and here’s my Babylon 5 song. I think the reason why I gave it that particular title was that I really struggled with titles and mostly named songs based on what I was thinking of when I needed a title. XM | MP3
TechnoHead 1995 This was the party song. Dance floor filla! XM | MP3
In the Jungle 1995 Pianos featuring what I think is a screaming monkey. XM | MP3
Agony 1995 Another (industrial) guitar out of tune, but this time I think it’s on purpose, believe it or not. XM | MP3
30 min crap! 1995 Crap produced in 30 minutes. XM | MP3
Tempic Topic 1995 My usual approach when making my music was to randomly bang on the keyboard and put layer upon layer of tracks on top of each other. This is very obvious here. XM | MP3
Theme Park 1995 Oh, Theme Park. I played the hell out of that game. This is my tribute to Bullfrog’s masterpiece. XM | MP3
Short X-Mas Rock 1995 There’s nothing Christmassy about this song, except that I made it around Christmas. XM | MP3
Shadowrun (2) 1996 Since this song is titled (2), I’m suspecting there should be a Shadowrun (1) track somewhere but I can’t find it. The title comes from the table-top roleplaying game Shadowrun, which I spent hours and hour playing with my friends back in the days. XM | MP3
Lonely? 1996 Piano/guitar rock ballad. XM | MP3
Ohya! 1996 My first tune experimenting with variable speed, a technique used by many great demo scene musicians. XM | MP3
Relax… 1996 I dare you to listen to this tune and not get relaxed. XM | MP3
Turning Insane! 1996 Released the day after the previous song, “Relax…”, this tune is more on the other end of the psyocholigcal scale. XM | MP3
Camilla (2nd Edit) 1996 Oh, my crush on Camilla, the petite brunette who really started to fill out her clothes during the second summer of secondary school just wouldn’t pass. Here’s my second dedication to her that she never heard. XM | MP3
Too bad… 1996 More piano and guitars. I’m not sure why, but I used a lot of piano and guitars, a combination that you won’t hear that much on the top 20 charts. XM | MP3
Deep Blue Sea 1996 Slow, dreamy and a bit orchestral. XM | MP3
All the Demons in my head 1996 As every great artist, I struggled with my inner demons (not really). This song uses a single violin sample, which is a welcome change from some of my other songs. XM | MP3
Daydream 1996 Nice beat, somewhat uninspired and cuts out after one minute. XM | MP3
Entering Innocence 1996 The title of this song doesn’t make much sense. That’s creative freedom. XM | MP3
Happy Days 1996 Happy piano tune with birds. XM | MP3
Los Mios 1996 Relaxed release that actually high quite high rotation on my own playlist back then. From Los Mois and onwards, it feel a bit like there was a rise in quality in my releases. It might have been that I started using fresher samples, but I’ve got the feeling I was actually on to something. XM | MP3
Pantheon 1996 Pantheon is a building in Rome. Why this song is titled Pantheon, I have no idea. This song is my first where I’m using my own samples, ripped from a Deep Forest CD. XM | MP3
Fumble 1996 One of my better compositions. It’s a pan flute and a drum solo in there, but it’s tight! XM | MP3
Nature Calls the Innocent 1996 Dark, slow rock. Just right for the next vampire block buster. Call me! XM | MP3
No Mezzo 1996 A saxophone. Some poeple don’t like it, I love it. At this point, I’d actually read some musical theory, and I’m guessing the title of this song plays on mezzo-soprano, even if there are no vocals. XM | MP3
I Wanna Kill My AWE! 1996 I had a lot of problems with my Creative Soundblaster AWE soundcard, and this is probably me channelig my frustrations. XM | MP3
Except the Unexpected 1996 A piano song that takes a very unexpected turn. XM | MP3
Can’t Stop this Feelin’ 1996 Heavy use of pre-recored guitar samples. I didn’t record them, though. They are a bit out of tune. There’s also a lady screaming out of tune. Most of this song is out of tune, it seems. XM | MP3
Nymphet – l i v e 1996 This song isn’t recorded live of course, but I found a sample of a cheering crowd and it sort of just happened to sound live. XM | MP3
U r b a n 1996 A guitar heavy track. A few pre-recorded samples, but mostly me playing “free hand” on the keyboard. XM | MP3
NighFlight 204 1996 Another relaxing song with a bass track I remember I was particularly pleased with. XM | MP3
Slow Down 1997 Very heavy use of samples from the song “Slow Down” by the Norwegian band The September When. Hell, I even stole their song title. XM | MP3
War-Dance (KIA) 1997 I suspect I imagined writing the end credits for a massive Hollywood war movie. XM | MP3
Breathe 1999 This is my lyrics attempt with the Australian on vocals. XM (instrumental) | MP3 | MP3 (instrumental)
As The Sunlight Hit Her Face 2000 Ambient. This was the song played on the DJ Friendly radio show. As most ambient tunes, it’s too long and gets a bit boring towards the end. And when you think it’s over, it’s not. XM | MP3

The song files are available in both MP3 and their “native” XM format. They will probably sound their best when played as XM files using FastTracker 2. But it’s a rather obscure piece of software and you probably don’t have it installed. So MP3s might be a good option for most people. But if you want to use the XM files, you can use VLC, which you might already have installed. From what I can hear, it plays back the XM pretty accurate, but in some cases things might sound really weird even if it’s not intended – some samples are very out of tune. It’s also possible to use foobar2000 with the DUMB Module decoder component installed.

If I had actually pursued music, gone all in and learned to play an instrument, I honestly believe that I could have done not-too-bad, and been one of the many, many aspiring musicians you find on YouTube, all hoping to pull a Justin Bieber.

But in all honest, I’m sort of glad I didn’t, because not pursuing music enabled me to focus on being a nerd, and that has certainly taken me places I never imagined I’d ever go. And poor Justin Bieber turned into a dick.

Footnotes

  1. If you listen to the lyrics from many most popular songs, both those popular today and those popular in the past, you’ll realize that lyrics are mainly cheesy. Only the really great musicians manage to combine both deep, meaningful lyrics with music that makes the hairs in the back of your neck rise.

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