Interview with the Demosceneur - kb ^ Farbrausch

Original author: Setsuko Hyodo
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farbrausch logoFarbrausch is without a doubt one of the most popular bands on the demoscene. They will release technically impeccable and visually sexy demos and top the chart for the best bands , and
kb is without a doubt an icon of the demo scene . He started back in the 90s, and as a coder, musician, organizer of demopati, he always achieved success. In the interview we will talk about some myths around Farbrausch, about how the demoscene works, about what inspires him and about his favorite leaves ... (not the ones you thought).

kb-farbrauschTo begin with, please tell us briefly about yourself.

Hello! My name is Tammo, in the demoscene I am known as “kb”. As a stage designer, I started on C64 ( Commodore64 ) in the group Obsessed Maniacs in 1993, visited the groupsReflex and Smash Designs , then I became a member of the Farbrausch group, which I am a member of to this day. Mostly engaged in programming, but also wrote several musical compositions. In addition, I organized the German Easter demopati since 1997, and now I am leading the Beam Team (a group of people responsible for showing the image on a large screen) on the Revision demopati.

I read somewhere that you became interested in programming at a very young age. When did you first see the computer?

I was always attracted to things with buttons. My parents showed me how the light switch works when I was two years old, and from that moment on, my fate was a foregone conclusion. At the age of six, I discovered those strange things, like typewriters, that were connected to the TV in the store. I well remember how, excited, I walked up and pressed the shift key on some Commodore, and what was my disappointment that nothing happened ... it most likely made me figure out what those things were. And, imagine, when my father copied the instructions from C64 on a copier and I read that you can program this thing to do whatever you want, I fell in love for the first time in my life.

At 6 years old! Have you saved that copied instruction?

Ha no. if I remember correctly, I threw it right away when I got my own C64 with normal instructions. And even nothing was left of him. Only one computer of those that I used has survived, sometimes I think to bring it back to life.

You understand what you want to do in your early childhood. What kind of child were you?

I've always been busy with something. He built strange figs from Lego and dismantled the old electronics, which he hooked up from his grandfathers, experimented with electronic components (he didn’t assemble anything serious, but he himself discovered that capacitors affect the sound). Sitting in front of my C64, I interchanged the details and watched what happened. You might think that I was a “typical nerd” and would not be far from the truth.

Ok And how and when did this inquisitive child discover demos and demoscene?

I first encountered it when I saw the first cracktro for games on C64, and then by chance I got a whole disk with intro and correct but without the games that usually went after them, and I was hooked. It turned out that there are people who make cool computer graphics and music just like that, and they had such strange names, and they sent greetings to each other, and ... wait, this picture is drawn right on the border, this cannot be!
And then, in the early 90s, there were paid German C64 floppy magazines that came out every month or so, and one of them included a contest for the best demo. Readers sent small demos to this contest, and received 50 then German marks (about 25 euros now) if they took first place. I had a friend who was also obsessed with demos, but we were not in any group. And so we met the guys from The Obsessed Maniacs and decided to team up with them to write a demo.

And how does it feel to create your first demo? How much time did it take?

To write the first big demo (“ Who Cares (TM)”) It took us about a year. It was a classic Megademo of several parts with loading screens between them, the different parts were in no way connected with each other in meaning, we just put together everything that we had and released what happened. Then we distributed this disc where we could. The first serious demo worthy of demopati was released later, about a year later.

I know that you were in several groups in the 90s, but in 2000 you founded your own group and named it Farbrausch. Why was it necessary to create a new group and who were its first members?

The birth of Farbrausch was in fact the result of disappointment. Black, then Yoda, Ronny and I were fed up with the “politics” that reigned in our then groups. People calling themselves “leaders” tried to impose their opinions on what and how to do. There was a lot of controversy between the members of the groups and a lot of other negative nonsense that we dealt with instead of doing demos. On the other hand, we still had fresh impressions of the success of Elitegroup, which ridiculed those old-school cliches and stereotypes that most sceners followed at that time and which even in 2014 were not completely eliminated. Elitegroup not only amused everyone, but also gave a good impetus to everyone else to be more creative than before.

«Kasparov» by Elitegroup (1999)

В итоге трое из нас основали Farbrausch с простым желанием: «Давайте делать крутые демы и никогда не делать плохих». Каждый участник группы мог делать то, что он хочет, и не было ни лидера, ни руководства, ни прочей ерунды. Никто не говорил, что должна выпускать группа, а что нет. И это привлекло очень много наших друзей, таких как Chaos, Fiver2 и некоторых других бывших участников Elitegroup.

И даже когда мы стали неожиданно известными за открытие новой эры 64к интро, основные принципы остались прежними. Если быть честным, было несколько работ от других участников, которые я бы не хотел видеть под логотипом Farbrausch, но не мне это решать, и я заткнулся и начал размышлять о том, как запилить 8-часовое 4к интро fr-0 какой там у нас следующий номер.

Wait, are you talking about politics within groups? How often does this occur in the demoscene?

Now there is practically nothing like that. This was at a time when the Internet was not so common, and people had to distribute floppy disks all over Europe and even further. Some people were the best organizers, and could gather around themselves a group of like-minded people. And the transition from the organizer to the dictator is very fast, which is exactly what happened. Or it was the founders of groups that had a good idea of ​​what THEIR demos should look like and what releases the group should release, and they did not want to listen to anyone else.

Of course, now people can communicate in real time at any distance, and you do not need a strict organization to finish the job. Fortunately, these days, installing MediaWiki on a dedicated server no longer entails megalomania. :) And this makes even kinder those kindergarten disputes among old-school groups on resources such as There you can easily find someone forty years old who behaves as if the rules written by him 20 years ago should be followed exactly. And this dude spends all his free time pouring out multi-page posts of rage on forums, just because someone in 2014 released a work that did not quite correspond to the old testament of the 80s.

To be honest, I am very surprised that your group does not have a leader and is not organized in any way. I imagined a strict hierarchy ... then, as usual, Farbrausch decide what this or that project will do? Could you tell us more about the process of creating a demo?

As I said, the main slogan at Farbrausch is "Do the Thing." Thus, we do not have any one process of creating demos. Take 5 of our dems and I will tell five different stories about how they were created. But there is one common feature: usually a demo starts with the fact that someone has an idea and the rest support it because it's cool. It could be Chaos, who wants to boast of his multi-core physics, or Fiver2, who always wanted to make a demo with disco music (and thanks to this glow effect, we finally did it inthe.popular.demo ), or Ryg, who once told Evoke that he wanted to do a "graceful demo" and with the help of Ronny and me we suddenly made a " Cargo cult ". But the similarities end there.

Okay, then what is Elitehaus, where do you go to do demos? I heard about this place a couple of times, and rumor has it that this house has magical powers to help make killer demos. It sounds very suspicious, for the uninitiated ...

As I said, the stories of all dems are different ... I lied. They were all made at Elithhouse.


Elithhouse is the place where we met when we made releases for Elitgroup and when we had to retire together to create some cool projects to show who the boss is on stage. Thus, we rented a country house in Denmark, about an hour drive from the German border and a 10-minute walk from the supermarket, and literally only we, computers and the pool were locked there for a couple of weeks. And, after 14 days, we rolled out the almost finished Kasparov, which was polished at The Party (demo party in Denmark) and I must admit, we broke everyone there!

From this moment it has become a good tradition and we are trying to preserve it. We don’t do it every year, and 15 years later we don’t work on releases as crazy as we did at the very beginning, but all the big releases from Farbrausch, such as “The Product ”( video ),“ Poemtoahorse ”( video ),“ The Popular Demo ”( video ),“ Of Spirits Taken ”( video ),“ Debris ”,“ Rove ”( video ),“ Magellan ”( video ) were made in this country house. And many of the work of our friends was also done there. Last year, Mercury came to Denmark, and we invited them to Elithhouse to finish work with them for Revision 2013. And in 2005 Paniq was also there with us: he read several of his poems and we decided to make a demo on one of them . So bornDie Ewigkeit Schmerzt ”( video ).

"Fr-041: debris." by Farbrausch (2007)

I think that “locking yourself in a house with computers and a pool” is a paradise for some creative people. :) Unlike other groups, Farbrausch often invited other people to their projects: was this a conscious decision?

The very atmosphere of Elithaus pushed for this. Even if you do not work on any part of the project with others, you constantly see the screens of their monitors, and then you suddenly begin to feel part of the team: give practical advice, help with the graphics, or code. Everything happens spontaneously, of course. For example, I helped optimize the code in Rove and Magellan, although I was planning on doing my own projects, I had enough milliseconds to squeeze myself in and help. Chaos at this time was very busy writing effects and finalizing the demo.

Farbrausch numbers their every release, and sometimes you use the minus next to the number to show that this is not a big release. By what criteria do you determine this?

As I said, the main rule at Farbrausch is "Do what you want." But somehow it happened from the very beginning that we began to number our work (although, for example, we have a “ Masagin ” ( video ) which does not have a number) - we wanted to separate the serious work from the rest of the slag that was produced. This is just a mark, so that people find it easier to navigate. But this is not a prerequisite. We released frankly weak work with numbers, as well as some fr-minus demos that occupy a special place in my heart. In general, having a number is not a sign of cool release.

Cool! I thought you have a set of rules and requirements. :) By the way, when I watched the live broadcastwith demopati, the audience exploded from just one Farbrausch inscription on the screen. People usually expect something unbelievable from you. Do you feel the burden of responsibility, or is it the other way around - inspires you?

Indeed, after “The Product” and, possibly, after “The Popular Demo”, everyone expects a similar breakthrough from us. Even today, people are minus some of our work just because they are not as cool as Debris. But over time, we learned not to pay attention to it and do what we like, regardless of whether it's cool or not. We even tricked the people a bit by releasing “ Farbomat ” at The Party 2001 a year after the release of “The Product”. People still write angry comments.

Sometimes I watch different demos and think: “how could they release it? They don’t have such a thing as EYES? ” I’m not very cool in graphics and design, but even I wouldn’t have released it to the masses. But after a minute, I understand that this attitude to the result is probably one of the reasons why I haven’t released anything for 3 years. Well, besides Partymeister - a system for displaying works on a large screen for demopati, also known as "everything that you see between the works of the past few years."

“Trolling the demoscene” is a very bold move. :) How do you manage not to worry about the negative reaction to your releases?

Of course, no one can live in complete isolation. If everyone didn’t care, then no one would release competitive works for demopati, no one would fidget excitedly in the chair and not be afraid of how the audience would react at the end of the show of your work. But we at Farbrausch learned to ignore cheap praise and stupid assaults: we have a circle of friends whose opinion we value and respect, and whose opinion is significant in the demoscene as a whole.

Thanks for the details, now let me ask you a little about how you implement your ideas, what inspires you to make a demo or write music?

Each time in a different way. It may be a melody born in my head, or it may be the result of experiments, as happened with my 4k intro “ sunr4y ” ( video) I decided to try out several new rendering algorithms, and gradually it formed into a complete intro. Or, as was the case with the music for “ Candytron ”: for several weeks I couldn’t think of anything, didn’t even imagine which genre to write in, and then, quite by accident, I heard a melody in the club that was perfect for the intro and wrote my own track based on what I heard. But overall, for me personally, it’s easier to write code than to compose music. Programming is a fairly linear, sequential process, while music is either in my head or not, and in the latter case I only have to wait until it appears there.

Fr-030: candytron by Farbrausch (2003)
Not recommended for viewing in the office, during working hours

Regardless of which group or project you work with, is there anything you pay close attention to when doing demos / music?

I think the main thing is that I like what I do. All the tracks that I did were surely tested on me by five hours of continuous playback. Demos in which I participated should also please the eye. Of course, for smaller projects I do not always present such harsh conditions, but the main idea is that I should like the result.
It is worth noting that I do not consider myself to be creators - people who enjoy the process of creating and consuming the results of their work. I grew up on a culture ready, and this helps me create more lyrical work than is usually seen on stage.

Yes, I read something about your Gothic past. Since you mentioned this fact, do you see any similarities in these two cultures - the Goths and the geeks?

Once again, it is worth noting that this was true in the 90s. I think that both of these groups are united by a common feeling of “being not like everyone else”, which probably the majority of participants in these movements experienced in childhood and, accordingly, a common view of “ordinary people”. The commonality of these feelings is enough for these two cultures to get along well with each other.
Unfortunately, this is not so relevant in recent years, when both of these cultural movements have become more popular and widespread, although they are still quite challenging for the general mass of people.

A very interesting topic - you can write a good dissertation. :) Let's get back to the creative process. Do you have any habits or rituals that you use during the creation of demos? For example, do you drink beer after midnight ...?

Darkness and tea really help. Unfortunately, after work and family affairs there is not much time left that can be devoted to the demoscene. But really, I rarely see the sun when I write code or music for my pleasure. Usually we rent an Elithhouse in the middle of winter, and during this time in Denmark the days are very short, and with our sleep mode, we do not see light often. Something like this ... Darkness and Tea, a lot of a lot of tea. You are unlikely to be able to catch me doing creative work without a cup, or even a cup of tea.

Hmm ... you seem like a serious tea lover. Which leaves do you prefer?

My favorite is Darjeeling, the first collection, and the more letters before TGFOP (tea leaf category), the better. I also like Jungpana, especially all its shades of tastes. :) In addition, I like some green teas (Sepia and Jasmine) and sometimes white tea (Bai Xue Long), and for evening tea I always have special sets of fruit and herbal teas in the kitchen.

Wow, how much! Your kitchen probably looks like a tea shop. How about music? What do you listen to at work, music or pink noise?

As for music, when I write code, I prefer different electronic music, preferably without words that often distract me. Any melodies and harmonies will do, the main thing is to occupy my right half of the brain, while the left is occupied by algorithms and code. Songs with words in languages ​​that I don’t understand are also good. :) If I need to finish something urgently in a couple of hours, most likely I will turn on J-Pop.

Imagine this picture. What programs do you use when making demos / music? Or do you have your own tools?

Well, Farbrausch is just well known for making its own tools for creating demos, and I try not to fend off the team. :) I think the reason is that programmers like Ryg, Chaos and I are not very good at design and graphics, so we need tools so that we can focus on the mathematics of effects, and give the visual part to people with artistic taste. So actually the well-known visual designer Werkkzeug and many other utilities that we use were born . The same thing with music - when it comes to writing a track for a 64k intro, then “I am a coder” should write for “me a musician” instruments that he will use with pleasure. This is how actual synthesizer came about., which also everyone can use with any other software. I could write that music for “The Product” directly in C ++ sources or just in a text file, but I wanted it to sound more “real”, and not like something crookedly crooked.

“Fr-08: .the.product” by Farbrausch (2000)

In addition, I use the following programs: Visual Studio for writing code and everything else, for music it is usually Reaper with a bunch of different plugins. Various text editors, file managers and a bunch of small command-line utilities that make everyday life easier for the encoder.

Ok! The time has come for the classic question - your favorite demo that you most remember, that changed your life and all that?

1993, the room of my parents. A friend brought me a broken Amiga 500, which I was able to fix and run. We connected it to a large TV and speakers, took the first disc that came out of the box with the demos, on which it was written “ State of the Art ” ( video) ... After 5 minutes, I realized that I should do better!
The funny thing is that with my minimal knowledge of Amiga, then I realized that this demo is not technically so complicated, but visually it was something completely new and crazy, it was a moment when it became clear that boring scrollers and effects on a black screen - it is yesterday.
The fact that I chose a demo from Amiga twenty years ago does not mean at all that only Amiga was so cool :) Future Crew and Gravis Ultrasound predetermined my destiny to become a PC scener. Then DirectX and the first GeForce brought a new era of pixel shaders and raised the demoscene to a new, hitherto unattainable level. This development was not rapid, but now many excellent works have been released that realize all the possibilities of modern iron.

You saw with your own eyes the rise and sunset of the demoscene as a culture, and not only as a stage designer, but you have been the organizer of the demo party for quite some time. I heard you have not celebrated “normal” Christmas for more than 10 years. What makes you live like that?

One of the tUM party (demopati in Germany, held between Christmas and New Year) a couple of years ago had the slogan "Christmas with your REAL family"

It suits me. I don’t even know how it should look, this is a “normal” Christmas, and I’m not sure I want it. I still love what is happening on stage, it is a fact. I still love my work that I do for Revision, and standing there, in the hall, watching the work of the contestants, knowing that you have invested part of yourself in everything that happens, it’s worth any stress experienced.

Didn’t you get the idea of ​​“tying up with the demoscene”?

Could you? I didn’t release releases in recent years until I was tormented by the conscience that I was participating in a demo party without even having to do competitive work. I still feel part of the scene. It seems to me that when people are “tied up” with the demoscene, that means it was not their place, they should not even have started to make a demo. Because on the other hand, there are always many “former” sceners and veterans of the gaming industry, and be that as it may, all these people still like to watch demos, and most of them still want to participate in some demopati sometime, especially after this the number of impressions told by people who returned to the scene after 10 or more years of break, and it took them only 2 days off at Revision to completely return their forgotten feelings.

It's great! I hope that we will still see many demos with the ideas and character of adults. What do you expect from the future demoscene?

I have no idea :) but to be honest, I would like the scene, at least partially, to become less dependent on the legacy of old platforms, and for more people to seek expression in new technologies. There are a lot of new people on the stage, people who make not so much demos as beautiful things on computers. Unfortunately, an attempt to release this new wave on, say, Revision will create tension in the ranks of ordinary participants in the demoscene, and most of these attempts, except, perhaps, for Assembly, were unsuccessful.
But, I'm afraid this is too big a topic to discuss in an interview. Wait and see.

I think, yes. And what would you personally like to release in the near future?

I have a lot of vague ideas, but so far none of them have formed in the demo. I have a couple of started music tracks that are waiting for the right moment to be finished. As for the ideas for demos, I really want to try playing with the new rendering algorithms, because in recent years they have made a significant technological leap, you know, all these HDR textures, physics-based rendering, and other fashionable things. It should be fun - to do something really cool looking on the same technologies that are used in the so-called AAA games, which actually look like a gray-brown turd. But since I myself am not very good at design, I need to add the current demo engine and add all these new chips. I hope someone from Farbrausch also has ideas in my head and I am ready to support them.

Well, goodbye, your message to the demosceners and just fans of this art form.


Yes, for current and future generations!

Make your demo messages!
True, run a development environment that you like and write something visually promising. Take screenshots and send them to a friend of your artist so that he paints them. Try to code everything that the artist has made up. Then make all the visual parameters customizable and choose the most crazy combination of them. Now find your favorite musician and send him a video of what is already working for you, and let him give you any track that suits it or writes something new. Put everything in a heap, zip it, copy it to a USB flash drive, and just in case somewhere in the clouds, buy a drink and show your work on the nearest demopati pair of cool sceners, listen to their advice, finish directly on the party code and submit your work on the compo. Now you can start drinking and wait for your work to be shown on the big screen.
All! There is a demo, maybe even a new group has ascended on the demoscene ... is it really that difficult?

I think that many who read this interview have opened up new aspects of Farbrausch and kb. Thank you very much for answering my questions!

On kb you will find his works and blog posts, and you can also download the “ V2 synthesizer system ” (the sound synthesizer mentioned in the interview). On the official website of Farbrausch you will find all the releases of the group, development diaries from Elithaus and perhaps even download the source code for their demo engine “werkkzeug”.

Thank you for reading to the end.

In case you are not very familiar with what “demo” and “demoscene” are, I advise you to watch the Moleman2 documentarywith a magnificent Russian translation from Aero

PS: according to the demoscene tradition, I send my regards and thanks for adjusting the text: alexrst ^ Delirium Tremens .

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