In 1993 alternative ruled the rock (and often pop) airwaves. It was the year The Smashing Pumpkins released their classic, Siamese Dream, and Nirvana gave us In Utero. Pearl Jam put out Vs. and New Order broke up for the first time while on tour for Republic.
But in homes across the world, teens and younger kids were at their PCs playing some of the best games ever — DOOM, Wolfenstein, Sim City, and the series of wonderful games made by LucasArts.
Swedish synth composer Waveshaper was one of those youngsters. In honor of his childhood, he has released “66MHz,” a tribute to that era. The cut uses sounds from the YM3812 FM chipset that was used in the AdLib and Sound Blaster sound cards. As a pretty wild bit of nostalgia: You’ll actually be able to buy the song on a 3.5-inch floppy disk as of 9 pm Central European Time on Nov. 21 on his Bandcamp page (you can get the digital now).
In advance of that, I did a quick Q&A with him.
Vehlinggo: Tell me the back story behind “66 MHz.” Why’d you decide to go this route; what was your inspiration? And how did you make the song?
Waveshaper: I have always been a fan of the early 1990s PC/DOS sounds that came from the AdLib and Sound Blaster sound cards.
I used a sample based VST that emulates the original AdLib chipset. The technique is FM-based, so in practice you could also do it with a Yamaha DX 7 [a classic synthesizer you here in 80s pop hits and also today]. For the kick and snare drums, I decided to use modern samples in order to bring up dynamics and to add a bigger punch to it.
You have indicated that the song will be released in a limited capacity on 3.5-inch floppies — in addition to a digital release. How did you do that? Do they even have enough storage capacity?
Yeah, a pretty crazy idea, but I came up with it after I was done with the track. I ordered the floppy disks from USA. There were 50 of them, but some had reading error so I had to limit the release to 40. They are from 1994, so not really a surprise.
I transferred a low-res, super-compressed .wav file along with a midi file of the track. Along with this there is also a readme.txt file with some secret Easter egg stuff exclusively for those who buy the floppy and manage to access it.
Will you release more music like this — not strictly 80s?
Probably. I will still do ’80s-inspired stuff, but I think it is important to expand my scope and do more than just that. The entire scene will need some kind of evolution. On the other side, I have been doing it for five years, but I would say that it is the past two years that things really have kicked off.
What else are you working on? What can we expect in your future?
I am leaning quite towards the game and film industry at the moment. I have just finalized 11 tracks for a score to a Swedish movie called Videomannen (Videoman), featuring well-known Swedish actors including Martin Wallström (Tyrell Wellick from Mr. Robot).
It will be out in the beginning of next year. The soundtrack will also include more well-known musicians in the scene. I also have some interesting game projects ongoing, too. For late 2018 there will be a B-sides album. It doesn’t mean that they are bad tracks, though.
(Editor’s Note: This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.)