Always Playing The Victim: Interview with Hunz

July 18, 2008 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Always Playing The Victim: Interview with Hunzon Twitter

While this is E3 week, there’s something awesome brewing over in Australia, away from all the action. You may remember a few weeks back when we mentioned demoscene legend Hunz’s upcoming album, When Victims Fight. Well, it’s finally here.

When Victims Fight is Hunz’s debut album that is being released on the Apegenine label. Hunz is one of the biggest names in the demoscene, so this album has been eagerly awaited by many of us here at OSV. A few days ago, we had the chance to chat with him about his album and a few other things.

We’ll have a full review sometime in the coming weeks, but hit the jump to read a transcript of the interview, complete with some samples of Hunz’s older music.

OSV: Okay, so we’re here with Johannes van Vliet, who is also known by many around the world by his demoscene handle, Hunz. Let’s start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, like your age and where people can find out more about you.

Hunz: Hey man! Sure, I’m 31 years old and you can check out or

OSV: So you started out as a MOD tracker just like me. How’d you get into that?

Hunz: Well, I started when my brother got an Amiga and started bringing home demos. After awhile, I was watching them over and over again. He got his hand on Startracker at the time and I started hunting down tracks.

OSV: Do you remember any demos that left an impression on you?

Hunz: At that time 4-mat was ace and so was Moby. I know there was one with the head of this guy, and a red sunflare from his eye… with music by Dr. Awesome. I think it was a music disk. Then there was “Anarcy,” a 4-mat tune. That demo was great. And then Melon Lemon.

OSV: [Laughs] We’ll hunt it down!

Hunz: I’ll have a look too… but yeah, Amiga and Startracker was the start for me. I would download from BBS to get tracks and study the secrets inside.

OSV: I used to steal techniques from your modules!

Hunz: That’s awesome, I stole them from 4-mat.

OSV: Yeah, that was also one of my favorite oldschool trackers. “Leander” is fantastic.

Hunz: Yeah, with big chunky chords that colour out on the 7ths… Mmmm.

OSV: Let’s fast forward to nowadays… For the upcoming album When Victims Fight, are you still using a tracker or did you move to the dreaded sequencer?

Hunz: Trackers all the way. I did all this on Buzz, with the help of a VSTi sampler to help humanize some of it. All the sequences are started in buzz and then sampled out and then complicated in Cubase.

OSV: For some reason, trackers have a certain “tightness” that’s hard to come by in sequencers, I think.

Hunz: Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it? I think the thing for me is the control. I’ve just started working in Renoise because I promised I would switch as buzz is crashy and frustrating, and the control is so neat. I just can’t work without being able to create groove by applying what I want on notes as they squeeze out, or just to flavour expressions on things that would take a while to mouse click around and find the automation for this and then slide it with that. In a tracker, it’s a command that just hits it… and it works.

OSV: I’ve never quite gotten the hang of Buzz, but this is kinda making me want to try again.

Hunz: Buzz is charming. I’ve had it crash complete song setups that I’ve lost them. Data all corrupt. You have to love it… or it’ll kill ya. That’s why I promised to move over to Renoise for the next setup.

OSV: Ouch! So I guess that explains why the album took so long to make? [Laughs]

Hunz: [Laughs] Nah, that’s a whole other story. But one that will work out over time…

OSV: The album seems to have a personal edge to it due to singing and also the lyrical content that I’ve been able to catch. I suppose I was one of the first to hear the “Beg” lyrics, since I did a remix of it, but it struck me as a very personal song. Is the album based on personal experiences?

Hunz: Yeah it is. My scene music has always been personal and I’ve never intended it to be really released outside of that. This is my first effort to do that. The whole album is about inner voices that help and also hinder you as a person. “Beg” is really the album song for me… it’s about a victim fighting back. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me and I’ve always managed to play the victim and I’m learning to change that about myself.

OSV: Nice! That’s a good concept, and I expect playing the victim will return in other tracks on the album.

Hunz: Yeah, totally. There are songs about being hugged by pride, and all manor of things… just wanting a piece of our attention and really not dealing with what’s going on around us. So being distracted by all those things and in turn ignoring people around us.

OSV: And the crazy cover art is related to that as well then? Did you make that or was that Vince?

Hunz: Yeah, t’was me. It’s art I’ve been working on for a few years now… but yeah. It’s all about being taken on a ride by yourself. So you trust youself more then anyone, and if you could convince yourself that eating yourself was good then would you? Or is that wrong? It’s a bit arty but it’s more just a look at danger. The cover for me is about “control” taking over and eating “victim”.

OSV: Yeah, combining the cover art with the album title really makes it make sense

Hunz: I was inspired by that fable about the giant eating that man who had a giant needle and poked the giant from the inside. So he ending up being stronger… but had to go through the terror of dying (or so it seemed).

OSV: Good stuff. Let’s go back to the older stuff, since Jayson asked me to ask you about these tracks. Specifically, he is obsessed with “Traffik” and “The Temple Gates”.

Hunz: Oh yeah. What did he want to know?

OSV: And while we’re at it, “Whiplash”. I’ve always loved that track Were they also made as introspective tracks? I suppose this has always been a theme right? Or is that too long ago to remember?

Hunz: Yeah… I guess they were. “Traffik” was so much fun to write though, I really love the sound of it and hope to do more tracks like it.

OSV: Yeah, “Traffik” is one of my favorites as well

Hunz: It’s weird, I really just write and let the track talk to me, so I have no idea where it’s going, and I never make it technical at all. I just let it roll out…

“The Temple Gates” just went that way. I had these nice guitar snippets and it fell out that way.

OSV: So you don’t have a formal musical education or anything right?

Hunz: Nah, nothing.

OSV: It’s nice how tracking can teach you everything you need to know, since you can look inside other’s tracks

Hunz: Yeah, I agree… you can open the file up and learn. I’m listening to “The Temple Gates” right now.

OSV: Me too.

Hunz: It sounds so empty, but it has some nice moments in it. I remember it sounding so much BIGGER.

“Whiplash” was fun, I had a sample CD and was inspired by its breaks. That was simple and short.

OSV: “Whiplash” sounds to me like good clean fun. At the time I heard it I was really blown away by the production. It sounds fantastic! It’s one of those tracks that made me think that you could do a professional album in a tracker.

Hunz: Aww, thanks!

OSV: Which I guess you’re proving now.

Hunz: Yeah, you could if you applied it right. The mixing is the hardest part. You have to plan if you want to do it really well.

OSV: These days it’s a bit easier, with instrument volumes and stuff. So what kinda influences will we hear on the album?

Hunz: I’ve been really into Kate Bush, so I’m hoping that. But then I’ve tried to steer away from stereotypes, but I sound like a few artist that are out there… Muse and Radiohead and the like. I don’t listen to them anymore because I want my own shape and sound and am listening to instrumental pieces. I love lackluster, Plaid, Amon Tobin, Telefon Tel aviv.

OSV: Nice! Plaid’s definitely my main influence.

Hunz: Oh dude, they are just amazing. I’m trying to tame their style and make it more accessible. There aren’t many bridges happening within electronic music, although Bj0rk is good at it. There needs to be more artists bridging gaps into the heart of electronic music. Boards of Canada are another love for me.

OSV: Yeah, I agree. I think Radiohead does a good job.

Hunz: Yeah, totally. But that’s one side of my album. You know the album I’ve tried to rip off the most… is still Gran Turismo – The Cardigans.

OSV: [Laughs] Awesome!

Hunz: They did something that no one got… except sceners. I remember sceners going on and on about it, and the album bombed for them.

OSV: Alright, one final question since you probably need to get going, but how long does it take to get your hair fixed each morning?

Hunz: [Laughs] Seriously… usually it’s a wash and let it dry and then put stuff in it thing. But my new hair cut is complex, so it can take a few more minutes. It’s actually much shorter now. The beard is the killa .. damn thing.

OSV: Okay, I have another final question… you’re going to tour the world right?

Hunz: I want to so bad… I think the biggest thing for me is to bring the two things I do best together. Thus the album taking a long time .. I’ve set up a motion graphics company that will help bring the art of Hunz into motion. That’ll build the live stuff too.

My other love is animation and visual effects and so on .. “Beg” has been a monster, but I’ve directed and animated the clip which will be out later this year. “Who Knows” is being shot next month and I’m co-directing that one, but I heart art so much!

OSV: Sweet! I’ll be looking forward to that. “Beg” is an upcoming single then?

Hunz: Yeah, later this year.

OSV: Awesome. Maybe I’m biased, but that’s my favorite track from what I’ve heard of the album.

Hunz: Yeah, it’s mine too. That and “Almost There,” and then maybe “People”… so hard to know now! [Laughs] It’s been neat though, I was so nervous about putting it out there, and it’s been great to hear everyone have favorites and like it. It’s really is just simple… will people understand me? At least there is more to come, and I’ve planned bigger things for the future. Can’t wait to see it all unroll.

OSV: And neither can we! Hunz, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on When Victims Fight. You can be assured we’ll be writing about it in the coming weeks.

Hunz: Aw, thanks! And thanks for hanging around with me.

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