by Unlock/Vantage^Padua [issue 07/2002]
PAiN: Hi Dixan. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let's start with it right away. I met you at Mekka Symposium 2002, what are your personal impression from that party, the people, the drugs, the demos?
Dixan: As usual, Mekka proved to be the best party available. Every "cool" scene dude was there, the atmosphere was magic and releases were top-notch. Very refreshing, expecially after TheParty 2k1, which was so lousy...
PAiN: This sounds as if you're hanging around at most of the major demoparties around the globe? Now, some people might know that you're an Italian, how can you effort the mostly long travels to the particular events? I'm especially thinking of Assembly or The Party?
Dixan: Party travelling is quite expensive, no doubt, but luckily I only visit parties during major holidays (easter, summer...) so it's about 3 or 4 parties/year. The most expensive thing to pay for are, of course, plane tickets, but you can basically reach every country with less than 300 euros, if you take advantage of offers/last minute. Furthermore, friends can be very helpful to provide you with a roof and some food (my finnish pals from MFX always host me when I am in Finland). The trick is planning your party life wisely and save money in time.
PAiN: Now let's get over to your groups. You're a member of MFX - but MFX isn't exactly an Italian group, how did you get in there?
Dixan: Assembly has been my summer holiday since 1995. After a couple of years passed hanging around youth hostels, I met Uncle-X/mfx (at Boozembly, where else?) and started partying with him and the other mfx hardcore dudes. In 1999 I made a summer stage in finland and I was hosted at Uncle-X place. I joined mfx during that period and strted working with him on SuperLuxus Lemmen Paketti soundtrack. This is how it started.
PAiN: You've joined Spinning Kids back in 1997. Spinning Kids is a group that has not been very well known to the common scener, however you released demos and intros very regularly. This might be a good place to introduce your group to the scene.
Dixan: Ok, let's start propaganda... Spinning Kids have been quite important for the italian demoscene, organizing local meetings and small competitions since 1994 (Italian intro contest, 256 and 512 bytes intro compo) tho they were not very active before me and Rio joined from the Amiga scene. From then on, Spinning Kids have experienced different "line-ups", but the releasing core is still made out of me, Pan (code) and Rio (gfx and code). Recently, a new coder from Canada (Wiss) joined, providing us with some neat OpenGL effect. If we can wake our gfx artist up (Junta), a Spinning Kids demo for Buenzli 11 might even be possible... As a side project, Spinning Kids organize the Underground Mine website (www.spinningkids.org/umine), kinda knowledge scene site and also a small scene corner inside Webbit, a multimedia event held in italy in the early summer.
PAiN: Looking at your releaselist we see, that Spinning Kids have done a lot of raytracing productions some years ago. Now, the philosophy seems to have changed: Where is the group heading to?
Dixan: If I was the coder, I'd go back to raytracing thingies, which I consider more interesting and tricky (thus more sceneish :D). The point is that main coding in Spinning Kids passed from Pan to Rio, who is a graphician turned into OpenGL coder. I guess OpenGL will be our future now, but who knows?
PAiN: Did you take part to all the so called "Himotion" products of Spinning Kids? Which one did you enjoy most, when producing it?
Dixan: I made the sountrack for every product there, and realized the whole Ontogeny Flash demo sticking together some routines I "coded" during my civil service. My favourite release is our "Taint" intro, because almost everyone in the group put his small effort in it and the result was quite outstanding (for 1999). Nowadays, the job is usually done by me, Pan and Rio, just "requesting" contributions from the others.
PAiN: With PK is dead you reached the fourth place in the Mekka Symposium 2002 introcompetition. Are you disappointed of this result? What do you say about the double Farb-rausch ranking?
Dixan: We were actually very amazed. PK was done in a couple of week recycling some trial effects. The tune was written more than one year ago (using some samples from Synteesi/MFX) and never released. When we planned our mekka trip, we decided it was stupid to travel so far without any release, and we started assembling the thing. The result was nice and we were satisfied, but neither effects nor design was particulary original or innovative. After the intro compo, we felt like our asses got kicked big time, so the final chart came quite out of blue.
Farb-rausch guys did very well with both intros, and Poem to an Horse is finally a "complete" release from them, both from design and technical point of view. I might dig out some lame excuses like "they were in the organizing staff" and "only one release from each group", but we all know they are just too good. Also Cryonics were very trippy and worth the third place.
PAiN: You've created the music for PK is dead. What was your inspiration for that particular song? And what's your inspiration for creating scene music in general?
Dixan: There are different creative processes. Sometimes, I build a tune around one particular sample, after playing around with it, sometimes I play with my guitar and find some interesting chord loops, sometimes I write a tune to fit a particular mood or design. The third case is of course the trickier one. About PK, it was born as an experiment using some D&B samples by Synteesi after some processing with Sound Forge. His tune for "Sotakone" by MFX influenced me a lot, but I managed to mix it with my style. It has been sleeping on my drive for more than one year, then I slightly modified it for the intro and it was all.
PAiN: What kind of music are enjoying outside scene life?
Dixan: It strongly depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel like playing some speed metal CD, sometimes I put some Aphex Twins on. Or Jazz from the 50s. Being a bass player in my real life, I kinda enjoy music with some cool bass technique (e.g. Primus, Michael Manring and a lot of Jazz-fusion groups like Tribal Tech). After I started my "demoscene" carreer, I learned how to enjoy Electro and Synth music, like Kraftwerk and Art of Noise, but also like Jeff Mills.
PAiN: Do you play in a band? What kind of music do you play there? Are you famous?
Dixan: I've been playing in several local bands, but we just kept playing in local restaurants and pubs, eventually releasing demotapes. My current group is an Electro-Dark Depechemode-like group, but we don't plan to get any famous in this life. About the music I play, well, it's like the music I listen to: It also happens to gather some friends and jam on Jazz round-abouts for hours, I like experiments :D
PAiN: This leads to some more question about you and your privacy - and these also look like the most known and most overused interview questions. Who are you exactly? What are you doing when you're not composing music? Where do you live? How does being Italian influence your scene career? Which drugs do you prefer and how's your mother doing?
Dixan: Let's put some point or I'll get lost:
1) When I put my slengpung t-shirt in the wardrobe, I turn into doc. eng. phd. Cesare Castiglia, a geotechnical engineer (!) working in tunnels and underground excavation design. No one knows my secret identity :D
2) Partying and music kinda suck up my spare time (the small rest is for women and booze, and eventually sports), so you know pretty much everything about my life.
3) I live in Torino, north-west Italy. This is quite helpful for party travelling, since there is a nice international airport here and, luckily, I am quite close to the rest of Europe. Living in Sicily would be a bigger problem.
4) Mom is gone buying me some hemp pollen, she should get back within minutes...
PAiN: Where do you see your own personal place in the demoscene? Do you have something you want to reach - or did you even reach it already? Back in time, a scene career found its climax in reaching the top3 of some charts.
Dixan: I'm not looking for anything particular in the demoscene, just some good time and fun. Being on some "cool" stages is of course a nice target to aim at (talking about Mekka, Assembly and some other events), but I guess I'll keep on "scening" (if ever a verb like this existed) as long as I won't get bored. I don't think I'll hang the keyboard to the wall after winning the major parties three times in a row (well, that's not even likely, but still...).
PAiN: On the Spinning Kids homepage, there are almost 40 of your tunes listed. You seem to be highly productive. Doesn't get it anonnying for your sometimes?
Dixan: It sometimes is. Nevertheless, I am quite fast at writing XMs, so when the inspiration comes I usually finish about 90% of a tune in a weekend. Then I keep on fixing small details, but it doesn't take much. On the other hand, it can happen not to write a tune for months, waiting for a good idea to arrive.
PAiN: So let's end this interesting interview at this point with a very traditional interview ending: Is there anything you wanted to say to the community, anybody you wanted to greet or send flames?
Dixan: If anyone in the Italian scene was reading this mag, I'd shout out a "wake up, suckers!" but since the average italian scener is too lazy even to download a mag, I'll end with a regular "thank you all, see you at Assembly and at Buenzli".
PAiN: Dixan, thank you for the interview.
Dixan: It was great! Thank PAiN and everyone! Bye.
Spinning Kids http://www.spinningkids.org
Underground Mine http://www.spinningkids.org/umine/