A few weeks ago, I finally received a very rare menu for the Stonish website: Mad Vision menu #Z. I have been looking for this menu for 15 years, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed since it didn't look as good as the other menu-disks made by Mad Vision. The question remained: Was this menu an authentic one or a fake? I didn't have any contact with old Mad Vision members, only C-Rem, who joined the crew at the end of its lifecycle (long after Mad Vision stopped making menu-disks). With the help of Maartau (Atari Legend) and Orion (Replicants), we managed to trace one of the group's co-founders: Def KLF. He kindly replied to my questions about Mad Vison #Z: even though he didn't remember how it looked, he said this one was probably a fake. But well, I couldn't just leave it with that. This opportunity was perfect to ask him some other questions about Mad Vision. The crew was famous for its menus and cracktros, but also for its diskmags (Amazine) and demos. The first time I heard of Mad Vision was early in 1992, just when they released the great Massive Attack. So it was time to ask Def KLF more details about the team, from its creation to its demise.
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1) Who are you?
2) First steps into the world of computers
3) A scener is born
4) Origin of a nickname
5) What's in a name?
7) Paint program
8) Contact with other teams
9) Who was Factory?
10) Massive Attack demo
11) So Amazing!
12) Beginning of the end
13) What about EKO?
14) Looking back
15) Old friendships never die?
16) Mad Vision Part 2 - The Return?
17) Back to reality
18) Any last words?
1) Hello Def KLF. Thank you for favouring our interview request. For those who do not know you yet, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
At the beginning of the 90s under the name of "Def KLF", I started a group on the Atari ST called "Mad Vision". It was a bit peculiar as it had one foot in the cracking scene and the other in the demoscene.
2) When and how did you enter the world of computers?
It must have been in '82 or '83. I was in 6th grade, I got the "Nouvelles Galleries Christmas Toy Catalogue". On the 4th cover, there was a TI-99 / 4A fully equipped with screen, printer, K7 player... It cost 10,000 francs (the minimum legal wage was 3000 francs per month at the time), so it was overpriced.
My parents surprised me with this first computer alone (without tape player) that was connected to the TV. I only had 2 or 3 games (on cartridge) so I looked at the Basic programming language to try to make my own games.
Than I got an Amstrad CPC. I think I had 3 of them. The games were first on tape, and they were copied with a dual tape deck. We went with friends to stores and made copies of the material on display. Some devices allowed x2 speed copying. But it was slow and only moderately reliable.
Afterwards, the floppy disk arrived, with the first exchanges through the post via classified advertisements in the computer press. I continued with 2 friends to code in Basic and copied code pages from Hebdogiciel (French magazine) and other magazines.
Finally in the late 1980s I got my first Atari ST.
3) When did you became part of the crack/demo scene?
At first, I did a lot of floppy disk exchanges on ST, locally in my city but also by post. I received packages every day. We put glue or tape over the stamps, making it possible to erase post marks and use the stamps several times.
I do not know if I knew of the demoscene before having the ST, or if my discovery took place via intros or cracks. There were also one or two articles covering the "pirate" scene in Hebdogiciel and Tilt magazines. [both were French magazines].
4) "Def KLF", can you tell us a little more about the origin of your pseudonym?
It's a mix of 2 things. I loved a techno band from the time called The KLF. The meaning of KLF is Kopyright Liberation Front which sounded like what we did on the ST.
The Def is for "definitively", as Def Jam, the rap label that released some of the first mainstream rap hits (Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J).
5) How was the Mad Vision project born?
I lived in the south of France. We were 3 friends who tried to start coding in assembler. "Mad" came from the [url=humorous US magazine, while "Vision" came from Street Vision, a skate brand of the time.
Before continuing, I must first say that my memories of the time are very vague. It was over 25 years ago - it seems like another life. These are memories that I did not maintain because I lost sight of all the people from back then, and even though this is a period for which I have a certain nostalgia now, when I left the scene I really needed to move on and zap everything.
6) What was your role in Mad Vision? You were a graphic designer, but you also created menu disks?
As said before I was a big "swapper". My 2 friends were more talented than me when it came to coding and I was more interested in graphics, so I focused on what I liked to call 'typography'. I actually did a series of menu-disks that had some success because we had the games cracked by Maxi first through Spy3, the other swapper / leader of the group with me (him in the north of France). I was also behind Amazine, a disk-magazine inspired by the disk mags on the Amiga. It was one of the things I was most proud of at the time because we were the first to make a serious one.
7) What tools did you use to create your graphics?
At the software level, I don't remember very well. I know that at the end, the few things I did for the Falcon were actually drawn on an Amiga 1200 with Deluxe Paint. But on ST I think that everything was done with Degas Elite. I think I never hooked up with Neochrome.
Otherwise I had an Handy Scanner (it said digitizer at this time, but maybe it was just for the sound). It was a handheld device that you put on top of an image (something like that) and scanned it in.
Well, it was frowned upon to scan. Yet once your image was scanned, you still had a lot of work to do in order to get a decent result with the reduced resolution and palette. We also regularly ripped Amiga fonts, which we changed or not.
8) Mad Vision was often associated with the Replicants. What was your relationship with other groups?
Spy3 was a friend of Maxi (Replicants), who passed his cracks to us to distribute them, and we could also occasionally provide cracktros (coded by Maxx-out). Again we were in contact with the biggest swappers in England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Unlike the Amiga scene most of the distribution of the cracks was done by mail and not by modem BBS. One of our peculiarities was I think we were a bit younger and immature than most groups in the early 90s, we were still in middle school. Now it may look like we were Replicants' fanboys. At the time we had on one side the pro Replicants, and on the other side the pro V8 / Elite people...
Attacks and mockery were multiplied against the "lamers" of the other cracking crews (mainly French) and some groups of the demoscene. Some people appreciated us for our bluster, while other people ranked us in the asshole category (they weren't really wrong). When I left the Atari scene, I did not cultivate the memory of all that: I was aware of the puerility of some of my texts...
9) Why was another group (Factory in this case) created, while Mad Vision still seemed active?
In my city there was a very good cracker who did not beg for swappers. He was close to another local "Impact" group. He did not want to join Mad Vision and Impact could not offer him the contacts he needed, so we created the short-lived 'Factory', and 'Bastards Int'. But it never really worked out. I have to admit, before you mentioned these groups to me I had even forgotten about their existence.
10) Mad Vision is also famous for its Massive Attack demo (personally, that's how I discovered the group at the time). Do you have any memories of this demo? How was this creation?
I remember 3 things about Massive Attack:
- the MV logo of the fullscreen intro based on the Warner Bros logo which I was pretty proud of;
- the fact that we wanted to do as Amiga demos that passe sequence after sequence by themselves and don't require to click on the spacebar. It turned out to be a big bullshit, because the demo lacks of rhythm and it's very painful to have to wait for the scrolltext to be finished to move on;
- the fact of having written our usual rantings on the empty last sectors of the disk.
11) How were the Amazine disks created?
I coded the thing in GFA Basic. I loved GFA, but it was the same and was frowned upon: if you didn't code assembler you were not a coder :-)
I centralized articles and wrote a lot of them. The thing that worked was the rankings. With Hemoroids, we sent a sheet to people, where they had to mark their favourite demos, their favourite groups of cracks, etc. It made a fuss, but I remember that I loved receiving the sheets off everyone with the results.
12) How did the Mad Vision come to an end? Why did you stop everything?
I think we stopped when the Atari ST was at the end of its life cycle. I never bought the Falcon, which came out too late, and was not revolutionary enough to succeed. We thought about starting over from zero on the Amiga, but it was not easy. The PCs were really rotten at the time. It was also the end of an era for most of us, as the oldest in the group started their adult life.
13) Are you behind the creation of EKO? Can you tell us a little about the group?
It was Maxx-out, a Mad Vision coder, who created EKO. The idea was to get rid of the sulphurous image of Mad Vision and make a true demo group. I just came up with the name and made some logos (on an Amiga I think). But as I said I never bought a Falcon and I quickly lost interest in the scene. After the demise of EKO, I didn't touch a computer for 3 or 4 years I think. I had really overdosed, I was interested in other things ... music, graffiti, girls - even though it was not always mutual! The last thing I did on a computer back then was the H2O design (created on a Falcon), the first game by Maxx-out.
14) How do you look back on these Mad Vision / Atari years? What are your best and possibly your worst memories of that time?
On a positive side, I learned a lot of things during this period of time, the basics of coding and drawing on the computer, learning the English language... We were part of something really underground and new. Who at the time, apart from us, could say they were in contact with people from all over the world? I had Norwegians coming to my home in the south of France for example. We had different ways of not having to pay for the use of the phone, I remember conference calls with English and Swedish groups etc. It was incredible at the time. I also have great memories of some demo parties. The Transbeauces organized by the Sergeant for example. I remember the first demo from Tex, the slap when Union demo came out and the demos of TCB. I also liked to receive techno tapes from Belgium or the United Kingdom by post, and rap music from all the way out of Sweden or Germany :-) The first movies recorded on camera in cinemas too.
What I do regret though is that it took me in a little too much, and that I ignored everything else : my studies, the normal social life of a schoolboy / high school student...
15) Have you kept in touch with the members of all these groups?
No, I have no contact with most of the people of that time. As you must know Maxx-out is behind EKO software. I have some contacts and some news from the guys in the Hemoroids and ACCS because we had a period when we were doing graffiti together.
16) Are you interested in the current ST / Falcon scene? A return from you to the scene, could that be a possibility in the near future?
Since you contacted me, I have been visiting some sites dedicated to Atari and I must say that I'm completely stunned by the involvement of some of you to keep track of this period. Also, the discovery of recent productions on the Atari Falcon or ST, for me that's like the twilight zone ;-) It seems completely crazy. If you would send me 2 or 3 links to recent prominent demos, I would be curious to discover them. I won't return to the scene, but if someone has a project and wants a logo... why not?
17) What keeps you busy these days (if it is not too indiscreet)?
As I said, I completely dropped the computer for a few years after reselling my Atari. And then I started to make flyers for parties, I made a fanzine on techno. At the end of the 90s, the internet became democratised. The beginnings of P2P with Napster really reconciled me with computers. The first private trackers, the fansub series, it really delighted me. I started making web pages including a site on graffiti which was a big success in the early 2000s, which was responsible in Europe for the outbreak of what is now called street art.
Professionally, I had turned my back on computers, which was very stupid of me. And here it has gradually caught up with me, I have long been a trainer in computer science, and now I'm more into graphics (UI design, animation with After Effects etc.). Back to the roots!
18) Thank you very much for answering all our questions. If you want to add some last words, do not hesitate!
It made me happy to bring up these buried memories. I'm not sure if it will be of much interest, but it was fun talking to you. (Your site does prove there is still much love for the scene). I greet those whom I met or with whom I corresponded at the time. If some of you want to know more about me, I invite you to take a look at my Instagram page.
Thank YOU for your time and sharing this part of Atari ST history with us!
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