Interviews with Jeroen Tel

This is a recent interview with Jeroen, done in June 1997 by Commodore Zone. Many thanks to Warren Pilkington for letting me put it on the SID Homepage.

CZ: Hi Jeroen. Please could you tell us how you got first got started writing music on the mighty C64. What was the first tune you produced?
Jeroen: I bought a C64 when I was 12, instantly exploring it with BASIC programming. I bumped into the SID and I was sold. I wrote a little BASIC player and did some tunes in it, of which I still like today. I didn't know how to program the 6502 in machine code yet, which was really frustrating. When I ran into Charles Deenen that problem was over and me and Charles designed our first MoN routine.

CZ: Are you still in contact with Charles Deenen? What was it like working with him?
Jeroen: I email with Charles regularly. He is working at Interplay as an Audio Director. Besides that he is also sound effects editing for movies (in a team of sfx-editors). What was it like to work with Charles? Overall, we got along fine. When we started off Charles did the programming and sound effects, and I composed the music. We both worked from our homes, so communication was sometimes hard. But I *motorbiked* to his house very often and he was going to a school in my town, so he visited me often too. A bit later on he started composing and I started programming and creating sound effects as well. After a couple of years things took a different turn. He was asked to work in-house at Interplay and I was offered a job at Probe Software Limited (now Probe Entertainment). We took both jobs. Somehow that's too bad.

CZ: Who thought up the name Maniacs of Noise?
Jeroen: Me and Charles. We were really looking for a name and making up a lot of them. Too bad I can't remember the other names we came up with. Whatever names they were, they were also dangerously close to becoming well known, if you know what I mean.

CZ: What piece of C64 music were you most pleased with?
Jeroen: Turbo Outrun. Having samples (and my own voice) inside a tune, that was awesome. Really made me go 'YEAH!'.

CZ: Who were you main musical influences when it came to composing C64 tunes?
Jeroen: In the beginning, Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway. But I tried to do my own thing most of the time. Copying someone is boring, IMHO.

CZ: Do you still have a C64? If so, then are you still composing music for it and what music have you done recently?
Jeroen: The last thing I did on the C64 was the music for the game Lemmings by Psygnosis. I still compose on my C64 though, just for fun of course. I will release at least one more demo (with code, graphics and music from me), called "Noise Of Maniacs" and it will have all the unreleased tunes from 1986-1997 in it. The latest stuff is really something to look forward to, people!

CZ: How does the commercial C64 scene (when it was at its peak) compare to the current console/PC scene? Is it as much fun?
Jeroen: In one word: no! C64 times were better days when it came down to having fun...

CZ: Who are your fave C64 musicians and what particular tunes do you like the most?
Jeroen: Rob Hubbard. He has made so many genius tunes that I wouldn't dare to pick one as being my most favourite, but I remember really gazing at the following tunes (you must know I was 13 years old when I first heard Rob Hubbard's music, so my impression was huge!)
Rob Hubbard: Thing on a Spring, The Last V8, Crazy Comets, Tarzan (great mystery in this!), Zoids, STOP! Too many to mention.
Martin Galway: Arkanoid, and more...
Tim Follin: Ghouls n Ghosts, Bionic Commando.
Ben Daglish: Hades Nebula.
Johannes Bjerregaard: Nightdawn, Special Agent, a tune called Tele 64, STOP! Too many to mention. I especially love his conversions of pop songs and of course his funky style compositions.
I like the creepy atmosphere of the Forbidden Forest music. I don't remember who made it though. (Paul Norman - Ed).

CZ: I understand you have produced some audio CDs. What kind of music is on them and is there any way people can order them from England?
Jeroen: "Vivid Video - Music For Home Video" (Maniacs of Noise). This is a nice CD with variosu happy, moody styles of music in different cuts. Contains classical, country-chop-guitarish, danger (film) but also some nice "easy listening" music and a real Maniacs of Noise style tune. It has been sold NOT in CD-Shops (gas stations etc) the wrong channel I believe. I will start selling these on my homepage:
cause it's more something for C64 SID lovers somehow. It sounds like"my style" if you know what I mean.

"Maniacs of Noise - Original Video Game Sound Effects" - A CD with 284 digitally created sound effects. Better than these you can't get when it comes to signel. It's in my CD shop:
This CD is already in use by BIG broadcasters, BBC, NBC, Discovery, RTL4 etc. I'm very proud of it.

"Maniacs of Noise - The Video Game Soundmakers" (1993). A CD containing studio versions of Nintendo and Sega games plus some original (techno-ish) tracks RoboCop III, Lethal Weapon III, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Technocop, Alien 3, Strwing TV sounds (these are the game tracks), Play Your Game, Digital Drugs, Take You Up, Pure Pressure, Rock Me (these are the original tracks). Due to some deadline sh*te I had to rush the final mix and additions, so I'm not 100% satisfied with the result of some of the tracks. (I cut a saxophone player's riff into REALLY COOL riffs, but at the studio where the end master was mixed, the MIDI did not sync with my sampler (S3000) This CD was sold through Nintendo only in the Netherlands and Belgium. I could sell it too if there would be interest in it. There are still some left. Anyway, for your readers, I'll put info on:

Also made some CD singles, to mention one from 1992, X-Mess-House. Pretty funny...

CZ: Have you thought about updating/remixing some of your C64 tracks for an audio CD? Funky techno / dance / industrial mixes of your C64 tunes would be a bit good...
Jeroen: "Ever thought" would be an understatement. I gave it a lot of thought and I have plans for a 3 disc album containing music of me, Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, Martin Galway, Johannes Bjerregaard and some others (Gasp! - Ed). This is a LONG TIME project though! (I have to do this in my spare time, which I'm lacking at the moment. But you may expect some remixes of my C64 music quite soon! A bit touched up if you catch my drift. Not the music, just the beats and grooves. Anyway, if you are interested in future developments of me and Maniacs of Noise, go to: or or
(No matter where you go, the sites are interlinked.)

CZ: What real (not computer/console) music do you like?
Jeroen: It's a simple question with "a lot of answer", I like GOOD music. I don't like any specific band really . I like individual songs or compositions of many different bands, composers etc. But let's just name a few...
Red Hot Chilli Peppers: the funky tunes
Toto (some songs)
Michael Jackson (some songs)
Some of Jerry Goldsmith's film scores (Rambo II and III especially).
(Yes! I'm a bit of a Jerry Goldsmith fan too - the stuff he's done for various Star Trek movies, the ST Voyager theme and Total Recall etc. rule! - Ed)
Tower of Power (their brass section is the best!)
I like funk, melodic classical jazz, soul, not the pop extraction which MTV calls soul.

It's just so hard to name any, casue when I would name some (which I did). I would actually have to name 1000s of names of songs or compositions.

CZ: What other computers/consoles have you done music for in the past?
Jeroen: Commodore Amiga, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES - or Nintendo Famicom), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES - or Nintendo Super Famicom), Nintendo Gameboy, SEGA Master System and Game Gear (which are the same basically), SEGA Megadrive (or SEGA Genesis), SEGA Saturn, 3DO, Sony Playstation. (A lot of other formats had my music, although I didn't program the actual data, others converted it).

CZ: What was the best computer/console to produce music for? (be honest.)
Jeroen: I wish the manufacturers of computers would build a SID inside every computer. I loved composing SID music the most (yaay! - Ed). But I must say, the PC has the best sound so far. It can easily mix 64 digital channels. (Then how come my Soundblaster 16 sounds so crap? -Ed). In the future (I hope a very near future), PC will have FM sound (like the SID), sampled sound and effect programming like reverb and chorus on top of it. All of this software-matic! Then the computer music scene will be a real competition for the music industry. I just hope that people are willing to pay a SMALL money for the modules (a PC tune or song). Some kind of 'shareware music' so computer composers can actually start living off the music they make. When I say SMALL money I mean something like 1 dollarcent per "module". But this kind of payment can only be done when the Internet is open to everyone and small money transfers like 1 dollarcent can be handles automatically and internationally without extra costs.

CZ: Do you prefer to produce soundtracks for CD-ROM releases where the audio is pulled straight off the CD or do you prefer to battle with the actual sound chip (like the C64's SID)?
Jeroen: To be honest, I like both. Working in studios is more work, but to a certain extent you have no limits. Programming a soundchip (like the SID, or SNES soundchip) is more fulfilling. The limits of the soundchip makes me wanna push it to its maximum (and I think I often managed, IMHO).

CZ: What is the main project you are working on at the moment?
Jeroen: Sshhhh!

CZ: Sorry for being nosey, but which commercial C64 project did you get the most cash for? (I don't want to know the amount, even I'm not that nosey! Hehe!)
Jeroen: Let me just tell you this: Even the best pay wasn't big. The C64 was only a "getting rich" machine for some game programmers (and publishers of course).

CZ: I noticed you produced some of the noisy ingame music for the Amiga game 'Agony'. I read a review which didn't rate your tunes too highly. How do you feel about that?
Jeroen: I just took a copy of CU Amiga, February 1992, looked up a review of Agony Amiga. Sound 90%. What's that again? Anyway, I'll explain the 'noisy' you're referring to. I had to strip down the CLEAN sampled to a very low sample-rate, since the programmers had left me very little memory to work with, so in the end it didn't have much of the "high fidelity" fell left. Maybe the rating of the Agony music wasn't that high in that particular magazine you read. I think it's WEAK to slap me in the face with ONE badly ranked review in ONE mag, while my music (even Agony) was always very well ranked in game-mags (most of the time around 9 out of 10, or 90%). The MUSIC wasn't that bad, so I feel GOOD about the Agony music (period). (Whoops, I touched a raw nerve there, sorry Jeroen! - Ed).

CZ: How much of a nightmare is the C64 filter to work with? In the CZone interview with Martin Galway (issues 6 and 7) he said it was one of his worst memories of the C64!
Jeroen: It was a real bugger when it came down to using the SID-filter so that it would sound good on every C64. There were several versions of the SID-chip around, which varied a lot. But in the end I got hold of all C64 versions and could so some "average" filter settings. But it remained different..

CZ: And now, one of the most often asked CZone interview questions.. who is your fave babe at the moment?
Jeroen: SHINE! (my girlfriend's nickname). I'm not into "regular babes" at all. I have my own personal taste, which certainly INCLUDES personality rather than "just looks".

CZ: Is there anyone out there you would like to send greetings to?
Jeroen: I could make a list here, but that would be so big I'd fill this mag. Greetings and respect go to all SID-lovers! And my love to SHINE!

CZ: Many thanks for your time Jeroen. Have fun.
Jeroen: No problem! Good luck with the mag..
One final note: I think the C64 should be taken into production again!

And older and shorter interview which was published in 64'er issue 3/91:

Jeroen Tel from Holland is one of the most well-known and talented musicians on the C64. He has composed the music for a lot of games and did the wonderful tune from Cybernoid. Jeroen has been a member of the group Maniacs of Noise (MON), together with Charles Deenen. But because he wants to be independent and creative, he decided to become a solo artist.

64'er: Hello Jeroen. How old are you, and what are your hobbies besides composing ?
Jeroen: Hi folks. I'm 18 years old, and my hobbies are girls. :)

64'er: What do you think about 'The Scene' ?
Jeroen: Six years ago, when the scene was bigger, it was more interesting, but it is still very important. The scene creates nearly all coding tricks, and without them, the C64 wouldn't be as popular.

64'er: What do you think about other musicians ?
Jeroen: Tim Follins is a good musician. The others, like Jens Christian Huus, aren't that great.

64'er: What do you think, how long will the C64 stay alive ?
Jeroen: Our little 8-bit machine has a good chance because of the new console [note: C64GS]. But i have to say, that i'm already working on the Amiga.

64'er: On which games are you working right now ?
Jeroen: If everything works out well, you'll here musics from me in OUTRUN Europe, Super Monaco Grand Prix, Supremacy, and some other games. By the way, i'm moving to England, because i'm working at Probe Software now.

64'er: Thank you for the Interview.