Autobiography (WIP)

Early Years

I was born in September 29th 1979, Solihull, England, birth-name Gregory Raymond Tuby, changing legal name in 2016 after a private ceremony, both commemorating the 18th year together with Ilona-Ruby, and adopting part of her name- officially Red-Ruby Rae Tuby) though as per my preference, my friends just call me Red, in fact most of them did anyway because it has been my gamertag for almost a century 😎

Educated at Hobmoor Primary School, Yardley Birmingham. Was good, not much to comment on. Teachers probably had something to say though. Many electronic home projects demonstrated in the classroom and one time the school’s official Mozart, featured for a whole 15 seconds in a school play lol.

Secondary education first year at Cockshut Hill, Yardley, Birmingham. Didn’t last long as family split up and we moved to a different town.

Second year through to year eleven at Lode Heath Comprehensive School, Solihull. Great school. Lots of cool friends, loads of fun with “rocket science” and shocking times with electricity, can’t really say too much, though the school was once evacuated due to the stupidity of one of my customers.

In year 11 I was given the prestige of being made a school prefect, heaven knows why, as I was quite shite academically.

“Hoots Man”

I spent quite a lot of my youth between school and enjoying my hobby looking after birds of prey, volunteering at an Owl Rescue in the Midlands. Frequently organizing fund raising events at school as well as traveling around the UK to various garden centers with the owl rescue putting on demonstrations and educational talks in locations such as Perth in Scotland, Peterborough (hello there JK Rowling), the local Notcutts at Solihull and also down in Clacton-on-Sea.

It was sometimes crazy, gaining the attention of the local media during several fund-raising events – one being to raise money for the Somalian famine crisis. It was a no-brainer to organize a fundraiser in conjunction with my school and Midland Owl Rescue. Mr Robb the headmaster was extremely supportive which helped really get the ball rolling.

Music

Teenage bedroom 1997

I began writing music in 1994 for the Amiga music ‘tracking’ scene based in England. Being limited to just 4 channels/tracks at the time soon limited what I wanted to do so at some point in 1996 an investment was made into several keyboards. These were Yamaha PSR 520’s and were quite good for their time and with these I managed to learn how to play using the larger keys, as all the other keyboards I had used before at home and school were all tiny finger mini-keys.

Eventually these keyboards too became a bottleneck since they we not really able to synthesise any new sounds. I was frustrated with their rather small sound range and lack of fully compatible General MIDI so, when I could afford it, and the time was right, I upgraded to a really snazzy piece of kit- a Roland XP60 synthesiser.

After moving to the Netherlands, I began composing ‘real’ music but this didn’t actually start until five months after I got the synthesiser. The steep learning curve to working with MIDI controlled synthesizers began in October 1998, and that is when the first compositions were produced, they were a little ‘weird’, as to be expected while getting to grips with the workflow.

Having had a tendency to try out new ideas just for the experience, it did not take that long until I found my niche.

Amateur Radio

After school had finished and I’d got the job at Legend, the boss turned out to be a licensed radio amateur as well as the chap who did the license training at Wythall Radio Club.

After showing my boss and colleague my working portable packet radio setup in a backpack that worked over CB radio, he got me going to the club nights and then I studied there and took the ham exam.

I passed, but only just.

I obtained the full amateur radio license in England in 1997.

After emigrating to the Netherlands, then shuffling through a couple of different callsigns.

I still maintain a keen interest in digital networks and I help keep the amateur packet radio network on life support, this is accomplished through operating an AX25 BBS and node. We use the nodes to help test and harden the cutting edge new software-driven audio modems that are in constant development with several friends.

I frequently contribute my time and skillset to various open source ham radio projects. Mostly bug finding, QA, sometimes a bit of stress testing and technical documentation.

The “M”

I mentioned during an early interview that a few tunes of mine were released in to the Amiga scene via the Amiga Format magazine. Notably winning the ‘mod of the month‘ accolade.

For the curious, the terribly annoying track that earned the prestige being no other than “m.mod” – Everyone Go M. This would be the foreshadowing of what was to become of my “curious” vocal talents.

The Cat’s Meow

During the mid-2000s the YouTube video for Meow Meow Meow went viral, drumming up a phenomenal 516,000 plays between 2008 and 2012- a lot for its time. Then it got deleted 🤦‍♂️.

Today the track is back, charting well on streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music– already having surpassed its first million plays in the first two years on Amazon alone 🥹

The Mod Archive

Perhaps unsurprisingly, if I wasn’t at work I was working at home- on a massive project- the new Mod Archive website – database driven and built from scratch to replace the aging Mod Archive. The site was originally founded by a bunch who left for other projects, leaving the sole star coder Mikael ‘Stary’ Hedberg to bring it up to version 1.0, and that stuck around for a couple of years and was genuinely great.

Unfortunately version 1.0 didn’t see too many updates and was eventually abandoned. While it creaked anlong under the strain of the site’s increasing popularity for a few years more- it was beginning to break.

Due to life challenges presented to Stary he stepped aside to focus on his health and after quite some pestering, allowed me to take on the admin lead despite me not knowing a single line of code. I promptly purchased a couple of O’Reily “in a nutshell” books and began work.

Writing all the the conversion tools to migrate the site to my database, while keeping the look of the site the same was the era of Version 2.0. The site had switchable themes to get our users used to the move to the new system.

When version-3 was featured in Sound on Sound print magazine, the popularity of the site grew further, but it was far from finished because I was not satisfied with the look and feel.

I eventually presented The Mod Archive verison 4.0 to the world on April 1st 2008, and it is still there to this day (last checked, December 2022). As of 2012, the site has been transferred from dedicated hosting to Scenesat Radio, where it remains operational.

A quote from the About page to give an idea of my backstory:

Initially joining the fold around 1997 as an artist, then reviewer, then crew member and eventually landing the administrative lead in 2004. Greg took the site to new heights by recoding and implementing the Modarchive 2.0 followed by 3.0, 4.0b, and is now responsible for all aspects of the site – participating both as a member and a crew person.

Fun nerd fact: The Mod Archive hosted on the .org domain was built from the ground up in the text editor ”vi” (not even vim) with development and testing happening on a personal SPARC-based Solaris host. 🤓 Nerd!

Eventually hitting the sweet spot for the design including the logo and overall site theme, it finally stuck with TMA version 4.0b.

There are a couple of easter eggs hidden in the site, for instance if manipulating the http query for the wiki pages you can find the help page for ”mp3” where it will show a test page and a link that will let you change the site theme to something a little peculiar 😀

As mentioned earlier, after many years of providing dedicated support and fun for the community, the pressure of several other major work related projects put tremendous strain on personal wellness that resulted in the unfortunate but necessary decision to step down from all site activities some time in 2012.

The DemosceNe

Throughout the period between 1997 to 2012 I participated in the demoscene digital art subculture.

From 2008 onwards in physical form by participation in the international events/parties, including competitions. These helped produce a number of quirky (party humour) productions released under a pseudo name “m0d”, that on occasion went on to win several trivial but fun awards. This era helped hone my skills and demonstrate my flexibility and willingness to experiment as an artist, much to the amusement of many, I am sure 🫠

Other demo-scene activities included helping to organize several demo-parties, contributing network and server expertise, a bit of hardware for the occasion, and hosting several live radio shows on the demo-scene radio service “Scenesat”. It was a lot of fun!

School Leavers

Stepping back a bit…

Aged sixteen, I left high school with several GCSEs passing but rather than seek a job I was fortunate enough to find a client thanks to a lucky chance with a local dentist that needed to upgrade their computers, as a family friend I offered to do it for the experience alone.

It went great and I was happy, about a week later, a surprise envelope full of cash was dropped off which went on to finance me well enough to start my own freelance computer building business, or at least that was the plan.

The only business I managed to get do was to build my own new computer. After repeatedly showing up to collect computer parts from a local distributor, I caught their attention and was approached and offered a job! I started earning a regular income for several fruitful years building custom computers for a small company in Solihull.

The Telecom R&D

Based now in the Netherlands, many years were spent working up from a tech-support handyman to becoming a successful Unix systems support specialist. I specialised in the cutting edge research and development sector of a very well known mobile telecom innovator – Ericsson. Mostly working with Solaris on Sun Microsystems architecture and having a free rein invent and develop systems. Doing custom equipment builds to provide experimental workstations for a R&D workforce of about 500 people. It was nuts and I had the most wonderful colleagues.

However it eventually turned sour due to the agesim in the salary department, I was refused pay raises in line with others despite my seniority, citing my “young” age(!). It became a sore point because I had a mortgage to pay, a wife to support and major life plans. So when opportunity knocked I took the severance!

The Indie Music Revolution

By the late 2000s, many of my shite compositions had made their way on to the various “free” underground internet labels such as IUMA, MP3.com, CTGMusic etc. Great communities back in the early internet.

Unfortunately these sites did not stay around for very long with the exception of CTGmusic that sadly just died when social media as we know it today gained popularity.

Before the collapse of Michael Robertson’s genius mp3.com, there was an unexpected success when the national news paper Brabants Dagblad posted an article about the new revolution of online music self-publishing and CD production featuring an interview with me 🙀

Despite initially awkwardly telling (in English) the interviewer that I was not interested in a news paper subscription (my Dutch was not at all good back then) an article was actually published (English).

My moderate success on MP3.com came to an abrupt end when the company was sold to Vivendi/Universal after a lot of legal disputes over the questionably legal introduction of mainstream (record-label backed) artists to the platform.

The sale for nearly $400 million saw MP3.com take a few hop-step and jumps before selling the domain name to CNET where it went to auction and seems to have been used for, well… not much lets put it that way.

Losing MP3.com at the point where I was about to go full throttle was a catastrophe that I personally would not recover exposure-wise for about twelve years!

Mixposure and other short-lived popup “MP3.com alternative”companies that tried to fill the void were asking premiums to even participate, this eventually folded as well as listeners moved to venture capital funded streaming models instead of downloads.

The only way for any success was to reverse the revenue stream as it was costing quite a lot of money just to make my music available.

CDBaby soon brought the ability to self publish to all music services as an aggregator and although one-off up-front costs per release were quite expensive, it has meant all of my crap is out there on every platform in every desirable format, and- I get paid when you play it. Bargain.

All in all, my memories of the early days of Internet music & fame are fondly remembered, the entire era was a golden age of innovation and massive ideas that paved the way to where we are now.

You Made IT THis Far. Thanks!

Lastly, wow you rock. I want to state that this entire website and every piece of music that has been composed is a direct testament to the love of my life- Ilona-Ruby.

The music you may hear has come from this relationship. A few years ago we almost lost her to cancer, it was discovered very late and in late stage in the unfavorable category, as the oncologist put it.

Fortunately after physically battling the sickness that accompanies the treatment and surgeries, she made it through and reached full remission. Cancer has most certainly shaved years off her life expectancy, and things are and never wiil be quite the same as before.

However I am eternally grateful for the staff at the hospitals and the science that made this miracle possible.

Here is a little video of our first sunny day out after weathering a year of winter in lockdown- BEFORE COVID- yes this occurred a year before the pandemic which only made matters much much worse. Suffice to say, we Ruby-Tuby’s are as solid as ever. 👽

Photographs over the years