mind.in.a.box interview:

mind.in.a.box - Interview for magazine 'The City Morgue', Interviewer:'DJ Vlad', about: 'Dreamweb', Date: 2005-05-27
Link: The City Morgue
Not a lot is known about the duo behind Mind.In.A.Box., and past reporters seem to be even confused to your location. What would you like your audience to know about the duo behind the project, or is this air of mystery intentional? To me, it seems to enhance the otherworldly and alien quality to your music - even trying to deduce your musical influences makes for difficult speculation.
Basically, we want to emphasize the music and stories of mind.in.a.box themselves, and not put ourselves as real persons into the foreground. And even in these stories it is important for us that listeners can find their own interpretations. So although some parts are of course rooted in personal experience, we also try to detach them from us and find metaphors for the world around us. With regard to musical influences, we have always been listening to a lot of different things, both electronic and guitar music.
According to past interviews, the two of you met around twenty years ago, but worked together on projects together before forming Mind.In.A.Box, maybe one called Parsec? What were these collaborations and became of them?
Now it is already quite some more than twenty, I guess we are getting old :) The freeware computer game Parsec was certainly one of the bigger projects we were working on, but we have also been working on parts of commercial games before. But most of all we have always been working on one project or another that combined technology and creativity, some of which also never got published, of course. A very important project, especially with respect to mind.in.a.box, was certainly the development of our own sound system and sequencer software. Almost all tracks on Lost Alone were actually done with that custom software and only converted to standard formats for final production. This way of working has probably also influenced our approach to music itself.
In addition, I read that Stephan used to write soundtracks for video games. What were these games? At times, the compositions of Mind.In.A.Box are quite cinematic - is this quality present in your video game scores?
I did the soundtrack for several games, but only two actually got released to the public. The first one was for the commercial game Motor City (Oldtimer in German-speaking countries), and the second one my work for Parsec. All my work before Parsec was influenced a lot by technological restrictions, but the score for Parsec was probably already in the direction of a more cinematic style. But it was not yet on the level of production quality of mind.in.a.box.
On your website, there are mentions of a score written a Camus theater adaptation? How did that come about?
Actually by coincidence :) My girlfriend is doing the promotion for that theater group, and one day the idea of doing music for their latest play came up. Most of it was the use of instrumental versions of songs from Lost Alone, but I also did an opening piece especially for the play that was more in the style of classical music. They transformed the original Camus material into a science-fiction setting, and so the pieces from Lost Alone fit quite nicely. It was a very nice play, and they also had very stylish costumes specially made by a local Gothic shop.
Your vocal treatments are quite unusual; they suggest that you are attempting to make it sound genderless, neither female nor male. Is that the case? If so, are these supposed to represent different characters in your tales, if not, is this aspect simply an artifact of your recording process?
The original intent was not so much to make it sound androgynous, as to represent different characters and different moods of these characters, and even different levels of existence. The song Forever Gone is a good example for this, where the main character has a more or less normal voice, because he is part of the “real” world. But the chorus contains a completely different voice. It is the voice of someone who left his former existence behind and has escaped to a place that is somewhere else, in this case somewhere in the Dreamweb, although this is not mentioned explicitly there. But in general, yes, different voices most of the time represent different characters, or at least another point of view or perspective in the story. On the other hand, I think that the human voice is the greatest instrument where even more interesting additional layers can be added by vocal processing, and I like to use it to represent certain emotions.
How was did the process of recording this second compare to first, and what themes and stories can we expect to discover within Dreamweb? In Lost Alone, there are themes of disconnection, introspection, transcendence yet alienation - do these concepts also part of your new recordings?
On a technical level, for Dreamweb we didn’t use the tedious conversion from our own sequencer to a standard format, so the whole workflow was smoother and faster. The central theme of Dreamweb are dreams and an entire reality built out of them. They are the dreams that make up a significant part of our existence, both literally and metaphorically. They are the dreams long forgotten, dreams that are still present but far away, and the dreams that connect individual minds. They are also the dreams of individuals trying to find themselves, a theme that we will also continue on the next album.
With Lost Alone, you chose intentionally not to release a maxi-single for last disc, feeling that it was a complete work that could not be represented by a single track. How did you come to choose Certainty to be Mind.In.A.Box's first single, and what changed for you to come upon selecting one this time?
Most of all I think that the problem of representing the entire album with a single song is not so crucial on Dreamweb as it was before, since most people now know that they can expect a lot of variety on a mind.in.a.box album. Most songs can stand on their own, and although they are connected, a single song cannot represent the album as a whole. Nevertheless, I think that Certainty is a very good single track, but on Dreamweb there are once again a lot of very different songs. So naturally it can only be a glimpse of the album, not represent it. But what it does represent is that Dreamweb overall is a bit harder, and this fact is also mirrored in Certainty.
Are there any plans in the future to perform as Mind.In.A.Box live? If not, is there a reason why that isn't desirable to you?
We are definitely thinking about a live representation of our music and the concept behind miab. But we see it as a project that is quite different from a “usual” band and this will not be easy to put into a live performance. A kind of theater play is one of the ideas we had, but of course there are also financial constraints. So, we are thinking about it and will see what’s possible in the future.
How does the artwork and web design by Alex Mastny reflect your vision of Mind.In.A.Box? There's a distinct H.R. Giger feel to the Lost Alone art, and the cover for Certainty brings to mind imagery in the film Dark City. Is it intentional?
The whole world of mind.in.a.box is a dark science-fiction setting, and we also try to integrate the artwork into this concept. Although Dark City was not an intentional direct influence, it is definitely one of our favorite sci-fi movies. Alex did a great job with representing this in his artwork, and he endured a lot of sessions where we were talking about what we are having in mind with this whole world of mind.in.a.box. Ingo Römling, who did the cover for Certainty, and Mira Döring, who did the cover for Dreamweb, also did an outstanding job of putting our ideas into imagery.
Lastly, you state on the website that Mind.In.A.Box is a metaphor for the human condition, our minds confined by worldly shackles. What would you think would it require for this state of existence to change?
A major theme of mind.in.a.box is naturally the act of getting out of the box, and although there are a variety of methaphors in our songs that reflect this, the short answer is that we want people to think for themselves and make up their own mind instead of being controlled by the machinery that is around them.