mind.in.a.box interview:

mind.in.a.box - Interview for magazine 'Side-Line Magazine 59/2007', Interviewer:'Bernard Van Isacker', about: 'Crossroads', Date: 2007-06-29
Link: Side-Line Magazine 59/2007
Tell me how difficult or easy was the birth of tis newest MIAB album?
It was a very time-consuming but also very gratifying process. We were both very satisfied with our last album from an artistic point of view, but of course we wanted to do even better this time around, define things already reached as the baseline, and then go forward from there. I think over time we've become very tuned in to each other, and so everything is going smoothly and it's quite easy for us to fuse music, lyrics, and the story backdrop. But it's still a lot of work and takes its time. In Crossroads we wanted to realize more of the story and become a bit more direct, calling characters by their names as they are slowly revealed by the events happening in the world of miab. The booklet is instrumental in all of this, because we also didn't want the music to degenerate into a radio play. We've worked on story details and character descriptions, and then asked our friend Andreas Gruber to develop our notes into a fully-fledged text, and Ingo Römling has done some very nice character artwork to go along with it. Crossroads is a very big album for me, I think we have paid even more attention to little details and especially tried to view it as an integrated entity of music, lyrics, as well as story and artwork in the booklet. Many people say less is more, but that doesn't always work well in our opinion, and we wanted to cover the whole breadth of our concept. I guess you can say that we're quite proud of how the result has turned out.
'Crossorads' continues the path chosen for the 'Dreamweb' album, what did you learn from that release and the way it was received?
We think that a background story and a regular musical album fit very well together as long as it's still music that can stand on its own. So we've continued in the vein where almost every song has its own individual meaning with one or several metaphors and interpretations, as well as also fitting in with the general theme of the album and the background story and characters. And from the feedback we've received many people seem to like that, which makes us very happy. We also really like the idea of connecting all albums together which allows us to develop a bigger storyline and slowly but steadily flesh out the world of miab.
So what is the third chapter of the story about, what is the plot?
Thematically, Crossroads is all about identity loss, about not knowing who you are, who you were, and where you're going from there. The story now centers on one of the characters from previous albums whose name was never revealed, and slowly you start to learn things about his identity. But he himself has problems knowing or defining his identity, which symbolizes the whole theme of the album. So this guy sets out to discover who he truly is, and maybe he wants to get rid of all he was before in the process. But I don't want to take away too much from the story in the booklet.
'Crossroads' includes an extensive booklet with story elements written by Andreas Gruber, do you mean Andreas Gruber, the Austrian screenwriter and director? How did this come along?
No, that's another guy. Our Andreas Gruber is an Austrian Science Fiction and Horror author who has won several prestigious German prizes in the last few years, especially for his short story collections and his first full-length novel that came out last year. And we both love his work. We've known Andreas for many years now, going back to the time when we were working on computer games. We meet him regularly and philosophize about movies, books, and computer games over pizza, which is a lot of fun. He is very busy working on novels nowadays, so we were very happy that he could find the time to work on the miab story.
With the band being very cinematographically inspired, what kind of recent pictures did it for you? Which ones inspired you?
I'm not sure what has inspired us directly, except artwork-wise certainly the dark and harsh black and white look of the French movie 'Renaissance'. Otherwise we like watching a lot of science fiction and horror movies, especially trashy ones with an imdb rating below 2. Firefly is a really great sci-fi series, although of an entirely different mood.
Markus, what inspired you for this volume?
I wanted to explore all the different facets of identity, especially the realization that one of the hardest things in life is to define your own identity, to truly be who you are and to find out what that is in the first place. This is one of the most fundamental themes of mind.in.a.box sincethe beginning, and was already very important on Lost Alone, but this time we've fully concentrated on this aspect and looked at it from many angles.
Can we expect another chapter or is the book closed?
There is more to come, the story's by far not over yet.
For me this is the slickest, best produced album which ever was released on Dependent, did you pay extra attention to it?
Thanks a lot, that's a very big compliment for me! I'm investing a lot of effort in the production side, and there's always a little detail that still can be done better and is improving from album to album. It's very important for me that the sound really ends up exactly as I want it to, otherwise I just keep working on it. Producing and mixing is something that requires a lot of experience, and when you are working on it constantly, it keeps getting better and better.
At moments i have the impression that your music is perfaect for the more adult japanese animefilms and series such as 'Ghost in the shell' to name just one of the most known ones. What is your view on this?
It's funny you also see it like this, yes, we also think the two fit together very well. Originally, we'd wanted to do an anime clip for the song Walking from Lost Alone, but the license fees for using the material were too high. But apparently several people are thinking that our music fits this style, someone has also put an anime clip on youtube. I think many animes are very melancholic, and in this our music strikes the same chord.
Care for an insight in your studio? What was the latest gear or soft that you have been using. Please also explain why.
The last thing I bought was a Korg Kaoss Pad 3. I'd always wanted it for the funny touchpad and the interactive control. It's a lot of fun for some things and you just cannot stop playing around with it once you've started.
The song 'Questions' was included in the official soundtrack of the XBOX 360 video game 'Crackdown' by realtime worlds/Microsoft Game Studios, did you get any feedback on this from users or so or was it just nice product placement?
As old gaming cracks and also programmers/musicians we are very happy about that. In times where most games are built with huge budgets and teams, it's extremely nice to be involved in this way. We are getting emails from people who found out about our music through this game, and also 'Project Gotham Racing 3'. Yes, that's a real highlight for us.
Any news on side-projects, i thougt you were working with guestvocals for some projects at some point?
I'm working on two side project albums. One is a retro project with some new songs that fit the setting, and some remixes of old computer game classics. For the curious, there's a C64 remix out there on the web, which was so much fun that I started working on an entire album. The second project will be an album with German songs, which will be completely different from miab in every respect. Both are still work in progress.
Now that Dependent is closing its doors, what new grounds will you both be looking for?
It is very sad that a label like dependent has decided to close shop, but people have to respect that. Times in the music industry are very tough. We owe much to dependent and have achieved a lot together. And for the future... we'll see. There's still a lot to tell about the world of miab.