mind.in.a.box interview:

mind.in.a.box - Interview for magazine 'Movement Magazine', Interviewer:'', about: 'Lost Alone', Date: 2005-01-01
Link: Movement Magazine
It is not every day that an electronic based act puts out a debut album that blows away much more established bands. It is also not everyday that I feel compelled to rewrite my own words. In the last issue of movement I wrote a micro review of the new Metropolis Records group MIND.IN.A.BOX. Since then I have had plenty of time to actually listen to what this amazing act has to offer. I feel as if I did this incredible band an injustice by giving them such a short review. M.I.A.B. is so much more than what can be cheaply summed up by words. What they represent is love and heartache, beauty and disgust, desire and fulfillment, righteousness and pain, all wrapped up in a small little package that is sure to let your souls wander. I searched through various channels the reach the members of this band. I ended up finding a place where anyone could just dropped them a line in the hopes your message would get through. To my surprise it was band member Stefan Poiss who quickly responded to my message and agreed to let me interview him. Here is what this kind soul had to say:

How did Mind. In A.Box. come to be?

Stefan: Mind.In.A.Box was born about four years ago when I had the idea to start working on a CD focused on a center concept.?Mind.in.a.box consists of Msh and myself. Msh writes the lyrics, and I’m writing the music, doing the vocals, and the production.?We’ve known each other since our childhood. Over the years we have also worked on several projects together, most of which were related to computer games.??The biggest project immediately before Mind.In.A.Box was “Parsec-There is No Safe Distance”, a non-commercial 3D space shooter for multiple platforms (Windows, Macintosh, and Linux). “Parsec” became quite well known in the smaller Mac and Linux gaming communities. Before that we mostly worked on smaller games, game soundtracks, and demos, beginning on the Commodore 64. I was always doing the music, and Msh did the programming.??About three years ago I sent a demo CD to Stefan Hedwig of dependent records and he called me back very soon after. Then it took quite some time until everything was ready to be released, but at last 'Lost Alone', our debut album, was finally released and stayed in the number one spot of the German Alternative Charts for five weeks in a row. This has been a really incredible start for us and probably nobody would have thought that this would happen.
What country does 'Mind.In.A.Box' call home?
Stefan: We are living in Vienna, Austria, in the center of Europe. Vienna is a very nice mixture?between a major capital and a small city (there are about two million inhabitants). The quality of living here is actually very nice.
'Lost Alone' is what I would consider to be one of the most emotionally charged albums in the industrial genre. Who is the muse for the deeply personally lyrics, and what is the meaning behind the title?
Stefan: Thanks a lot, that’s great to hear! The major inspiration for mind.in.a.box and “Lost Alone” probably is life in the increasingly technology-oriented world around us. Not only our personal lives and experiences, but everything we see around us. We think that in this world many people are “minds in a box” for a variety of reasons, including ourselves. It is not only a metaphor for not thinking for yourself, but also for not being able to do what you would like to do, for example for making a living. “Lost Alone” focuses on the feelings of loneliness and alienation that can be a result of this. There is no one meaning of the title. For ugs. In the song “Lost Alone,” however, it most of all describes someone who is lost but doesn’t yet know that he is not alones, it means many things related to being lost and alone, and we would like listeners to project their own feelin. This theme is continued in “Lost Alone 2”. As a band name, “mind.in.a.box” is kind of the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, which is using many different styles and approaches, and promote an open way of thinking.
As a musician I find the compositions on your album to be exquisite and complex. One of my hobbies as a musical critic is to pick apart what instruments or programs the artists utilize. On very few of your songs I can decipher what synths are being used, but for the most part I am lost. Did you use primarily soft synth or hard synth for the writing of this album?
Stefan: My equipment mostly consists of hardware synths. For effects, however, I am increasingly using software solutions. Most of the songs on “Lost Alone” have originally even been done exclusively with hardware equipment that I controlled with our own self-made midi sequencer called “MFD”. Later on, I converted all songs to standard formats and used a standard audio sequencer for production. The capabilities offered by today’s audio software are incredible, and at some point it was inevitable to switch from our own solution to more standard tools. This conversion was quite time-consuming, but it improved the audio quality a lot.
The vocal effects on many of the songs are some of the best I have ever heard. For example, the range for the pitch on 'Change' has a feminine sound that offsets your usual deep and masculine voice. What vocal effect are you using to get that crisp clean female sound?
Stefan: Wow, thanks! :) I did the pitched robotic voices in “Change” with the TC-Helicon Voiceprism and several software modulation effects. But I think that it is probably most of all a question of having a clear vision of the effect and emotion you are trying to achieve.
Unfortunately in the industrial genre a lot of acts have the tendency to never experiment outside of the traditional 4/4 straight beat. I feel as if staying inside that box makes most electronic music sound flat. On your album, while a straight beat is used quite often, I appreciate the fact you had enough musical diversity to throw a break beat in the line up as well.
Stefan: You are absolutely right, there are mostly 4/4 beats in the scene. As long as it grooves I am fine with that, but I think it is most of all a matter of personal taste if you are more for straight beats or not. A bit of diversity can never hurt, though, and I personally enjoy other beats a lot. I’ve noticed that people who are more into gu itar sounds do not like straight beats and are more into break beats and things like that. Currently I also have a tendency into this direction, and the next mind.in.a.box album will reflect this. Most of all, though, I think that everything has its place and the beat has to fit the song.
What was the inspiration for the band name 'Mind.In.A.Box'?
Stefan: We have already talked a bit about this when you were asking for the meaning of “Lost Alone”. Mind.in.a.box is not only a band name, but it also provides the background for an almost sci-fi world that reflects certain traits of our own world. On one hand, the stories of mind.in.a.box take place in this world, but they are most of all also metaphors for someone’s attitude or problems or feelings. A central theme of mind.in.a.box is trying to escape from being a mind in a box. In this metaphorical world, which is also the backdrop for “Lost Alone”, this escape is often portrayed as being physical, whereas in reality it would happen more in the mind.
It seems to me there is a story to be told behind every song on 'Lost Alone'. Some deal with inner struggles and others feel like a scene from a movie. What are the stories behind 'Waiting' and 'Forever Gone'?
Stefan: Basically, we try to achieve two things with the background of every mind.in.a.box song. One is the basic feeling we want to convey and the emotions we try to evoke in the listener. But the second one often is an actual “story” which provides a “framework” for these emotions and feelings. We do not want to overemphasize the stories themselves, because we think music is most of all about feelings, but we think it increases the depth and scope of a song, especially when several songs are connected with the same storyline. In general, all mind.in.a.box songs have something in common, but some of them are tightly coupled and others stand more on their own. An explicit variant of this idea are the two songs “Waiting” and “Forever Gone”, where “Waiting” is like a prelude to what happens in “Forever Gone”. Somebody tries to escape the mind.in.a.box world, a metaphor for the system of our times. “They” think he is under control, but in “Forever Gone” the protagonist actually manages to escape. Only his body remains, but the song alludes to his mind now being free, if however at a very high cost. The songs on “Lost Alone” do not contain all these details, and we want listeners to find their own interpretations of what is happening, but we will offer more information at www.mindinabox.com in the future. For example, there is already a short story inspired by mind.in.a.box that is one take on the mind.in.a.box world. It is not directly our own version of mind.in.a.box, but it is very nice to see that our concept provides enough inspiration for things like these. It is currently only available in German, however.
I always ask this of every one I interview. When you are at home, or when you are at a place where you can really sit and listen to music, what do you listen too? What music gets you in the mood to create your art?
Stefan: I am listening to a lot of very different things, but I wouldn’t have thought of Mr. Bungle :) It starts with bands like the Melvins and ends at... well, I’m not sure where it ends. Of course many electronic acts too. I’m really listening to a wide variety of music, but I’ve not as much time to listen to music as I would like to. And I always have a hard time picking a band that fully represents what I like. One of the recent CDs I’ve been listening to and that I enjoyed a lot was Informatik’s “Re:Vision”.
What can one expect from a 'Mind.In.A.Box' live show, and are you going to do a U.S. Tour?
Stefan: Right now we do not have any live appearances planned yet, but the U.S. would be one of the natural possibilities to look into. We think that a mind.in.a.box gig would have to be something different in order to go well with our concept and the different stories of our songs. Currently, we need all of our time for working on the second mind.in.a.box album which we would like to release one year after “Lost Alone” at the latest. This time there will also be a single release before the actual album.
I have passed around your cd to a few of my like minded acquaintances in an effort to spread the word about your music and get some feedback on the cd itself. One of the most amusing comments made about 'Lost Alone' came from a gentleman whose taste in electronic music is not in the least bit lacking. I asked him what he thought of the album and he replied 'I love it. There is nothing better. than when androids feel'. Am I wrong, or is that simply the best review for a debut release in the industrial genre?
Stefan: Oh wow, yes! :) This is indeed an incredible response, and it is extremely satisfying to see that some of the major points of “Lost Alone” are coming across. Thanks a lot for that comment! :)