For the first interview of 2016 on amodelofcontrol.com, I caught up with Stefan Poiss of Mind.in.a.box and THYX, to talk about both bands, his influences and thoughts on the scene his bands have become part of.
This interview was a little while in being arranged, too, after life got in the way on both sides – but many thanks for Stefan for being patient and coming back to me once I finally did get the questions across!
amodelofcontrol.com: I understand that prior to MIAB, you were involved in computer games. What inspired you to make the jump into music?
Stefan Poiss: We worked so long on our Computer game called Parsec, and after five years we decided to close this project. So I looked for other ways to continue and started mind.in.a.box with Markus. I was just bored and wanted to continue with music.
amodelofcontrol.com: The story arc has now stretched across five albums. How far ahead have you worked out the story, or did you take it album-by-album?
Stefan Poiss: We are not planning anything. We are just telling what is happening. We stay in close contact with the Sleepwalkers so they always give us the important infos we need to continue. In the beginning it was just fun but now it’s about survival.
amodelofcontrol.com: When I first picked up Lost Alone, there was a distinct feeling of detachment that was fed by the then-almost-total anonymity of the project, particularly with the treatment of the vocals. Was this a deliberate aim on your part as the project hit the public eye?
Stefan Poiss: We are not that good looking so we preferred to stay in the dark. I loved always to play around with vocals. Deep or high-pitched, vocoders…everything that sounds cool to my ears. Our aim was and still is to continue our story and music and have fun doing it. We use the different vocal styles a lot to create story layers in our songs. I always liked that and gives you the impression of something much larger than if you would sing only with one type of sound.
amodelofcontrol.com: In terms of playing live, it took years before MIAB became a live entity. Did it take a while to make it reality simply because it was such a drastic change?
Stefan Poiss: It was impossible for a long time. In fact even our old label boss was against it. I’m an engineer, Markus the same. The name mind.in.a.box was not chosen by accident. We were both minds in a box, I think I even more than Markus. But after some years we could open our doors or even wear some shoes and risked it to go out. I visited a handful concerts in my life before mind.in.a.box and then I should go on stage by myself? “How should that work?” I asked myself.
But I’m an engineer so I figured a way out with my friends and live mates. Now I believe we have a really strong live setup.
amodelofcontrol.com: You’ve had distinct phases of MIAB in the live environment (of which the Infest headlining show last year was the third, I believe?). Was there a desire to ensure that your live show never got stale (for you or the audience), or were there other drivers?
Stefan Poiss: I’m constantly trying to improve our setup. It’s more a technical thing. If I see a problem I want to fix it and there are in general a lot problems to fix if you want to have a good live sound. So mostly the changes on our live setup are sound related. I don’t want to bore you with technical details but I believe our setup is really good now but on the other side not that easy to understand. I don’t think that a lot of bands are wasting so much time for playing so less shows than we to make it better sounding than the average.
amodelofcontrol.com: How do you think the live performance aspect of the band has now fed back into the recorded sound of the band?
Stefan Poiss: I’m sure a lot. It’s inevitable. My whole voice changed quite a lot because of playing live, because first you can’t sing [quietly] if you have 3 guys around you who are playing with insane volume. So I had to change my singing completely to make it work in our rehearsals. Now we are older and wiser and everyone knows it now that playing loud is maybe funny but not really sounding better. But it was really hard to learn that. My live guys didn’t make it easy for me in the beginning. I heared quite a lot of times “my amp is sounding only good if you play loud”. I have to say that at that time I gave a shit if the tube amp was in the saturation. We had bigger problems than that. Now we found a really good balance. We are getting older and wiser and know things getting much better now.
amodelofcontrol.com: Regarding THYX, what made you separate out this project from MIAB? Was it just the futuristic concept, or was there more to it than that?
Stefan Poiss: THYX is my side project for all my other song experiments what I don’t want to release on a mind.in.a.box CD. Mind.in.a.box is special, also because of the story and I don’t want interrupt that special process. In the end of course THYX sounds very similar because I’m making the music and singing for both projects….but the ideas behind the songs are very different.
amodelofcontrol.com: Is there a concept behind the forthcoming (THYX) album Headless?
Stefan Poiss: Not really a concept but in general it’s a very society-critical album. So many people are so stupid and not thinking enough and just “living their lives”. But in a democracy that’s unfortunately [the way]. I realised that and it’s about that situation.
amodelofcontrol.com: What were your musical influences when you began MIAB/THYX? And what are you listening to nowadays?
Stefan Poiss: I would say mainly computer music. When I say computer music I mean music what comes out of it like a Commodore 64 or Amiga or later also on a PC with soundcards. At that time computer music was much more interesting for me than commercial electronic music. It was much more complex in my opinion because if it sounded not that good you have to improve mostly the composition to make it interesting. Also I could never afford a real Synthesizer at that time. Real electronic music was in that time for me only computer music.
amodelofcontrol.com: Do you feel part of a “scene” as such? MIAB have always sounded so distinct from just about every other artist in the industrial/electro arena, for example.
Stefan Poiss: Yes I like the gothic scene a lot and feel home there. I can’t imagine us in another scene. That is something that I like a lot in this scene that you have so many different styles and nearly all the people I meet there are nice. I think it’s not like that in every scene.
amodelofcontrol.com: What does the future hold for your work? Are there more live dates for MIAB to come?
Stefan Poiss: Cryo and I are working on a collaboration album together. So thats maybe the next what should be finished. There are no live shows planned at the moment.
The new THYX album Headless is out on 25-March through the THYX Music webstore or Storming The Base, and mind.in.a.box’s latest album Memories is out now, through the THYX Music webstore or Storming The Base.