Q&A: {in-boxes}'s Daniel Elijah-F on Matchbox Twenty Fandom and Psychoacoustics

Oh, that makes sense now.

Another major concept that helped form {in-boxes} is the idea of duality, extremes. Each curly bracket in our name is pointing to two different extremes. The "in-boxes" part, in between, is pretty much the idea of focusing on the middle and how the middle becomes an extreme in itself. Anyway, back to Bear Nine. Yannick and I wrote several songs together. Our first show was the final performance project for my class at FIU. My professor was a friend of Octavio Campos, and he was there at that show. He was so impressed with our sound that he and another friend, Ralph De La Portilla, asked us to play at Miami's 112th Birthday. The main artist that night was actually Blowfly!

So when did {in-boxes} happen?

Well, Bear Nine's last show was in March of 2009. Prior to that, {in-boxes} began on January 26 of 2009. It started as a project to treat myself. There were a lot of things I couldn't achieve sonically with Yannick that I didn't want to impose on him and that I felt wouldn't work in Bear Nine's favor. I really wanted to give him more freedom and not step on his toes. I may have been doing that at the time, and I just didn't want to be a burden to anyone. I went through a very dark moment in January 2009; a lot of self-reflection led to me wondering if I was being adequate and living to the best of my abilities. One of the key things here was that I was coping with the fact that someone very important to me had kind of cut ties with me. This person was the key catalyst for the birth of {in-boxes}. I eventually realized I wanted to work on songs without anyone telling me what to do. There are many different aspects to me and my work that stand on their own, but they're all united, and I think many people have a hard time trying to deal with that. People want things to be...

In boxes?

Yeah, people tend to overly compartmentalize things. I think that's both enticing and detrimental. Anyway, I needed this other outlet. I asked Kenny to join me, and what started as a form of treating myself has slowly evolved into what it is now. I wanted to just do really rough recordings on a four track -- personal recordings à la Daniel Johnston. But, because I felt like I lacked community in life, I thought it'd be really cool if people could hear this music and put their own spin on it. So I didn't want to just start another band; I wanted to start a collaborative project. People could put their two cents in, and I'd sort of have the final say. Another thing that should be noted is that I'm a lyricist before a musician. Because I can't write music, I just hear and do. I always felt the music should enforce what the lyrics are saying, but lyrics are often secondary. {in-boxes} has allowed me to really focus on the story. Some of our songs are a little long, because they're meant to act like soundtracks to that specific story.

So I've set it up so that if you want to play or record with us, you can. People can interpret the lyrics, contribute art.

People can record with you, not just play live?

Yes, they can be part of the recording process. I'm a really big fan of Mute Math and often wish I could play with them. I thought to myself, "Man, I would love if someone really liked our music and could be a part of something and be able to develop a relationship with the group." I've been blessed to work with people who can play or sing in a really specific type of way that fit very nicely.

What concepts and symbols are you focusing on with {in-boxes}?

Anyone who likes lyrics with a lot to decode, with a lot of multiple meanings, would really appreciate {in boxes}. There are certain symbols I use a lot, like a line about a plumb line in "Pagan Wave." Plumb lines are used to measure verticality. In symbolism, things that are vertical usually represent a harmonious relationship between heaven and Earth. When you buy a plumb line at Home Depot, it actually says on the package, "Used to measure the truth." I took that concept of measuring the truth and verticality and the idea of measurement and how the Bible talks about the measures one uses -- I think man's judgment is often horizontal. The plumb box measures the truth, integrity. There was this idea of putting the plumb line on my body, divvying me into two parts, just like the squiggly lines in our name point two different parts, sides, extremes.

In college, I learned about my favorite artist of all time, Joseph Cornell. Some of his works consisted of found material, which he called the ephemera of Americana, and he would put it inside of boxes. He would put them in these beautiful, poetic arrangements -- it was assemblage art -- and he put all of it inside a box behind a glass pane. There's this book, Joseph Cornell Metaphysics, that explains how he'd take certain objects from the physical realm and transverse them so they'd represent something in the spiritual realm and take on a more infinite meaning. He was very influential in the formation of the group -- of {in boxes}.

What are you guys working on right now?

Well, we're working on both our first album and the following EP. A lot of the songs we play live will be on the first album, but they don't yet fit my vision of what I want the record to sound like sonically. The first album should be complete by the end of the year.

{in-boxes}. 9 p.m. Saturday, October 1 at Green Room, 109 SW 2nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. No cover. Click here.

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