Interview With Stephen Learson About Indobox, Psychic Spies & Campfire Fest

The Inbox have become a late night staple amongst the North East festival circuit. I got a chance to catch up with vocalist and keys player Stephen Learson to talk about Inbox, his latest project Psychic Spies and Campfire fest.

HYPE (Phil Sunkel): Can you tell me a bit about Indobox?

Stephen Learson: So what can I say about Indobox? We’ve been a band now for about eight years, since 2006. We’ve got three albums, our new ep is titled “Chasing Colors”, our music is basically electronic dance rock. When I talked to the rest of the guys about this we decided we sound like if Smashing Pumpkins met Phish at a Pink Floyd show. Thats what we sound like. A lot of our influence comes from those bands. So our records can tend to be on the poppier side, you know we right a lot of songs about girls. We sing about events in our lives but it all comes out pretty happy. Our records are more like a pop or rock record with shorter songs but then the live show is very improvisational. _DSC7731

HYPE: Tell me a bit more about your live shows…

Stephen: Our lives shows are a totally different beast. We extend all the songs, mold them into different forms, it gets very dancey and psychadelic. Our last set that we had at Campfire Music Festival, we played a couple disco tunes, improvised a couple and then the last song we played was “A Long Way To The Top” by ACDC. Sometimes, you just gotta lay down the rock and roll.

HYPE: Speaking of Campfire, how was your experience?

Stephen: So we were in the boys cabins on Saturday and we turned all the beds sideways. We borrowed a bunch of PA equipment from the festival sound guys and did like a DJ set where I played guitar for a bit, then one of the other guys would come in and play. It was really impromptu, really just on the spot, no rehearsal for that or anything. We just wanted to make a big party happen. I got there Friday night at like 2 in the morning and everyone was asleep! So I decided we had to change that. It went really well.

HYPE: I think one of the biggest highlights of Campfire in general was the impromptu little sets that popped up just about everywhere on Saturday and Sunday. It was pretty cool that all of that was allowed to happen.DSC_8317

Stephen: I know! My friends who are deeply involved with the festival, Ricky and Allison, came into the cabin when we were playing and I was thinking “Oh are we in trouble?” And then they just started dancing, so that was good haha.

HYPE: I mean can you even think of another festival that just lets amazing stuff like this happen?

Stephen: Uhhhh no. I mean not to that extent. Like nobody stopped after a certain amount of time. No one came up and was like “Hey can you wrap it up” or “Can wind down a bit.” There was really no one telling us to stop or really giving us any rules at all. I thought it was wonderful in that way and there were a lot of musicians there who interested in collaborating with each other. Campfire had more acoustic acts, everyone had an acoustic guitar, so literally anyone could just come out jam. The music was just happening anywhere and everywhere. It was really cool.

HYPE: Well I think this leads me to my most important question about Campfire, did you get to go on the Wibit (Giant blob inflatable obstacle course)?

Stephen: Oh you know, I did not get to go on it because we just had to get setup so early for our day set, then we had to go right from there to our afternoon set and then by the time that was over it was like five or six and getting a little chilly. I don’t know, I guess maybe I just chickened out but I really did want to go out there haha. I did get to go into the pool and ride all the water slides they have though.

HYPE: Yeah that was all pretty awesome. I want to talk to you now about Psychic Spies. Why did you start this project and how does it differ from what you’ve been doing with Indobox?

Stephen: Psychic Spies is pretty much more of a solo project right now but I’ve been playing with a drummer. You know I’m a synthesizer fanatic, by now I have about 20 synths in my studio. I’ve been writing synthesizer music thats a bit more on the extreme end of what Indobox does. So I think Psychic Spies is a kind of a new outlet for more of the synth-pop stuff I’ve been writing. Ive just been amassing so many tracks and got a lot of support from people who I play them for. Trying to make it more into a real band that I can really promote, play live and make music videos. Its getting to the point where I can put out an album. DSC_8240

HYPE: What would you say is your mission with all this right now?

Stephen: My mission is to perform live. Thats just something I love to do. My two favorite things in this world are to play music and travel. So to be able to be in a group and to put together a successful tour that takes me all over the country and or all over the world is just the greatest thing I could ever strive for. Like Miles Davis always said, “The album is like an advertisement for the live show.” I do love recording music and putting together an album, I love that whole process but its just the precursor to getting a tour together and hitting the road. I just think with live music theres something magical about it. You make an album and whatever you did, its that way forever. With a live show, when your done playing that note, that note is gone.

HYPE: Plus you get into interact with the crowd…

Stepehen: Yes! You get into interact with the crowd, wear crazy costumes, meet new people, its wonderful to play live.

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