IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY, you can hear it. Voices from the past echo the sounds of the present, hinting at the future ahead. Nature's eternal conversation with itself, with ourselves: we are all reflections of what we were and what we will be. And like any productive conversation, we must listen and respond.
This week Sound Tribe Sector 9 begins Phase Two of their 2005 Artifact Tour. During Phase One, a month-long expedition from California to New England, they played to larger crowds than ever before, six nights a week, simultaneously wowing and inspiring audiences, and encouraging co-creativity and acceptance. Their message is simple: choose not to live with nature but as nature. Choose to use the time we have all been given to create rather than to destroy. Choose to live as part of a work of art in constant progress.
STS9 :: 02.05 Fillmore, CO :: By Soren McCarty
"We see time as not on a clock or calendar," says bassist David Murphy speaking on behalf of the STS9 organization. "Time is not linear, time is not money. Time is art." At any given STS9 show, this concept is evident, lurking somewhere in your subconscious thoughts until the music propels it out of you. The feeling of oneness, that our lives are so much bigger than any one person, permeates throughout the room. Heads all bob to the same rhythm, giving an impression of one single organism rather than 1,000 individuals. It becomes much more than a concert. The band is not playing at you, but rather communicating with you through mostly instrumental music. At times the music becomes a vibration, you literally feel it as you hear it. You realize that time is not running out; time isn't running at all. Time just is, and always will be. What you choose to do with it is up to you.
With the recent release of the new studio album ARTiFACT, STS9 has seen their popularity rise exponentially. After the first official week of sales, the album was #12 on Billboard Magazine's Electronica Chart, but this success has not come overnight. STS9 first emerged in Atlanta as a trio in the late 1990's. Drummer Zach Velmer and guitarist Hunter Brown began practicing together in 1997 shortly after they finished high school, and Brown invited his friend David Murphy, 21 at the time, to join in on bass. This trio became Sector 9, a name referring to Baktun 9, the period the Mayans believed their civilization peaked in terms of artistic and communal existence.
Zach Velmer :: Fuji Rock :: By Rie Kasahara
"Atlanta is our roots, where we're from, where we went from a three-piece to a five-piece," recalls Velmer. The young musicians immersed themselves in the Atlanta scene, hanging out at clubs like the Ying Yang Café. Often they would catch sets from Tria De Luna, a local band whose members played on TLC and Janet Jackson tours but got together during their time off to play free-form jazz, hip-hop, and jungle, clearly influencing the eager ears of the early incarnation of Sector 9.
The trio began playing shows that year, and after sitting in with the band at the Home Park Festival in 1997, keyboardist David Phipps was invited to join. They played frequently around Georgia and the Southeast, and whenever they were in Asheville, NC, percussionist Jeffree Lerner joined them on stage. Eventually Lerner moved to Athens, GA, where the members of Sector 9 were living, and became a permanent band member.
Jeffree Lerner :: By Rie Kasahara
Things soon began to take off. In 1999 they toured more intensely, leaving the comforts of home and trekking across the US to the West Coast and up to New York. This was not their first experience on the road - saxophone legend Gary "El Buho" Gazaway took them on as his back up band in 1997, teaching them the ins and outs of touring and introducing them to venues and promoters along the way, making connections that allowed STS9 to return on their own.
The year 2000 was a major turning point for Sector 9. The band still played a few southern frat parties but also hit areas like the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Canada, and by year's end, began to sell out 400-500 person clubs in Colorado and California. In retrospect, 2000 will likely be known as the end of the "early years" for the band.