It's about what you choose to create and leave behind; choosing things we don't need anymore like war and man-made time. The Earth is out there doing its thing, and it's a lot easier to destroy than to create.

--Dave Murphy


In 2001 the band relocated to the Santa Cruz area and continued to tour, soon finding themselves headlining bigger clubs and playing on the main stages at festivals like High Sierra and Berkfest. They were also booking multiple-night stands in Boulder, San Francisco, and Athens. Velmer reflects on the move to the left coast and its direct effect on their music:

The STS9 Collective :: By Rie Kasahara
"The music opened up, metaphorically, like the vastness of California," he remembers. Amidst the barrage of touring, new songs were being written. The music evolved and matured, often leaving behind the dance party elements in exchange for slower, more melodic compositions. The dance party was still there of course, but the music was connecting with crowds on a much deeper level. And as the music evolved, so did the STS9 organization. Sector 9 became Sound Tribe Sector 9. "It's an ever-evolving, family kind of thing," Velmer continues, "a collective group of artists." In other words, STS9 was now more than five musicians playing on stage. Their road crew, management, and fans all felt the same sense of a communal, shared vision that revolved around the band's music but did not begin or end there. Their message — co-creativity — had taken form. The band began implementing other artistic mediums at their shows. STS9 lighting designer, Saxton Waller, beefed up his light show frequently. Giant crystal and floral arrangements were placed on stage every night, often provided by the fans, and the band welcomed various painters, writers, and lyricists to contribute to the creativity. "Different artists — musicians, painters — all inspire what we do. It's very refreshing," Velmer describes. Frequent collaborators included painters J. Garcia and Kris Davidson, and lyricists Audio Angel and MC Scottrohedron.

STS9 :: Bonnaroo :: By Rie Kasahara
The growth and evolution of the STS9 organization continued into 2002 and 2003. Legendary late night shows were played at High Sierra, Jazzfest, Bonnaroo (with Mike Gordon sitting in during the second encore), Harmonic Convergence (the closest thing to an STS9 festival to date), Mishawaka, and Boulder's Fox Theater, and the band traveled overseas to Japan to play a slew of shows including the Fuji Rock Fest. Murphy spoke openly from the stage, protesting our government's decision to start a war, but encouraged the audience to make their own decisions and to register to vote. 2002 also saw the appearance of laptops and midi-triggered digital devices on stage, providing a means to use samples, loops, pads, stereo drum sweeps, and subsonic bass tones in addition to their analog instruments.

"Uniqueness in phrase or sound is part of the art," explains Murphy. "We try to play everything we can humanly play, and [have found] a new piece of art in sampling ourselves." The band became more comfortable and confident with these new creative outlets to the point where they now play "Live PA" (laptop and midi-drums only) sets occasionally while on the road.

Zach Velmer :: Fuji Rock
"The new stuff is more refined, and the conciseness came in the writing process," Velmer states, explaining the progression from all improvisational shows to the polished compositions found on ARTiFACT. Most of the tracks on the new album were constructed with samples the band had recorded on tour and in the studio. The samples (i.e. a certain drum beat or chord progression) served as the foundation of the track with everything else added on top, literally creating a musical collage. "And what we still love about playing live is the open-ness." He cites the track "Peoples" as an example, a synth-heavy hip-hop groove. "It's about four and a half minutes long on the album, enough time to get the point across, but live it's usually around eight minutes." The live version includes a smooth female vocal sample different from the one on the album and an extended crescendo rise with an arpeggiated keyboard progression and sampled cellos and violins, demonstrating their incredible compositional abilities as well as their knack to just kill it live.

STS9 :: Halloween 04 :: By Casey Flanigan
"The tracks on ARTiFACT cover the spectrum we wanted represented as our piece of art," Murphy adds. "Sometimes the live energy doesn't translate to a record." Recent setlists have seen these heavily composed new songs interwoven with the older, looser material, and the two styles have clearly influenced each other. Old songs like "Moon Socket" have been reworked several times to include new composed sections, and new songs such as "Music, Us" are expanded upon in the live setting. Songs like "Really Wut?" and "Luma Daylight," which have been around for two or three years, are now the backbone of many shows. It usually takes a few tours for songs to reach their true potential, but every song they play, like the band itself, is a constant work in progress.

At any live show, Sound Tribe Sector 9 confidently displays their ability to bridge the gap between post-Industrial Revolution technology and Nature's instinctual primitiveness. They describe ARTiFACT as "an ode to preservation and change," stressing the importance of maintaining your ancient roots while adapting to our continuously changing modern world.

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