"We see time as not on a clock or calendar. Time is not linear, time is not money. Time is art."

--Dave Murphy

Photo by Soren McCarty

Specifically, their music invokes the idea of communication as an art form. Everything everywhere has always communicated in some manner. People have used words, movements, music, and art, but with recent technological advancements, communication has become very easy and has lost some of its sense of creativity. Sound Tribe Sector 9 employs technology as a means of communicating creatively by playing live instruments mixed in with on-the-fly sampling. The samples come from the band almost exclusively. While all of their songs have structure and specific parts, the band members approach the parts loosely, sometimes skipping sections, sometimes expanding on sections, treating the songs as if they were always being played for the first time. Playing unique versions every night emphasizes the level of respect the band has for their music, their fans and for art in general.

Dave Murphy :: By Rie Kasahara
"Music means everything to me," Murphy continues. "It is a statement about the deepness and seriousness in regards to the way we look at life." The live STS9 experience is beyond entertainment. Quite literally, it is a glimpse into a way of life fueled by a complete excitement to be alive, here and now. You begin to understand that everything that has ever existed is all connected, and we have the ability to communicate with anything because we are all a part of everything.

"For thousands of years people grew their own food, and then it changed. Everything we've created since the Industrial Revolution — we're new at that," explains Murphy, hinting that although nature has suffered as a result of technology, we have the choice to acknowledge the problem and to use our knowledge to improve on it. "It's harder to build a coffee table than to destroy one. 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." The idea is that art breeds creativity, and creativity connects you to the world that surrounds you.

On ARTiFACT's title track, words from special guest Jose Arguelles (who Murphy describes as "like a prophet for us") are arranged in phrases like, "Every cell of life, an artifact of the old world," and "Our time is your power, take back the Earth." The words encourage the listener to believe that everything we need is already here, and it is our responsibility to use our resources — both natural and technological — to co-exist with the world as one force.

Brown, Lerner, Murphy :: Fuji Rock
Clearly, STS9 is inspiring crowds from coast to coast, and the band has lots of touring ahead this year. Phase Two kicks off in the Southeast and continues through the summer. Look for performances at festivals like the Winter Music Conference, Wakarusa, Bonnaroo, and some time in Japan. Also in the works is an ARTiFACT remix record due out this summer. As the scene surrounding the band grows, Murphy is optimistic about not letting it get out of control as it has for several bands in the past.

"We try to be non-threatening and non-judgmental," he says, "and guide the scene along to be a reflection of the band." And although STS9 enjoys more comforts as a result of their success, they are still involved in every decision made. From the artwork on tour posters to the show setlists (usually written by Saxton) to the studio production process to choosing which artists to produce and release albums for on the band's 1320 record label, STS9 maintain complete control.

STS9 :: 02.05 Fillmore, CO :: By Soren McCarty
"Musicians and painters often say, 'Man, I wish I just had a manager,' and I don't get that," Velmer says. "A manager doesn't just 'do it' for you. We have had the same management for three years, and they have hired personnel to help with various tasks, but this is still our thing. Everyone plays their role; the ship has steered itself. This is what we do. We are still firing all the canons." I asked him if anything has happened thus far in their career that they used to joke about as if it were never possible, and immediately he said, "The people we've met. I mean, I email with LTJ Bukem. All these different artists and musicians that we're so inspired by, some of them come up to me and say, 'You guys are dope,' and I'm like, 'Huh? You guys are dope!' It's like, pinch me, you know? Just pinch me."

Communication through Art is not a new concept. Sound Tribe Sector 9 is not the first band to use modern technology in the live setting, nor do they have all the answers to the world's problems. But amidst today's corporate-controlled music industry, they are a deep breath of fresh air.

Technology and Nature can work together. We can choose to learn from the past to create a better future together. Time is all around us, not just ahead or behind. The history of the world speaks through all of us. If you listen closely, you can hear it.

Chris Newton
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 3/23/05]

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