A lot of you may not be familiar with STS9, short for Sound Tribe Sector 9, but there's a lot of you who are die hard fans. They are a five piece live electronic band that originated in Georgia and are now based in Santa Cruz with cult like fanbase that will follow them around the country putting them in the same category as jam bands like Phish.
While this marks the first time they are being featured on TSIS, they have a quite a long history in the scene. They have influenced and paved the way for countless other live electronic hybrids including some TSIS regulars like Big Gigantic. They were some of the first curators in the scene and have brought many acts like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Diplo and more to all open up for them. Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic explains the group's influence stating “STS9 have been a inspiration and paved the way for the start of our career, from letting us open up early tours of theirs on to releasing our first couple albums on their label.”
The group is releasing their first studio album in about 7 years with The Universe Inside set to release this Friday, September 2nd. We are excited to be premiering the song "New Dawn, New Day" taken from the album, which is actually a remake of Nina Simone's "Feelin Good". To go along with this track, we also have an interview with the group touching on some of their impressive history in the scene and process behind the album. Enjoy!
You guys were pioneers of the live electronic world that is now thriving, what were some of the struggles early on?
Early on, figuring out how to perform the music we were making at home took time. We wanted to incorporate the samples and sequences we were creating without sacrificing the natural feel of the band. It was a lot of trial and error on stage in front of people. That could be thrilling or frustrating depending on the night.
Those pure experimental days were crucial for us though. They helped us figure out what we were trying to do and what kind of band we wanted to be. To us, music is a passion and lifelong pursuit. We feel like were finally getting to the place we’ve always wanted to be. Like the house is built, now we can live in it.
The group has shifted members over the years in between album cycles, how has this changed your live experience and approach with this new album?
Alana joined the band about three years ago and has been a friend and collaborator for as long as we can remember. Other than her, were still the four original members of the band, something we're really thankful for.
Live, we're improvising more and taking chances with the music. We're pushing ourselves and the set lists, trying new things all the time. We have a lot more songs in rotation these days.
On the album, we just wanted Alana to be herself and do her thing. Her playing inspired us to focus more on our pocket and the overall feel and sound of the music.
This is the first album in almost 7 years, how did this creation process differ from past albums?
We transformed our studio and recording process to be able to capture the sound and feel of what we were going for. We went in on hardware and instruments and used whole takes of multiple musicians at a time, leaving the imperfections to enhance the human feel of the overall sound.
We also expanded the team and worked on other projects. Brad Bowden and I co-produced and mixed the album together. He helped us take our sound and recordings to a new level. The band wrote most of “Get Loud” with Betty Idol and Justice League, who we’ve been fans of for a long time. I scored a movie called The Automatic Hate and worked with some of our heroes, Don Was and the Grateful Dead. Alana, Zach and Jeffree all recorded on other albums. Phipps designed and released his own modular synths. These experiences influenced our creative process and gave us new inspiration and confidence in our work at a crucial time.
What is the significance of this song "New Dawn, New Day"?
“New Dawn, New Day” is the first song we wrote when Alana joined the band. The sample is Nina Simone whose music we love and admire. Its one of our all time favorite lyrics and an incredible honor to have her on our album. The lyrics and vocals express how we felt in a way we couldn’t have expressed on our own. Theres a power and strength in her voice that we love. They’re also the only sampled lyrics on the album.
This album includes more vocals than your previous work, what inspired this direction?
The music we were making, what we were going through at the time and the ideas that influenced the concept of the album all inspired the lyrics and vocals. They help us express something more direct than we could with the music alone.
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