Art that feeds is the slogan and mission the reverberates from Conscious Alliance. The non-profit — based out of Boulder — strives to fight hunger and nutrition-related diseases by providing the healthiest food possible to those in need. To do this, they have built an organization that is dedicated to impacting these issues through ongoing food collection programs that have distributed over two million meals to food banks nationwide. Not only is Conscious Alliance committed to supporting communities in hunger-crisis, they are also dedicated to youth empowerment, through their school garden program, family garden program and their Art That Feeds workshops.
Their food drives can be found all over the country, including at thousands of concert events each year. Bands that team up with Conscious Alliance allow fans to donate canned soups, stews, pasta, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, beans, and more to their stands at the venue. Artists that have joined forces with Conscious Alliance over the years include String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh and many others. The next event coming up for Conscious Alliance will take place at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox on May 18 and 19, with David Phipps of STS9 offering his expertise on the keyboards.
David Phipps has been in the cult-followed STS9 since its inception in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998. Over the years, the group has released 11 albums, two remixed albums and thousands of live sets for those who follow every unique performance they offer. STS9 is a staple every summer at Red Rocks as well as multiple music festivals across the board. Over the last decade, STS9 has partnered with Conscious Alliance to bring their food drives to their shows, including a benefit concert in 2005 that raised over $20,000 for Hurricane Katrina victims. In exchange for fan donations, patrons are thanked with limited edition posters. We got to speak with Phipps and learn more about why Conscious Alliance is so important to him, his band, and what he is excited about with these upcoming performances.
303 Magazine: With your busy schedule, it is amazing you could chat today! What is going on in the world of STS9?
David Phipps: Well, we just had an awesome run in Vegas. It was three nights, and Vegas takes it to the limit. We went a day early and went to the Valley of Fire, the state park outside of Vegas which I have always wanted to do. Rarely do we get to take a day and check out where we’re at.
Recently, we got an awesome recording studio in Santa Cruz. It is one of, if not the best, recording studio in Santa Cruz. We took over the whole spot for an eight-year commercial lease. The recent Wave Spell releases are all from that studio. We have always had a workspace, something that we have called a studio, but this is professionally built to be a studio. A whole different level.
303: STS9 has long since been associated with Conscious Alliance. What brought the two forces together?
DP: Many, many years. It is something that we have always been super proud to be a part of. They do such good, meaningful work. There are so few things in your life that you look back and think, wow, I made a difference. This is one of them for me and for the band. Whatever happens, good times are had by all, but on top of that this long-lasting legacy was created and that is really important to me.
303: How do you curate a set for a benefit like this?
DP: Well, I have actually put quite a bit of time into thinking about it. [Laughs] The last time it was just lullaby, piano stuff. Sort of slow, introspective lullaby versions of super loud Sector 9 songs like “Aimlessly.” This show I will be doing more experimental soundscapes with field recordings that I have made at the beach and at the creek that I go to. It will be a little more immersive, and hopefully, people won’t be sitting down the whole time!
I remembered this morning that I have to do it twice. I have to decide if I want it the same, or if I should play it backward, or what. This is really insane and hilarious to me because a lot of this we do as a group and a band. Zach [Velmer] especially starts the setlist process, but we all chip in and have opinions and it is a group thing. This is all me and my wife, basically. It is pretty fun.
303: How do you compare it to sharing the stage?
DP: It will be a little weird, but I encourage everyone in my band and anyone that is in a group of musicians to explore what you can make by yourself. It is challenging and it will teach you new things, but it will also make you appreciate the band and remind you how good you have it. I am also really lucky that I can do this and there are people that will come see it and donate money to Conscious Alliance. So, I will just do my best to make sure it is worth everyone’s time and make a good thing happen for Conscious Alliance.
303: What is your goal with Conscious Alliance?
DP: You know, it is always to continue. Every two or three years we like to do something big. It has always been such a core part of what this band believes in and we feel like we should be doing this with the platform we have been given.
303: What else would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see this set?
DP: Come with an open mind! Please come out and support Conscious Alliance, that is the big thing. I will be there playing music, but the big thing is to come out and support art that feeds people.