SisterMonk calls its music "transcendental pop," and the New York-based trio has the background to back it up.
“We’ve had adventures on the road less traveled,” said lead singer and drummer Kathleen Deane. She and songwriter-guitarist Jody Rubel grew up in New York and later spent a decade or so living on the West Coast, mostly on Whidbey Island.
“When we first came to the West Coast, we landed at a Zen meditation center in California and lived there for two years,” Deane said. “We later moved to an intentional community and learned about organic farming. We were city kids and we threw ourselves into this.”
The duo has been the longtime core of SisterMonk, which plays Saturday in Olympia. Bass player and backup singer Trevor Hochman, who joined the band when Deane and Rubel returned to New York a few years ago, rounds out the lineup.
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But the Northwest’s influence – from farming to yoga and tai chi – remains evident on the group’s latest album, “Heavyweight Champions.”
“It addresses what we like to call the human conundrum, the riddle that is life,” Deane said. “A heavyweight champion for us is someone who is genuinely committed to addressing the question of their existence and plowing forward in life with the strength that comes from that.
“The music includes a variety of influences,” she added. “We blend funk, rock and world beat. Our inspiration comes from all over the globe. Dance is the main focus; we want our audiences dancing.”
It seems appropriate, then, that the band’s first Olympia show in several years is not at a bar, a club or a theater but at Waves Studio, devoted to the 5Rhythms movement meditation practice. If a dance studio seems an atypical place for a concert, it feels like home to SisterMonk, which often plays at yoga studios and festivals devoted to the environment and consciousness-raising.
“We’ve found that yoga and ecstatic-dance communities really gravitate to our music,” Deane said.
The group has shared the stage with the likes of Zap Mama and Michael Franti & Spearhead; its sound has been compared to Rusted Root, Ani DiFranco and Jefferson Airplane.
On the Northwest tour that wraps up in Olympia, the band also played at the LYME (Love Your Mother Earth) Festival in Missoula, Mont.
“Music’s ability to unite, heal and act as a catalyst for positive change is celebrated in songs created by the band SisterMonk,” Dave Beck of KUOW’s “The Beat” has said of the trio.
Audience members have had moments of transcendental listening, Deane said. “People say the power of the music cracks them open, that they feel a stirring inside from the power of the music.”