Almost immediately, the first thing you hear about Sequoyah Murray is the comparison to Arthur Russell. A few years ago when Sequoyah began playing live, people started talking about the now 22-year-old ATL native who invoked comparisons to the acclaimed cellist, composer, and producer from the ‘80s New York disco scene. The comparison is an apt one.
I can imagine Sequoyah, like Russell, bouncing around ‘80s downtown NYC, hitting the Mudd Club to see the B-52s, mingling with Basquiat and Haring at an art opening, rubbing shoulders with Brian Eno at the Kitchen, bumping into David Byrne at Danceteria, and then dancing the night away to disco and proto-house at the Paradise Garage. Except Sequoyah is from Atlanta, and experiences unique to Atlanta profoundly influence Before You Begin.
Sequoyah is like a sponge soaking up nights at 529 in East Atlanta, improv jazz venues, art shows/dance parties at the Bakery, Southern gospel music, and, of course, course hip-hop and trap music. The music on Before You Begin is densely layered—genre experiments ranging from techno, jazz, noise, dance, hip-hop, trip-hop, and more. All of this created by a person so adept in music and blessed with an incredible voice. Sequoyah’s multi-octave voice will absolutely floor you. Combine this with his exuberant, youthful, and spiritual music, and one cannot help but get lost. A modern comparison would be Blood Orange, who mines similar territory and produces unique but gratifying pop music.
Hopefully, like Arthur Russell, who has become well-appreciated in recent years for his contributions to music, the rest of the world will recognize the power and genius of Sequoyah Murray.