SXSW 2010: Telephunken

Posted on Mar 9th 2010 for AOL Spinner by Annamarya Scaccia

Influential in Spain’s underground electronica scene, Telephunken released their latest effort, Que Viva El Ritmo!!!, in late Spring of 2009 on Acta Recordings. Their fourth release, which translates to “Long live the rhythm!”, is a smooth mixture of soul, funk, rock, break beat, samples and Latin rhythms, with lyrics sung both in English and Spanish. While Telephunken has toured the world, the group – consisting of bassist/VJ Sergio Zamarvide, drummer Fernando Parrilla and Ernesto “DJ Telephunken” Sanchez (Telephunken’s music mastermind) – will blast their digital beats on stage for the first time at this year’s SXSW for Live Nation Latin showcase. Spinner recently had the chance to chat with Sanchez and Zamarvide from their home base in Madrid about the legality of sampling and what Telephunken really means.


What are the origins of Telephunken?
Telephunken started in Spain in the city of Zaragoza, and [was] a DJ project.

Did everyone in the group know each other before Telephunken formed?
Yes, we had another indie pop band, Nothing.

The name of the band seems to be Ernesto’s name sake (DJ Telephunken). Is that why you choose to call yourselves Telephunken?
Really, Telephunken is a [1960s] old fashion electrodomestic brand, and we like it.

How did you come up with Telephunken? Is it suppose to represent a hybrid of technology and funky, soulful awesome live music?
Really, the key is the fusion of the DJ and his machines, with the rest of the band. Of course, the diferent styles and fusions.

If you were talking to someone who never heard your music before, how would you describe your sound to them?
Music to “dance” and have fun.

What are your musical influences?
The creation of our music, it’s spontaneous. Of course, we have influences but they are so obvious…

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Beatles.

You use live instruments as well as electronics. What is the ratio of musicians/live instruments to electronics in your music?
The perfect live show is with eight musicians, DJ, sax, two trumpets, percussion, keyboard, drums, guitar and bass. But the main band is DJ, bass and drums.

You sample and remix music from the most seemingly unlikely places – from Ice Cube to Nirvana to My Fair Lady. Do you just pick any old song with a good beat or is there a serious process behind it?
Yes, I think the beat is what gives us the key.

Since you sample a lot of diverse acts, are there any bands out there that you love listening to but are embarrassing?
There are so many bands that I love….

Back to sampling. There’s that debate out about whether or not sampling is an art form or just plain stealing. Which side of the line do you fall behind?
We like samplers because it opens a lot of possibilities. We only use three or four samplers in our music. No, we don’t think that is stealing.

Do you think sampling is a good way to revitalize a band’s or artist’s career?
Sampler helps but will never revitalize an artist’s career.

What song do you wish you could sample or remix but is off-limits?
Is anything off limit[s], dude?

When you’re on the road, what’s in your festival survival kit?
Beers, beers and maybe some beers. Oh yes, tobacco.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?
Performing in Mexico DF, we were playing with some other bands and the public [were] throwing things to all of the band[s], even excrement.

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