Meet TELESMA

TELESMA has been impacting the Baltimore music scene for almost a decade.  TELESMA blends psychedelic rock with electronica which results in some groovy music that can get the audience dancing.  Some of the instruments musicians play in TELESMA are different from the norm and can not be found anywhere else.

TELESMA is made up of Ian Hesford, didgeridoo/kubing/percussion, Jason Sage, keyboards/percussion/vocals, Chris Mandra, guitar/mandrum, Bryan Jones, bass/electronic percussion, Joanne Juskus, vocals/percussion/karatalas, Rob Houck, drums/electronic percussion.  They have been playing many shows and festivals since they started and continue to spread the word on their weird and funky sound.

Check out my conversation with Chris Mandra on the origin of TELESMA and how they impact the Baltimore music scene.

Photo courtesy of S. Lipton

Q:What instrument do you play in TELESMA?

A: I play guitar, analog guitar synth, sing, and “manDrum” (a wearable electronic interface I worked on @ STEIM in Amsterdam).

Q: When and how did TELESMA form and start playing shows in the local area?

A: TELESMA was formed in 2002 by Ian Hesford (didgeridoo, kubing, dumbek, percussion) and Jason Sage (keyboards, percussion, programmer, lyrics). In early 2004, the two then added musicians Joanne Juskus (vocals, percussion, karatalas), Chris Mandra (guitar, analog guitar synth, his unique manDrum, and vocals), Bryan Jones “Jonesy” (6 string MIDI & upright basses, theremin, percussion), and Rob Houck (drum kit, percussion, electronic drums) to complete the lineup.

Q: What or who made your band want to go in the electronica genre?

A: TELEMSA is a group that uses electronic instruments along side ancient instruments (by some accounts the didgeridoo is 10,000 years old). We just do what we like and our interests are significantly varied to make electronics part of that.

I got into eletronic music in the early 80’s because of my love of the electric guitar and signal processing.  It’s interesting that today almost anything you do could be considered “electronic music” because it all uses electronics to manipulate the audio in significant and sometimes outlandish ways.

Q: How was the audience reaction/response when TELESMA first started playing shows? Has it changed since your band has progressed and how so?

A: The audience reaction has always been overwhelmingly positive. I think it’s very hard to not see Ian play the didjeridoo and not get excited.  It’s pretty amazing, visceral stuff that resonates with people.

Q: Do you feel like your band has a tight connection with other local electronica bands? Do you guys feed off of each other and work together to bring awareness and popularity to this genre of music?

A: We have a tight connection in terms of supporting each other. I met TELESMA because I was throwing a monthly show at the Royal called the defDumbAndBass fREAKoUT. A lot of Baltimore electronic talent played their first shows there.

Q: What electronica-based promotion companies has your band dealt with and what are some of the top Baltimore/metro venues that support this genre of music?

A: We’ve been doing a bunch of shows with SoulMob and ecoSumo at places like Sonar, the Metro Gallery, the Windup Space and Joe Squared.

Q: Do you feel that the electronica music scene in Baltimore has become more popular in recent years? Why?

A: Well there has been a lot going on here since the early 2000s.  I had another monthly show at the 13th floor for 18 months called E+@13, which highlighted live aspects of electronic music. I also think Dan Deacon, who I’d never heard of until recently, but has had a pretty large impact has really helped make Baltimore known.

Q: What do you think the electronica music scene will be like in a few years and do you think it will continue to gain popularity in Baltimore and across the country?

A: I think Baltimore will become known for experimental music more and more. Electronic music isn’t going away certainly, so, yeah, it’s going to continue to grow in a big way.

Be sure to check out TELESMA. They are a great local band and all of the musicians have a lot of talent.  TELESMA is always a fun and entertaining live show.

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