100% Funkstörung

Vinyl gate fold from Additional Productions

From an interview conducted in march 2003 for CKUT radio…

Funkstörung translates to interference in German, a compound word built on storung (distortion) and prefaced by funk. An appropriate moniker for this german duo, and also an adjective they use for their particular sound and aesthetic.

Funkstörung have been breaking out some freakish beats over their career, unpredictable and exhilarating rhythms that catch you off guard and get you moving in ways that more typical dancefloor beats won’t. The duo of Michael Fakesch and Chris de Luca played their first Canadian show in Montreal this June at the Sala Rossa, and I had the chance to talk to Michael about their sound and what it takes to be 100% funkstörung.

Their early acid planet days reflected their initial interest in minimal techno, taking inspiration from plus 8 and aphex twin. Since then their sound, like their taste in music, has altered. Although their closest comparison has often been Autechre, Funkstörung have managed to add a melodic element to their music that alongside their hip hop and pop influences really sets them apart from anyone else in the genre.

“we started doing really minimal music because we didn’t know better, and then by learning we found out that you can do much more than just normal drums or rhythms, nowadays we’re just programming a lot – it’s mainly because we don’t want to bore ourselves, we don’t want to be bored by our own music. If you listen to the details it’s of course complicated and abstract but if you listen to the upper level of our songs its pretty normal music. That’s what we like – that we have different levels”

“Nowadays we are hardly listening to any electronic music anymore – we love radiohead, cool hip hop stuff like anti pop consortium, there are some really good hip hop guys coming from America. I’m pretty much into pop music somehow – I like the structure of pop music but pop music is always so boring – the songs are good but the sounds are boring and that’s what I don’t like about it.”

Their adventures in remixing began with Bjork and Wu-tang and launched them into a whole new territory in music making. Once they heard vocals transposed over their beats for the first time, they realized that this was a whole new avenue to explore and set out zealously in this direction.

“We learned so much doing the remixes. It actually helped us so much , we always thought for example rap won’t sound good in our music because we’d never had the chance to work with really good rap, and then we got these really good raps from old dirty bastard and rza and method man and we thought ‘Oh my god this sounds fantastic!’. From that point on we found out that vocals and rap can sound really good in our music. When we put the bjork vocals on our beats we thought: ‘That’s something!’”

The Funkstorung approach to remixing is unique – they consider other artists’ songs as they would any other source material, ready for assimilation into their own style. Production wise they see no difference between their own songs and their remixes.

“for remixes it’s the same procedure [as our own music]- we always start with one little sound or sample, and with a remix the original sound is coming from the song – there is really no difference and every release we want to be 100% sure about – if we release something it has to be 100% funkstörung, even if it’s a remix.”

cyan >
 So you can take any source material from any style, and transform it into a funkstörung song?

michael > Yeah, that’s our mission!

Their approach has allowed them to look for source material in all kinds of places, their remixes span the spectrum from techno artists such as speedy j, jazz artists like nils petter molvaer, composer jean michel jarre, and hip hop greats wu-tang clan and finitribe. They plan to continue working this way for their long awaited new album, incorporating other styles of music in new ways.

“we had the chance to work with jazz musicians , rock musicians, r&b, whatever , and you always find something in these original songs which you really like and which really influence us a lot – it really opened up our way of making music. That’s what we want to transport to the new album as well , being open to different music and styles, but still doing your own style but getting influences from other styles – like from pop music, from jazz or hip hop, whatever, every music has got something good in it. We want to get the best out of different styles and use it in our own style. for this album we found a new element, and I think that people will be surprised but also they will definitely hear the funkstörung style. At the moment we are even fighting with k7, because they don’t understand at the moment what we are doing, but they trust us. So you will see! We are working hard on it.”

In a live context, funkstörung try to keep as much of an improvisational feel as possible, working alongside any local artists who are up to the challenge of keeping up with their unorthodox beats. At Montreal’s show, a local beatboxer gave them a run for their money.

“On this tour we are going to play a big jamming session, you might say. we both have loops and samples prepared, and we just combine them by coincidence – we never know what will come out before we play the show – like a jamming session. But I am definitely aware that we are not live musicians, we are making all our music on computers with software. For the next tour we will definitely bring a vocalist with us, but for this tour we are trying to get local artists to be surprise guests – mc’s, turntablists, djs – we want to continue the concept of jamming – if anybody wants to come up on stage and rhyme then just do it – we like interacting with the audience.”

The 100% funkstörung ethic extends into all aspects of their craft, including all artwork and design associated with the duo. Videos, album art, web site all reflect the same vision and attention to detail that is heard in their music.

“If we take so much care of our music, with all the details and everything, why should we use stupid designs – it makes no sense. I see an album as an all in all concept, the music has to be good but the design and everything around it has to be good as well. Then it’s a really 100% cool thing. Good music with a really shitty design – its not the same I think. For the next album we are planning a lot – we have so far already like 80 different artwork ideas for the new album.”

Go to www.funkstorung.com to check out some amazing web design, enjoy the eye and ear candy and let yourself be propelled into the world of funkstorung while we all await the next installment of distorted funk.