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Meet Erik Senkoand Chris Lea of CalPhonics in Normal Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erik Senko and Chris Lea.

Friends since age 5, Erik and Chris came up with the idea to start CalPhonics while hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 2013.

Chris is a full-time music teacher at a middle school and plays 10 (TEN!) instruments. He has a Master’s in Music from SDSU and has been playing in cover bands for nearly 20 years.

Erik worked in finance, teaches finance at a community college and has lived all over the globe. He has an MBA from University of Chicago (Booth) and used to run a hedge fund in Hong Kong.

We started CalPhonics to improve on the current cover band. Most bands are run and managed by a band member, which means they are splitting their time between the music and business aspects.

With CalPhonics, the business specialist (Erik) manages the band and handles the bulk of the customer contact. Erik’s attention to detail and customer service means clients have an unmatched experience all around.

This leaves Chris free to focus on the music and ensure that CalPhonics is simply the BEST band on the west coast. CalPhonics never uses tracks, lip-synching or any pre-recorded music and since it is always the same band clients rave about how tight the performance is.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a great success, with the band performing shows for the likes of Facebook, Qualcomm, Anaheim Ducks, etc. We are so pleased that we’ve performed for such high profile clients, in spite of the fact that we are relatively new. And what’s better is the great feedback we get AFTER we perform for them. 🙂

Of course, no success is without struggle. The beauty of our model is merging the best of music and business. But this can be difficult at times as musicians are artists and behave differently from the financiers with whom Erik is used to working. Likewise, Erik’s demands and expectations are somewhat unique in the music scene.

Please tell us about CalPhonics.
For us it’s all about the music. Chris puts in an extraordinary amount of time ensuring the band is the best in the region. We don’t take shortcuts like tracks or lip-synching. So we spend a lot of time not only getting the main parts right but also on things other bands skip like background vocals and harmonies.

What’s also unique is that we are the same band every time. Since the quality of our music is so high we cannot just take on random musicians without lots of vetting and rehearsing.

Not every client understands the difference…and some don’t care. So for us it’s a question of finding the people who really care about high quality music and getting them to see us live. Once someone sees us live they usually understand what makes us unique.

Likewise, Erik is totally focused on the customer experience and ease of use. When running a hedge fund he had people write him checks of $50m or more. He brings that same customer service ethos to CalPhonics.

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Image Credit:
Leaf Wedding Photography

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