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Band Down Under: Jonny Telafone


Jonny Telafone is some what of an esoteric presence in the Australian music scene. His unearthly performances are hard to follow and his eclectic sound is hard to define. Whilst other artists will often follow a pre prescribed musical path, Telafone has staked a claim of his own and continues to push the boundaries with his songwriting and production. Far Out caught up with Jonny to try and get some answers from the notorious interviewee.

 Your infamous live show is just you, do you prefer to perform alone or is there a view to incorporate a live band at some point?

I have been writing songs on guitar again lately so I have been working on a different live performance with people helping out. But I won’t be playing anything. I can’t be encumbered by an instrument because I need to drink and sing etc. Also I can barely play any instrument.

 Your debut album was more of a collection of songs and recordings whereas ’Romeo Must Cry’ had a much clearer aesthetic. Was this a conscious decision or something that happened naturally?

The self-titled album was from a collection of digital releases over about 5 years. Those releases usually were variations on a theme or whatever but were more stylistically disparate than Romeo Must Cry. I have a very short attention span naturally so it’s not like a contrived thing if I seem to sometimes jump genre to genre it’s just like a reflection of whatever media I happen to be consuming at that time and also what instruments I have access to. Romeo Must Cry came about because I got a synth on the cheap and decided to smash something out on it. But I’m pretty bored with making electronic music at the moment or at least the more straight-ahead pop tunes. 

 You recently wrote and produced the closing track on ‘No Redeeming Qualities’ by Bones and he appeared on ‘Waking up Crying’ from your last album. How did these collaborations come about?

Bones actually wrote me ages ago wanting to collab as he was a fan of my very early stuff. I wasn’t really aware of his stuff but when I checked it out I was into it so I got him to do a verse on Waking up Crying. As with Drown it was originally written for my upcoming album and I still might include a different version of it. But Bones was dead keen on it so I said he could use it. And I’m glad cause it really rounds off his album nicely.

 Can you tell us anything about your next record or what to expect?

I’ve almost finished writing and recording my new album which will hopefully come out next year. I’m continuing on the apocalyptic bent but this album has very different instrumentation than the last. It’s not purely bleak though. It has some of the most hopeful music I have made for a while. I have a kid now so I’m a little less comfortable just sneering at the end of everything. This time round I’m taking a far less escapist approach. I had this futuristic dystopian thing going on with Romeo Must Cry. The new album is set in the here and now, trying to capture moments of hope, while this toilet world swirls around us down the yawning mouth of the void that awaits us all. Who knows maybe I’ll call the album ‘toilet world’ although that kind of makes it sound like a toilet showroom.

 I’ve heard Jarvis Cocker is a fan of yours and has played you on his radio show in the UK, any there any plans to come over and perform in anytime soon?

I know my song was played on Jarvis Cocker’s show but I think it was actually played by Henry Rollins when he was filling in. I’d love it if Jarvis Cocker was a fan. The only celebrity fans I am aware of are Henry Rollins and Fred Durst. With all due respect not exactly the pick of the litter when it comes to rock star fans. But the whole concept of the rock star is thankfully dying now anyway and anyone still flogging that horse is either a despicable conman or a hack. I am happy to work my shitty job and make a modest living and make my dumb songs forever. Don’t get me wrong I mean I am very pissed that some disgusting middle of the road fuckwits can flog off their garbage and live like kings while I write beautiful masterpieces and struggle to put food on the table. But of course I’m not alone in this and I have it better than many. I will one day come to UK as I have a bunch of relatives over there anyway.