Telefon Tel Aviv formed in 1999, once a duo comprised of musicians Joshua Eustis and Charles Cooper. Their oeuvre is remarkable in that it simultaneously soothes and moves you – echoed, lulling sounds combined at times with heavy synth reflect their emotions in a way that exposes their mastery of ambient electronic music. With tracks as delightfully subtle as Telefon Tel Aviv’s are, it’s almost hard to imagine Eustis performing as a touring member of Nine Inch Nails.
Upon Cooper’s tragic passing in 2009, Eustis has continued to produce music under the moniker Sons of Magdelene. He has since decided to revive the halted Telefon Tel Aviv project, announcing tour dates with Moderat and rereleasing 2001’s Fahrenheit Fair Enough through electronic juggernaut Ghostly International.
Eustis was kind enough to answer a few questions for us before his May 19 DJ set with Rival Consoles and fellow Ghostly artist Logan Takahashi.
You just did some dates with Deru, and you’re heading out on tour with Moderat. How has performing as Telefon Tel Aviv been so far?
It’s been… weird, in a good way. Pretty fulfilling, luckily enough. When I first got on stage in LA, I was thinking to myself “oh crap, what did I sign up for, I’m gonna crater, this is a mistake, get me outta here so I can order pizza and cry” and then about 5 minutes into the set I thought “oh no way, this is so awesome, I need to be doing this, I feel terrific and I missed this, without knowing it.”
What was the catalyst that you made you decide to reopen this project?
1) My girlfriend has been telling me I should do this for several years now.
2) Turk Dietrich (Belong), my oldest musical collaborator and best friend, has told me the same thing.
3) Ben Wynn (Deru) said he needed an opener for his LA show, this was back in December when he set it up. I asked if I could do it, and he seemed very excited about the idea, so that’s that.
How has your time away from Telefon Tel Aviv, especially your other acts & time with Puscifer and Nine Inch Nails, affected how you approach the project?
I’ve grown, and learned a lot. I know my weaknesses better, and they are many. I also know a bit better what I’m really meant to do, what I feel I should be doing, at least. That much time away from something you love that you thought you lost is pretty revealing, because my mind ran through every possible outcome so many times, that eventually my thought process became really convoluted and it felt like I was just making excuses not to do TTA anymore: and then I got frustrated at myself.
How do you expect Telefon Tel Aviv’s sound to change and grow now that you’ve returned to it?
It will be much weirder than it ever has been, I think. I thought as I was getting older that my tastes would become more subdued, but I think the opposite is happening. I hope it won’t alienate everyone but I can’t really do much about that.
You haven’t always worked with Ghostly, and they’re such a force in this genre and community. How has that been? What can we expect with the reissue of Fahrenheit Fair Enough?
I’ve known Sam Valenti for a million years, and we’ve always been close, and he’s been a wonderful supporter the whole time. Jeff also runs a very tight ship, and I genuinely like these people as my friends. I love working with them and I feel like I’m in good hands.
Well, with the reissue, you can expect, uh, a record. And finally everything will be on all streaming formats. And all that old demo material, embarrassingly enough, will see the light of day!
– Carolyn Hanson & Mandy Brownholtz