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NEWS: Cathal Coughlan and Jacknife Lee, a.k.a. Telefís, release satirical and mischievous Mister Imperator EP

9 November 2021

Telefís – Photo Credit: Jacknife Lee

Earlier this year, we introduced readers to the wonderful artist Cathal Coughlan (The Fatima Mansions, Microdisney) with his most recent solo album, Song of Co-Aklan

Today we are pleased to present you an infectious taster of his new electronic music project with Garret “Jacknife” Lee, a producer/ mixer/ composer who is renowned for the many releases he has shaped with such music industry giants as U2, R.E.M., Modest Mouse, The Cars, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Crystal Castles and Editors. Ok, and Taylor Swift.

This new duo has been taken under the wing of a London-based label that we think is doing big things – Dimple Discs, who not only released Coughlan’s aforementioned album, but also signed Irish psychedelic indiepop buzz-queen Keeley this year, among others. In Irish Gaelic, Telefís ((pronounced Tele-feesh) means ‘Television’.

The February 11 release date for the duo’s debut album ‘a hAon’ (Number One) is still a fair way’s away, so fortunately for hungry ears, these two forward-thinking iconoclasts have just released their ‘Mister Imperator’ EP, which includes the latest ‘Mister Imperator (Dub Mix)’, the original version of this song and two other remixes.

The forthcoming long-player will have 13 tracks – part celebration, part satire, in which Telefís explores nostalgia, as experienced in the present day, from the perspective of natives of what was formerly a culturally sealed-off small country on the very fringes of Europe. It also points a critical finger at today’s global hierarchies, an inspiration for the strange characters and caricatures that spring from Coughlan’s fertile imagination. Stark forms of imagery, bizarre to the modern eye and ear but treated as routine in the pre-globalization world, are pushed at the listener and viewer.

With Jacknife now based in Los Angeles and Cathal based in London, the two spent 2020 trading ideas and musical files during lockdown, hatching plans for a satirical, mischievous examination of Irish history and the pop culture of their lifetimes, what the two have labelled “a corrosive nostalgia.”

“I’d just finished mangling a Luke Haines and Peter Buck record. Luke knows Cathal and re-introduced us. On the first or second correspondence we thought we should make some music together. Music is probably the only way I can properly communicate with someone. I sent Cathal the backing track that would become ‘We Need’ and he sent me back the vocal and we went back and forth from there. Lockdowns and travel restrictions forced us to work remotely, and I think helped us get to where we got so quickly,” says Jacknife Lee.

“Cathal is, without doubt, one of the finest lyricists of our time and writes like no one else. Some of the vocals he sent over made me burst out laughing with giddiness and delight at the novelty of them. Mischievous, dark, arcane, crispy fresh, and always unexpected. Every song with a backstory that could be a novel. This is easily the most enjoyable and rewarding music that I’ve been involved with.”

Indeed, evidence of Coughlan’s lyrical ingenuity and artistry was on full display earlier this year when he returned after a 10-year absence with a highly acclaimed solo album ‘Song Of Co-Aklan’.

On the musical side, Jacknife Lee uses his extensive sonic palette to create an irresistible mix of cinematic instrumentals and electro-funk backdrops full of melodic, squelchy synths and thunderous bass-lines, often with a cheeky nod to electro-pop history. He has also created remixes for such artists as Radiohead, U2, Blur, Run-DMC, Pink, Future Sound of London, Christina Aguilera, TLC, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, The Raveonettes, Kraftwerk, New Order and Kasabian.

Cathal observes, “Collaborating in this way, with a dynamic and consummate artist, who has access to a wide range of skills that I don’t have, but with whom I share many common interests and cultural/historical reference points, has been one of the highlights of my creative life. It’s made me so glad that I’ve been able to remain active for long enough to see something like this happen. Easily as spontaneous and full of surprises as any in-person collaboration, it’s shaken loose many weird and hopefully wonderful things in my verbal workshop. And nobody has heard me use my voice in some of these ways before now, either.”

‘Mister Imperator (Dub Mix)’ is out everywhere digitally, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp, where the full ‘Mister Imperator’ EP is also available. On February 11, the ‘a hAon’ LP will be released on CD and vinyl (both with a two-sided lyric sheet insert) with physical pre-order HERE and the digital release HERE.

All tracks written by Cathal Coughlan and Jacknife Lee except “Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics” and “There Goes Waterface” co-written by Davide Rossi
Extra vocals on “Sex Bunting” by Melissa Garner Lee, on “Ballytransnational” by Esme Lee, on “Mister Imperator” by Betsey Lee
Drums on “Ballytransnational” by Matt Bishop
Strings on “Stampede” by Davide Rossi
Horns on “Picadors” by Jordan Katz
Extra production on “Archbishop Beardmouth At The ChemOlympics” and “There Goes Waterface” by Davide Rossi
Mastered by Anthony Chapman
Artwork by Jacknife Lee
Published by Besme Music / Schubert Music

Here is the latest video, featuring the most versatile set of Russian army dancers you’ll find in an electronic music video, along with clips for the original track and yet one more remix to satisfy your nostalgic fancy.

Apple Music