Artists reflect on 20 years of Thrill Jockey

Thrill Jockey turns 20

Local label Thrill Jockey has been celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout 2012, with numerous shows and events across the country in Portland, New York, and Los Angeles. Tomorrow, the celebration will culminate at the Empty Bottle with a concert featuring Man Forever, the Sea and Cake, and Tortoise.

Since its inception, Thrill Jockey has supported a consistently fantastic roster of artists, from Tortoise to Daniel Higgs to Boredoms, and you can frequently hear Thrill Jockey releases on WNUR. I contacted some of the label’s artists to see why they think Thrill Jockey is a record label worth honoring, as well as their picks for their favorite Thrill Jockey records.

Greg Fox (Guardian Alien)
Guardian Alien’s See the World Given to a One Love Entity was released earlier this year.

“[Thrill Jockey] puts out a lot of different stuff and they are pretty deeply invested in the artists they work with on an interpersonal level. I’ve never worked with a label that was so open to the artist before, in every way possible. I am personally friendly with almost everyone who works there at this point, and I feel like I can get in touch with them pretty immediately and they are very helpful and understanding.”

Greg Fox recommends Nobukazu Takemura - Scope
“When I got that in like 2001 or something it really blew me away. I had never listened to anything remotely like it, and it took me more than a few listens to make some sense of it – but it finally hit me how completely beautiful it was from beginning to end.”

Dan Friel
Dan Friel’s Thrill Jockey debut Total Folklore comes out in early 2013.

“I’ve only been working with Thrill Jockey for maybe six months, but it’s been great to dive in with their 20th anniversary celebrations underway and play shows with heavies like Matmos and Tortoise. [The label’s] releases for Oval and Mouse on Mars were instrumental in getting me started on making electronic music.”

Dan Friel recommends Oval - ovalcommers
“It’s so pretty and odd.”

Jeffrey McGrath (Thank You)
Thank You put out their first record on Thrill Jockey in 2008, and released a limited-edition 7″, “Mother’s Nose,” in 2012.

“Thrill Jockey really is the real thing. It’s the spirit of music itself that informs it deeply and not a perverse system of gain, and that is why it’s a great, great record label. I suspect it’s not easy to run a thing like Thrill Jockey, but they do it perfectly and it’s because they are motivated by music and not just money.”

Jeffrey McGrath recommends Daniel Higgs - Say God
“I really like the album for it courageously not resembling anything anyone has ever made ever.”

David Daniell
David Daniell collaborated with Douglas McCombs (from Tortoise) to record 2009’s Sycamore. The duo released Versions on the label earlier this year.

“I think Thrill Jockey covers an amazing diversity of music, and I really appreciate that. There’s not a focus on one micro-sub-genre, the focus is just ‘great music.’”

David Daniell recommends Brokeback - Morse Code in the Modern Age: Across the Americas
“Why? Because it’s great music.”

Jeremy Jacobsen (The Lonesome Organist)
Jeremy Jacobsen put out three albums under the name the Lonesome Organist on Thrill Jockey, the most recent one being 2003’s Forms and Follies.

“Thrill Jockey has an incredibly broad roster stylistically/genre-wise, and yet maintains a close relationship with the locals in Chicago. Thrill Jockey has fostered collaboration and discussion that has inspired many of us.”

Jeremy Jacobsen recommends Nerves - Nerves

John Colpitts (Man Forever)
John Colpitts, drummer from Oneida, has been working with Thrill Jockey for his Man Forever project, putting out Pansophical Cataract earlier this year. He’ll be playing at the Empty Bottle for Thrill Jockey 20 tomorrow night.

“Thrill Jockey supports challenging music and works hard for their artists. I don’t think there’s a better home. I am really happy to be working with them.”

John Colpitts recommends Trans Am - Futureworld
“Mostly because their press releases are so hilarious.”

Matt Carlson (Golden Retriever)
Golden Retriever consists of Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff. Their Thrill Jockey debut Occupied with the Unspoken was released in 2012.

“Thrill Jockey enabled [our] record to reach more ears than it would’ve otherwise, and perhaps made certain people listen to it differently because it was being presented within the context of the label and its history. I get the sense that they really want to be supportive and help us succeed in any way that they can, which is really awesome.”

Matt Carlson recommends Oval - 94 Diskont
“It’s just an approach to music that seemed totally new and really cool and interesting, while remaining super sensual and beautiful.”