Thrill Jockey
is an independent Chicago-based record label celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012.

Since its inception, Thrill Jockey has released over 315 albums, opened a London office, and worked with an impressive roster of artists, including David Byrne of the Talking Heads.


The label is run by its founder, Bettina Richards, and a staff of six dedicated workers, who all sit in one room at the label's Chicago office and listen to records during their work day.


Guitarist Matt Carlson, drummer John Colpitts, and keyboardist/guitarist Dan Friel are three of the newer musicians on the Thrill Jockey roster, all working with the label for the first time in 2012.


Drummer Greg Fox started his relationship with the label as a member of the metal group Liturgy in 2009, the same year that guitarist and composer David Daniell put out his first Thrill Jockey release.


Multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Jacobsen put out his first album on Thrill Jockey when the label was only five years old.


Below, these artists share their opinions on what makes Thrill Jockey a unique record label that deserves to have a lifespan of another 20 years and beyond.












The Thrill Jockey office in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Doug Kaplan.



David Daniell was a big fan of Thrill Jockey in the early 1990s, years before he would release anything on the label.

In 2006, Daniell met Doug McCombs, who plays bass and guitarist in Tortoise. Daniell moved from New York City to Chicago later that year to study a new style of guitar playing, and began working on music with McCombs. Their first collaboration efforts resulted in 2009's "Sycamore."

Thrill Jockey covers an amazing diversity of music, and I really appreciate that.

-David Daniell

Daniell and McCombs released another album, 2012's "Version," on Thrill Jockey.



Greg Fox began working with Thrill Jockey as a member of the metal band Liturgy. When Liturgy was looking for a label to release their second album, Thrill Jockey was one of the labels that came to Fox's mind first.

I've never worked with a label that was so open to the artist before, in every way.

-Greg Fox

When Fox quit Liturgy in 2011 and began working on a new project called Guardian Alien, Thrill Jockey owner and founder Bettina Richards told him to keep in touch. So when Fox's new group, Guardian Alien, was ready to put out their second album, Fox approached Richards, who then signed Guardian Alien to the label.

"Thrill Jockey possesses a very rare combination of being both a small independent label and having a lot of resources at their disposal as a result of being so focused for the past 20 years," Fox said.



John Colpitts established himself in the experimental rock scene as the drummer for the band Oneida, a group that releases its music on the label Jagjaguwar.

For his Man Forever project, a drum-based experimentation that revolves around "pushing the outer limits of drum performance," he went to Thrill Jockey because he knew of the creative control the label gives their artists.

"Bettina was psyched to do something with me," Colpitts said. "And then the label promised to take me out to dinner while I was in Chicago!"

Thrill Jockey supports challenging music and works hard for their artists. I don't think there's a better home.

-John Colpitts

Thrill Jockey released Man Forever's album "Pansophical Cataract" in 2012.



Matt Carlson, one half of the duo that is Golden Retriever, started working with Thrill Jockey after finding out that Richards and others at the label had taken an interest in Golden Retriever's previous albums.

I get the sense that Thrill Jockey really wants to be supportive and help us succeed in any way that they can.

-Matt Carlson

Working with the label meant Golden Retriever's 2012 album "Occupied With the Unspoken" reached a much larger audience than it would have otherwise, Carlson said.



Jeremy Jacobsen, who plays guitar, keyboards and harmonica (in addition to many other instruments), met Bettina Richards when he was located in New York. Both Jacobsen and Richards relocated to Chicago, and Richards asked Jacobsen to work on something for Thrill Jockey after he opened for another one of the label's artists, Tortoise, at a local bowling alley.

Thrill Jockey has an incredibly broad roster stylistically/genre-wise ... the label has fostered collaboration and discussion that has inspired many artists.

-Jeremy Jacobsen

The Lonesome Organist released his last album, "Forms and Follies," on Thrill Jockey in 2003.



Dan Friel, a Brooklyn artist formerly involved with the band Parts and Labor had already finished his first solo album when he reached out to Thrill Jockey to see if they would be interested in signing him.

"I was already playing shows regularly with a lot of Thrill Jockey bands, so it came together pretty naturally," Friel said.

"I've only been working with Thrill Jockey for six months, but it's been great to dive in right around their 20th anniversary."

-Dan Friel

Friel's debut album, "Total Folklore," will be released in early 2013.