5 Questions: Bettina Richards of Thrill Jockey Records


Bettina Richards is the founder of Thrill Jockey Records.

1. What’s been keeping you up at night?

Reading mostly – plenty of political rabbit holes to jump into. Gawking at a wreck. I also aspire to a good work life balance – that often involves staying up late trying to make it balance. I get up early. My plan is a great plan in theory, but I keep testing it.

My plan is a great plan in theory, but I keep testing it

2. What’s the coolest thing you have seen or heard lately?

I was really struck by a recent performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of a Bassoon Concerto by Mozart.  There was a lot of Bassoon soloing-  very intense!  I had no idea how agile an instrument it could be-  really cool.   I also am really excited about a video we are about to release by Sidi Touré that was shot at the Hippodrome in Bamako Mali.  It features a horse race as well as his performance, and it is one of the most joyous celebrations I have seen in a while.  The music is leading the way- but the visuals support its energy. It is a good antidote to the horror of obese white men who think they are entitled to call economically disadvantaged countries shitholes.


3. What’s the most exciting thing you are working on now?

I am pretty excited about all the records I am working on now it would be hard to pick just one. They are all very different and really exciting – some of them are The Sea and Cake, The Wooden Shjips, The Body, Sumac and Keiji Haino, Sarah Louise, Brother JT and Marisa Anderson. Pretty excited to be able to do these albums- despite all the challenges of doing so these days. But I will say there is a special thrill in the fact that I am putting out a trio album featuring YoshimiO, Susie Ibarra and Robert Aki Aubrey Lowe in Feb.  I have admired Susie Ibarra’s skills and artistry ever since I first saw her play about a decade ago.   YoshimiO and Robert are forces of nature that I have the pleasure of working with over the years so this in no way discounts them – just excited to be able to learn more from Susie Ibarra in the context of this trio.


4. If you could add anyone alive or dead to your team who would it be?

I have a great team at Thrill Jockey- in every way. Personally, my team is my family, just hoping they don’t kick me off when I am needed to sit on the bench.    Artists like Joseph Bueys, Edward Gorey, William Morris, Louise Bourgeois, Rachael Goodyear, Joe Sacco, Hannah & Carter Frank, George Saunders, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, are just a few that are always (or in some cases lately) with me –  inspirations or sources of joy that keep me going.  They are on my team whether they like it or not.  I would love to be able spend more time with my grandmothers, Hannah Frank, and Fred Anderson- there is much I learned from them-  but so much more I would like to have had the chance to.

My team is my family, just hoping they don’t kick me off when I am needed to sit on the bench

5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?

A box office disaster.