Q&A: Northern Spy Records' Tom Abbs and Adam Downey On Guitarist Tom Carter, Working At ESP-Disk' And Running Their Own Label

Peter Gannushkin/downtownmusic.net
Chicago Underground Duo play Roulette on July 15 as part of Spy Music Fest.
This week, the Voice sat down with Northern Spy head-honchos Tom Abbs and Adam Downey to talk about the second installment of the label's Spy Music Festival, which will engulf this city's landscape from Friday through mid-July.

But in typical unselfish fashion, Abbs and Downey weren't in a self-congratulatory mood over their ascendant label, the impending celebration, and the lineup of killer shows. Instead, Abbs and Downey were not only intent on fixing the wrongs they encountered at their former label, ESP-Disk', by paying back decades-old royalties to that label's artists, they were itching for the same rep AUM Fidelity label head Steven Joerg has: to be as completely fair to their artists as possible.

That righteous ethos extends into being there 100% in support of musicians in need like Brooklyn guitarist and N-Spyer Tom Carter, who is facing an uphill battle after falling ill while on tour in Germany. Read on for outtakes that didn't make it into this week's piece.

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Q&A: Chicago Underground Duo's Chad Taylor On Improvising, The New York And Chicago Jazz Scenes, And Leaving Thrill Jockey

Peter Gannushkin
Chicago Underground Duo's defection from their longtime label Thrill Jockey to the fledgling New York-based Northern Spy imprint—after fifteen years and some seven albums of visionary experimentalism gleaned from Windy City improv and post-jazz sonics—is actually a reunion of sorts.

In the naughts, Chicago Underground drummer Chad Taylor and Northern Spy co-chief Tom Abbs, along with pianist Cooper-Moore, performed and released a 2005 album under the moniker Tryptich Myth. This month, Taylor and his partner, cornet/multi-instrumentalist mastermind Rob Mazurek, released Age of Energy—an intrepid set of electronics-drenched manipulations, drone fuckery and ambient avant-jazz textures and skronkiness—on Abbs' label.

Sound of the City spoke to Taylor via email.

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