JG Thirlwell is a composer/producer/performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Born in Melbourne, he moved to London in 1978, then relocated to NYC in 1983, where he has been based ever since. As well as his own name, he works under many pseudonyms including Manorexia, Foetus, Xordox, Steroid Maximus, Baby Zizanie, Hydroze Plus, Clint Ruin and Wiseblood.
He has released over thirty albums. If there is a common thread to his varied musical styles, it is a dramatic intensity and an evocative, cinematic quality. Thirlwell has also featured as producer, remixer, collaborator or arranger for a wide variety of artists including Karen O, Noveller, Excepter, Zola Jesus, Melvins, Swans, Nine Inch Nails, Lydia Lunch, The The, Coil, Z’s, Simon Hanes, Nick Cave and many more.
JG has completed commissions for Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can, Thyssen-Bornemisza ArtContemporary, Experiments in Opera, Zephyr Quartet, Great Learning Orchestra, Gotland Film Symposium and League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, and is a member of the“freq_out” sound-art collective, curated by CM Von Hausswolff, who create on-site sound and light installations. He is also an acclaimed graphic artist. In 2010, he received a fellowship from New York Foundation of the Arts in sound / composition.
Thirlwell has created solo sound installations which have exhibited in Santarcangelo, Italy and Kaliningrad, Russia. In recent years he has performed live with a chamber ensemble version of his Manorexia project, with his electronic project Xordox and his solo electroacoustic project Cholera Nocebo.
JG also creates the musical score for the Emmy-winning FX show Archer, and for Adult Swim / Cartoon Network show The Venture Bros, for which he was nominated for an Annie Award. JG has also created several motion picture scores. He has been in residency at Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm, and recently completed a composition for solo contrabass for James Ilgenfritz and a commission for solo cello for Jeffrey Zeigler. He also scored Tony Oursler’s film installation, Imponderable, which was on exhibit for six months at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2017.
- Foetus — Thirlwell’s main project. From 1990 until 2006’s ‘Damp’, most Foetus songs featured lead vocals. Though popularly known as simply “Foetus”, Thirlwell released albums under diverse variations of the name, including: Foetus Art Terrorism; Foetus Über Frisco; Foetus Corruptus; Foetus In Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe; Foetus Inc.; Foetus Interruptus; Foetus Over Frisco; Foetus Under Glass; Philip and His Foetus Vibrations; Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel; The Foetus All-Nude Revue; The Foetus of Excellence; The Foetus Symphony Orchestra; and You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath.
- Steroid Maximus — Primary instrumental project.
- Manorexia — Experimental instrumental project.
- Other projects/involvements too numerous to mention here. For complete details view the detailed discography.
JG Thirlwell Biography, 2005
Foetus Biography (Thirsty Ear’s version, 2001)
Foetus Biography (AMG’s version, ca. 1996)
Foetus Biography (Sony’s version, 1995)
Foetus Biography (Wax Trax!’s version, ca. 1990)
Abridged biographical timeline
(for detailed timeline, click here)
Born in Melbourne, Australia in Chinatown during Chinese New Year
Studied art at Melbourne State College
Moved to London
Member of Spec Records (pragVEC) for nine months.
Made recordings with Nurse with Wound and Come (Whitehouse)
Released first two Foetus singles and Foetus LP DEAF on JG’s own Self immolation label.
Recording with Nurse with Wound.
Released Foetus single, 12″ EP and second album ACHE.
Began work and promoting Einsturzende Neubauten in assembling Stratagien Gegen Arkitektur for his Hardt Records label.
Signed with Some Bizzare.
Toured as guest vocalist with Soft Cell.
Briefly a member of first incarnation of Bad Seeds.
Produced Coil Scatlogy.
Member of The The live band for shows at the Marquee, London.
Joined Immaculate Consumptive with Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Nick Cave for shows in NYC and DC.
Moved to NYC.
Formed Wiseblood with Roli Mosimann.
Release of landmark album HOLE, three 12″ EPs and an empty box called Foetus of Excellence.
Stinkfist collaboration and other work with Lydia Lunch.
Begins to score Richard Kern’s Deathtrip films.
Release of Foetus NAIL album.
Tours with fresh pig heads adorning the stage.
Release of Wiseblood album DIRTDISH and ensuing touring.
Formed first Foetus live band and toured Europe to support Foetus THAW.
Release of Foetus SINK.
Formed instrumental guise Steroid Maximus.
Founds Ectopic Ents inc.
US tour as Foetus.
Voiceovers for MTV sports show (5 seasons).
Engaged in career as hotshot remixer.
Release of Foetus Butterfly Potion
First releases as Steroid Maximus.
US tour as Foetus.
Produced Silverfish, Beyond, White Zombie, Lydia Lunch and Rowland S.Howard, Mesomorph Enduros comp.
Works with Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Unsane. Remixes for NIN, Front 242, RHCP, Pantera and many more. Composes and records.
Foetus GASH is released by Sony/Columbia in an ill-fated relationship.
US tour as Foetus.
Two European Foetus tours.
Japanese Foetus tour.
Performs semi-improv set with large ensemble as Foetus Symphony Orchestra with guest Lydia lunch at the Anchorage for Creative Time.
Releases Foetus NULL/VOID and YORK
DJ Otefsu is born.
Foetus plays at Royal Festival Hall, London.
Manorexia is born.
Release of Foetus FLOW and BLOW and first Manorexia album Volvox Turbo.
Foetus tours US and Europe as “rock band” format for final time.
Baby Zizanie, a collaboration with Jim Coleman, is born.
Commissioned by UCLA to create Steroid Maximus 18 piece big band in Los Angeles.
Solo electronic serial performance, Yale University.
Release of Steroid Maximus Ectopia.
Release of Manorexia Radiolarian Ooze.
Baby Zizanie tour.
Joins Murnau with Oren Bloedow for one show.
Becomes member of Freq_out sound art collective at the invitation of CM Von Hausswolf to create installation in Copenhagen.
Steroid Maximus 18 piece plays Nantes, Tilburg and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Baby Zizanie tour.
Release of Baby Zizanie Thalassaphobia.
Performed in Kastanienball opera in Munich.
Scored Venture Brothers cartoon series for Adult Swim / Cartoon Network.
Freq_out installation in Oslo.
Conducted audio worksop with CM Von Hausswolf at Staedelschule, Frankfurt.
Recorded Murnau album.
Premiered 18 piece version of Foetus at the Donaufestival.
Freq_out in Paris at Centre Communiste.
Commission for Bang on a Can premiers at Merkin Hall.
Release of Foetus album LOVE.
Commission for Kronos Quartet performed at Carnegie Hall.
Second season of “The Venture Brothers” airs.
Works with Tony Oursler and Dorit Chrysler.
Premiere of Manorexia live ensemble in Russia .
Freq_out installation in Berlin.
Spoken word debut in London.
Created Miasma with Lary 7.
Release of Foetus album DAMP.
Commission for LEMUR.
Freq_out installations in Chiang Mai and Budapest.
Scoring third season of the Venture Brothers.
Release of Foetus album VEIN.
JG Thirlwell Composer Spotlight concert at Whitney Museum NYC.
Manorexia European debut in London.
Terry Bozzio and his big brass section performed opening and closing themes to venture bros. based on arrangements by JG Thirlwell, at a tribute to Buddy Rich at Hammerstein Ballroom.
JG sculpture at Farfabriken Norr.
Manorexia at ATP and Brainwaves fest.
JG curates a month of concerts at The Stone NYC.
Release of Venture Bros soundtrack album Vol 1.
Release of Foetus LIMB CD + DVD.
Solo sound installation at Santarcangelo festival.
Scores fourth season of Venture Bros.
Field recording travels to Oman.
Awarded 2010 fellowship by the New York Foundation for the Arts, in the music & sound category.