Dance Mania Cover Illustrator James Wilson_crop

An Interview With ‘Ghetto Madness’ Cover Illustrator James Wilson

Our second foray into the incredible catalog of Chicago’s Dance Mania Records focuses specifically on the hyper-sexualized “Ghetto House” strain […] Read More…

Strut Worldwide Awards photo square

Strut Wins “Label Of The Year” At Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards!!

BBC 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson celebrated the global music underground with a feast of great music on Saturday at his […] Read More…

Next Stop Soweto 4 final cover

South African Disco, Rock & More On Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4

This March, we return to the rich archives of South African music to spotlight the fertile era of the late […] Read More…

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Afro-Beats Digital Collection

Here at Strut, we’ve been captivated with African music of many varieties ever since we first dipped our toes into […] Read More…

StrutBestof2014

Strut’s Favorite Releases Of 2014

To mark the end of the year, we thought it would be worth asking Strut’s Quinton Scott to pull out […] Read More…

Dance Mania cover for web

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

This January, we’re returning to the archives of seminal Chicago house label Dance Mania for Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness. This […] Read More…

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Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics Announce European Tour

“In case it’s not clear: Jaiyede Afro is a tremendous album.” -PopMatters With this year’s collaborative album Jaiyede Afro hailed […] Read More…

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Out This Week – Spirit Of Malombo: Malombo Jazz Makers, Jabula And Jazz Afrika 1966 – 1984

South Africa’s Julian Bahula created a unique synthesis of Western jazz and the indigenous rhythms of his home country, spreading […] Read More…

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Stream “Abbey’s Body” from Spirit Of Malombo

As the release of the Spirit Of Malombo release approaches (it’s not next week!) we have another track for you […] Read More…

Video: Orlando Julius Performs “Aseni” Live With The Heliocentrics

As they make their way across Europe, it’s a full-on party when Orlando Julius hits the stage with The Heliocentrics. Recorded live in Brussels, this performance of “Aseni” shows the stage ablaze with synchronized dance moves and razor sharp musicianship. Make sure to catch this show when they come through your city!

European Tour Dates

11th: Ljubjana SLO / Kino Siska
12th: Rome IT / Teatro Quirinetta
13th: Bologna IT / Locomotiv Club
14th: Turin IT / Scuola Holden (General Store)
15th: Milan IT / Biko Club
19th: Arhus DEN / Atlas
20th: Copenhagen DEN / Global
21st: Stockholm SWE / Fasching

Orlando Julius’ collaborative album with The Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro is out now:
iTunesAmazonStrut Store

An Interview With ‘Ghetto Madness’ Cover Illustrator James Wilson

Dance Mania Cover Illustrator James Wilson_cropOur second foray into the incredible catalog of Chicago’s Dance Mania Records focuses specifically on the hyper-sexualized “Ghetto House” strain of dance music pioneered by the label. The ‘Ghetto Madness’ collection features striking cover art from artist James Wilson, meshing perfectly with the raw quality of the music. We sat down recently with James to talk about his initial exposure to house music, his artistic influences, and the ways in which he creates such incredible artwork.

Strut: You illustrated a piece on DJ Funk for Crack Magazine earlier this year. Before that, and being approached to work on art for Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness, was Chicago House or Ghetto House music that you were already listening to? Do you have a history of listening to dance music?

James Wilson: Before the DJ Funk piece and this Dance Mania project I had no idea what Ghetto House music was. I started listening to dance music as an adolescent, stuff like the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. It was pretty much all down to Wipeout 2097 on the Playstation that informed me of that style of music, other stuff like Orbital and Underworld. I started playing guitar and listening to heavy music after and lost touch with dance music for a few years but I listen to house music quite regularly now.

Dance Mania insert medBoth the cover and insert poster for Ghetto Madness are explicitly sexual, which is consistent with the lyrics of many of the records. Were there other ways in which the musical content influenced the way in you approached the artwork?

Ghetto House to me is very raw and stripped back so I wanted the artwork to reflect that. I was happy with how my DJ Funk piece had turned out previously and wanted to keep a similar feel. The Dance Mania artwork had to look even bolder which was why I decided to keep it black and white with strong thick outlines and hand scrawled text.

What are your tools for the cover illustration and poster? Are you working primarily with pen and paper?

I sketched out the artwork in pencil and then completed the ink work with my trusty tablet. I tend to work this way for most projects now as sketching by hand gives me a little more expression and the digital element allows more room to edit.

Dance Mania insert 2 medComic books, musicians, and action movies seem to be common themes and subject matter in your work, and all tend to feature larger than life personalities and portrayals. Do you find art most interesting when it is an exaggeration?

I see so much amazing artwork every day, mainly through Instagram and Behance and it’s all in varying styles and media. I think the work I appreciate and find most interesting  is art that has been produced with passion. I like artists that have a recognisable style and that also translates something about the artist, it adds that element of intrigue.

 The poster insert for Ghetto Madness features several of the artists’ faces as tattoos. Do you have tattoos, and if so, do you design / illustrate them yourself?

I don’t have any tattoos although I’d like to have a go at designing some. I follow a few tattoo artists through social media so that was probably an influence. Mainly I wanted the girl to look like a badass and thought it could be an interesting way of involving the DJ’s on the poster.

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness is out  on CD, 2LP, digital download, and streaming services.

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Strut Wins “Label Of The Year” At Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards!!

Strut Worldwide Awards photo squareBBC 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson celebrated the global music underground with a feast of great music on Saturday at his annual Worldwide Awards in London. Strut picked up the coveted ‘Label Of The Year’ award and our artists weighed in too with Sun Ra Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen given a Lifetime Achievement Award and The Heliocentrics’ ace drummer Malcolm Catto winning the John Peel Award.

A massive thanks to Gilles and the team at Brownswood from us, to the many great artists and compilers we’ve been lucky enough to work with and to all of you for buying the albums and supporting the label. Bit of pressure now to keep up the quality in 2015!

Marshall Allen

South African Disco, Rock & More On Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4

Next Stop Soweto 4 final coverThis March, we return to the rich archives of South African music to spotlight the fertile era of the late ’70s and early ’80s with a new volume in the Next Stop Soweto series. Tightly controlled by oppressive Apartheid laws, South Africa’s music scene in the 70s and 80s nevertheless progressed into myriad new directions, embracing funk, soul, rock and disco.

Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4 is compiled by Duncan Brooker. It will be released March 23 2015 on CD, 2LP and digital formats with physical formats featuring sleeve notes by author Francis Gooding along with rare photos and sleeve artwork.

Stream the energetic Afro rock track “Unga Pfula A Chi Pfalo” from Kabasa, which kicks off the new volume, below.

 

Stream A DJ Deeon Classic from Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

Dance Mania cover for webChicago’s Dance Mania Records set the standard for the lightning fast, hyper funky, sexualized strain of dance music known as Ghetto House in the 1990s. See DJ Deeon’s 1996 track “The Freaks” for an example of just how effective this combination can be for making a timeless dance floor weapon. If this one doesn’t get you out of your seat, you might need your pulse checked.

Our return to the Dance Mania vaults, Ghetto Madness is out January 26th on CD, 2LP, digital download, and streaming services.

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Dance Mania European Tour Dates

Bringing the authentic sounds of Chicago warehouse parties to the EU, Dance Mania artists Parris Mitchell & Tyree are hitting the road this winter, with stops in Edinburgh, London, Bordeaux & Dublin. You can bet it’s going to be hot!

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness is out 26 Jan on CD, LP and digital download.

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Dance Mania tour e-flyer

Afro-Beats Digital Collection

600x600Here at Strut, we’ve been captivated with African music of many varieties ever since we first dipped our toes into the vast waters of music from the continent. Our initial forays into releasing curated collections of music from Africa focused on West African Afrobeat and Afro-Funk, and in the following years broadened our scope to touch on Ethio Jazz, North African Gnawa, South African township jive, and countless other varieties and hybrids.

To kick off 2015, we’ve compiled selections from our many African releases for a special digital release. Afro-Beats is over two hours of music, and we kept the price below that of an average album release. Dig in, and enjoy!

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1. Ebo Taylor : Ayesama (taken from Appia Kwa Bridge)
2. Jabula : Jabula Happiness (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
3. Mulatu Astatke : Green Africa (taken from Mulatu Steps Ahead)
4. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo : Koumi Dede (taken from Cotonou Club)
5. Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics : Aseni (taken from Jaiyede Afro)
6. Jingo : Fever (taken from Afro-Rock Vol. 1)
7. Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics : Phantom Of The Panther (taken from Inspiration Information)
8. Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea : Kelen (taken from Fangnawa Experience)
9. The Souljazz Orchestra : One Life To Live (taken from Inner Fire)
10. Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers : We Want to Be Free (taken from Nothing Can Stop Us)
11. Jimi Tenor, Tony Allen : Against The Wall (taken from Inspiration Information)
12. Julian Bahula’s Jazz Afrika : Woza Cindi (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
13. Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics : Jaiyede Afro (taken from Jaiyede Afro)
14. The Souljazz Orchestra : As The Crow Flies (taken from Inner Fire)
15. Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea : Kononi (taken from Fangnawa Experience)
16. Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces : Efoye So (taken from Super Afro Soul)
17. Ebo Taylor : Abonsam (taken from Appia Kwa Bridge)
18. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo : Holonon (taken from Cotonou Club)
19. Mercury Dance Band : Envy No Good (taken from Afro-Rock Vol. 1)
20. Malombo Jazz Makers : Hleziphi (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
21. Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics : Esketa Dance (taken from Inspiration Information)
22. Mulatu Astatke : I Faram Gami I Faram (taken from Mulatu Steps Ahead)
23. Jimi Tenor, Tony Allen : Cella’s Walk (taken from Inspiration Information)
24. Ebo Taylor : Nga Nga (taken from Love And Death)

Strut’s Favorite Releases Of 2014

StrutBestof2014To mark the end of the year, we thought it would be worth asking Strut’s Quinton Scott to pull out a few of the albums that have been on repeat at the label HQ during 2014. Hope you enjoy this round-up of archive African gems, soul stompers, DIY electronics and more.

For more updates on our favorite music, make sure to follow our Original World Funk and Death Disco & Jacking House Spotify playlists.

Big thanks to everyone who has supported the label this year and wishing everyone a really happy and peaceful Christmas.

10 COMPILATIONS / REISSUES

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V/A – Haiti Direct (Strut)

Stream on Spotify

Hugo Mendez collects together stunning set of compass and twoubadou rarities.

NanaLove

Nana Love – Disco Documentary: Full of Funk (BBE)

Stream on Spotify

Essential oddball West African disco set.

 

GraceJonesGrace Jones – Nightclubbing (Deluxe Edition) (Island)

Stream on Spotify

Well curated deluxe version of classic album with massive previously unreleased cover of ‘Me! I Disconnect From You.’

LesAmbassadeurs_600Les Ambassadeurs – Les Ambassadeurs De Motel De Bamaco (Sterns)

Stream on Spotify

‘70s Malian legends celebrated in a superb Stern’s deluxe package.

tabu-boxV/A – The Tabu Records Box Set (Tabu)

Buy from Dusty Groove

Early Jam & Lewis slick soul genius from Brainstorm, SOS Band and more.

K-Leimer_A-Period-Of-ReviewK. Leimer – A Period of Review (Rvng Intl)

Buy from Rvng Intl

Superb previously unreleased ambient pieces from US artist Kerry Leimer.

cybotron-enterCybotron – Enter (Fantasy)

Stream on Spotify

Juan Atkins and Richard Davis with their seminal ‘human life meets technology’ opus from ‘83.

SuburbanBase

V/A – Suburban Base Records: The History Of Hardcore, Jungle, Drum & Bass 1991-1997 (New State)

Buy from Piccadilly

Always a favourite rave label during the original days. Brilliant, raw, DIY dancefloor bombs and long overdue comp.

NorthernSoulV/A – Northern Soul: The Film Soundtrack (Harmless)

Buy from Juno

Fantastic collection of gems soundtracking Elaine Constantine’s film. Great for connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

ScienceFictionParkV/A – Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik (Finders Keepers)

Buy from Finders Keepers

Dark and strange DIY electronics from ‘80s West Germany.

10 New Albums

ToddTerje_AlbumTimeTodd Terje – It’s Album Time (Olsen)

Stream on Spotify

The master Terje flexes his production guns with a great mix of disco, exotica and soul on his full length debut.

MeridianBrothers

Meridian Brothers – Salvadora Robot (Soundway)

Stream On Spotify

Surreal soundscapes from Colombia. Future music genius.

AndyStottAndy Stott – Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)

Buy from Boomkat

Brilliantly bleak and blown out electro / drone soundscapes.

FumacaPretaFumaca Preta – Fumaca Preta (Soundway)

Stream on Spotify

Primal and bonkers album mixing Caribbean and Brazilian rhythms with properly wigged out psychedelics.

CaribouCaribou – Our Love (Merge)

Stream On Spotify

Expertly crafted lush synth-meets-falsetto set.

 

nilsfrahmNils Frahm – Spaces (Erased Tapes)

Buy from Erased Tapes

Completely obsessed with Frahm’s music and ‘Spaces’ is minimal, spiritual majesty from start to finish.

ClapClapClap! Clap! – Tayi Bebba (Black Acre)

Stream on Spotify

Futuristic Afro sketches touching on electro, juke and hip hop.

fhloston_paradigm_-_the_phoenix_535_535_c1Fhlostom Paradigm – The Phoenix (Hyperdub)

Stream on Spotify

Kept going back to this album in 2014. Quality atmospheric soundtracky house-scapes. Fantastic production.

Orlando_Jaiyede AfroOrlando Julius with The Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro (Strut)

Stream on Spotify

Massive honour to work with the Afro-soul legend this year. New album found him on top form, revisiting compositions from his youth.

freddie-gibbs-madlib-pinataFreddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata (Madlib Invasion)

Stream on Spotify

Forward thinking beats and hard-knock raps. Madlib still untouchable.

 

 

Orlando Julius, The Heliocentrics and Marshall Allen To Feature At Worldwide Awards

Gilles Peterson is a man of distinguishing tastes, and has been an enormous supporter of our music. This year at his annual Worldwide Awards he will be honoring Marshall Allen, the current leader of the Sun Ra Arkestra and compiler of our collection In The Orbit of Ra. The ceremony will also feature a special performance from Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics, as well as a host of other fine performers. If you’re in London in January, don’t miss it! Advance tickets available here.

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Inside ‘African Sounds:’ Nelson Mandela’s 65th Birthday Concert, London, 1983

The musicians and promoters behind the ‘African Sounds’ concert at Alexandra Palace, London in July 1983, tell the story of the first music event to raise awareness of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Featured interviews include Julian Bahula, concert promoter and founding member of the bands Malombo and Jabula, his wife Liza and Jerry Dammers of The Specials. Inspired by seeing Jabula’s ‘Mandela’ performed live at the concert, Dammers went on to write the massive Special AKA hit, ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and set up Artists Against Apartheid in the UK.

While the concerts did much to raise awareness for Mandela and the politics of apartheid in South Africa, years later the architects of the event series ponder the fuzzy overlap of politics and entertainment, and wonder whether it would have been possible to more actively engage with the African ex-pat musicians,

Julian Bahula’s work in various musical projects is collected on the album ‘Spirit of Malombo,’ out now on Strut, and available at your favorite local record shop, as well as iTunes, Amazon, and the Strut Store.