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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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

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

Dance Mania cover for webThis January, we’re returning to the archives of seminal Chicago house label Dance Mania for Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness. This new installment places the spotlight on the raw, stripped back, hyper BPMs of ghetto house and the rise of the movement’s fresh generation of stars during the mid-‘90s including DJ Deeon, DJ Funk, Jammin’ Gerald and DJ Milton.

The album traces the evolution of Chicago’s sound during the era as mixtapes circulated through local shops and DJs developed their own underground following, playing local parties in the projects. As DJ Deeon remembers, “it bridged the gap. It made it OK for guys in the ghetto to like house again and it brought the women onto the dancefloor too.”

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness will be released in 1CD unmixed, 2LP and digital formats. Physical formats are fully illustrated by James Wilson featuring caricatures of the featured artists and hand-drawn artwork. CD will include a fold-out poster featuring an exclusive James Wilson ghetto illustration. Pre-orders are available via iTunes and the Strut Store.

Check out the full tracklist, and stream Paul Johnson’s “Give Me Ecstasy” below.

Tracklist:

1. JAMMIN’ GERALD – PUMP THAT SHIT UP
2. DJ DEEON – THE FREAKS
3. DJ DEEON – 1112
4. STEVE POINDEXTER – COMPUTER MADNESS
5. DARIEN – HIT IT
6. DJ RUSH – THE REACTOR
7. WAX MASTER MAURICE – BOUNCE THAT BODY
8. TYREE – NUTHIN’ WRONG
9. JAMMIN GERALD – PUMP ON THE FLOOR
10. PAUL JOHNSON – GIVE ME ECSTASY
11. PARRIS MITCHELL – GHETTO BOOTY
12. DJ MILTON – HOUSE-O-MATICS
13. DJ FUNK – COMPUTER SEX
14. DJ FUNK – BITCHES
15. HOUZ’ MON – THE GROOVE

Dance Mania European Tour February 2014

With our Hardcore Traxx retrospective of the legendary Dance Mania Records out this week, here’s a chance to catch some of the original Dance Mania DJs on the road in Europe during the coming weeks. DJ Funk and Parris Mitchell hit Studio 80 in Amsterdam and Concrete in Paris (in a soundclash with Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S.) this weekend and one of the original ghetto house legends, Jammin’ Gerald, echoes his legendary sets at The Factory with his first appearance anywhere outside of the USA on 21st February at Ääniwalli in Helsinki. Finally, Parris Mitchell joins another 4/4 legend, Jovonn, for an exclusive session at London’s Corsica Studios.

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14th February: Studio 80, Amsterdam. (DJs: Parris Mitchell, DJ Funk)
15th February: Concrète, Paris. (Dance Mania vs. L.I.E.S. DJs: Parris Mitchell, DJ Funk, Ron Morelli, Svengalisghost)
21st February: Ääniwalli, Helsinki: (DJs: Jammin’ Gerald, Parris Mitchell(
22nd February: Corsica Studios, London: (Find Me In The Dark x Body Hammer. DJs: Parris Mitchell, Jovonn & more)

Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997 is out now on 2CD / 2LP / digital

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Dance Mania Gets Best New Reissue On Pitchfork!

dancemania_vis6 Our Hardcore Traxx collection of Chicago house and ghetto anthems is out this week, and we’re thrilled to see that, along side many other stellar reviews in the press, Pitchfork as given it their prestigious “Best New Reissue” designation.

With Ray Barney and Parris Mitchell having recently re-launched the label, it’s fantastic to see their work, and that of all of the artists who contributed to the project, receiving its due acclaim.

“Like garage rock or blues or any art that’s trying to accomplish a lot with very little, a surprising amount of weirdness ensued… Dance Mania’s tracks [are] among the catchiest and most brazen of their kind, alternately hypnotic and disruptive.”

Read the full review here, and stream Paul Johnson’s anthem “Feel My M.F. Bass” below. Hardcore Traxx is available at fine retailers worldwide, as well as online stores including iTunes, Amazon & our own Strut Store.

Stream A Raw Chicago Classic from DJ Funk and Dance Mania

DJ Funk 2 copyThe distinctive synth sound that kicks off DJ Funk’s “Original Video Clash: Vlideo Clash II” should be immediately familiar to fans of classic house music. They’ve been sampled, mixed, and remixed countless times. DJ Funk’s 1995 version is build from Lil’ Louis’ 1988 track “The Original Video Clash” (also released on Dance Mania) though a debate over Louis’ involvement in the original production continues to be fought on blogs and YouTube comment sections. We’re happy just to dance to Funk’s faster, bass’d up take on a true Chicago house classic.

Pre-Order Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1977 (Out February 10th):

Nina Kraviz on Dance Mania

Nina Kraviz recently spoke to DJBroadcast.net talking about her favourite record label, Dance Mania. Nina has picked her top Dance Mania tracks and also spoke about how Dance Mania helped inspire her hit, ‘Ghetto Kraviz’.

“I fell in love with Dance Mania on the first listen. I like how the music is delivered, how it is recorded; it sounds so real and human. It is one of the few labels that has enough music to build up a proper two hour set without sounding the same or repetitive. Many people might think Dance Mania is all about ghetto house but it had a wonderful hip-house period. Seriously, Dance Mania is simply the shit!”

Nina