It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
Madtizzy World
by Matt Kalkhoff
 

Being a DJ isn’t all about glamorous clubs, fierce parties, and jetting around to killer locales to entrance the masses with your own brand of musical wizardry. The life of a globetrotting DJ can be far more complicated and challenging than you might think. Scoring the right gigs, struggling through tedious business negotiations and facing complex legal issues are all tricky matters. That’s why some DJs enjoy the benefits afforded by retaining a professional manager. And if they want top-notch representation, they’ve probably already sent demo tapes to George Dellinger of the Brooklyn-based Madtizzy Productions.

Before managing artists, Dellinger spent two-and-a-half-years as manager at New York’s Twilo, where he learned the nightclub business from owner Phil Smith and made many valuable industry contacts. Working closely with such legendary DJs as Danny Tenaglia and Frankie Knuckles, Dellinger realized that “there’s a niche out there that needs to be filled; these guys need managers.” But it was actually the underground dance group Sunscreem that would become Madtizzy’s first client.

On Gay Pride Weekend of 1997, Dellinger brought the English band to New York to perform at Twilo. Inspired by the group’s conspicuous absence from the American spotlight after their mid-90s success with hits like “Love You More,” Dellinger offered to sign on as Sunscreem’s American manager. Believing that he could help them reestablish a presence in America’s underground club scene, Sunscreem accepted his proposal. Dellinger soon resigned from his hectic post at Twilo and began his rewarding new career. “Before long,” he says, “we had a hit song with ‘Catch’ which went to #2, and over the next couple of years I took them all over North America.”

The following year in Miami during the Winter Music Conference, Nat Rue of the now-defunct Whirling Records suggested to Dellinger that he approach Circuit icon DJ David Knapp about managing his skyrocketing career. Persuasively pitching himself as “somebody who can worry about all the things that you don’t need to worry about, who can organize your schedule, handle your contracts, do your [record] deals, and handle your money so that you don’t have to worry about it,” Knapp agreed to a six-month trial run under Dellinger’s direction. The relationship flourished and continues to this day.

Manny Lehman, Billy Carroll, Barry Harris and Lydia Prim systematically followed. “One by one I added them as I felt I could take on a new artist and not diminish my attention to the others,” Dellinger explains. Practically cornering the market on Circuit DJ management, Dellinger promptly helped each of these artists achieve remarkable success in an extraordinarily competitive business. Whether it’s traveling to exotic countries like Japan or Israel, coordinating a photo shoot with GQ, or negotiating a contract for a domestic gig, Dellinger is involved every step of the way offering his advice and expertise.

But Madtizzy is more than just a business, it’s a family. Each person’s talent and marketability is carefully considered along with his or her personality before Dellinger invites a new DJ to join the Madtizzy tribe. “It’s a difficult choice to bring on someone who you trust enough, who’s smart enough and knows everything that you know, who knows his music and knows what the DJ world is about,” he admits. Accordingly, when David Knapp inquired about developing new talent under Dellinger’s tutelage, he didn’t hesitate to bring him on as a partner.

Knapp will continue to spin at nightclubs and events around the world, including an upcoming date at Do-It! at Joy here in New York City, but his weekdays will now be filled by his new duties at Madtizzy. Of his first few months working with Dellinger, Knapp declares, “It has had great reward, and the family experience that George creates at Madtizzy has been wonderful, and it will be exciting to extend that out to new DJs. I want to concentrate on their gigs because they all really want to expand on their DJing.” Eventually, Knapp would like to take on some vocal and visual artists as well to make Madtizzy a veritable “one-stop agency.”

Pondering the potential of Knapp’s new role at Madtizzy, Dellinger enthuses, “How cool for one of these young new up-and-coming DJs to have him as a manager. What a great resource.” Narrowed down from a long list of candidates, three fortunate DJs – Chad Jack, Jason Ojeda and DJ Ra – will soon benefit from Knapp’s vast experience and impressive reign as one of the Circuit’s top DJs. Dellinger will also add veteran Miami-based DJ/producer Eddie X to his distinguished stable of entertainers.

Living in New York since 1995, Jack started out with a live mix show on the radio. This led to gigs at The Tunnel, Limelight, Hush, the Pavilion and Blue Whale on Fire Island and frequent bookings in Toronto and Montreal. As a domestic buyer at Eight Ball Records, his influence has already impacted the industry, but it was his heavily played (unreleased) remix of Whitney Houston’s “Fine” that thrust him into the spotlight.

The name Jason Ojeda may not yet be familiar to the gay community, but his production team, Mind Trap, has remixed some of the hottest records in recent years including “Movin’ Up” by Mike Cruz, “Missing You” by Kim English” and Abigail’s “You Set Me Free.” Dellinger envisions Ojeda following in Barry Harris’ footsteps, an enviable career path that will allow him to develop his own identity apart from Mind Trap while increasing his visibility on the gay party scene.

The modern DJ’s world is constantly evolving, and Madtizzy Productions is perfectly poised at the forefront of the latest revolution to help redefine and promote the maturing art form. George Dellinger and David Knapp will now work together to make sure that our parties are staffed with the Circuit’s most talented DJs while mentoring new discoveries to become the stars of tomorrow. At the end of the day, though, as Dellinger gently reminds us, “It’s nice to have somebody basically just looking out for your best interest.” We should all be so lucky.


© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff

A version of this article was featured in the Nov. 30, 2001 issue of NEXT Magazine