1992 saw the birth of Madhouse Records, a collaboration of excellence, developed
from a fusion of the business acumen of Janet Davidson and the creative genius
of musical guru, Dave Kelly. Home of dancehall anthems like "Action", "Slam",
and "Joyride", Madhouse is a true reggae institution.
The philosophy of the
work at Madhouse reflects the chorus of Kelly’s hit tune by Terror Fabulous and
Nadine Sutherland, "Action": "Action—not a bag of mouth". Since its inception,
without seeking publicity or hype, Madhouse has been quietly and relentlessly
producing the biggest sounds in dancehall. Madhouse has been responsible for the
dissemination of true dancehall music worldwide by releasing hit tunes without
compromising the art-form by watering down the music in hopes to "cross-over"
into the mainstream. Madhouse Records does not follow trends, it sets them.
In 1987 Janet was living in London, running Germaine Music along with
producer Donovan Germaine. Meanwhile Dave’s brother, Tony Kelly, was assistant
engineer at Tuff Gong and Dave was being trained under his wing. By 1989
Germaine , having recognized Dave’s talent, offered him a position at the
infamous Slipe Road Penthouse studio. Janet, also began managing Maxi Priest
that year. The following year Tony and Dave, at young ages 21 and 18
respectively, accompanied them on the road as engineers.
Two years later
Dave returned from the road full of ideas and itching to execute them. His
career prospered in the studio. As a songwriter, musician, and engineer, Dave
Kelly played a crucial role during Penthouse’s glory days. By 1992 Dave had
dancehall classics such as Buju Banton
‘s "Bogle", "Love Mi Browning" and "Batty
Rider"; BERES HAMMOND
’s/Cutty Rank’s Tempted to Touch", Tony Rebel’s "Fresh
Vegetable", and Marcia Griffith’s "Fire Burning" under his production credits .
Janet Davidson, whose management experience included everyone from Peter
Tosh to Placido Domingo, recognized the need for hyper-creative Kelly to expand
his potential as a producer. Together they set up Madhouse Records. The
formation of his own company with Janet Davidson enabled him to maintain control
over the production of his material.
In the beginning they worked from home
but were soon able to re-invest the fruits of their labour back into the
business, enabling it to expand. In 1996 she and Dave started a distribution
house, Platinum Distribution at Mikey Benett’s Grafton Road recording complex.
But, by 1997 Platinum Distribution moved into its own building. The Madhouse
Complex was then completed at Half Way Tree including offices as well as The
Boxx, Dave’s own recording studio.
Madhouse is highly organized and efficient
in a world where chaos reigns supreme. Whereas the traditional reggae label
floods the market with dozens of releases, Madhouse only drops a few select
records a year. Because each record stamped with the logo has been tailored made
to bring out the best in the artist, the Madhouse logo is a symbol with
credibility. Assuring high quality tunes, Madhouse has established "die-hearted"
loyalty with both deejays and consumers alike.
Releases on the flagship
Madhouse record label and sub-labels like Xtra Large (XL) which cater to more
hardcore tastes include: Beenie Man
’s "Slam" and "Old Dog", Lady Saw
Tree" and "Eh Hem" , Frisco Kid’s "Rubbers" and "Little and Cute", Bounty
Killer’s "Eagle and the Hawk" and "Can’t Believe My Eyes", Spragga Benz’s "Dolly
House" and "We Nuh Like", Baby Cham’s "Man and Man" and "Gallong Yah Gal", Wayne
Wonder’s "Joyride" and "Bashment Girl", Daddy Screw/Donovan Steele’s "Kerry",
Terror Fabulous/Nadine Sutherland’s "Action", Buju Banton
’s "Big It Up" and
"Only Man". Custom-built Madhouse Rhythms include Pepperseed, Rae Rae, Action,
Arab, Joyride, Haunted, Showtime, Stink, Dugu Dugu, Bruk-Out, Back Yard, Bug,
Clone, Bounce, and Return.
An integral part of Madhouse music is the ‘Alias’
project. Described by Kelly, "Alias is an artists collective of the new
millennium". With Alias, no holds are barred. Anything goes—except one thing :as
the artists involved with the Alias project enter the session, they must leave
their egos outside the studio. The artists (all established) assume aliases,
allowing them to shed any preconceived notions or stereotypes as they test
unchartered waters . Producers deejay, deejays play instruments, and singers
produce and write tunes during these spontaneous sessions .
Some of the
other projects that Dave Kelly has been worked on lately include Shaggy
's "My Bad", the title theme for Scooby Doo, and Foxy Brown's