James Amato’s business-savvy approach to the music industry has kept him balancing roles of promoter, record label owner, DJ and producer for more than a decade. From hosting his first one-off event in 1999 to securing his position as Director of Music and Bookings at Chicago’s historically influential SmartBar since 2006, James has become one of the most widely recognized names on the national & electronic music scene. Most recently, James has established his industry presence further, launching his widely successful fidget/electo/tech house label, Potty Mouth Music, which has earned him notoriety worldwide.
James launched his music career in his native city of Milwaukee, Wis., where he climbed through the promotional ranks of the local and Midwest rave scene in the 1990s. After working at pioneering electronic music venues—including Revolutions Records and Bassment with promoter and mentor Steven Kaye—he landed the position of Saturday Night Music Director and resident DJ at Milwaukee’s Pure nightclub. At the time, Pure stood as the city’s premiere underground music venue, boasting a six-figure sound system and sprawling capacity.
In 2004, James invested back into the industry by becoming co-owner and director of music and bookings at Milwaukee’s Mantra Lounge. Here he launched Kamasutra, a legendary Friday event that ran for three successful years. Kamasutra would go on to host an unprecedented line-up of electronic music talent the city had never seen before, or has ever seen since. As the night’s promoter, James booked a versatile roster of underground artist that defied genre boarders. The consistent success of Kamasutra put the city’s club scene on the national radar, as it garnered press attention from publications including URB and earned James a front-page cover story in Nightclub/Bar Magazine. His success also earned him runner-up for the “Best Promoter” in the U.S. by URB magazine, along with several pictorial Kamasutra spreads throughout 2005. Locally, James earned several press accolades, including “Best Club DJ” in Milwaukee’s 2005 Shepherd Express readers’ poll.
In September 2006, James relocated to Chicago to become the new Director of Music and Bookings at Chicago’s SmartBar, a historic venue with a 25-year tradition of showcasing electronic talent. Under the guidance of owner Joe Shanahan James continues broaden his scope as a promoter and bookings director, debuting innovative artists to Chicago, including Switch, Alan Braxe, Digitalism, Para One, Boys Noize, Erol Alkan and Claude Vonstroke.
In 2008, Club Systems International recognized his efforts to diversify and promote Chicago’s electronic music scene by selecting him as one of its “Next 10 Exciting Up-and-Comers” as part of its annual VIP Edition—“Nightlife’s 30 Most Influential People.” Additionally, James has received critical Chicago fanfare in 2007, when he was named part of NewCity magazine’s “45—45 Most Influential People That Rock Chicago!”
James’ promotional rise on the underground electronic scene led to his creation of two widely success digital/vinyl labels, including his 2007 venture, Potty Mouth Music, which showcases a diverse roster of fidget and tech house producers. With artists including: Santiago & Bushido, Crookers, HiJack, DJ Fame, The Bulgarian, and HeavyFeet, Potty Mouth Music has established itself as an innovative label embracing the newer dirty-quirky union of electro, house and techno. The label earned further notoriety in 2008, when label members Santiago & Bushido claimed the number-one downloaded track spot for their Potty Mouth single, “Head Trick,” claiming the spot for three consecutive weeks on beatport.com. The digital download site is the second most-trafficked music internet site in the world.
James continues to push the industry envelope in balancing his career as a Chicago-based promoter and label-owner. He now DJs exclusively at his resident home of SmartBar, playing only six shows a year in Chicago. His dedication in the studio and in the club continues to the industry standard of the international electronic music scene.
- Santiago & Bushido vs Dj Fame - For the People (HiJack Remix) - Potty Mouth
- Electric Soulside - Boccaccio - Potty Mouth
- Stupid Fresh ft Steller MC - Get the Fuck Up - Vacation Records
- Adam Bozzetto - I Cant Go (Scott Cooper Remix) - Potty Mouth
- Electric Soulside - Insane Inside - Potty Mouth
- CJ Bolland - Sugar is Sweeter (Twocker Boot) - CDR
- Natty Jack - Jackin da Garage - Wearhouse Music
- Scott Cooper - Madrun - Wearhouse Music
- Chris James & Lee Dearn - Torcida Cumbia - Potty Mouth
- HiJack - Keep it Real - Potty Mouth
- Santiago & Bushido - Head Trick - Potty Mouth
- Armand Van Helden - Playmate (Jesse Rose Remix) - Ultra
- AC Slater - Jack Got Jacked - Palms Out
- Scott Cooper & Edu K - Crank It - Potty Mouth
- (outro) Mr. Scruff vs Swell Session - No No - Free Range