As we continue to dive deeper and deeper into the mysterious, and often confusing, underworld that is the history of Electro music, we travel back in time to Miami, and highlight one of the most legendary of all the Bass music pioneers, Maggotron.
Born James McCauley, Maggotron has been shredding subwoofers all across the planet with his intelligent, funky, and high-powered productions, that have put him on the map as one of the true godfathers of modern Electro music; especially the Techno Bass sub-genre. Working under many aliases, most notably perhaps being “DXJ”, but usually in collaboration with Ron Sansone, Jose Martin, as well as Claudio Barella a.k.a. Debonaire, James McCauley has been responsible in many ways for putting Bass music on the map, as well as founding one of the first Electro Funk groups to be born out of the Florida scene.
Maggotron’s first release was in 1984 on Bound Sound Records, with the single, “Computer Pop”, in collaboration with Richard Fields. This release showed McCauley’s roots in Hip Hop, and had not yet began his journey into Bass music, rather entering Maggotron into the earlier half of the Electro Funk movement with this classic and funky production; displaying obvious influences of Kraftwerk, and American bands like Newcleus. In 1984, McCauley also launched his own label “Jamron”, where he would go on to work under different aliases, this year releasing “Raiders Of The Lost Groove”, as “The Empyre”, with Ron Sansone. This year would also mark the beginning of what would be a troublesome and bumpy journey with the label Pandisc for McCauley, working behind the scenes on the records “Palmerforce Two – Streetwars”, and Planet Detroit – Invasion From Planet Detroit”.
In 1985, Maggotron returned with the “Maggotron E.P.”, on Jamron Records. This release continued the artist’s early works of Electro Funk music, and also featured Jose Martin, and Ron Sansone on Guitars and Keyboards. The E.P. included the songs “Planet Detroit Vs. The Roxanne Plague”, “Prelude To Planet Detroit”, “Radio Mars”, “Instrumental Detroit”, “Escape Devoid”, and “Return To Planet Detroit”.
It would not be until 1987, when McCauley’s beginnings in Bass music can probably be found with the release of “Welcome To The Planet Of Bass”, which featured two different versions of the song, and featured the then young D.J. Debonaire on scratches and cuts. This release clearly showed a change in direction for Maggotron’s music, and helped pave the way for what would soon be known in some circles as “Techno Bass”; primarily with the release of Dynamix II’s single on Chaos Records, “Techno Bass/Feel The Bass”. It was also published through Jamarc Records, which was a sub-label of Pandisc, and was launched by McCauley himself. Although short-lived, this label became a platform that focused solely on the many projects James McCauley was involved in, including Maggotron. Also in ’87, Maggotron would go on to sign to the infamous UK label Streetsounds, who was now releasing their “Electro” compilations as the “Hip-Hop” series, and featured Maggotron’s “Welcome To The Planet Of Bass”, renamed as “Welcome To The Bass Planet”, and released on #19 of the series.
1988 would see Maggotron return with one of his all-time classics, “Return To Planet Bass”, which was a ferocious attack of sub-bass drops, old school cuts, classic stabs, and sinister basslines the way only Maggotron can do. The record also featured the song “Maggotron’s In Your Closet”, and a remix of the original song. This year also brought us the release of “Bass Invaders”, which featured 3 different mixes of “Bass Invaders”, as well as the song “Fresh Beets”. The song “Welcome To The Planet Of Bass” was also re-released as an extended version, on the Blastmaster Radio compilation on BCM Records, which also featured Dynamix II with “Just Give The DJ A Break”, Bomb The Bass, Coldcut, and many others that were taking the Miami Bass music scene to the next level and beyond. Also in ‘88, one of the most sought after Miami Bass Classics, “The Bass That Ate Miami”, was released by Maggotron Crushing Crew, which was an off-shoot of McCauley’s Maggotron project.
Maggotron’s first album would come into fruition in 1989, with the release of “The Invasion Will Not Be Televised ( Cos We Don’t Have Video )”, which featured all of his releases up to date, except his Electro Funk releases from ’84, and ’85. Included in this album, was “That’s My Man Throwing Down”, another one of McCauley’s infamous releases, that was also released this year as a 12” single, and included 5 other versions of the original. The record also featured scratches by Paul “Extraordinaire” Elalouf, Raps by MC Joker, and Guitars by Paul “Fret Riddler” Harrison. In 1989, Maggotron also released “Returning To The Bass Planet”, on the “Miami Bass Machine” compilation on Jamarc, which also featured works by some other of McCauley’s works as DXJ, Bassadelic, and the Bassonlians.
Throughout the ‘90s, Maggotron continued to release a lot of his tracks, primarily “Welcome To The Planet Of Bass”-as both versions, on many compilations like “This Is Bass Vol. 2”-on Hot Productions, and “Miami Bass Classics Vol. 3”, on Wicked Mix Records. 2 new albums would also be released through Jamarc in the early part of the ‘90s, “Bass Man Of The Acropolis”, and “Bass Planet Paranoia”-which also had an E.P. on 12” vinyl that featured the tracks “Pillow Talkin’ Baby”, and “Coming Back To Bass”, as 2 different versions. A “best of” called “Early Maggots” was also released in 1990 on Po Funky Blah Records, that featured most of Maggotron’s work throughout the ‘80s; especially his Electro Funk productions like “Computer Pop”, and “Raiders Of The Lost Groove”.
Maggotron kicked off the 21st Century with a collection of tracks released on Jamron Records in 2001, called “Electro Jamz From The Jamron Vault”. This release featured collaborations with Smokey Dee, and Palmerforce Two, as well as his works as Maggotronics, DXJ, and The Empyre. In 2005, “Computer Funk” would be released on the “Toxic” compilation on Because Music, and it would not be until 2007 when we would finally see completely fresh and new solo material from Maggotron; aside from his collaboration with Palmerforce Two, on "Suburban Reality", released on the above mentioned 2001 release on Jamron.
Releasing “Mission: Electro” on the now reborn Debonaire Records, McCauley collaborated with Barella, as well as Scratch D of Dynamix II, to bring an E.P. to the growing Electro/Techno Bass, and Electro Funk scene that was as much of a blast from the past, as it was a transmission from the future. Featuring his signature pitched-down vocals, and comedic samples, Maggotron annihilated clubs around the world with powerful beats, and mysterious pads and stabs, as he brought back a sound that his many fans had waited nearly two decades to finally have again.
Finally, after having “Welcome To The Bass Planet” released in 2008 on a bootlegged box set of the many Streetsounds classics, Maggotron finally leaves us with his last release so far, “Old Schoolin’ Baby”, on the “Underground Electro Vol. 1” compilation on Germany’s City Beat Records. This wonderful fusion of old and new sounds is a perfect 21st century rendition of Maggotron’s old school sound, clean and refined with today’s immaculate recording technology, and in no way lacking the crisp basslines, gleaming pads, and vocals and vocoders that should satisfy every Maggotron fan, as well as leave them in need of more bass from the bassmaster himself. As one of the pioneers of “Intelligent Bass Music”, we can only hope and anxiously await the release of more material in the future, because with the endless rehashing of formulas, and a music industry in shambles, what today’s music needs is a little old schoolin’ baby!
Written by: Santino Fernandez