MAGAS aka James Marlon Magas is a Chicago-based electronic musician and composer, active for nearly 25 years.
In the early ‘90s, Magas, a non-musician, became obsessed with Japanese noise leading to the formation of the Ann Arbor-based band Couch and also Bulb Records, both co-founded with Peter Larson. Both helped jump-start the American mid-western noise movement, influencing Wolf Eyes, Andrew WK and others. Couch defied conventional musical rules and played noisy ‘rock’ songs using radio static, broken guitars, saxophone and mangled vocals.
In 1995, Magas relocated to Chicago and formed the no wave band Lake Of Dracula with Weasel Walter and drummer Heather M. Magas and Walter sought to ‘do Couch, but actually good this time’. Lake Of Dracula only lasted for a couple of years, but material ended up on several 7”s, compilations and LPs. Lake Of Dracula is oft-cited as one of the better bands to emerge from the Chicago no wave revival (basically singlehandedly spearheaded by LOD guitarist Walter).
Bored and frustrated with rock bands and seeking greater autonomy, Magas became interested in electronic music at the end of the '90s. This culminated in the birth of his still-active electronic solo project, MAGAS. Magas and his wife Bridgette Wilson also formed the small but influential Weekend Records and Soap, which sold exactly what the name states. Weekend was an early contender in helping bridge the gap between the previously disparate techno and indie-rock communities, employing electronic musician Beau Wanzer and serving regulars like Traxx, Green Velvet, Stereolab, Tortoise, Felix Da Housecat, Tommie Sunshine, Sam Prekop and many other luminaries. Weekend also hosted in-store performances by Peaches, Gonzalez, T. Raumschmiere, Dettinger, Oval and many others. While running Weekend, Magas remained musically active, recording for ADULT.’s renowned Ersatz Audio imprint and remixing Les Georges Leningrad, Arthur Baker, Bobby Conn, RA-X, among others. Weekend called it quits in 2004.
Following the dissolution of Weekend, Magas toured Europe and cranked up his music’s aggression level, resulting in 2006’s May I Meet My Accuser and 2009’s Violent ARP, both centered around rock-like riffs from his ARP Odyssey 2800 Mk I.
In the early ‘10’s Magas quit singing and began focusing on strictly instrumental compositions. This led to working with Italian director Asia Argento on the score to her 2014 film, Misunderstood, which premiered at Festival De Cannes and screened at festivals around the world.
Magas also formed the Midwich imprint, as an outlet to release his own music and by like-minded Midwestern contemporaries Moon Pool and Dead Band, Viands, Mick Travis, Hide, Alex Barnett and others.