When Digisaurus launches its first live set this month, they won’t need chrome robot suits or inflated mouse heads, fancy haircuts or projected cartoon versions of themselves to whip up the crowd. In Columbus at least, James Allison needs little introduction.
As a musician he’s made a number of stylistic curlicues, and most anything he’s a part of is anticipated. Digisaurus is another bold move. His upcoming No More Room For Love EP is a producer-driven collage of hyper-electronic dance music and festival-ready funk and soul. It’s evident what has inspired the switch.
“When I started I was listening to the Daft Punk record a lot,” says Allison of Digisaurus’ origins. “I think it was less about the music they were doing and more about the approach. They invited and included anyone they wanted into the studio and in their writing sessions. That really excited me, especially since the band I was in had just broken up.”
Since moving from Ealing, England in 2006 for school, Allison’s journey through the local music scene has been exemplar but also hard-luck. The defunct bands he was a part of make for a great CV of current edge and collaboration. Be it his first adventure with The Blastronauts, the synth-pop battles of The Town Monster, or the Spector-ish girl-group glitz of The Regrettes, he has had his sonic tentacles in many celebrated projects. That’s not to mention his steady work recording and filming those who have passed through the studio at Electraplay, where he crossed paths with a number of the musicians who appear as part of the Digisaurus collective (The Regrettes’ Lizzy Morris and Chelsea Automatic’s Jeremy Fina among them).
“I approached it more with a producer mindset, being the facilitator.”
Digisaurus, the name a portmanteau linking the past and the future, started casually. Allison was experimenting with in-the-round recording sessions, in which he would recruit different groups each Thursday night at his house, announce a “theme” and initiate a “try everything” attitude. That resulted in Allison piecing through hours of jams, adding and subtracting until each track came together. Just the latest EP alone was a tireless process that came from his desire to make every song “as perfect as it could be.”
“The idea of the band was romanticized for me, but I started to see over the years how limiting that concept was,” says Allison of Digisaurus’ more project-based alternative to the standard “band” logistics. “I didn’t want to keep writing with the same four people all my life. With Digisaurus, I approached it more with a producer mindset, being the facilitator and inviting in different people for the performance and different people for the writing. I don’t want anyone to think that they have to commit significant time to this unless they want to. I want it to exist forever.”
“Make a Move” is just the type of song Allison hopes will become timeless. It’s got a bit of everything, a disco-punk beat, a little ’70s air-conditioned pop in the chorus, the Bee Gee’s falsetto, and Daft’s skyward arpeggios—niche or not, in Columbus this type of music is not being made. It should turn many a rock club into a dance floor.
As far as contemporaries, Allison reps the Columbus hip-hop scene for a similar aesthetic. Though he’ll admit the two spheres are making different music, he’s inspired by that scene’s penchant for mixing and matching and not settling for small. He is at his most determined with the ensuing task of promoting Digisaurus. He designed the live show to be yet another dimension of what he composed in the studio. With a national tour, reputable publicists, and maybe a light show or two, Allison is poised to attack Digisaurus with an “all-in” attitude.
“I want this to be my last project. This is really me giving it a go,” he says. “I want a career doing this. So I definitely see this as something that I’ll take out on the road and hopefully everyone involved will be here for the entirety.”