Some bands are dance and some are indie, some are pop and some are punk, but very few cover all bases with equal aptitude and pizzazz. Digitalism certainly do. With the exception of the ballistic ‘Blitz EP’ last year, they’ve been keeping a low profile, but now hurtle back to the fray with a new album, ‘I Love You, Dude’, ready to kick over statues and realign expectations.
With original plans to call the album ‘Tourism’, after time spent blissing out in the Australian sun on a Christmas tour the title was chucked out in favour of ‘I Love You, Dude’, a phrase that emanates straightforward euphoria and peak-time rave bonding. Jens Moelle, the lean blond half of Digitalism, says of the new release, “The first album has an outer space style but this one arrives down on earth, it has more songs, more humanity, more depth.” Anyone worried that they’ve changed direction to become whiney singer-songwriters needn’t fear, however, for Digitalism rock as hard as they ever did – if not harder.
The duo came together when Jens, working afternoons in Hamburg’s Underground Solution record shop, became mates with Ismail ‘Isi’ Tufekci, who worked at a vinyl distributor. Isi and Jens bonded and became a DJ tag team. They were soon using early CD-writers to burn their own edits. In jokey tribute to Bob Sinclar’s Africanism All Stars project and to their own love of electronic dance music, they scribbled the word ‘Digitalism’ on the CDs to identify them for playing out. A band was born, with Isi the dark-haired, occasionally bearded co-producer contrasting visually with Jens who’s equally happy as vocal frontman. Their 2005 tune ‘Zdarlight’ put them on the radar of a new network of young DJs across the globe pushing club culture in a heady rock’n’roll direction.
"The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Underworld, great though that music was, it was pretty faceless,” explains Jens, “whereas we were about leather jackets, post-Strokes music. It definitely changed things.”
Digitalism were leaders in a vanguard of producers who broke through in the mid-Noughties, supported by DJs such as Erol Alkan and labels such as Parisian hipster magnet Kitsune, to whom they were signed. Many, in fact thought they were French due to the Kitsune connection and the steroid Daft Punk flavours in their music. Suddenly here was an electronic live act that was pure rock’n’roll energy rather than just men prodding laptops.
Soon they’d honed a live show that became hugely in demand and took them all over the world, with firing tunes such as ‘Jupiter Room’ and ‘Pogo’ backing up the hype alongside remixes for Depeche Mode, Daft Punk , The Klaxons and many more. They toured the ‘Idealism’ album for a couple of years and then went to ground, cutting back to a few DJ dates a month so they could concentrate on crafting ‘I Love You, Dude’ in their Hamburg bunker studio. The first taster last year, the ‘Blitz EP’ showcased a band on fine form, a Kitsune dance-off that rocked floors when they dropped it in clubs from Japan to Jakarta.
‘I Love You, Dude’ will get any dancefloor shaking, and Jens even has a vote of confidence from an unexpected quarter. “My dad’s parents were opera singers, he doesn’t go to clubs or concerts and he doesn’t like a lot of things,” Jen says, “I sent him the new stuff and he texted me, ‘I think this is going to be a hit.’ So it’s been approved.”
Approved by Mr Moelle Senior and soon to be approved by rockers and ravers across the globe.