James Dignan has been a member of the Dunedin music and art scene for many years, as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, artist, and writer. The former lead singer/guitarist and songwriter from late '80s bands The Kaftans and The Moomins. He spent several years performing as a soloist before retreating to concentrate on art (having success with several solo exhibitions) and writing. James has recently returned to music and is hard at work on new and previously unreleased songs.
James's songs have been hailed as "catchy, melodic, and lyrically intelligent". His wide-ranging musical interests and influences %u2014 from Robyn Hitchcock to The Church to Ed Kuepper to The Bats %u2014 and his own unique songwriting abilities produce fine, thoughtful music that is definitely Dunedin, definitely acoustic, and unmistakably melodic.
James started performing around Dunedin as guitarist and vocalist for the Kaftans in 1985. When that band split up in 1987, he and bassist Derek Bell formed the Moomins, and gained an enthusiastic following for their music which was %u2014 as was not unusual in Dunedin in the late '80s %u2014 tuneful, thoughtful, and catchy, drawing inspiration from the sounds of the sixties and from their local contemporaries. When Bell left for Australia in 1989, the Moomins folded, leaving behind one cassette album, Songs for Swinging Yuppies. After the split up of the Moomins, James went into what was always planned as a temporary retirement from music. Even so, he kept his hand in, recording demos under the pseudonym of The Beaker People, multitracking himself on bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards. The Beaker People had several songs broadcast regularly on Otago's student radio station, Radio One %u2014 a couple of which reached the Alternative Top 11 %u2014 and on other student radio stations. "They" also had two tracks released on American compilation cassette Glass Flesh in 1995. James was also responsible for the Residents-like parody songs of Pre-emptive Sheep, and was one of the mysterious forces behind one-off band The Mysterons. Both of these bands featured on student radio in the late '80s and early '90s. September 1996 saw the release of the solo album Partial Rapture Theory. It was released by James on his own "boutique" label, Grutness Productions (Grutness being a rocky headland in northern Scotland, if you really want to know).