Sunday School #3: Daft Punk

By: Forward Musiq
In today’s Sunday School we check your homework on the Gods of electronic music, Daft Punk.

Many artists aspire to become the maximum representation of music itself, but few achieve this coveted goal. What defines an internationally re-known and acclaimed artists is not how much gigs he does year round, or how much music he produces, but the impact his music has on the world. We can say for sure that Daft Punk takes all of the afore mentioned to a level no other artist in the EDM scene has ever reached. It’s simple, without Daft Punk, Armin Van Buuren would not be the trance titan he is, David Guetta would not be the current “best” DJ in the world, Justice would not even have existed and Joel Zimmerman would not be the superstar that is deadmau5. The french duo’s music has inspired millions across the globe, inspiring thousands of artists to put their souls into the music they produce. Their iconic image, robot helmets and the legendary LED Pyramid, alongside their rare and exclusive tours, have all aided to the allure that surrounds Daft Punk, the true pioneers of electronic dance music.

The duo is composed by  Thomas Bangalter and Guy- Manuel de Homen Christo, both born in France. They got to know each other in 1987 in Lycée Carnot, a secondary school in Paris. Soon they became best friends and started to produce music, which in 1992, alongside their friend Laurent Brancowitz, resulted in the formation of the guitar band called Darlin. The band did not last very long, a mere 6 months due to negative reviews. One of them in particular was from Melody Maker, who called the band a bunch of “daft punk”. This motivated Thomas and Guy- Manuel to separate from Brancowitz and to form Daft Punk, a moniker under which they started to experiment with drum machines and synthesizers.

Homework Era

1993-1999

In 1993, Daft Punk Attended a rave in EuroDisney where they met Stuart Macmillan of Slam, co-founder of Soma Quality Recordings. Before this event, a demo tape was brought to Macmillan containing Daft Punk’s debut single, The New Wave (later on released in 1994). After some time, The New Wave’s name soon changed to Alive, and was included in Daft Punk’s debut album. In May 1995, the french duo returned to the studio to produce their next single, Da Funk, which soon became their first single to achieve some significant commercial attention. With the single’s success, Daft Punk started their search for an official manager, and finally they decided for Pedro Winter of Virgin Records since he was already a long time friend that had promoted the duo in various clubs. In 1997 Daft Punk launched their debut album, Homework. The legendary production contained a great deal of the duo’s hits such as Alive, Da Funk, Revolution 909 and the classic Around The World.  Around The World soon became the album’s most popular single thanks to it’s addictive rhythms and catchy sounds, plus the repetition of over a 100 times of the now legendary phrase: Around The World.


The album is considered a pioneering mix of techno, french house, house, acid house and electro, and it is claimed to be one, if not the most important album of the 90’s. With the launch of Homework, Daft Punk produced a series of videos for their singles.  All of the videos released for Homework where later on put into a collection called D.A.F.T: A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes.

Discovery Era

1999-2004

In 1999, the french duo began to work on their second album, and at the same time a new image. In the years before, mainly in the Homework Era, Daft Punk preferred to use masks and costumes during their live sets and interviews saying that the masks and costumes gave them a sense of privacy in their lives. Another reason they gave is that they prefer not to become superstars, which is why they hide their faces from the public. With the arrival of the Discovery Era, Daft Punk substituted traditional masks for custom LED robotic helmets which revamped their image completely.

In 2001, Daft Punk launched their second album, Discovery. The disc contained a different sound than Homework, drawing influences from synth-pop, happy and romantic melodies, auto-tuned vocals and heavy use of samples from the 70’s and 80’s. Thomas Bangalter and Guy- Manuel have said that the purpose of the album was to re-discover the playfulness and open mindedness associated with the discovery phase of childhood. The use of elements from the 70’s and 80’s can be observed in the heavy use of electric guitars, particularly in the solos in Aerodynamic and Digital Love. Many of Daft Punk’s successful hits where born from this album. One More Time became an instant club destroyer and followed to become a cult classic among fans. Aerodynamic and Digital Love also did well in the charts, and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger followed behind on One More Time’s success.

The album was a massive hit in the US and in England, with most of the songs reaching high spots in various charts. One More Time became the leader in polls and charts for quite a while and soon became a hymn. As well in 2001, a live album was released. Called Alive 1997, its footage was taken from the Daftendirektour in Birmingham, England in 1997.

In 2003, Daft Punk  created the animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem along with their childhood hero Leiji Matsumoto. The duo used their Discovery album as the music for the film, as well as using footage from the film itself for the videos of the singles of the album. The movie tells the story of the abduction and rescue of an interstellar pop band and features no dialogue. Each song of Discovery represents a scene in the film, making the songs the only sounds apart from some sound effects. Daft Punk also makes an appearance in the film as themselves.

Human After All Era

2004-2008

From September to November of 2004, Daft Punk dedicated their time to  producing new material for their next album, Human After All. For the Human After All Era, Daft Punk changed their wardrobe to a more dark and simplistic attire. Although they opted to keep the helmets, they toned down their visuals. They also started wearing leather jackets rather than suits or sweaters.

Daft Punk’s sound changed again with the arrival of the third album. Leaving behind the happy sounds of Discovery, the robotic duo implemented a more dark and strong style in Human After All. The album was principally composed with electric guitars, drums and synthesizers to create a more gritty, dark and intense sound. Though many argued that the production of the album was rushed and that it did not meet up to expectations, Human After All managed to spawn many singles that soon became favorites throughout their fans.

The tracks that stand out the most are Robot Rock, Technologic, Prime Time of Your Life, Human After All and Television Rules The Nation. The majority of these also became cult hits.

In April 4, 2006, Daft Punk released an anthology called  Musique Vol. 1 1993-2005 which contained various of their most popular songs. It also included some of Daft Punk’s previous unreleased work, ranging from remixes to original productions. In May, Daft Punk also released a remix album entitled Human After All: Remixes.

Also in May of the same year, Daft Punk debuted their first full-feature film in the Cannes Film Festival. Daft Punk’s Electroma was produced, directed and filmed by the duo themselves during a period of 11 days which were mainly spent in California. They also acted the parts of the two protagonists in the film. It’s their first film not to include music by themselves. Even so, they have said that it serves as one whole music video for the album Human After All, much like Interstella 5555 did for Discovery. The plot is mainly about the desire of two robots to become humans and narrates their quest in achieving this goal. Since it’s launch, the cinematographic work has received various praises and positive reviews from film critics.

In November 19, 2007,  Daft Punk released their second live album, entitled Alive 2007. The album contained various songs played live during their numerous sets in Paris as part of their world tour, Alive 2007. From this footage a single was produced for Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. The album and the single were both nominated for Grammys under the categories of Best Album and Best Single. Both ended up receiving the Grammy.

With their Alive 2007 world tour, another element was added to Daft Punk’s image. The iconic LED Pyramid was introduced to the world. Since its debut, the monstrous structure has not stopped to amaze fanatics and music lovers alike. The huge stage consists of an enormous LED panel in the back, two more LED beams along the side and gigantic pyramid located in the center in which Daft Punk plays their live sets.

Recent Years and Tron: Legacy

2008- Present Day

In 2008, Daft Punk announced that they would stop going on world tours for a time to dedicate all their efforts towards other projects. In an interview with Pedro Winter it was announced that he would no longer be working as Daft Punk’s manager. In February 10, as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards, Daft Punk made a surprise appearance while Kanye West was performing his single Stronger (which Daft Punk produced). This event was of particular importance for the career of the duo not only because it was their first time playing in the Grammy’s, because it was also their first time playing live on television.

Between 2008 and 2009, Daft Punk provided Activision with 11 new mixes of their songs to use in the game, DJ Hero. The robotic duo appears as a playable characters in the game wearing their Discovery Era helmets with their Human After All Era leather jackets. Although they did not appear on the second installment of the game, DJ Hero 2, a remix of Human After All appears. Later on, in the Comic-Con in San Diego in 2009, Daft Punk announced that they would be working on the music for the film, Tron: Legacy.

Daft Punk released Tron: Legacy (soundtrack) on December 6, 2010. The french duo produced the film’s 24 songs alongside Joseph Trapanese, who was in charge of the 85 piece orchestra. Daft Punk also made a cameo appearance in the film as DJ’s in the End of the Line club in the film. The album was highly anticipated worldwide, not only by Daft Punk’s fans, but by Tron’s as well. Guy-Manuel has commented that the first Tron film had a great impact in his life, something he holds very special today. Production wise, Thomas Bangalter said that since the beginning they knew that making the music for Tron: Legacy with only synthesizers and drum machines would be impossible. The album did extremely well in United States and in England, receiving a overall positive review from critics. Many critics said that the fusion of electronic music with orchestra was delivered perfectly. Daft Punk made several promotional videos for the film, one of the most popular being the one for Derezzed in which both members of Daft Punk  and Olivia Wilde ( from the film) appear.

In April 5, 2011, Disney launched a remix album entitled Tron: Legacy Reconfigured. In the album several popular EDM artists appeared such as AviciiPhotek,KaskadeThe Japanese Popstars and The Glitch Mob. The album performed well, many praising the well produced remixes for the soundtrack.

Daft Punk were both made members of the Ordre des arts et des Lettres, and order of great merit in France.  Thomas Bangalter and Homem-Christo were both awarded the rank of Chevalier (knight) of France, a title  only awarded to those individuals who bring honor to France at an international level. In the spring of 2011, the robotic duo made a contract with Coca-Cola to launch a series of special Daft Punk bottles, which where available only in France, and for a limited time. Soma Records, the ones who received the first demo of  Daft Punk, announced last September that as part of Daft Punk’s 20th anniversary they would released Drive, a song which was supposed to be included into Homework but never made the cut.

Daft Punk  has served as a base of inspiration for dozens of artists. Even though their productions are relatively rare and more so their live events, they have managed to keep captivating thousands of people with their music over the span of decades. Their melodic productions have made generations fall in love with them, uniting legions of fanatics under a same army of love for music. The enigma that surrounds them, their robotic masks, their world tours that only happen each 10 years, their legendary productions and their live events that leave thousands with jaws dropped are part of the enchantment that Daft Punk  has planted around the world. Since their beginnings with Homework to their epic album Tron: Legacy, the robotic gods of electronic music never cease to astonish those who give a little time of their lives to discover and learn from them. And the magic that they have released in the world will continue to grow, generations from now, and we might never truly know who they are.

Tracklist:

Homework album- Daft Punk
Discovery album- Daft Punk
Human After All album- Daft Punk
Tron: Legacy (soundtrack)- Daft Punk
Musique- Daft Punk
Elhea- Daft Punk
Assault- Daft Punk
The New Wave- Daft Punk
Ouverture- Daft Punk
Aerodynamite- Daft Punk
Burnin’- Daft Punk
Drive- Daft Punk
Forget About The World (Daft Punk Remix)
Rock Da Discoteque (Daft Punk Remix)
Chord Memory (Daft Punk Remix)
Disco Cubizm (Daft Punk Remix)
Mothership Reconnection (Daft Punk)

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