Daft Punk can be seen as one of those artists that you just know regardless of whether or not you’re into electronic music. Even if you don’t really know them, chances are you’ll have at least one friend who can’t believe you’ve never heard of them. So how did Daft Punk achieve this legendary status? Did Kanye West help them do it Harder, Better, Stronger? Did they go Around the World, just One More Time more than any other artist? Was it their Technologic, Robot Rock that got them all this Digital Love? Or is it a combination of all the above? Grab your life jacket as we sail through history to find out how Daft Punk went from being a rock band to an underground dance music DJ duo, to becoming top 40 pop music producers to eventually becoming legendary artists respected both in the underground music scene and by the ‘masses’.
Ahoy! The year is 1992 when current Daft Punk members, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo formed a band with drummer Laurent Brancowitz, branded Darlin’ after the Beach Boys’ song Darlin’. They released Darlin’ and Cindy so Loud on Stereolab. Banglter’s statement seems to hit the nail on the head: ‘The rock & roll thing we did was pretty average, I think. It was so brief, maybe six months, four songs and two gigs and that was it.’ In fact not only was their first single of their two-song Demo released on a compilation album by Stereolab a cover of the Beach Boys’ Darlin’, but it was very amateur when compared to the contemporary punk-rock groups like Nirvana who stole the spotlight. Soon after a negative review Darlin’, and a few arguments, they realised that they weren’t getting anywhere and thus split – leaving Thomas and Guy to create Daft Punk.
Continuing our journey, we pass by the year 1993 where Daft Punk, with the help of Soma Quality Recordings‘ co-founder Stuart Macmillian, released The New Wave. Back in the studio Daft Punk started working on what would be their first commercially successful single Da Funk. The newly found success of Da Funk led them to cross paths with current Ed Banger Records owner Pedro Winter (a.k.a., Busy P). As if having Pedro Winter hyping their music and name around the biggest night clubs in France wasn’t a big enough wave for them to ride on, their move from Soma Quality Recordings to Virgin Records gave Daft Punk an even bigger boost. Taking on the challenge of producing a record for a wider audience, Daft Punk released ‘Homework’ in 1997, which took the dance music industry and pop charts by storm with singles like Around the World, which are now part of the ‘must have’ on your iTunes or DJ set.
Arriving in 2001, Daft Punk yet again dropped another bombshell on the music scene. It is no surprise that the ‘Discovery’ album stunned the public – not only had it arrived to a decade’s worth of fans, but it also had the aid of hip hop producer and rapper Kanye West. Moreover ‘Discovery’ did more than just hit the top charts around the world – it left a footprint in music history. Overshadowed by the ground breaking success of ‘Discovery’, we see that Daft Punk’s following release in 2005, ‘Human After All’, composed some hefty Daft Punk singles such as Robot Rock, Technologic, Human After All and Prime Time of Your Life. Heavily criticized for being produced in 6 weeks, Human After All was not a failure in sales but it was nothing like the success of their previous album.
Our final destination is the year 2010, where Daft Punk released the soundtrack for Walt Disney’s movie Tron. The soundtrack mainly focuses on Daft Punk’s interest of combining both visuals with music rather than making a top 40 album or a DJ set must album. More notably, Walt Disney has decided to release the Tron Legacy: Reconfigured (Remix Selection), where you can find remixes by producers such as Boys Noize and Avicii.
Daft Punk is bigger than ever, and who knows at this point what the future may bring. To end our voyage I leave you with a quote from Tron‘s Director Joseph Kosinski, “How could you not at least go to those guys?” Their music is a testament to this. Check it out (with a cool video to match).
Pedro da Mota