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Daft Punk: Behind The Helmets

In the mid-90’s French electronic duo Daft Punk, aka Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo made a name for themselves in the music scene. Long before it was common for DJ’s to be paid big dollars, sent for on private planes, collaborate with major artists and get radio play along with Grammy’s, Daft Punk was building a cult following from behind their robot helmets. The friends met at Lycee Carnot in Paris in 1987, and started a group together called “Darlin'” which was reviewed by a Melody Maker journalist as having a “daft punk”  sound, thus their name change.  In 1993 they met the UK duo Slam, founders of the Soma Label and passed them their demo, things changed quickly for the two at that party. ( you never know who you will meet when you’re out!) The duo have since been nominated for eight Grammy’s, winning two for “Harder Better Faster Stronger” in 2007 for Best Dance Recording and Best Electronic Dance Album for “Alive.”

Daft Punk in Los Angeles at The Lautner Estate by Hedi Slimane

They had a loyal following of other talented artists, including fashion designer/photographer Hedi Slimane, who has been designing their entire look from the start, Slimane has also had them perform at many of his fashion shows from Dior Homme to Saint Laurent.

Their latest album Random Access Memories, was done with talent who worked on the classics by David Bowie, Madonna and Michael Jackson, guys like the “God” of electro, the originator Giorgio Moroder, producer Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, writer Paul Williams, Panda Bear, and Todd Edwards all worked on making their new sound.  But not digital, they used analog tape in at Los Angeles Capitol Studios and New York’s Electric Lady Studios. For about 20 years, Daft Punk was making house and electronic music in their bedrooms, but they were always very influenced by a lot of classic disco music like Chic records and a lot of songs Nile Rodgers wrote and produced, the duo told NPR they wanted to change the way they made this album and bring back old sounds instead of putting out something from the future. They became inspiration for others to create new, ever changing and evolving music,  then changed the game when they brought back old sounds today, and even on tape.

“Technology has made music accessible in a philosophically interesting way, which is great,” Bangalter told Pitchfork media this year, talking about the proliferation of home recording and the laptop studio. “But on the other hand, when everybody has the ability to make magic, it’s like there’s no more magic—if the audience can just do it themselves, why are they going to bother?”

To celebrate their song “Get Lucky,” off of RAM, they did a partnership with Durex, their special edition condoms includes the artwork to the single, and Diplo posted them on Instagram for those of us unable to buy them before they sold out saying, “Thank god I had those daft punk condoms last night.”   They have long been collaborating with companies, part of the early movement of brands bringing on actors and musicians, in place of models, the duo did a Gap Clothing ad with Juliette Lewis, an Adidas print ads promoting Star Wars themed clothing and had multiple companies create dolls designed made of them, sold everywhere from HypeBeast to Collette in Paris. Daft Punk and Coca-Cola also continue to align for  limited edition projects, they have done several over the years and the recent being a set of limited bottles featuring distinguished 925 silver and 18k gold logo branding, along with “Daft Punk” custom caps,  only 20 sets were offered worldwide. 

Beyond brands, of course artists have credited the guys as being their inspiration, and samples tons of their works, LCD Soundsystem’s first single made a Grammy nominated song called “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” Kanye West’s “Stronger” features Daft Punk’s vocals from “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” Swizz Beatz and Busta Rhymes sampled their music from “Technologic” for “Touch It” with Missy Elliott.  Daft Punk has also produced for the Teriyaki Boyz debut single “HeartBreaker” and N.E.R.D.’s  “Hypnotize U,” along with composing the score for “Tron: Legacy,” including cameo appearance in the movie as masked DJs at the “End of Line” nightclub.

Daft Punk Helmetless

After many years of rumored reveals, questions on what they really look like, Guy-Manuel told Pitchfork Media, “Looking at robots is not like looking at an idol. It’s not a human being, so it’s more like a mirror— the energy people send to the stage bounces back and everybody has a good time together rather than f0cusing on us.” Just another reason to love these two, there is no EGO in their game, it really is all about the music, the collaboration, the creation and the fun.





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Posted on: August 20, 2013