A couple months ago, the most famous duo in the history of electronic music, Daft Punk, announced their retirement. For 28 years Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem Christo pushed the boundaries of synthetic sound and stage production without ever falling victim to the modern ideas of celebrity. Thankfully, over their near three decades together, the duo occasionally sprouted for interviews wherein they shared some profound creative insight into their craft. Let’s take a look at some of the key tenets of their robotic legacy attached to their last album.
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The Story Behind Daft Punk
What is it that made Daft Punk’s robotic personae so convincing? Was it the highly detailed metallic outfits? The superb artificial quality of their music? Everyone in the world knows Daft Punk as the legendary robot dance duo. In an interview with NPR surrounding their 2013 LP Random Access Memories, the pair gave insight that can provide answers:
“The fiction and story is about these two robots that were somehow desperately trying to become human.” – Thomas Bangalter
That’s it. That’s the core of Daft Punk. Two robots desperately trying to become human. Everything Daft Punk ever did stemmed from that central theme of their project. What is an aspect of life that combines humanity and artificial elements? Electronic music.
So the question becomes, what is the central theme of your project? What is the story behind it? It’s totally ok to not know the answer right now. And there is no need to compare your answer to that of Daft Punk’s. Just know that with a strong guiding light supporting every aspect of your project: music, visuals, merch, social presence, etc. you can take your project to new heights.
A Change Of Pace
When Daft Punk released their final studio album Random Access Memories the reviews were mostly phenomenal, but there was also a level of surprise to it. The duo known for revolutionizing artificial music suddenly honed to live musicians like Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.
What made them want to shift their style in such a significant way? According the robots themselves, the answer was quite simple:
“This record is really about the music we wanted to listen to right now.”
Leading up to the release of Random Access Memories Bangalter and De Homem Christo wanted to listen to “summer disco jams,” so that’s what they made. Did they abandon their robotic aesthetic? Absolutely not. But that goes to show artists can maintain their identity while making any music they want.
What music do you want to listen to right now? Is it something completely different than what you’ve made in the past? If so that’s fantastic. Experimenting with new styles, taking risks, this is how you really advance your production game. This is how you expand your artistry. Music is vast and endless. Why place any limits on what you make?
Out Of The Box And Into The Heart
With incredible advancements in technology, in-the-box production has exponentially expanded in quality. In 2021, a producer could likely replicate one of Daft Punk’s classic hits with nothing but a laptop. With all this power available in hardware, why would Daft Punk depart from their artificial roots and trend towards recording with other musicians?
It’s because of ”the soul a musician can bring.”
“We wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with people,” Bangalter told Rolling Stone.
Bangalter and De Homem Christo recognize that humans give music that magic quality. The emotional energy that can’t be created by a machine. When was the last time you tried incorporating human elements into your music? Working in the box is far more convenient, yes, but isn’t it also limited to a certain degree?
Computer programs like Ableton all come down 0’s and 1’s at the end of the day, and even music based on the most dissonant, intuitive sound design can harness the human quality. Think about your last production. How can you make it more human? How can you use a human like a drum machine and a sampler?