|Who is it?||Soundtrack, Composer, Actor|
|Genres||French house electronic dance disco|
|Years active||1993 (1993)–present|
|Labels||Daft Life Columbia Virgin Soma|
|Associated acts||Darlin' Stardust Together Le Knight Club The Weeknd|
|Members||Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo Thomas Bangalter|
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter met in 1987 while attending the Lycée Carnot, a secondary school in Paris. The two became good friends and later recorded demo tracks with others from the school. This eventually led to the formation of a guitar-based group called Darlin' with Laurent Brancowitz in 1992. Bangalter and Homem-Christo played bass and guitar, respectively, while Brancowitz was brought on board after the two sought an additional Guitarist. The trio had branded themselves after The Beach Boys song of the same name, which they covered along with an original composition. Stereolab released both tracks on a multi-artist Duophonic Records EP and invited the band to open for stage shows in the United Kingdom. Bangalter felt that "The rock n' 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." A negative review in Melody Maker by Dave Jennings subsequently dubbed the music "a daft punky thrash." Instead of dismissing the review, they found it amusing. As Homem-Christo stated, "We struggled so long to find [the name] Darlin', and this happened so quickly." Darlin' soon disbanded, leaving Brancowitz to pursue other efforts with Phoenix. Bangalter and Homem-Christo formed Daft Punk and experimented with drum machines and synthesisers.
Bangalter and Homem-Christo have credited many sources that influenced their musical style. Bangalter recalled that the records motivated him to learn English as a second language, since he wanted to understand the lyrics. The duo's mutual admiration for rock bands led to the founding of their own indie group called Darlin'. Bangalter explained: "It was still maybe more a teenage thing at that time. It's like, you know, everybody wants to be in a band." They also drew inspiration from the rock and acid house in the United Kingdom during the early 1990s. Homem-Christo referred to Screamadelica by Primal Scream as the record that "put everything together" in terms of genre".
In September 1993, Daft Punk attended a rave at EuroDisney, where they met Stuart Macmillan of Slam, co-founder of the label Soma Quality Recordings. The demo tape given to Macmillan at the rave formed the basis for Daft Punk's debut single, "The New Wave", a limited release in 1994. The single also contained the final mix of "The New Wave" called "Alive", which was to be featured on Daft Punk's first album.
Daft Punk returned to the studio in May 1995 to record "Da Funk". It became the duo's first commercially successful single the same year. After the success of "Da Funk", Daft Punk looked to find a manager. The duo eventually settled on Pedro Winter, who regularly promoted them and other artists at his Hype night clubs. The band signed with Virgin Records in September 1996 and made a deal through which the duo licensed its tracks to the major label through its production company, Daft Trax. Bangalter stated that while the duo received numerous offers from record labels, they wanted to wait and ensure that Daft Punk did not lose creative control. He ultimately considered the deal with Virgin to be more akin to a partnership.
In the mid-to-late nineties, Daft Punk performed live without costumes in many places including the United States. In 1996, the duo were featured at an Even Furthur event in Wisconsin, their first public performance in the U.S. In addition to live original performances, they performed a number of times in various clubs using vinyl records from their collection. They were known for incorporating various styles of music into their DJ sets at that time.
"Da Funk" and "Alive" were later included on Daft Punk's 1997 debut album Homework. In February of that year, the UK dance magazine Muzik published a Daft Punk cover feature and described Homework as "one of the most hyped debut albums in a long long time." According to The Village Voice, the album revived house music and departed from the Eurodance formula. As noted by critic Alex Rayner, Homework brought together established club styles and the "burgeoning eclecticism" of big beat. In 1997 Daft Punk also launched their Daftendirektour to promote Homework in several cities throughout the world. For this tour the duo opted to utilize their home studio equipment for the live stage. As Bangalter stated, "Everything was synched up—the drum machines, the bass lines. The sequencer was just sending out the tempos and controlling the beats and bars. On top of this structure we built all these layers of samples and various parts that we could bring in whenever we wanted to." 25 May 1997 saw them perform at the Tribal Gathering festival at Luton Hoo, England, headlining with Orbital and Kraftwerk.
In their more visible Discovery years, Daft Punk appeared wearing robotic headgear and metallic gloves for publicity photo shoots, interviews, live shows and music videos. The helmets were produced by Paul Hahn of Daft Arts and the French Directors Alex and Martin, the duo who also designed them. With engineering by Tony Gardner and Alterian, Inc., they are capable of various LED effects. Wigs were originally attached to both helmets, but the duo removed them just before the outfits were publicly unveiled in 2001. Daft Punk introduced the costumes to many U.S. television viewers in an advertisement during a special presentation of the music videos from the Discovery album during Cartoon Network's Toonami block. Bangalter once stated, "We did not choose to become robots. There was an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, and at exactly 9:09 am on September 9, 1999, it exploded. When we regained consciousness, we discovered that we had become robots."
Daft Punk's popularity has been partially attributed to their appearances in mainstream media. The duo appeared with Juliette Lewis in an advertisement for The Gap, featuring the single "Digital Love", and were contractually obliged to appear only in Gap clothing. In the summer of 2001, Daft Punk appeared in an advertisement on Cartoon Network's Toonami timeslot, promoting the official Toonami website and the duo's animated music videos for their album Discovery. The music videos later appeared as scenes in the feature-length film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, in which Daft Punk make a cameo appearance as their robot alter-egos. The duo later appeared in a television advertisement wearing their Discovery-era headgear to promote Sony Ericsson's Premini mobile phone. Their robotic costumes also make an appearance in the "Masterclass" section on Chilly Gonzales' 2006 DVD release From Major to Minor. In 2010, Daft Punk appeared in Adidas advertisements promoting a Star Wars-themed clothing line.
Starting on 13 September and ending on 9 November 2004, Daft Punk devoted six weeks to the creation of new material. The duo later released the resulting album Human After All in March 2005. Reviews were mixed, mostly citing its overly repetitive nature and seemingly hasty recording. The singles taken from this album were "Robot Rock", "Technologic", "Human After All", and "The Prime Time of Your Life". The earliest official statement from Daft Punk concerning the album was "we believe that Human After All speaks for itself." A Daft Punk anthology CD/DVD titled Musique Vol. 1 1993–2005 was released on 4 April 2006. It contains music videos for "Robot Rock (Maximum Overdrive)" and "The Prime Time of Your Life" directed by Daft Punk and Tony Gardner, respectively. Daft Punk also released a remix album of Human After All called Human After All: Remixes. A limited edition included two kubricks of Daft Punk as robots.
The duo has also been acknowledged in works by other artists. "Losing My Edge", the first single by LCD Soundsystem, bragged about being the first to "play Daft Punk to the rock kids." LCD Soundsystem also recorded the song "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House", which reached No. 29 in the UK and was nominated for the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. The Soulwax remix of the song also contains samples of many Daft Punk tracks as well as tracks by Thomas Bangalter. The song "Number 1 Girl" by the Dutch music project Le Le mentions the names Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo among other producers and artists. In the Flight of the Conchords episode "Sally", a music video for the FLIGHT of the Conchords song "Robots" is shot with homemade robot costumes fashioned by the band's manager, Murray. Jemaine comments, "It doesn't look like Daft Punk. We wanted ones like Daft Punk."
A number of Daft Punk tracks have been sampled or covered by other artists. "Technologic" was sampled by Swizz Beatz for the Busta Rhymes song "Touch It". In a later remix of "Touch It" the line "touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it, turn it, leave it, start, format it" from "Technologic" was sung by R&B and rap Artist Missy Elliott. Kanye West's 2007 song "Stronger" from the album Graduation borrows the melody and features a vocal sample of Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". Daft Punk's robotic costumes make an appearance in the music video for "Stronger". The track "Daftendirekt" from Daft Punk's album Homework was sampled for the Janet Jackson song "So Much Betta" from her 2008 album Discipline. The track "Aerodynamic" was sampled for Wiley's 2008 single "Summertime". "Veridis Quo" from the album Discovery was sampled for the Jazmine Sullivan song "Dream Big" from her 2008 album Fearless. DJs Marc Mysterio and Téo Moss released a cover version of "One More Time" featuring the vocals of Yardi Don. Daft Punk's "Around the World" was sampled for JoJo's 2009 song "You Take Me (Around the World)". The song "Cowboy George" by The Fall contains a clip of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". A cappella group Pentatonix performed a medley of Daft Punk songs, released as a YouTube video. As of March 2017, the video had been viewed over 236 million times. The medley won for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a Cappella of the 57th Grammy Awards.
Daft Punk continued to wear the robot costumes in their live performances at the 2008, 2014 and 2017 Grammy Awards, with variations in clothing. During the 2014 ceremony, they also accepted their awards on stage in the outfits, with Pharrell and Paul Williams speaking on the duo's behalf. At the time the decision to stay in costume drew criticism from viewers on Twitter, including Future White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. In both their appearance at the 2017 Grammy Awards and in the Weeknd's "I Feel It Coming" music video, the duo wore long black capes and chrome-plated gloves along with their customary helmets.
During a 2009 interview, Bangalter named Andy Warhol as one of Daft Punk's early artistic influences. For the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack, the duo drew inspiration from Wendy Carlos, the Composer of the original Tron film, as well as Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter, Vangelis, Philip Glass and Maurice Jarre. Daft Punk later sought a "west coast vibe" during the production of Random Access Memories, referencing such bands as Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers and the Eagles. They also highlighted the influence of Jean Michel Jarre in an interview following the album's release. In January 2017, London-based music publication FACTmag featured a 1000 track playlist of Daft Punk's influences to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Homework.
Daft Punk has also produced music for other artists. They produced the Teriyaki Boyz's debut single "HeartBreaker" on the album Beef or Chicken?. The song contains a sample of "Human After All". Daft Punk later produced N.E.R.D's song "Hypnotize U". Daft Punk are featured on the cover of the December 2010 issue of British publication Dazed & Confused to promote the film Tron: Legacy, for which the duo composed the score. They also made a cameo appearance within the film as masked DJs at the "End of Line" nightclub.
In 2011, Coca-Cola distributed limited edition bottles designed by Daft Punk, called Daft Coke. They were only sold in France. A newer version of these themed bottles now exist as Collectors items, some parts of the bottles such as the cap and Coke logo being plated in gold. Daft Punk, along with Courtney Love were photographed for the "Music Project" of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent. The duo appear in their new sequined suits custom made by Hedi Slimane, holding and playing their new instruments with bodies made of lucite. In 2013, Bandai Tamashii released a S.H. Figuarts (SHF) action figure for Daft Punk coinciding with the release of Random Access Memories in Japan. Following a series a teaser trailers, Daft Punk made a rare public appearance at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix in May on behalf of the Lotus F1 Team, who supported the duo by racing in specially-branded cars emblazoned with the band's logo.
In a December 2012 episode of The Simpsons titled "The Day the Earth Stood Cool", recurring character Disco Stu wears an outfit which is very similar in design to Bangalter's. The online role-playing game World of Warcraft references the Musicians with non-player characters Guyo Crystalgear and Tivilix Bangalter, which wear distinctive diving suits and helmets based on the duo's signature appearance. In the 2014 animated film My Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow Rocks, the character Rarity briefly dons an outfit with a helmet similar to that of Homem-Christo's.
Daft Punk were scheduled to appear on the episode of The Colbert Report on 6 August 2013 to promote Random Access Memories, but were unable to do so because of contractual obligations regarding the duo's later appearance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. According to Stephen Colbert, Daft Punk were unaware of any exclusivity agreement and were halted by MTV executives the morning prior to the taping. In 2015, Daft Punk appeared alongside several other Musicians to announce their co-ownership of the music Service Tidal at its relaunch.
The liner notes of Homework pay tribute to a large number of musical artists and contain a quote from Brian Wilson. Bangalter stated: "In Brian Wilson's music you could really feel the beauty—it was very spiritual. Like Bob Marley, too." When questioned on the success of Daft Punk's debut album and the rising popularity of their associated musical genre, Bangalter responded, "before us you had Frankie Knuckles or Juan Atkins and so on. The least you can do is pay respect to those who are not known and who have influenced people." The Daft Punk track "Teachers", from Homework, refers to several influences, such as Romanthony and Todd Edwards. Homem-Christo stated: "Their music had a big effect on us. The sound of their productions—the compression, the sound of the kick drum and Romanthony's voice, the emotion and soul—is part of how we sound today." A 2011 Bodytonic podcast featured tracks from all of the artists named in "Teachers", the Brian Wilson speech quoted in the liner notes of Homework, and a Kraftwerk-like 1983 track produced by Daniel Vangarde, father of Bangalter.
The duo was satirized in a 2015 episode of Family Guy. In the 2016 reboot of The Powerpuff Girls, two ghosts shaped like both elements of Daft Punk appear in the episode "Puffdora's Box". Daft Punk was later referenced and parodied by the pigs in The Angry Birds Movie as "Daft Piggy", along with Steve Aoki (as "Steve Aoinki") in the movie.
Throughout the end of 2016, many rumors began to surface of a Daft Punk Alive 2017 tour. In September 2016, the rumors led to Pitchfork reporting that Daft Punk had no plans for a Future tour. A website that first appeared on 27 October 2016 featured a blank page with text reading Alive in plain text. Within the website coding were geo-coordinates based in Paris, Los Angeles, London, New York, Tokyo, São Paulo, Ibiza and Indio, the latter being location of Coachella. The website has since been taken down.
Their outward personas have also changed over time. In one of the duo's earliest magazine appearances, Homem-Christo stated in a Jockey Slut interview that, "We don't want to be photographed. [...] We don't especially want to be in magazines. We have a responsibility." Although they allowed a camera crew to film them for a French television arts program at the time, Daft Punk did not wish to speak on screen "because it is dangerous." During their Homework years, the duo would usually wear a variety of masks to hide their appearance. Bangalter noted that “the foundation for a lot of what we’re about artistically" is the 1974 film Phantom of the Paradise, in which the title character prominently wears a mask. Daft Punk were also fans of the 1970s band Space, known for wearing space suits with helmets that hid the performers' appearance. In 1998, the Bangalter side project Stardust experimented with the band wearing reflective costumes in their music video. When not wearing disguises, Daft Punk occasionally preferred to be replaced by animation (as they appeared in The Work of Director Michel Gondry DVD) or have their faces digitally obscured for press kits. Few official photos of the duo's faces exist, including a blurry one found in the Homework liner notes.