Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo met Thomas Bangalter when they both attended school in Paris, France, in 1987. In 1992, they recorded a song (under the name Darling), which in turn found its way onto a compilation single issued on Stereolab’ Duophonic label. The English journalist who dubbed the young Parisian duo daft punks after listening to their first single, can little have imagined quite how far the group would go: a few years later and Daft Punk is the electronic group which has taken techno out of the clubs and given it to the masses across the planet. After their “Homework” album achieved sales of over 2 million (including 400,000 in France alone), and having been acclaimed as much by fellow musicians as by the record-buying public, the duo composed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo have proved, if proof were needed, that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to success in the music industry.
Instead of showing their faces all over the place and appearing on television, Daft Punk settled on a different method of getting themselves known: writing songs that captured the spirit of the moment and blasting their way through the traditional boundaries separating House, Disco and Funk, making videos that were both fun and inventive with a raft of leading young directors (Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Roman Copolla, Seb Janiak, among others), and stage shows that held nothing back in terms of spectacle, with above all else a desire to keep pushing back the boundaries of the possible.
In 1999, before the format had swept all before it, Daft Punk released a DVD that was the first music release to fully explore the possibilities of interactivity. They then disappeared from the scene to spend two years preparing their new album, “Discovery”, in the greatest secrecy. The album sees Daft Punk scaling new heights, crafting what may become the number one pop record of the new millennium: an album that steadfastly refuses to follow any predetermined formula, preferring instead to offer up 14 tracks rich in insights and humour, aiming to propel their musical heritage, with all its song and dance, firmly into the future.
Embracing a sense of open-mindedness that some people may feel verges on the iconoclastic (a tag that in fact suits them perfectly), the duo have drawn on other melodies, other sounds, other voices (including those of Romanthony and Todd Edwards) to create a work that is very rich and dense. Despite the fact that their writing style varies from the hell-for-leather of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” to “Something about us”, the entire “Discovery” album is shot through with their inimitable style: their incomparable feeling for rhythm and production.
And the fact that Leiji Matsumoto, one of the living gods of Japanese animation (Captain Harlock), was entrusted with the task of designing the video for the first single “One More Time” (which debuted at number 1 in France, number 2 in the UK, number 1 in the Eurosingle chart) (has reached then number 1 in Canada, Japan and Portugal and number 1 on Billboards hot dance/club play chart), is just one of the many surprises that the two will be springing on us in the months ahead.
Daft punks? Maybe it takes one to know one?