Daft Punk

Daft Punk

"Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo" and "Thomas Bangalter" are two names that likely mean little to the average person. Yet the cheeky "Daft Punk" surely raises eyebrows. The dichotomy is fitting, considering the lengths to which the duo has drawn a line between their private and public lives. On one side, they are two humans who happen to be passionate about music. On the other, they are the futuristic duo responsible for re-popularizing dance music in the mainstream and expanding the idea of a multimedia artist.

Bangalter and de Homem-Christo met as teenagers in France and quickly bonded over their love of music. After a brief exploration of indie rock, the two switched from guitar and bass to synthesizers and drum machines. An off-handed comment from a Melody Maker review of their previous band, Darlin', inspired their current nom-de-plume, and Daft Punk rose to prominence in the late-'90s French house scene.

Their debut album, 1997's Homework, successfully translated elements of dance club/rave culture into the pop world. The album's lead single, "Da Funk," brought commercial success and positive, critical attention. "Around The World" followed, attracting cult interest through its artful, Michel Gondry-directed music video. Not content to simply produce a music album, the group demonstrated their varied interests in media by hiring other then-underground filmmakers like Spike Jonze, Roman Coppola, and Seb Janiak to direct videos of other tracks. These videos were collected as 1999's D.A.F.T.: A Story About Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes.

The group focused their interests on 2001's Discovery by drastically revamping and uniting their look and sound. Now clad in robotic outfits to mask their identities and to match their music, the two stripped away much of the garage-y swing of Homework and replaced it with cold, compressed samples and a steely, '80s-era synth funk. The album coincided with a wide multimedia campaign, including a live album of a 1997 performance, aptly titled Alive 1997; an early experiment in an online membership service that gave fans access to exclusive remixes (later collected into a conventional CD called Daft Club); and the 2003 release of a feature-length animated film, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, produced with the aid of seminal manga artist Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato). Though these efforts yielded little mainstream success (outside of the widely successful lead single "One More Time"), Daft Punk was one of the few music groups using the newly developed tools of the 21st century.

In 2005, the group released their third studio album, Human After All. In many ways, this chapter in the group's history mirrored the previous one: The album continued Discovery's exploration of technology (albeit in a distinctly un-nostalgic manner); the album was shortly followed by another film, Daft Punk's Electroma (unrelated to the album); and 2007 saw the release of another live album, Alive 2007. However, while the early 2000s "Discovery period" marked a flurry of creative activity for the duo, this mid-2000s period was marked notably by a more mainstream acceptance of the group. Highly visibly samples of their songs "Technologic" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" in a Busta Rhymes ("Touch It") and Kanye West ("Stronger") song, respectively, brought them many new fans. The group was name-checked by hip dance-rock pioneers LCD Soundsystem not once, but twice ("Losing My Edge" and the literal "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House") -- a confirmation of the group's role in exporting dance music. And the group even received a Grammy for the "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" single from Alive 2007.

In 2009, the group was reported to contribute to the film Tron Legacy. They also contributed music and appeared in the video game DJ Hero. ~Dan Nishimoto


Photo Credit: Loic Duquenois/


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