Linn Lounge presents Daft Punk
Linn Lounge presents Daft Punk
Welcome to Linn Lounge presents Daft Punk
Tonight we’re going take you on a musical journey, on an electronic journey, listening to Daft Punk in
the highest quality available - on a Linn system. Some of the tracks that we’re going to play tonight
are in the highest quality Studio Master format, letting you hear the music exactly as it was recorded,
before it was altered to fit on a CD or squashed down to MP3 size.
So sit back and relax as as we uncover the story behind the French Robo-Duo who brought disco back
to the masses.
Play ‘Get Lucky’ (Studio Master) – 06:09
Emerging from the kindling flames of early acid-house, Daft Punk represent year zero for dance
music as we know it. Bringing electro music to the mainstream, they took the tough, rocky, techno
sound of bands like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy and re-invented it with a four-four beat
and melodic, disco style. Their impossibly catchy house music sounded just as great in the pop charts
as it did in the deepest depths of a hardcore 90s rave.
Surprisingly electro music was not the first interest of the French duo, though. Best friends from the
age of 13, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo grew up enraptured by the greats
of 60s and 70s pop-rock: The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, The Stooges… This
mutual admiration led the boys to form their own band with a school-friend, Laurent Brancowitz, in
1992, calling themselves Darlin’ after a Beach Boys song.
Unfortunately Darlin’ only released 2 songs before breaking up. Although this was an impressive feat
for a group of 17 year olds, their music was not highly regarded. A British music magazine, Melody
Maker, condemned their tracks as “daft punky thrash”, providing the much needed confirmation that a
change of path was needed. And of course from this scathing criticism emerged the name of their new
band, Daft Punk.
In 1993, at the age 18, Thomas and Guy-Man had only just entered the world of nightclubs. They
became fascinated by the sound of French House; the way it incited a crowd and got everyone
moving. Electronic music was the future. Uninterested in pursuing this dance culture, Laurent
branched off to form his own group, Phoenix, leaving Thomas and Guy-Man to experiment with drum
machines and synthesizers, creatively inspiring a new world of sound.
As a renowned 70s disco music producer and songwriter for the likes of the Gibson Brothers, Ottawan
and Sheila B. Devotion, Thomas’ father offered the know-how and means to help the boys achieve
their vision of becoming electronic dance artists. He set up a studio for the boys at top of Thomas’
family home in Paris, now revered as the famous Daft House studio.
To begin with Daft Punk’s music offered all the best parts of hard-core house, playing tracks that
were quite far removed from the more pop-disco style singles they would later become known for.
Let’s have a listen to Daft Punk’s early style. This track is one of Thomas and Guy-Man’s earliest
works. It was never actually released by the duo. It’s called ‘Drive’.
Play section of Drive (CD quality) - 1:18
It wasn’t long before Daft Punk received their big break in 1993. During a rave at EuroDisney in
Paris, Thomas and Guy-Man were introduced to Stuart MacMillan and Glenn Gibbons, the cofounders of Glasgow’s independent label, Soma Quality Records. Daft Punk invited Stuart and Glenn
to their home studio to hear a few of their tracks.
Glenn Gibbons recounted his memories in an interview with Linn;
“I remember climbing to the top floor garret of a building in the winding streets of Monmatre in Paris
to listen to 2 Tascam Portastudio 4 track recordings from the young French boys. They’d been
introduced to us by a fanzine writer at a rave in EuroDisney a few nights before. I was beginning to
think that Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent Van Gough may have had their studios up here way back in
the 19th Century, when Thomas Bangalter hit the play button and BOOM ! They blew us away with a
couple of hard techno tunes (The New Wave and Assault). Later on we walked back through Paris,
past the Moulin Rouge, mesmerised. We had just heard the first tracks by Daft Punk and knew there
was something very special happening here. Da Funk came soon after and the rest, as they say, is
Daft Punk went on to release 2 tracks under Soma Records. It was an ideal relationship. Soma allowed
them complete creative freedom while also introducing them to the 90s UK rave scene, passing on
their tracks to DJs across the country.
Their second track on Soma was ‘Da Funk’. It was released in 1995 and became an immediate hit. It
still remains an iconic song for the band today. Its rolling 303 lines made Daft Punk one of the
quickest and most surprising successes in the dance world, uniting the ranks of snobbish music critics
with the masses of club goers seeking a good groove. Even early on, Daft Punk’s incredible attention
to sonic detail was notable and it wasn’t long before the band began see imitators of their disco-filter
sound. They seemed to be merging prog rock, pop, disco and house – a combination no one before
them had really considered. However, in an interview with a Swedish music magazine, Thomas
revealed that ‘Da Funk’ was actually influenced by the Westcoast G-Funk that he and Guy-Man had
been listening to on repeat. ‘Da Funk’ was their slant on hip-hop, though no one else really agreed.
Thomas notes that;
"It was around the time Warren G’s ‘Regulate’ was released and we wanted to make some sort of
gangsta-rap and tried to murk our sounds as much as possible. However no one has ever compared it
to hip-hop. We've heard that the drums sounds like Queen and The Clash, the melody is reminiscent
of Giorgio Moroder, and the synthesizers sound like electro and thousands of other comparisons. No
one agrees with us that it sounds like hip-hop!"
Play Da Funk with video (CD quality) - 5:29
‘Da Funk’ had spawned a bidding war among record labels across the globe. It was already a huge
underground and commercial hit. Its video was directed by the enigmatic Spike Jonze and received
heavy rotation on MTV and other shows around the globe. The singles’ B-side, ‘Rollin’ &
Scratchin’’ was hammered at European raves to the point of being overplayed. But Daft Punk weren’t
interested in unearned fame or money. They wanted a partnership that allowed them freedom to create
and move in any direction they wanted. They eventually settled for a contract with Virgin Records,
turning down more lucrative offers in favour of creative licence. Virgin would abide to the duos strict
rules. Daft Punk would hold exclusive rights to all master recordings, licensing the tracks on a dealby-deal basis to Virgin, and no photographs of the group where their faces were to be exposed.
Daft Punk soon recorded their first full-length album, Homework, releasing it 1997. It was a funkhouse hailstorm, giving real form to a style of straight-ahead dance music that had not been attempted
since the early fusion days of funk and disco. Homework offers thick, pounding bass, vocoders,
choppy breaks and beats, and a certain brash naiveté helped along by its home studio production. The
record gave dance music the healthy revival that it sorely needed. Dance albums tended only to cross
over into the UK’s guitar-centric mainstream if, as Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers and Underworld
had shown, vocals were included to break up all the repetitive beats. Homework, however, clearly
paid homage to Chicago’s acid-house, using squealing synths, few vocals and funky, techno beats.
One of the catchiest tracks of the decade, ‘Around the World’ was released as a single from this
album, with a surreal music video from famed French director, Michel Gondry. Reaching #1 in the
dance charts, ‘Around the World’ was revered for its sense of futurism aided by its steady hook
bassline and robotic repetitions of the title. Daft Punk noted it was simple, ‘like making a Chic record
with talk box and just playing the bass on the synthesizer.”
Michel Gondry appreciated its sensual simplicity, explaining;
"I realized how genius and simple the music was. Only five different instruments, with very few
patterns, each to create numerous possibilities of figures. Always using the repetition, and stopping
just before it's too much."
Gondry wanted to represent this in his music video, illustrating each instrument as separate group of
characters, all dancing on a platform that symbolised a vinyl record. Gondry’s robots represent the
singing voice; the physicality and small-minded speed of the athletes symbolizes the
ascending/descending bass guitar; the femininity of the disco girls represents the high-pitched
keyboard; the "itchy" skeletons dance to the guitar line; and the mummies represent the drum
Let’s have a look.
Play ‘Around the World’ music video (DVD quality) - 4:04
Unknown to many, Thomas and Guy-Man also spend time working on their own side projects. In
1995 Thomas set up his own record label called Roulé, using it as a periodic outlet for music, while in
1997 Guy-Man co-founded the label, Crydamoure. Crydamoure offered a space for Guy-Man to
experiment with different soundscapes out with Daft Punk, releasing tracks from his second band Le
Knight Club and also pushing budding new producers into the limelight.
The most successful hit to come from Daft Punk’s side projects is from Thomas’ own label. The 1998
track ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ was released under the guise of Stardust, a one-time musical
collaborative effort between Thomas and his friends, Alan Braxe and Benjamin Diamond. The song
was conceived in Rex Club, Paris, where the trio were playing a live set. Bangalter and Braxe created
the instrumental, while Diamond instinctively sang the title words over the top. The next day they laid
down the track in Thomas’ home studio, adding a sample from Chaka Khan’s 80s pop song ‘Fate’.
‘Music Sounds Better With You’ reached #2 in the UK; spent two weeks at #1 on the US Billboard
Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart; and is referred as the world’s most lucrative dance track.
Play Music Sounds Better With You with video in background (CD quality) - 4:23
Shortly after the release of ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, Thomas was offered a 3 million dollar
deal to produce a full Stardust album, but he declined. Daft Punk will always be Thomas and GuyMan’s real passion and the duo were already working on their second album, Discovery.
This album took almost three years to complete. Although they were back in the Daft House studio,
using the same equipment as they had for Homework, Thomas and Guy-Man sought a different, more
precise electro sound for Discovery, seeking to incorporate a variety of different styles. Thomas
explained that, "Homework [...] was a way to say to the rock kids, like, 'Electronic music is cool'.
Discovery was the opposite, saying to the electronic kids, 'Rock is cool, you know? You can like
that.'" Homework had been "a manifesto for electronic music at the time and a rough and raw thing"
focused on sound production and texture, whereas the goal with Discovery was to explore song
structures and new musical forms. Daft Punk managed this expertly by over embellishing their pitchbend and vocoder effects, and including loops of divas, synth-guitars, and electric piano, creating a
glam, poppier sound, reminiscent of Euro disco and modern R‘n’B.
A significant amount of sampling is present on Discovery, but rather than just lazily creating new
music out of the samples, Daft Punk worked with them, writing and adding instrumental
performances. Because they go about it in a different way, the duo are proud to admit to their
sampling. Guy-Man estimated tht half of the sampled material on Discovery was actually played live
by the duo on their instruments .
Discovery provided a string of hit singles for Daft Punk, one of which was 'Digital Love'. This song is
known for the Daft Punk solo featured prominently on its second half. Thomas explained later that
they knew they wanted a solo in this track because no one else was doing it at the time. It seemed to
be out of fashion. Guy-Man went further to explain that they used mixture of elements to create the
effect including music sequencers and other in-studio equipment. Their aim was to evoke the retro
sound of a previous artist. He explains:
“On 'Digital Love,' you get this Supertramp vibe on the bridge. We didn't sample Supertramp, but we
had the original Wurlitzer piano they used, so we thought it would be more fun to have the original
instrument and mess around with it. We use mainly vintage synthesizers, like older electric pianos like
the Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet."
‘Digital Love’ is also notable for its sample use, featuring a clip from 'I Love You More' by George
Duke. Let's have a quick listen to the part of George Duke's 'I Love You More' that Daft Punk
sampled, before playing 'Digital Love'.
Play Sample of ‘I Love you More’ by George Duke – 0.23
Now we can listen out to see what Daft Punk did with George Duke's song as well as the original
Supertramp Wurlitzer piano.
Play 'Digital Love' (CD quality) - 4:58
Probably the most obvious sample used by Daft Punk on Discovery is on the track ‘Harder Better
Faster Stronger’ where Edwin Birdsong’s ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ makes up the foundation. For the most
part ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ is a very typical Daft Punk track. It uses a four-to-the-floor beat;
Birdsong’s funky-style guitars and bass sample; as well as the common heavily processed vocals.
However, the whole track is arranged in an unusual structure for Electronic Dance Music. Usually the
song reaches a breakdown section before climaxing for a second time with only a very small variation
of the original tune. However, in ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ the first half is clearly in a house
style, but the final section suddenly changes to a half-time rhythm, giving it a more Hip-Hop/R'n'B
feel and drawing on instrumental influences from urban American music.
Let’s have a listen to the beginning of Edwin Birdsong’s ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ before playing ‘Daft
Harder Better Faster Stronger’. You’ll be able to be hear what they’ve done with the overlooked 1979
track and see if you agree with the hip-hop feel.
Play sample of ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ by Edwin Birdsong – 0.33
Play ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ (CD quality) – 3:44
Already well known for their interesting and surreal music videos, Daft Punk did not disappoint fans
with their output for Discovery. Working alongside highly-regarded anime and Manga artist, Leiji
Matsumoto, and renowned Japanese animation studio, Toei Animation, Daft Punk released a series of
Japanese cartoons to accompany these tracks. In 2003 each of the tracks videos were used as scenes in
Daft Punk’s own anime movie, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, which follows
the story of a kidnapped extra-terrestrial blue-skinned band.
‘One More Time’ was the first track to be released from Discovery with an anime video. It was played
on every music channel, opening up new audiences to a world of Japanese anime that they may never
have otherwise thought to watch. It became their highest charting single until ‘Get Lucky’ topped the
charts in 2013.
‘One More Time’ is also notable for the prominent vocal performance written and sung by Daft
Punk’s idol, Romanthony. Going against common musical fashion and taste, Daft Punk decided to use
heavy processing and auto-tuning over the vocals. When questioned on these effects, Thomas stated;
"A lot of people complain about musicians using Auto-Tune. It reminds me of the late '70s when
musicians in France tried to ban the synthesizer... What they didn't see was that you could use those
tools in a new way instead of just replacing the instruments that came before… Criticizing the
Vocoder is like asking bands in the '60s, 'Why do you use the electric guitar?' It's just a tool... no big
deal. Creation is interaction. The healthy thing is that people either loved it or hated it. At least people
were not neutral. The worst thing when you make art is for people to not even be moved by it.”
Play One More Time with video (CD quality) - 5:20
For their next project, Daft Punk gave themselves only 6 weeks to create a whole album of entirely
new material. This was far removed from the 4 years of their debut and the 3 years they had allowed
to write Discovery. The resulting record, Human After All, received mixed reviews, with some critics
slating it as a rushed production. Daft Punk however considered Human After All to be their favourite
album so far, enjoying it as “pure improvisation”. They only used 2 guitars, 2 drum machines, a
vocoder and an eight track recorder - a huge difference from the technology of Discovery, and even
Homework. This was the album that truly incorporated rock music into their electronic house style.
Thomas told Q magazine that first single of the album, Robot Rock, was actually a tribute to the
power of heavy Rock chords, explaining that “in a way I think we were exploring if you could take
the essence of Rock - that power - and mix it with dance…to explore the core of Rock."
Play Robot Rock (CD quality) – 4:57
Daft Punk have a created an enigma around their identities, rarely allowing interviews and TV
performances. From the beginning they shunned fame, photographs and personal meetings, instead
masking themselves as robots. Keeping their appearances and personal lives shrouded in mystery
allows their fans to focus entirely on the music. Guy-Man explains that this is particularly important
during live stage shows, noting;
“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
focussing on us.”
In their 20 years, Daft Punk have only performed two major tours and yet they are well-known for
their live appearances. In 2006 and 2007, Thomas and Guy Man scheduled a world tour performing a
set list of their most popular tracks, remixed together. The tour was a sensual explosion of LED,
electricity and electro that is difficult to overstate, or reproduce. They upstaged any act before them,
lugging 11 tons of equipment across the world – probably using enough electricity to light a black
YouTube clips from the tour instantly went viral but the duo decided there was no need to release a
music DVD – the thousands of clips and millions of viewers was enough. They did release a live
album called Alive 2007 however, showcasing their incredible performance at Bercy in Paris.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Alive 2007 was how well it re-contextualized the poorly
reviewed Human After All album. Alive 2007 truly turned these songs into funky rock'n'roll
manifestos. Instead of mindlessly running through the hits, Daft Punk bore each track anew, cutting
and gluing well-worn favourites together with fresh enthusiasm. They injected the tracks
with Homework's air-tight Moroder-style anthems and Discovery's flamboyant funk. One of the tour
albums most unlikely masterpieces was the mash up of ‘Television Rules the Nation’, ‘Around the
World’ and the impossibly buoyant ‘Crenscendolls’.
Play ‘Television Rules the World / Crescendolls’ with live footage video (CD quality) – 4:51
In 2009 Daft Punk moved in another unexpected direction; they would be composing the entire 24track arrangement for the Disney movie Tron: Legacy. For two years straight, Daft Punk worked
alongside American arranger and producer Joseph Trapenese and an 85-piece orchestra to compose an
elaborate score of orchestral and electronic music, genres neither Trapenese or the duo had fused
Unusually Tron: Legacy was actually built around the Daft Punk score. Normally a composer is
brought in at the end to build music around the existing film, but for the makers of Tron, Daft Punk’s
music was equally, if not more important, for telling the story.
Here’s a clip from the movie featuring the single track they released, ‘Derezzed’.
Play Tron Clip under 2:01
Daft Punk’s most recent venture was a real departure record. Random Access Memories was released
in spring of 2013. Unlike their previous studio albums, Daft Punk recruited session musicians to play
live in professional recording locations and also limited the use of electronic instruments to only a
custom-built modular synthesiser, drum machines and vintage vocoders.
The album features a variety of genres and famous collaborators from different musical eras,
including funk, disco and soft rock of the 1970s and 80s. Daft Punk conjure the musical eras that first
inspired them; the eras when disco ruled the world and prog-rock existed out with the emotions of
black-lit bedrooms. They sought a “west coast style” for the album citing influences such Fleetwood
Mac and The Eagles, while also paying homage to Michael Jackson and Steely Dan. This album is not
their usual futuristic techno, but an exploration of the past in attempt to bring music forward.
Random Access Memories has become Daft Punk’s highest selling album ever. The first single off of
the album, ‘Get Lucky’, was Daft Punk’s first #1 hit in the mainstream charts. It reached #1 in 27
different countries and charted in the top ten across 45. Spotify has even claimed that it is the most
streamed new song in the websites history!
Give Life Back to Music
The opening track to the album ‘Give Life Back To Music’ offers a great example of the overall
theme and feeling. It is intended to reflect a certain sense of innocence and optimism that was
prominent during the 70s disco movement. The robotic vocals point to what we know of Daft Punk
but they express more human emotion than we’ve heard before. There’s some great funky guitar work
from Chic legend, Nile Rodgers, and Motown musician Paul Jackson Jr. The piano work is from
renowned Canadian electro musician, Chilly Gonzales and John JR Robinson, who previously worked
with Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan, is on drums. Together they bridge the gap between live
instrumentation and electronic music, creating what many perceive as their greatest experiment yet.
Play Give Life Back to Music (Studio Master) – 4:34
Giorgio by Moroder
From the very beginning, Daft Punk knew they wanted to include a documentary song from Italian
disco producer Giovanni Giorgio Moroder on Random Access Memories. Giorgio is one of the music
duos heroes and they believed that a monologue describing his career would serve as the perfect
metaphor for musical freedom and the exploration of genres and tastes.
In order to create the track, Daft Punk conducted an extensive interview with Moroder with the aim of
editing excerpts to include the song. When Moroder arrived at the studio to record his monologue, he
was intrigued and surprised at the great number of microphones contained in the booth. He wondered
if this was just a crazy precaution in case one of the microphones broke down but the recording
engineer explained that each microphone was from a different era, ranging from the 1960s to the 21st
century; chosen to represent the different decades in Moroder's life. Although most listeners might not
be able to distinguish between each microphone, Bangalter would know the difference. Another
interesting thing to listen out for is the use of sound effects in the background of this track, like the
busy restaurant. To avoid using stock audio samples, Daft Punk employed professional foley artists
from Warner Brothers Studios.
Play Georgio by Moroder (Studio Master) – 9:04
Thank you for coming along tonight.
We’ve got some great events coming up at venues across the UK and Europe including Pink Floyd,
The Smiths, Eric Clapton and Talking Heads.
If you have any questions or want to know more about Linn music systems, then feel free to grab any
of the staff here tonight. And if you want to hear some of your own favourite music in the best
quality, we can arrange a personal listening session in store. It’s not just music that sounds great on a
Linn system, radio, movies and games all sound better too.