Artist Spotlight: Daft Punk

By Lydia Lucas

Most award shows are merely shiny, star-studded spectacles of Hollywood prowess. Though living a public life is commonplace in the lives of the famous, musical artists are never so important as they are at the Grammys. Lorde, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore all saw a spike in sales after the awards. But no other artist saw quite as big of a jump in sales and popularity as Daft Punk. Random Access Memories jumped from number 39 to a top 10 spot overnight and sales increased 300 percent.

Daft Punk achieved an award in every category they were nominated; Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Dance/Electronica album. After Random Access Memories won album of the year, fans exploded with pride and veneration as the duo dropped their robot personas and shared an almost uncomfortably long hug before heading up to the stage.

      Despite articles speculating otherwise, that was indeed the real Daft Punk under the helmets. One of the most anticipated albums of the year, the robots have captured the hearts of old and new fans alike with their latest album.

Random Access Memories is their first studio album in eight years and is like nothing they’ve done before. It is a harmonic cohesion of their electronic roots from Homework and Discovery balanced with old soulful new attitudes. There are virtually no samples, a practice for which Daft Punk have become notorious. This process involves reusing previously existing sounds and music to form a new music or sound. Instead, they collaborated with almost a dozen different artists, achieving the same effect by “sampling” from real people and real performances. Thomas Bangalter, one half of Daft Punk, said in an interview with Peter Tong that this decision was made to preserve the essence of “the golden age” of music in which they began. In addition, the new album also uses live drumming as opposed to their usual drum machines. This break with tradition has caused quite a stir in the hearts of Daft Punk purists. However it seems that the public (and the Academy), agree that Random Access Memories is a musical triumph.

Both members of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, have referred to this change as a natural progression in the life of an artist. Bangalter stated in a recent Rolling Stone interview: “Electronic music right now is in its comfort zone, and it’s not moving one inch. That’s not what artists are supposed to do.” In the past, they’ve called out their fellow electronic dance music artists for being too set in their ways, so it looks like Daft Punk doesn’t plan on conforming any time soon.

Daft Punk have always been innovators. In 1997, fresh from the French House movement in Paris, their debut album Homework was like nothing anyone had heard before. Countless fellow artists and DJs have cited this album as influential if not historic. It could be easily argued that today’s EDM began with this album. In addition to four studio albums, they spawned two films, two live albums, and the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy. Fans are demanding another tour but as usual, only patience and time will bring their next project.

This recent Grammy sweep is by no means the end of Daft Punk, only the beginning. Though some worry about their ability to maintain their infamous privacy, the Daft Punk fan base is bigger and more active than ever. Daft Punk will do what they have in the past: innovate and grow as artists. Audiences haven’t seen the last of their helmeted robot heads for quite some time.