Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger… Forever: A Daft Punk Elegy w/ Takurak
by Takurak // VEGA Core
It has been exactly two days to the minute since Daft Punk’s most recent announcement in the form of the YouTube video simply titled “Epilogue.” In honor of nearly three decades of dedication from the duo, I present the following obituary. Provided the proper permissions are given, a “funeral/memorial” will be held Saturday, March 6. The services will be held from noon-2pm on WUSC’s VEGA Core. Without further ado, some words about the life of Daft Punk.
Two Parisian twenty-somethings had teamed up and were exploring electronic dance music after a negative review called their now-disbanded indie/punk rock cover group a work of “daft, punky thrash”. Our gents Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo were working in the studio when, suddenly, an accident occurred. At exactly 9:09AM on September 9, 1999, their sampler exploded. When the duo regained consciousness, they discovered that they had become robots. Thus, the glistening silver and gold androids we know as Daft Punk were born.
The explosion central to Daft Punk’s origin story (or at least that of their personas) sent shockwaves throughout the globe, impacting the world of music collectively. From a strict “direct impact on music” perspective, Daft Punk has left three identifiable legacies: reviving House music, leading the creation process in the French touch movement, and setting the precedence in EDM production and over-the-top EDM touring set design.
In the early 90’s, the genre of House was in a lull. The allure of disco’s influence and of the once brand spanking new tech had faded. Then, along came two Parisian teens dressed in funny masks to return that lost spark and set the EDM world on fire. Daft Punk experimented with the use of filters, AutoTune & talk box (remember: this is before any TikTok trend), and the integration of funk, techno, disco, and even progressive rock into House tracks. This isn’t to say preceding DJs did not incorporate these genres into their mixes, merely to highlight Daft Punk’s contributions to what would become an entirely new genre of music known as French House, and the setting of a precedent for the DJs who followed.
The other way they set precedence was through their live performances, limited in number thought they may be. Such events include the Daftendirektour and Alive tours (’97 and ’06-’07 respectively), Live at Vegoose (’07), the ’14 and ’17 Grammy award shows, and most influentially, their ’06 Coachella appearance.
At each instance, Bangalter and Homem-Christo integrated wondrous light displays and absurd set design into their tours (take, for example, the pyramid for Coachella ‘06, which consisted of fifteen-tons of equipment, including custom-made control boards). The audiovisual experience they gave fans is something that will live on and remain influential forever. For example, deadmau5 did a direct sequel to Daft Punk’s pyramid with his own gigantic cube set display. The care expressed by the duo extends back into the music: as a story goes Bangalter and Homem-Christo sat on the beloved track “One More Time” for two years to make sure the track was indeed timeless ( and it is more than safe to say they succeeded in their effort). Their dedication and poise knows no bounds.
In a broader sense, Daft Punk’s impacts on the world-at-large are countless. Their contributions include but are not limited to: four studio albums (Homework, Discovery, Human After All, Random Access Memories), features alongside artists such as The Weeknd (“Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming”), Kanye West (Yeezus), Stardust (hit single “Music Sounds Better With You”) and, most importantly, a lasting influence on artists such as Avicii, Zedd, Skrillex, deadmau5, Justice, David Guetta, Disclosure, ODESZA, and many more.
Bangalter is quoted calling music “the most personal thing we can give,” and anyone you ask will put a different meaning to the gifts Daft Punk bestowed upon the world. Whether it’s joy from a “Get Lucky” parody (“ We’re up all night to pet dogs, We’re up all night to pet puppies“) or tranquility in the face of the world’s stressors via their holistic work-of-art albums, everyone has a story with Daft Punk’s imprint on their world of music. A thankful population has felt the presence of these masked Frenchmen in our headphones and in our hearts. And while we would hope to stay in the nostalgic moments with the duo forever, unfortunately time keeps marching on.
The time: two hours and twenty-one minutes, post meridiem. Two automatons walk alone through a barren desert. Machines live forever, but to these two their mission has been complete. The first turns to reveal a detonator in the square of his back, which his companion views with woe. He reluctantly obliges, activating the one-minute timer to complete one last joint effort with his friend. Our first player in this scene now walks alone away from his partner, all the while the timer ticks away.
At exactly 2:22 pm on February 22, 2021, the detonator finishes its countdown and the robot is destroyed in a glorious explosion as his friend watches. Our scene closes with the survivor walking into the sunset while a children’s choir sings us a sorrowful adagio to the brotherhood that now only lives in the past and the memories of those touched by their workThe shockwave of another Daft-Punk-related explosion is felt Around The World once again, but this time we are left with a hole in our hearts.
Daft Punk is no more. Thank you both for 28 years of sharing your Digital Love with the world.
You will be missed dearly.
Tune in every Saturday from noon to 2PM for the VEGA Core with Takurak, only on WUSC!