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About Daft Punk
In 1993 Daft Punk attended a rave at EuroDisney, where they met Stuart Macmillan of Slam, co-founder of the label Soma Quality Recordings. The demo tape given to Macmillan at the rave formed the basis for Daft Punk’s debut single, “The New Wave“, a limited release in 1994. The single also contained the final mix of “The New Wave” called “Alive“.
Daft Punk returned to the studio in May 1995 to record “Da Funk“. It became their first commercially successful single the same year. After the success of “Da Funk“, Daft Punk looked to find a manager. They had no trouble finding one at the time as they chose Pedro Winter, who regularly promoted them and other artists at his Hype night clubs. The band signed with Virgin Records in September 1996 and made a deal through which they licensed their tracks to the major label through their production company, Daft Trax. “Da Funk” and “Alive” were later included on Daft Punk’s 1997 debut album Homework. The album was regarded as an innovative synthesis of techno, house, acid house and electro styles, and is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential dance music albums of the nineties. The most successful single from Homework was “Around the World“, which is known for the repeating chant of the song’s title. Daft Punk also produced a series of music videos for Homework directed by Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Roman Coppola and Seb Janiak. The collection of videos was released in 1999 and titled D.A.F.T. – A Story about Dogs, Androids, Firemen and Tomatoes.
By 1999 the duo were well into the recording sessions for their second album, which had begun a year earlier. 2001’s Discovery took on a slicker and distinctly synthpop-oriented style, initially stunning fans of Daft Punk’s previous material in Homework. The group states that the album was conceived as an attempt to reconnect with a playful, open minded attitude associated with the discovery phase of childhood. This accounts for the heavy use of themes and samples from the late ’70s to early ’80s era on the album. It reached #2 in the UK, and its single “One More Time” was a major club hit, creating a new generation of fans mainly familiar with the second Daft Punk release. The singles “Digital Love” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” were also very successful in the UK and on the U.S. dance chart, and “Face to Face” hit #1 on the U.S. club play charts despite a limited single release. A 45-minute excerpt from a Daftendirektour performance recorded at Birmingham, UK in 1997 was also released in 2001, entitled Alive 1997.
2003 first saw the release of the feature-length animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Daft Punk produced the film under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto, whom they have said is their childhood hero. The album Daft Club was also released to promote the film. It features a collection of remixes previously made available through an online membership service of the same name.
Starting on September 13, 2004, Daft Punk devoted six weeks to creating new material. The duo released the album Human After All in March 2005. Reviews were mixed, mostly citing its overly repetitive nature and seemingly rushed recording. The singles taken from this album were “Robot Rock“, “Technologic“, “Human After All” and “The Prime Time of Your Life“. The earliest official statement from Daft Punk concerning the album was “we believe that Human After All speaks for itself.”
On May 21, 2006, Daft Punk premiered their first directed film, Daft Punk’s Electroma at the Cannes Film Festival sidebar Director’s Fortnight. The film does not include their own music, which is a first for the duo considering their previous DVD and film releases (D.A.F.T. for Homework and Interstella 5555 for Discovery). Midnight screenings of the film were shown in Paris theaters starting from the end of March 2007. Initial public comments have since been positive.
Daft Punk released their second live album titled Alive 2007 on November 19, 2007. It contains the duo’s performance in Paris from their Alive 2007 tour. The album includes a 50-page book showcasing photographs shot while on tour. The live version of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” from Alive 2007 was released as a single. A music video for the single directed by Oliver Gondry features footage shot by 250 audience members at Daft Punk’s Brooklyn appearance at KeySpan Park, Coney Island.
Soma Records released a previously unpublished Daft Punk track called “Drive” that was made while the duo was still with Soma Records and recording “Rollin’ and Scratchin‘” and “Da Funk“. The track was included in a twentieth anniversary multi-artist compilation of the Soma label. In October 2011, Daft Punk placed 28th in a “top-100 DJs of 2011” list by DJ Magazine after appearing at position 44 in the year before. On 19 January 2012, Daft Punk ranked No. 2 on Mixmag’s Greatest Dance Acts of All Time, with The Prodigy at No. 1 by just a few points.
Daft Punk worked on their fourth studio album, Random Access Memories in collaboration with singer-songwriter Paul Williams and Chic frontman Nile Rodgers. In May 2012 it was also announced that Giorgio Moroder had collaborated with the duo, recording a monologue about his life in a vocal booth containing microphones ranging from 1960 to present day. Chilly Gonzales stated in an interview that he had performed material for the duo’s project in a one-day session: “I played for hours and they’re gonna grab what they grab and turn it into whatever.” He also said that the album would be released “next spring”. Fourplay member Nathan East later mentioned that he had contributed to the project.
In October 2012, Daft Punk provided a fifteen-minute mix of songs by blues musician Junior Kimbrough for Hedi Slimane’s Yves Saint Laurent fashion show. The duo also placed 44th in DJ Magazine’s annual Top 100 DJs list.
In January 2013, Homem-Christo revealed that Daft Punk was in the process of signing with Sony Music Entertainment through the Columbia Records label, and that the album would have a spring release. A report from The Guardian followed specifying a release date of May 2013. On 28 February, Daft Punk’s official website and Facebook page featured a picture of the duo’s helmets, with a “Columbia” logo in the corner, to announce the Columbia signing. On 2 March, a fifteen-second television advertisement aired during the Saturday Night Live program—it depicted an animated, stylized version of the band’s logo and the aforementioned image of the helmets. On 23 March, a pre-order page for the new album appeared on iTunes and this was the first time that the title Random Access Memories was revealed, together with a release date of 21 May 2013. The official website for the album and an updated television advertisement were also unveiled. On 3 April, the official album website launched The Collaborators, a series of 16mm documentary videos about the album.
The details of the album were then announced and the 79th Annual Wee Waa Show, held on 17 May 2013 in the rural Australian town of Wee Waa, was selected as the launch venue. However, no actual members of Daft Punk were in attendance. On 12 April, a video preview for the song “Get Lucky“, in which Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers appear, was played at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The radio edit of the song was released as a digital download single on 19 April 2013. “Get Lucky” became Daft Punk’s first UK No. 1 single on 28 April 2013 remaining at number one for 4 weeks (as of 24 May) and the Spotify music streaming website reported that the song is the most-streamed new song in the service’s history.
Daft Punk were scheduled to appear on 6 August episode of The Colbert Report to promote Random Access Memories, but were unable to do so because of conflicting obligations regarding the duo’s future appearance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. According to Stephen Colbert, Daft Punk were unaware of any exclusivity agreement and were halted by MTV executives the morning prior to the taping. Colbert nevertheless broadcast an elaborate sketch of himself dancing to “Get Lucky” with various celebrities, including Hugh Laurie, Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, Jon Stewart, Henry Kissinger, Matt Damon, and The Rockettes. At the Video Music Awards, Daft Punk debuted a trailer for their single “Lose Yourself to Dance,” and presented the award for “Best Female Video” alongside Rodgers and Pharrell.
For the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Random Access Memories was awarded the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica Album, Album of the Year and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, while “Get Lucky” received the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and the Record of the Year. Daft Punk also performed a medley at the ceremony with Rodgers, Pharrell, and Stevie Wonder of “Get Lucky“, “Le Freak“, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger“, “Another Star“, “Lose Yourself to Dance“, and “Around the World“.
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