Honoring The Legacy of Daft Punk
Editor’s Note: This article was made in collaboration with Traklife writer Autumn Indigo.
When I set out to write an article about Daft Punk, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I mean where do I even begin when encapsulating the discography and legacy of a musical group that broke all the rules and created a genre that will be around forever, and did it in excellent style.
From “Robot Rock” to “Get Lucky” this robotic helmet-wearing French musical duo certainly left their imprint on the music industry, pioneering and perhaps defining the genre of electronica. Recently, to the collective sorrow of die-hard fans and general music enthusiasts alike, Daft Punk announced their breakup, and in emphatic form, through the use of a video pulled from an old documentary. It is absolutely necessary for us as industry scholars and supporters of true artistry to honor this dynamic duo and celebrate everything they did for music.
A Little History…
Daft Punk was formed in 1993 by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo in Paris. The goal of the project was to create the French style of house music. Their first album “Homework” was released in 1997 by Virgin Records and immediately gained massive amounts of positive reviews and accolades. The two most recognized singles off of this debut album were “Around The World” and “Da Funk.” This album is regarded by many as the definitive album of house and Eurodance alike.
Shortly afterward, the group adopted their iconic robot helmets in public appearances and live performances.
“We’re not performers, we’re not models – it would not be enjoyable for humanity to see our features.”
de Homem-Christo said when speaking to Rolling Stone
“But the robots are exciting to people.”
Thus everyone’s favorite theatrical electronic duo was officially born.
And what a birth it was. Over the next two decades, Daft Punk would go on to win almost every accolade in the business. They won multiple Grammy awards for their 2013 masterpiece “Random Acess Memories”, including album of the year. They also won many awards in film scoring for their work on Tron: Legacy in 2010. They are true juggernauts, having collaborated with every major artist across every genre, from Pharell Williams to Kanye West to the Weeknd, a collaboration that gave them a long-overdue number 1 spot on Billboard’s hot 100.
Their Impact on the Music Industry…
It’s nearly impossible to think of an artist that Daft Punk didn’t influence, from the biggest of the big to small indie producers, Daft Punk literally created an art. Not long after “Homework” was released, Madonna also took to the realm of French house music, collaborating with a french producer for her 2000 album. Electronica tracks from around the world quickly began to enter and even top the charts, including 2 people by John Jacques Smoothie. Daft Punk copycats began popping up left and right.
Daft Punk also pioneered autotune, with their ingenius and innovative style of vocalization. Every major rapper throughout the 2000s sampled early Daft Punk works, especially their early 2000s album “Discovery”. The duo quickly migrated into the realm of R&B and pop. Perhaps one of Daft Punk’s biggest contributions is to the art of EDM live performance. Anyone who has ever been to a Daft Punk show knows exactly what I’m talking about. Their iconic large pyramid, combined with their mysterious yet flashy DJ persona forever changed the face of the concert industry, to the point where any artist, and especially any DJ, performs via the Daft Punk formula.
Daft punk didn’t just change the music industry, they created it. From earth-shattering concerts to groundbreaking and genre-bending albums, these guys represented everything the music industry tries to be. This article is just the tip of the tip of the tip of their musical iceberg. True artists at heart, Daft Punk changed what it even meant to make music, influencing every artist around the world. We are so so sad to see them go, but their legacy will last forever. Daft Punk can break up, but they will never die, and the rest of the world is truly Getting Lucky.
Artists Inspired by Daft Punk …
We can only imagine the amount of hearts crushed by the news of Daft Punk’s retirement. Altering music as we know it, the legacy of Daft Punk will live on in the voices of today. The modern EDM sound wouldn’t be what it is today with the work of the house legends. While we may not be able to party to new music from the group, we can still check out artists inspired by the French dance-duo.
One of the most recognizable sounds in today’s EDM scene, Skrillex was greatly inspired by Daft Punk’s 2007 Coachella set. The duo’s pyramid setup was arguably the greatest live DJ performance of all time, and many producers note it as the moment they knew they wanted to make music. Skrillex broke the mode for the genre by creating a Daft punk-inspired sound without necessarily copying them. With his funk blend twisted and reinvention of dubstep, he became the generational link between the 90s fans and millennials. As a fan himself, Skrillex was even able to perform with the robots at their memorabilia pop-up shop in 2017.
When hearing the name Daft Punk, another French band comes to mind as well! Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz, make up the indie-pop band, Phoenix. The two groups were linked from the very beginning of their careers as Mazzalai was originally a band with Daft Punk. As the trio parted ways, Daft Punk began playing with more techno style while Phoenix stuck to traditional soft rock. Hailing from the same area, both bands became the voices and ambassadors of France. Though offering two different styles, Daft Punk and Phoenix are often compared to this day.
Another group that was a part of the golden age of EDM was the French electronic music duo Justice. The pair was managed by Ed Banger Records’ Busy P, who also managed Daft Punk between 1996 and 2008. Justice rose to critical acclaim thanks to their electro-house and synthpop in the early 2000s. Similar to Daft Punk, the group incorporates a strong genre blend of funk and heavy metal rock. Justice even won a Grammy Award for their remix of the MGMT song “Electric Feel.”
New York’s LCD Soundsystem is another group that paid homage to Daft Punk. As one of the band’s biggest influences, the Parisian duo was the inspiration behind LCD Soundsystem’s single “”Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.” By connecting one of their first tracks to the house legends, the dance-punk group managed to grow their following with their most successful single to date. With both bands having roots in rock music, they both utilized synthesized sounds to alter the dance genre and create their own electric fusion.
Fellow French artist, Kavinsky is often compared to the house music legends. Beyond the same background location, both the producer and Daft Punk share many musical traits. Each artist looks at themselves as out-of-this-world characters and uses their music to reflect the soundtracks of their eras. As Daft Punk is known for its 90s styled synths and samplers, Kavinsky embodies 80s electro-pop.
There also would be no Zedd without the musical contributions of Daft Punk. Citing the group as the reason why he fell in love with electronic music, Zed admitted that the first album he ever bought was Daft Punk’s “Discovery.” The Russian-German producer got his start remixing the works of Skrillex, Lady Gaga and Daft Punk. Today, Zedd is probably one of the most recognizable producers of all time and has elevated the genre to what it is now.
Party hard and get down to this lineup of artists inspired by the French house legends, Daft Punk.
Arie Likhtman is a double major in music industry studies and Critical Communication and Media Studies with a minor in philosophy at Butler University. Originally from St.Louis Missouri, he has played music since the age of 4, studying everything from classical piano to ballroom dance to saxophone. He is deeply passionate about all aspects of music from the hot 100 charts to underground indie rock. He hopes to use his voice as a writer to bring new artists to the forefront of the conversation, and to offer new perspectives on music, culture, and society as a whole