‘Daft Punk – In The Beginning’
I have to start off by giving a few details about Daft Punk’s discovery. Though not their nostalgia tinged 2001 album, but rather the meeting between Stuart MacMillan of Slam and the soon-to-be robots near Disneyland Paris in 1993.
Stuart had heard of the buzz surrounding the pair through mutual friend DJ Tom Bouthier, and after hearing that they were fans of the Slam track “Positive education” decided to visit and spend a few days with the young producers.
Around this time Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo had already disbanded their previous Indie/punk project called “Darlin” and had moved on to experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers. It seems like they’d held onto some effects pedals for later use too.
A demo tape had been produced and was eventually played to ‘MacMillan, Orde Meikle and Dave Clarke during this visit. They were impressed by the fierce techno produced by the two “very quiet, shy guys” according to Stuart. and they were quickly signed to the Soma records label.
This demo was polished up and released as an EP in 1994 as “The new wave”.
The first 2 tracks seem prototypal, in that the EP evolves to eventually become the fourth track- “Alive (New wave final mix)” which found its way onto the 1997 Homework album, renamed simply as “Alive”.
The follow up release (by now on Soma) was the unusual 1995 track “Da funk”. Using one of their favourite machines of this era (Korg MS20) for the exciting lead line and then a TB-303 bass pattern adds a sleeved ace as the track progresses.
The B-side to this 1995 release (if you were lucky enough to get it on vinyl) was Rollin and scratchin. A straight banger that alludes to their “The new wave” origins. (The following year the track was re-released on the Virgin label with the G-Funk/Warren G inspired Musique as its B-side.)
Following the hype of these early tracks, a bidding war ensued between record labels, with Virgin seemingly offering them the right balance between earning royalties, but more importantly holding onto their full creative freedom as artists.
After parting ways with Soma after only 2 releases, their efforts now focused on their first full album as Daft punk. 1997s Homework, on the Virgin label.
This album is credited with rejuvenating the house music sound in the mid/late 90s and pays homage to other electronic producers that had influenced them throughout the years. They namechecked many of them on “Teachers” and the album brought more attention to the “French touch” sound.
My personal opinion of Homework is of an album that encapsulates the essence of house music from its beginnings. Using pieces of hardware mostly from the late 70s/early 80s, Daft punk showed that the genre doesn’t rely on state of the art technology. I like to think that if you could travel back in time to the days of the Warehouse, the essence of these songs could have been created live even back then…maybe not with as much sampling, but you know what I mean.
They played an all analogue hardware gig in Glasgow in 1995 aboard a docked old ferry that had had a Phoenix-like repurpose as a music venue. Daft punk’s set was remembered as being so powerful that night that there were worries the old barge might sink into the Clyde!
They spent the following few years releasing solo projects on their own labels before “transforming” into the robots and releasing the seminal Discovery album in 2001.
I heard this album for the first time on the way home from a 3 week trip to Austria in July of 2001.(A friend of mine let me listen to it on his walkman) Hearing this album on the scenic coach journey back home, I absorbed all the memories of an amazing summer voyage through Europe.
I only wish I could’ve seen them play live. Friends of mine saw their set on the bonny banks of Loch Ness in 2007 and came home still buzzing from the experience.
Farewell Daft Punk, We’ll miss your sweet touch.
Written by Chris Conway