The Timelessness of A Generation’s Instant Crush
With confirmed news of a break up out of the blue, February 22nd had an entire generation randomly accessing memories of a relationship that shaped the sound of today and tomorrow. With the confluence of musical elements from past, present and future, Daft Punk have been able to bend time at will to become truly anachronistic in their approach to creativity and create a timeless sound.
Their music, initially reviewed as “daft punky thrash” in bad taste has managed to thrash previously held notions of musicality, identity and authenticity over the course of a 28 year long career. True punks in their outlook, they were bold enough to brand their apprehension into an identity of rebellion to inspire the likes of Kanye West, The Weeknd, Pharell Williams and many other tastemakers of the current generation. Arguably in more ways than one, they’re your favourite producer’s favourite producer.
In reminiscing the legacy of Daft Punk, one realises the role of hybridity in everything they do. First, they are the antithesis of the popstar trope. The duo have always avoided fame in their personal lives, setting the focus clear on their work. They personify the paradox of having anonymity as a famous identity, which is merely an extension of this work. With almost nothing to say and no one to vocally thank post an accumulation of accolades and awards, they’ve let the work speak for itself-- something that the modern pop star shies away from in the quest for fame. This anonymity helps them stay true to their hybridity.
According to Thomas Bangalter in a rare interview for The Face Magazine, the duo had turned themselves into post-human robots post an accidental explosion on 9th September 1999, after having their sampler instrument infected with the “9-9-99 bug.” In order to survive, they were forced to turn into human-robot hybrids who no longer “keep a record of the time while making music.” Truly enough, not only is the production on their records meticulous and time consuming, it is also a patchwork of techniques from the past with a futuristic vision.
A Volksgeist coverage of Daft Punk’s sound reveals how Guy Manuel approaches this vision, where he aims to use instruments in ways they were not originally intended to be. They use the French word “bricolage” to explain this process, which refers to “the art of combining found materials to create something new.” A lot of Daft Punk’s production therefore focuses on intricately played instrumentation that is then also resampled and re-tuned to be used in unique ways, especially on albums Homework and Discovery.
Post this, inRandom Access Memories, Daft Punk have made this vision grander with songs intricately produced like never before. Leagues away from being an exaggeration, the heavy duty use of over 250 channels on a single track not only represented their calculative and creative genius, but was also an ode to the power of technology rapidly changing the sonic possibilities.
While it is heartbreaking bidding goodbye to our instant crush, an embodiment of weirdness and fluidity for our generation, one must remember the undying legacy of Daft Punk-- the allowance to be unbound by moments, conventions, failures and genres. To own your labels with pride and to bend rules as opposed to bending to them.
We have perhaps seen the epilogue of Daft Punk’s story, with one of them exploding away. But from their own legend we know that robots don’t die. As long as the helmet fits, anyone can be a punk and reassemble the pieces left behind.