Grammy-Award Winning Electronic Duo Daft Punk Breaks Up
Photo by Olena Tatarintseva via Shutterstock
The endlessly influential French electronic duo known as Daft Punk have split up after a 28-year run. The news broke when an eight-minute clip from their 2006 film Electroma was released on their official channel on the morning of Feb. 22.
Following the release of the video, titled “Epilogue,” their publicist Kathryn Frazier confirmed the news to several publications but declined to state an official reason for the split.
The clip in question features the two wearing their iconic robotic masks wandering through a desert. Eventually one of them stops in their tracks removing their leather jacket to reveal a switch on their back.
The other hesitantly switches the button on, starting a detonator. After the switch, the first walks away and explodes. The other continues on into the desert while their 2013 track “Touch” plays in the background.
Daft Punk was formed in 1993 in Paris by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, who made music together when they were teenagers. Their name came from a negative review they received for a song they made under a different band.
The review from Melody Maker described the sound as “a daft punky thrash” and from then on the name stuck. The two formed a new group under the name, and quickly became part of the French house movement during the late 90’s.
Their debut album “Homework,” released in 1997 under Virgin Records, became an instant classic in the electronic music scene. This was thanks to their first two singles “Around the World” and “Da Funk” reaching widespread popularity.
Both singles were not only critically acclaimed, but a must listen for those interested in the dance scene during that period. Following the release of the album, they performed mostly without their iconic robot helmets, but for their sophomore record they would emerge wearing their mechanical faces.
The choice to cover their faces came from their rejection of the celebrity life. Thomas Bangaltar, the one who wore the silver mask, went on record saying both of them disliked the star system and wished for their music to speak for itself. Following the release of their 2001 album “Discovery,” they never performed without their notorious masks. From then on their recognizable robotic masks became their staple image.
“Discovery” brought with it a new batch of fresh synth-pop sounds and another collection of widely popular singles which broke the duo out onto the music scene even more. Their first single “One More Time” nearly topped the UK singles chart and the other two “Digital Love” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” saw similar success both in the UK and United States charts.
The ladder of which would be sampled by Kanye West six years later and began a relationship between the artists that would lead to several successful collaborations.
After ‘Discovery” came their 2005 record “Human After All.” Despite being met with mixed reception, many believe this record to be responsible for some of their most memorable live performances to date.
The Alive 2006/2007 tour began with an appearance at the Coachella Festival in Indio, California followed by several more appearances at various dates in Europe and Japan. The tour went over well so it spawned their second live album “Alive 2007” consisting of cuts from their 2007 performance at the Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy arena in Paris.
In the years following the release of “Human After All,” they would only re-emerge in 2010 to release a soundtrack for Disney’s sequel to the 1982 film “Tron.” However, in the years that followed, the eclectic duo would not only-reinvent themselves but the music industry as a whole.
Their fourth and final album “Random Access Memories” would become their most popular and applauded album yet. The success of their initial single “Get Lucky” which prominently featured vocals provided by Pharrell Williams would be their very first UK No.1 single and be the shove that propelled them into super-stardom.
The album released just a few weeks after the single in May 2013 and displayed a completely new sound for Daft Punk. The album was recorded entirely with live instruments and used minimal digital equipment. The innovation of their sound would award the duo with five Grammys.
Daft Punk would pursue other projects after the release of “Random Access Memories” only returning to work on collaborations. The one most prominent with The Weeknd in 2016.
At their best, Daft Punk was one of the most influential acts of the last two decades, releasing some of the most popular dance songs ever conceived. In their wake they left a new wave of artists who’ve been inspired by their unique tone and image.
Few can deny their importance in the music scene, millions around the world danced to their now classic tracks, and will likely continue years after their departure.