Daft Punk Set Fire to the EDM Trail They Blazed on Sample-Lite ‘Random Access Memories’
French duo's May 21 album to retreat from technology
Daft Punk continue to parcel out crumbs of information about the French house duo’s May 21 album Random Access Memories, but one clear theme so far is that the album will draw on older sounds.
The proto-EDM trailblazers have been previewing snippets of new music in Saturday Night Live commercials, and this weekend they gave away a two-minute glimpse at Coachella. Above is a high-quality video of the Coachella-previewed track, “Get Lucky,” a disco-soul throwback with Pharrell and Chic’s Nile Rodgers; the video includes a button you can click to add a VHS-style visual effect.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo confirmed their new album’s musical approach also marks a return to the pre-digital era. Though Random Access Memories will still use synths, vocoders, one sample, and (on two tracks) drum machines, Daft Punk focused on using live instruments this time. “We wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers,” Bangalter is quoted as saying, “but with people.”
Along those lines, Daft Punk were critical of the EDM movement that has followed in their robotic footsteps. Bangalter said electronic music “is in its comfort zone” and faces “an identity crisis: You hear a song, whose track is it? There’s no signature. Skrillex has been successful because he has a recognizable sound: You hear a dubstep song, even if it’s not him, you think it’s him.”
Random Access Memories reportedly uses first-rate session hands who have performed on records by Michael Jackson and Herbie Hancock, reflecting Daft Punk’s love of ’70s-’80s funk, soft rock, and disco.
The interview also revealed Daft Punk worked with Kanye West for the rapper’s upcoming album. From the sounds of it, Daft Punk’s LP will try to counter the Auto-Tune trend West helped legitimize with his 808s & Heartbreak: Bangalter explains that rather than make human voices sound robotic, “Here, we were trying to make robotic voices sound the most human they’ve ever sounded, in terms of expressivity and emotion.” Human after all, after all.