One of the most recognizable acts in the electronic music scene from the late 90s up until now is Daft Punk. The larger-than-life android duo of French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter has been defined by their fusion of electronic music and its branches, from house music to disco.
Adding to their timeless appeal is that the French musicians never show any human skin. They always wear gloves and ornate robot helmets in almost all of their appearances.
From "Daft, Punk-y Thrash" to Homework
Both Homem-Christo and Bangalter were schoolmates at the Lycée Carnot, a public secondary school in Paris, France. They established an indie band "Darlin'" with Phoenix's Laurent Brancowitz. After "two gigs," Darlin' disbanded. Brancowitz pursued music with his band while the duo experimented with synthesizers and drum machines, starting their career-long ascent in electronic dance music (EDM).
They got the name from a negative review of their Darlin' gig, calling their music "a daft, punky thrash." Later in 1993, Daft Punk went to EuroDisney, meeting Soma Quality Recordings co-founder Stuart Macmillan. They submitted a demo tape to Macmillan, which was later released as their debut single "The New Wave." The tape also contained the song "Alive," later featured in their debut album.
They returned in May 1995 to record their breakthrough single "Da Funk," later having Pedro Winter manage and promote them. The band later joined Virgin Records the following year, agreeing to license the tracks through their own label "Daft Trax."
The EDM duo, at this point in time, actually performed without their iconic helmets on. They performed live in multiple spots around the world, first performing in the US at Wisconsin's Even Furthur event. They released their first album, "Homework," in February 1997. The Village Voice noted the album as having revived house music apart from the then-popular Eurodance.
Discovery and Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
Daft Punk started recording their next album on 1999, releasing "Discovery" in 2001. The album contained the club and mainstream song "One More Time." Part of the song's popularity is its heavy autotune, compression, and repetition of the title phrase. The album also contained hits "Digital Love," "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," as well as the more mellow "Something About Us."
Two years later, Daft Punk was able to produce and release the feature-length animated film "Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem" together with Toei Animation. The anime-style visual accompaniment to the "Discovery" album was supervised by Leiji Matsumoto, considered by Daft Punk as their childhood hero according to the CD insert. Matsumoto is known for space opera anime series "Space Battleship Yamato," "Space Pirate Captain Harlock," and "Galaxy Express 999."
Daft Punk: Human After All and Electroma
Returning in 2005, Daft Punk released "Human After All," which spawned the singles "Technologic" and "The Prime Time of Your Life." However, it failed to sustain the reception for "Discovery," with critics panning out the supposedly hasty recording. The duo, however, actually worked on the album for six straight weeks.
By the following year, Daft Punk released the first film they directed: "Daft Punk's Electroma." It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival event "Director's Fortnight." The film is noted for not featuring Daft Punk music and not having any dialogue. It features the robot personas adopted by Bangalter and Homem-Christo, named "Hero Robot No. 1" and "Hero Robot No. 2."
Work on Tron: Legacy and Releasing RAM
Daft Punk spent most of 2007 touring internationally, even performing at the 2008 Grammy Awards. They later returned to their Paris studio to work on new material. Daft Punk made new music for the video game DJ Hero, where both Bangalter and Homem-Christo's robot personas appear as playable characters.
Also, during the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that the duo made 24 tracks for the upcoming Disney film "Tron: Legacy." The duo collaborated with the composer and arranger Joseph Trapanese for two years for the movie soundtrack. Daft Punk also appeared in the movie as DJs in the virtual world.
Their fourth studio album, "Random Access Memories," included the duo's collaboration with Paul Williams, Nile Rodgers from Chic, and EDM pioneer Giorgio Moroder. Leading to the release of "RAM," the website for their upcoming album released a series of behind-the-scenes documentaries.
"Random Access Memories" was released on May 17, by their own production label and Columbia Records. The album contained the biographical monologue of Moroder himself in the track "Giorgio by Moroder." Daft Punk also collaborated with Williams ("Touch"), The Strokes' Julian Casablancas ("Instant Crush"), and Pharell Williams ("Lose Yourself to Dance," "Get Lucky")