Guest DJ: Daft Punk On The Music That Inspired ‘Random Access Memories’
David Black/Courtesy of the artist
Editor ‘s note : Daft Punk ‘s Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo visited our New York City agency to speak with All Songs Considered about the qualification of their new album, Random Access Memories, and share music by some of their darling artists. NPR Music ‘s Sami Yenigun spoke with the band from our D.C. studios. Read the Q & A downstairs, where we ‘ve embedded YouTube videos of their selections, or listen to the stallion interview. You ‘ll find more guest disk jockey in our archives, including sessions with Thom Yorke, Brian Eno, and Panda Bear.
Sami Yenigun: Thank you so much for coming in. I want to ask you guys: What are some of the influences that came into putting [Random Access Memories] together? Thomas Bangalter: The idea behind this record was to focus on the eclecticism and variety of the music that we like and actually not thinking in any kind of format way about music or any musical genres, and that ‘s why we in truth like this chaotic — initially chaotic — juxtapositions of all the different collaborators that worked on the record and all the different styles and unlike eras that the music was pointing towards. So we actually liked the idea of breaking all the barriers between these musical genres. It ‘s a little bit like a arduous drive where things are fragmented and next to something completely different .
Yenigun: A lot of these collaborators are from the golden age of ’70s and disco. Is that something you were pulling from when you put thought into this record? We ‘re making music like the soundtracks of our lives and we do n’t truly associate it with a certain environment where music can be listened to in a bedroom or a dancefloor .
Bangalter: not in truth. It ‘s true that we very instinctively and spontaneously reached out to musicians that have touched us, and which we truly love. And whether it ‘s nile Rodgers, or Giorgio Moroder, or Paul Williams, they are very iconic artists and iconic producers and songwriters, and it was a fire to have the ability to interact with them and … create something new. nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder are actually the foundation for modern start music and dance music, and we were in truth excited by the mind of getting with them and doing newly music together, and besides preserving a certain craft that we loved from these records from the ’70s or early ’80s that were special for us. But we actually tried to create something more composite, something that did n’t actually exist. And that ‘s the juxtaposition and the theme of Random Access Memories : the juxtaposition of different ideas, of putting a Panda Bear from Animal Collective and Julian Casablancas from The Strokes future to Paul Williams or Nile Rodgers. Yenigun: I’m curious, are there any examples of these records from that era that we can take a listen to? Bangalter: “ good Times ” from Chic is decidedly one of these records that we would n’t stop listen to when we were 10 or 11 years old. It ‘s in truth what it ‘s about and what dance music and disco music is about, which is having a good time. Yenigun: Great let’s take a listen.
Yenigun: So you said you were pretty young when you first heard this song. I’m curious after all these years, does it conjure up the same feelings you had when you first heard it? Bangalter: It ‘s dateless and universal music. We get the same feel we get when we were kids, for certain. And I think it ‘s the lapp for everybody. If you drop that birdcall in any club or birthday party, people are going to fill the dance floor justly aside. It ‘s blink of an eye impression. Yenigun: And this is something you wanted to bring to your record? Bangalter: I think it ‘s something we try to do in our music : We are making the music we would like to listen to. so making music for us is a identical personal process. We are n’t truly making music for the audience or thinking about people ‘s expectations. So the music on this record is actually the music we wanted to make because it ‘s the music we wanted to listen to. It ‘s true we wanted to create music that could fit in some dateless set or dateless partition, where we can keep a stress on an instantaneous consequence that would final. So that ‘s why our creative work takes a draw of time, sometimes years making records, because we like making a song or making a traverse and letting it rest and seeing if it does indeed have that lasting baron. Yenigun: So you feel that you need to take a step back after you’ve taken the first step toward a song? Bangalter: Yes, that ‘s something we normally like. sometimes we feel this thing immediately, but sometimes we like to let it rest a little spot, like wine. A traverse like “ One More time ” on our second album, Discovery, we recorded it in 1998. While we were making the remainder of the record, it sat on a ledge for about two and-a-half to three years, and by the time the single was out in late 2000, it became the sound of 2000 or 2001. But it had been made three years before, and some people are placid listening to it today. But we felt like, at least internally, we had tested the song and somehow tried its longevity internally before releasing it.
Yenigun: This is a very dance-y track with that 4/4 beat underneath. I noticed that not everything on the new record has that 4/4 kick necessarily. I’m curious, did you feel that you wanted to make a record that included things that didn’t need to be played in a club? Are there any examples of songs that you can think of that are better suited for bedroom listening or places outside of a dancefloor? Bangalter: On our albums, there has constantly been a fraction of the record that is oriented to the dancefloor and “ One More time ” is a song like that. And early pieces of music that are not inevitably four-on-the-floor records — a track like “ Something About Us ” on Discovery — can be possibly like in tone to new tracks on the record, like “ Game Of Love ” or “ inside ” or “ beyond. ” And at the same time, “ Lose Yourself To Dance ” or “ get Lucky ” might have certain similarities with the liveliness of “ One More time ” or “ Around The World. ” We normally say that “ Around The World ” was a song inspired by disco and by Chic, and there are decidedly similarities between “ Around The World ” and “ Get Lucky. ” The main thing is that we in truth replaced the brake drum machines by live drum, but apart from that, the music comes from the same place. We ‘re making music like the soundtracks of our lives and we do n’t actually associate it with a certain environment where music can be listened to in a bedroom or a dancefloor. But this album, Random Access Memories, felt for us like a musical travel, where we were trying to break the different barriers and the different genres and not think very stylistically about four-on-the-floor or not. The serve was more ad-lib than that. It ‘s possibly focusing more on the emotion. And if you take a birdcall like “ Retrograde, ” from James Blake, that we in truth like, when we listen to the song, we do n’t think about whether it ‘s something we listen to in a bedroom or a dancefloor or in a surviving board, rather than just feeling touched by the office of the music, whether we ‘re listening on headphones walking down the street or during night times with friends.
Yenigun: You said this song is something that conjures up a great deal of emotion in you. I’m curious, what is it about James Blake’s music that stirs up these feelings inside? Bangalter: It ‘s pretty much inexplicable. probably because it ‘s the magic trick of the music. But I think James Blake is an exemplar of a new songwriter — a new artist, a new musician, a new manufacturer — that manages to express beautiful things with his voice and with modern engineering, with synthesizers, drum machines and electronic instruments. And that ‘s, for us, the perfective exemplar of how we love to interact with electronic music instruments. Our record does not have a lot of electronic music instruments. There are a few tracks that have more of it, you know, but it ‘s true that we ‘re living in a fourth dimension where we ‘re not feeling in truth touched by electronic music that fails to carry those kind of emotions. But it ‘s constantly good to listen to a song that is made with electronic instruments and feel something deep inside. So that ‘s why we in truth like him. Yenigun: I’d like to hear an example on your record that uses electronic technology, maybe not in instrumentation, but… Bangalter: credibly the most electronic track on our album Random Access Memories is called “ Doin ‘ It Right, ” that we co-wrote and co-performed with Panda Bear from Animal Collective.
Yenigun: He’s one of the many guests you had on this album. How’d you go about picking the people you wanted to feature on this record? Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo: I think we did n’t truly pick anybody. Rather, [ we ] randomly sometimes bump into people that we like, like Pharrell Williams, who we bumped into at a hotel room about three or four years ago and then bumped into again at a party two years ago, and then spoke a sting and decided to work together on some songs. Panda Bear, for example, put out an album two years ago called Tomboy, and he reached out to us to do a remix of one of his songs and we decided to go back to him and propose [ that he ] be a node performer on our album. Paul Williams we met through Chris Caswell, who [ had ] been playing keyboard on Random Access Memories and has been an arranger and was the best supporter of Paul Williams. All of the guest performers, rather than us actively going to them, it ‘s been more like life put everyone in the like board or hotel lobby and [ we ‘re ] randomly meeting these people. And what ‘s fun is that all these guests are people that we love so much. Yenigun: So, the human connection. de Homem-Christo: Yeah, it ‘s actually life, human connections. It ‘s truly childlike. We ‘ve constantly been in truth shy and making music in a little bedroom on our own. And in more holocene years, we ‘ve been more open to the outside and working with different collaborators. When we did our movie, Electroma, it was the foremost time we were in touch with a big team, a big group of people. And then working with an orchestra on Tron, teamwork has been more and more something that has matter to us. And specially on Random Access Memories, the team was so boastfully and such in a full vibration, and a bunch of exuberance went into making the record, and a distribute of love that we all share, I think it ‘s all one of the best things that has happened to us recently : sharing our shape and allowing people into our ripple and possibly us getting into a bigger bubble with all of them. Random Access Memories is the result of all that teamwork, and it ‘s one of the things that I think we are most gallant of. But it ‘s all been random and the result has been incredible [ for ] us. We are truly grateful and very blessed. Yenigun: You mentioned Paul Williams as one of the guests you had on the record. Can we hear some of his music? Bangalter: Yes. I mean, probably one our front-runner songs or moments from Paul ‘s career, which we very admire from beginning to end, is the song called “ The Hell Of It, ” which is the ending claim [ music ] of the movie that we love sol much called Phantom Of The Paradise, directed by Brian De Palma. It ‘s a 1974 film that had a very major place in our adolescent years, [ in our ] discovery of films and music and what we wanted to do as musicians and as artists.
Yenigun: You mentioned this song is hugely influential in your teenage years. I’m looking at the list of songs you brought in and one of them is The Strokes’ “Hard To Explain,” which, for me as a teenager, was a big, big record. One I listened to all the time. I’m curious why you picked that one. I think The Strokes and Julian Casablancas are very in the bequest of big bands. And The Strokes, to me, are adenine beneficial as The Velvet Underground .
de Homem-Christo: I picked it because, obviously, julian Casablancas is on our record and has been one of our favorite composers in the rock category, and that birdcall in particular, to me, is full of magic trick. julian and The Strokes to me are … meeting Thomas when we were 12 or 13, we were huge fans of The Velvet Underground, and the New York hood scene in the ’70s has been influential on what we do, even if you do n’t notice. And I think The Strokes and Julian Casablancas are actually in the bequest of big bands. And The Strokes, to me, are deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as The Velvet Underground. So we ‘ve been actually lucky to work with them and that birdcall to me encapsulates the magic of The Strokes.
Yenigun: God, I love that song. That’s a more rock-y influence like you said. You’re known as electronic music producers, and I know that’s sort of a limiting term, because you’ve done things in a lot of different genres. What was an influence in the electronic side of what you do? Are there any names in particular that stick on your mind? de Homem-Christo: A bunch of them in the ’70s, when it started. But, I mean, Kraftwerk was identical influential, obviously. And possibly more close to us in France, Jean Michel Jarre ‘s Oxygène album. Yenigun: Where were you when you first heard the Oxygène album? de Homem-Christo: I think we were then humble. We were babies. possibly that ‘s why, it ‘s been there since we were born. Bangalter: The funny thing with Oxygène is that the record mastermind and the mix mastermind that mixed it in the studio apartment — where we recorded Pharrell ‘s vocals and Panda Bear ‘s vocals — was an audio adviser on our album, besides. So it ‘s one of those connections we [ got to ] invite on board, people that truly contributed to the songs that we love — in the lapp way that we recorded [ Daft Punk fashion mastermind Janet ] Hansen recording in a studio in L.A. that used to be A & M Records, where Paul Williams recorded all these songs, and The Carpenters recorded their songs, excessively. So it was matter to, excessively, to see the connections between the people and the places that were taking us back to this music that we love. Yenigun: For those at home, who are less familiar with Jean Michel Jarre, can you tell us a little background on him and then we’ll listen to his music. Bangalter: He is the son of the celebrated french composer Maurice Jarre. He wrote the Lawrence of Arabia score, for model, the soundtrack. He ‘s been making electronic music since the early ’70s-mid ’70s. de Homem-Christo: You would have Tangerine Dream and CAN or Neu ! and Kraftwerk. He was separate of the electronic scene from the ’70s. The ambient view. Yenigun: And what have you brought for us [ to hear ] nowadays ? de Homem-Christo: It ‘s “ Oxygène ( Part II ) ” — Oxygène songs are like “ Part I ” and “ II ” and “ III ” and “ IV ” — and this character was possibly less known. But I truly like the classical side of it and it could have been done today, in a direction.
Yenigun: Our producer, Robin is having an “oh my god, I remember this” moment right now. You said you heard this song when you were really young. We’re running out of time, but I wanted to ask you if there was anything on the new record that any young kids listening to this show right now, that you’d want to have the same effect that this song had on you? What do you think you’d pick, what would you go out on? de Homem-Christo: I think “ Motherboard. ” Listening to that sung again right nowadays, I think there are a batch of similarities with “ Motherboard, ” or it has a bunch of similarities with that song. chiefly because we used a modular synthesist on Random Access Memories which is a big, bad wall of cables. It ‘s like an old synthesist that people used in the ’70s and ’60s and earlier. And that distinctive sound is what you can hear throughout our album. And “ Motherboard, ” which is the entirely instrumental birdcall on the album, is wax of this boastfully modular synth.
Yenigun: I want to thank you so much for coming in. Daft Punk has been a huge influence on my musical smack and it ‘s been a pleasure talking with you today. Bangalter and de Homem-Christo: Thank you for having us .