For the last ten years, the two Frenchmen who make up the electronic dance/pop group Daft Punk have been setting the world of electronic music on fire—France hasn’t had such a popular export since champagne.
“They make you up your game, even if your game is pretty good. I feel like I’m working with people who grew up with me and feel it the same way we felt the vibe when we were creating this stuff.”
-Niles Rodgers, On Working with Daft Punk
The group’s latest–the hotly anticipated Random Access Memories–releases on May 21st. Their last project was the critically acclaimed Tron: Legacy soundtrack from the film of the same name. Daft Punk even had a brief cameo appearance in the movie as DJs, spinning tunes at the End of Line Club.
Random Access Memories brings together 13 tracks that reinforce the group’s reputation as a guiding force in EDM, or electronic dance music. And just as Daft Punk has been defining electronica and even pop, the group went back to the genesis of disco and dance music to find new inspiration for their signature sound. They also reached out to some legendary musicians and producers who influenced dance music. RAM is not only a new Daft Punk album, it’s a gathering of some of dance music’s greatest creators—and a definite inspiration for anyone interested in learning how to make dance music.
The Most Sampled Piece of Music Ever?
Niles Rodgers, the genius funkster whose distinctive chicken-scratch guitar lick can be heard in Chic’s 1979 disco anthem “Good Times,” was one of the first musicians and producers the band reached out to.
Rodgers co-founded Chic, a multi-platinum group that bridged the divide between Rock and Disco during the 70s and 80s. The band’s single “Good Times” remains one of the most sampled pieces of music of all time. Rodgers is also a master producer: He’s worked with Madonna (“Material Girl”), David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) and The B-52’s (“Love Shack”).
After meeting with Daft Punk (who have admired Rodgers for years) and an informal jam, Rodgers was asked to help contribute a few tracks for the new album. For the track “Get Lucky,” Rodgers wrote the guitar riff for the song. The catchy riff helped propel the song to No. 3 on the UK singles chart—even though it hadn’t been officially released yet. Spotify claimed the song had become the most streamed song in England and the U.S. during one 24-hour period, in all of Spotify’s five years of tracking music streaming trends.
Daft Punk’s new album features other guest artists who each also made their mark during the 70s and 80s. Giorgio Moroder came to fame during the 70s as the decade’s foremost producer of electronic disco. His signature sound—a kind of pulsing European vibe—can be best heard in Disco mainstays like Blondie’s “Call Me” or the Donna Summer classic “Love to Love You Baby.”
“Daft Punk wanted to do something and do it in a way that’s not done by just pushing a note or a chord. You definitely hear that it’s nice and full; the drums and the bass have that warm, that full sound. This is like a step forward,” Moroder said.
Paul Williams was another leading 70s producer, a mega talent who wrote big hits for music acts and movies.
His discography includes the Carpenters (“Rainy Days and Mondays”) and The Muppets (he penned Kermit the Frog’s immortal “Rainbow Connection”). He also co-wrote 1976’s Academy Award-winning song “Evergreen”—and will contribute to the new Daft Punk album. It’s collaborations like this that really make fans scratch their heads, although the end result (especially if the first single from RAM is any indication) is nothing less than phenomenal.
Random Access Memories is already being mentioned as being perhaps the year’s most important album—even before its release. Naturally, we’ve already placed a preorder for Random Access Memories on vinyl. Dance music is overtaking pop music. And it’s being done from behind a robot’s mask.