They’ve won Grammys, headlined numerous sold-out world tours, and sparked the fire that is the electronic dance movement (EDM) for the better part of the last three decades; it’s hard to deny that French electronic duo Daft Punk has done it all.
With the release of their farewell video, “Epilogue,” which showed the bodies of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo, exploding into oblivion. After 28 years, they can now live quiet lives, far from the elation of crowds inside their signature lights-and-sounds shows.
Now that they’ve hung their enigmatic chrome helmets, let’s look back at the highlights of the house music masters.
9-9-1999: the day they were reborn as robots
According to Daft Punk, it all started with an “accident” back in 1999. A deadly virus in the system turned the duo into music-making machines, or so we were told.
The duo dubbed the technological meltdown the “9999 bug.”
“We did not choose to become robots,” Bangalter reportedly said according to Paste Magazine. “There was an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, and at exactly 9:09 am on September 9, 1999, it exploded. When we regained consciousness, we discovered that we had become robots.”
Akin to the infamous “Millennium bug,” the 9999 virus reportedly wiped out all the songs they were working on, forcing the tandem to “reboot” as robots and start over. “Everything was erased, we had to start all over again,” Bangalter added. We don’t keep a record of the time when we make music.”
From then on, the chrome helmets became their fit, and the rest is history.
Their second studio album and “Interstella 5555”
You can’t discuss the excellence of Daft Punk’s 2001 album, Discovery, and overlook the uber-imaginative masterpiece that is Interstella 5555: the 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, the visual companion to the chart-topping album.
For the Japanese animated film, they tapped their childhood hero Leiji Matsumoto from the legendary animation studio Toei Animation to create a science fiction-inspired pastiche of popular culture.
With Matsumoto as the film’s visual supervisor, the film started production in 2000 and was released in 2003, with an initial premiere of the first four parts in Cartoon Network’s Toonami in 2001.
In a Cartoon Network interview, Daft Punk bared that Matsumoto’s classic Captain Harlock animè series was their favorite show growing up. They also shared that it heavily influenced their aesthetic drive as adults.
That “fateful night” in Coachella 2006
A larger-than-life LED pyramid. That’s it, that was the defining moment of Daft Punk’s legendary performance during that year’s Coachella.
It sounds commonplace to us now, but back in 2006, the infectious euphoria and the raving crowd was just half of what made Daft Punk’s sets a must-go event – no, it was the epic light show that ensued that made Coachella an unforgettable night. That vivid pyramid defined the role of LED lights during Daft Punk’s shows, and accelerated the rise of that eclectic EDM atmosphere.
To wit, in the BBC documentary Daft Punk Unchained, music journalist Michaelangelo Matos retold an account by one of the attendees, who exclaimed: “That was the best light show I have ever seen.”
The time Australia went “alive” in 2007
If only people knew how memorable Daft Punk’s final world tour would be, they would have shot their fists in the air with more vigor.
We’re talking about Daft Punk’s final full live show ever, which happened during the last leg of their Alive 2007 tour in Sydney, Australia. This was the tour that spawned the duo’s second live album, which won a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2009. Audiences during the tour also saw the return of the giant pyramid, which by this time had become somewhat of a staple in their live stints.
Being their last live show, fans were made to relive the moment through fan footages and video coverage after the duo split. It even pushed people to recreate the concert in VR. Now that’s dedication.
Turning up during a fight in TRON: Legacy
It’s no secret that Daft Punk was responsible for the musical score as well as the soundtrack for the 2010 sci-fi film from Disney, TRON: Legacy. The vibe between the film and their style just jived so well.
But if you just listened to the movie’s OST and didn’t watch the film, then you might have missed the duo’s cameo in one of the fight scenes.
Wearing sleek, bright-white futuristic costumes while still donning their robotic helmets, the duo can be seen cranking up the volume while an epic disc-clashing encounter ensues in the foreground.
Their collaboration on the film also spawned a music video for the song, Derezzed, from the movie’s soundtrack. It features Quorra, Olivia Wilde’s character in the movie, and Daft Punk inside the iconic Flynn’s Arcade.
Daft Punk “getting lucky” at the Grammys
These last two highlights are hard to miss, mainly because these are the final couple of moments when Daft Punk is publicly seen and heard from.
First is Daft Punk receiving the “Album of the Year” award for Random Access Memories, among many awards that the album won, during the 2014 Grammys. This one holds a special place in every fan’s heart because of the emotional moment right before they got on stage.
Paul Williams, a long-time collaborator with the pair, delivered the speech on DP’s behalf, admitting “Back when I was drinking and using, I used to imagine things that weren’t there. And then I got sober and two robots called me and asked me to make an album.”
They then went and performed “Get Lucky” alongside Pharrell Williams and legendary musician Stevie Wonder.
Their final stint with The Weeknd
Is it just us, or does it stir a different kind of pain knowing that Daft Punk’s final performance was four years ago?
Nonetheless, it came, and no one could have ever predicted it would be their last: Daft Punk performing alongside The Weeknd to play an electrifying mash-up of the latter’s hit singles, “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming,” off the solo star’s hit Starboy LP at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
It was nonetheless as memorable as any of Daft Punk’s live appearances: The Weeknd materializes out of a celestial stage screened with smoke as the electronic tandem made people dance from their inter-galactic decks.
No one should be able to cram 28 years of memories into just seven items and claim justice over the deed, but we’ll leave it to the fans to relish their own remembrances of Daft Punk.