Turns In Their Homework

08/15/1997 3:00 AM, Yahoo! Music
Donna Adcock

Photo of Daft Punk
Daft Punk
Turns In Their Homework, Exclusive myLAUNCH Interview By Donna

Now stomping their way to the top of the musical food chain is French duo Daft Punk, whose disco-dipped house funk sparked a signing frenzy this year for Homework, the pair's debut album.

"Many record companies offered us deals," says 21-year-old Thomas Bangalter, "they came from everywhere, but we decided to wait--partly because we didn't want to lose control of what we had created. We turned down many record companies."

Bangalter and his 22-year-old grade school chum, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo instead opted to sign a license agreement with Virgin, who guaranteed their continued independence and freedom as artists. "We weren't interested in the money, so we turned down labels that were looking for more control than we were willing to give up. In reality, we're more like partners with Virgin." When asked about possibly censoring their material under the watchful eye of a record label, Thomas says: "We write everything, we do all the creative, we say exactly how it's going to be recorded. There is no compromise."

The Duo
decided to keep their sampling traditional:  We're not out in the fields
chasing birds with our recording instruments or anything. Originally a guitar band named Darling, they decided to put down their stringed instruments and experiment with the digital sounds coming from French underground nightclubs. Thomas: "We just got bored with rock 'n' roll, we got bored with the sound, so we started trying different things." Having spent many years listening to dub and house, the resulting sound of Daft Punk is bass-heavy, but goes down lightly when featured with Daft's easy-to-follow crunchy vibrations--generating very chic, danceable tracks. Both Bangalter and De Homem-Christo profess the simplicity of their techno-derived music is intentional, believing too many detailed and finite layers can sometimes merge and become muddled or indistinguishable when played from a radio. The duo also decided to keep the sampling traditional: "We're not out in the fields chasing birds with recording instruments or anything," says Thomas. "We're mainly sampling from other albums, just bits here and there."

Deemed "the perfect music to strut to," the most popular single "Da Funk" off Homework whets the sonic appetite with an abundance of trip-enriching "wah wahs" and bass thumps that are sure to give you something to think about as you float through space on your silver lounge chair.

Audio Icon "Da Funk"
Audio Icon "Around The World"
Audio Icon "Alive"
The big buzz surrounding Homework has been the album's rather unusual birthplace: From beginning to end, the album was created in Bangalter's bedroom in France using just a simple eight-track mixing console. And to the added monetary support from Virgin that would buy them time in any recording studio they could point to, they say "Merci" but they'll continue to do it the old-fashioned way. Bangalter: "In a studio, you can create music that's really interesting, but you have to worry about how much money you're spending and how much time you're in there. Some of the tracks took us 20 minutes, where others we spent two weeks making.

"It's very democratic, you know. In rock 'n' roll, it's luck that sometimes determines whether or not you'll succeed. But samplers are really cheap now and if someone has talent and even just an eight track mixer--anyone who's really into music or has an idea can give it a try. Make their own music. This kind of music gets picked by the smaller labels, so it's not hard for the unknowns to get their music heard." As underground goes aboveground, Daft Punk seem satisfied that mainstreaming will have a positive effect on this typically cloaked musical community: "It's very exciting right now--you know, the way things are going. This music is just beginning to develop and it will be exciting to see what different people come up with. I think the music will get better."

Having turned in their Homework, they're already thinking about doing something new: "I don't know if we will do this forever, we just like doing it now, we just want to be happy. But you can't sit in front of your television all day just because it makes you happy. It's really up to us--we can just take our time."

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