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Daft Punk Decoded

by Mars

Sunday night Daft Punk won record of the year for their hit "Get Lucky" and also won album of the year for "Random Access Memories" at the Grammys. No one's really surprised, but let's look at how they got there and at the faces behind the helmets.

The members of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem Christo used to be in a band called "Darlin'" with Laurent Brancowitz. They got their name from a song by The Beach Boys. 

Darlin' released a few songs and received a negative review from British music magazine Melody Maker calling the music "a daft punky thrash." 

These are the four songs that Darlin' produced:

  • Darlin' - I'm assuming this is the song that made the reviewer coin the phrase "daft punky thrash". It doesn't really go anywhere at all.
  • Cindy, So Loud (Demo) - YIKES. I know that this was just a demo, but those vocals. Ouch.
  • Untitled 33 - I actually really liked this one; it has an early Strokes feel to it. I really enjoyed the piano accompaniment; it brought a lighter layer to the song that I wasn't expecting. 
  • Untitled 18 - This song is the closest one to the present day Daft Punk that we know. 

Darlin' disbanded shortly after, Bangalter and de Homem Christo began to experiment with synthesizers. 

Brancowitz later teamed up with his younger brother and created a band called Phoenix. 

 Phoenix at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. 2013 // See the full set here.

Daft Punk didn't always wear helmets when they performed.

They used to wear masks or different kinds .

Or really anything  that would sort of cover  their faces...

And the helmets  themselves have changed over the years...

Present day helmets

The helmets were originally designed sporting wigs. But in 2001 while they were on their way to a photo shoot to unveil the helmets to the world, they decided to get rid of them. No photos exist of the wigs.  

But what do they look like without those things on?!

Well, they used to look like this . 

And now this and this .


Image from Stereogum

But WHY the helmets?

In an interview with Canoe in 2004, Bangalter said, "We don’t believe in the star system... We want the focus to be on the music. If we have to create an image, it must be an artificial image. That combination hides our physicality and also shows our view of the star system. It is not a compromise.” 

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo recently told Rolling Stone, “We're not performers, we're not models – it would not be enjoyable for humanity to see our features, but the robots are exciting to people."

Robots or humans, we're pretty lucky to have them around.