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French dance superstars Daft Punk go their separate ways

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From right to right: Nile Rodgers and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk accept the record of the year award onstage at the 56th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles , California. Photo: IC

One of the dance floor’s top numbers hung up on Monday, as electronic music stars Daft Punk announced their retirement in a typically cryptic fashion with a video showing one of them exploding in a desert.

The French duo released an eight-minute clip titled Epilogue, using footage from their 2006 cult film Electroma in which one of the robots puts the other into self-destruct mode.

After the explosion, a cut reads “1993-2021” with two robot hands making a circle around a sunset.

Their reporter, Kathryn Frazier, confirmed the news to AFP by email, without providing a reason for the split.

From “Da Funk” in 1995 to “Get Lucky” in 2013, Daft Punk has become the torchbearer of French house music around the world, winning six Grammy awards and pioneering the monumental sound and light shows that have come to characterize it. ‘electronic. dance movement (EDM) of recent years.

They did so by hardly ever revealing their faces – the ubiquitous headsets became another heavily copied trope of EDM stars, but also allowed Thomas Bangalter, 46, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, 47 years old, to free themselves from the fame which quickly surrounded them. .

“We have a much more normal daily life … than the life of artists who have the same level of fame as us, but who might be attached to being physically recognized,” Bangalter said in a 2015 BBC documentary. .

‘A flawless heritage’

Monday’s announcement sparked a wave of tributes to Daft Punk’s influence on hits.

“They have always cultivated a taste for paradox,” electro pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre told AFP, praising the “extremely elegant way of the duo of saying goodbye to their fans”.

“Eternally grateful,” Christine and Queens singer Chris tweeted.

Star music producer Marc Ronson also praised the “magnificent French robots”, writing on Twitter: “Daft Punk left the game with a flawless legacy”.

Despite endless rumors of a new tour or imminent new album, Daft Punk had been silent for several years.

Their latest album, Random Access Memories of 2013, was a phenomenal success, winning them four Grammies the following year, including the year’s record for “Get Lucky,” the first million-dollar single starring Pharrell Williams. and Nile Rodgers.

But the long-awaited return to the tour never happened.

They showed up once again for the Grammies in 2017.

Although the Twittersphere erupted with excitement in January amid rumors they would be appearing alongside The Weeknd for the Super Bowl halftime show, it did not materialize.

“Punky trash”

Bangalter and Homem-Christo met at the Parisian school before an unfavorable debut of music with the rock band Darlin ‘, which also featured a future member of the French independent group Phoenix.

A review in the UK music press called the group “stupid trash punk” – which struck a chord with them.

Reemerging as an electronic outfit, they found instant success.

The first singles “Da Funk” and “Around the World” became club dates and led to massive sales for their debut album Homework in 1997.

It was in the video for “Around the World” that they donned for the first time the helmets that would become their signature.

This reflected the strict control they had over every part of their career, which included ownership of their master recordings.

They followed suit with the even more successful Discovery in 2001, which spawned the hits “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

There were some distinctive choices in the years that followed, most notably the production of the 2003 film Interstella 5555 by Japanese anime master Leiji Matsumoto, which featured music from Discovery.

While their next album in 2005, a darker Human After All, received mixed reviews, these were quickly forgotten in the euphoria of their concerts over the next two years.

This included a headlining appearance at the American Coachella Festival in 2006, performed inside a giant LED pyramid. EDM fans always talk about it with almost religious reverence.

In 2010, they released a soundtrack of the Disney reboot of Tron, which won a Grammy nomination.

But no one predicted the massive success of Random Access Memories, for which they ditched their usual makeshift home gear for a full commercial studio – and used instruments entirely live.

The resulting work topped the album of the year lists and helped bring their total worldwide sales to 12 million.

In December 2020, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas told music site The Needle Drop that he had “tried to do something” with Daft Punk after collaborating with them on their 2013 single “Instant Crush.”

But he was told they “weren’t making music right now”, with one of the duos “focused on videos” and the other “obsessed with ancient aliens or something.”

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