Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.
The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.
The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.
In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.
In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”
On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.
Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.
Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.
I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.
The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.
With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.