How Daft Punk inspired me to be a better designer

Daft Punk, one of the most renowned dance/electronic music duos in the world, disbanded this year after 28 years of an extraordinary career. Daft Punk consists of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. Their first album was released in 1997.

The french produced music that no one had ever heard before. The band has been on my playlist for almost seven years now. I’ve gathered all my reflections about them through what I’ve heard and read about their work, and this article is primarily about their personalities and work and how they have influenced me to be a better design and creative person.

1. Storytelling and band branding

The birth of robots

As per the story, Daft Punk was in the studio recording their second album, Discovery, when an accident took place due to a 9999 bug: “Consciousness returned shortly after when we realized that we had become robots.”

The band title Daft Punk is named in reference from a Bad reviewer for their earlier album as an “A daft punky thrash”.

Well, it’s obvious that the story of the accident is made up, so they’re using it to convey how they have eliminated past work and re-invented themselves for their new release Discovery. In order to live up to the story they created, they started wearing helmets in public and called themselves Androids.

Daft Punk debuted their public image as a pair of masked robots in 2001

The fashion icons

A grand exhibition at the Paris Philharmonic celebrated Daft Punk and fashion. Through the years, they have not only put out their own merchandise and close collaborations with fashion designers including Hedi Slimane, but they have also secretly influenced many of the 80s/90s aesthetics, beginning mainly with a fascination with synth sounds, vintage graphics, and a site of complex and accomplished storytelling through music.

Daft Punk wears Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane — photo by Craig McDean — source: vogue.com

2. Mastery over fame

Since their first successes, the duo chose to wear masks to keep only their music in the spotlight, a decision that led to their rapid rise but also made them style icons.

In other words, they become icons of anti-celebrity celebrities.

They were different from other media like magazines, interviews, or any kind of personal exposure. A minimal yet strong presentation.

Make yourself known for only what you do; lead a hidden life. No one knows who you are as an individual, but you are known for your music. Don’t be a part of the stardom circus.

Thomas and Guy-Manuel said in one of the interviews that they were horrified by this new “religion of fake”. They were astonished at “the supremacy of the star system, the manipulation of art, people just wanting to be picked by the television system and be made into stars, and in a very passive way — they don’t want to act, to change things, they just want to be changed.”

“Looking at robots is not like looking at an idol. It’s not a human being, so it’s more like a mirror- the energy people send to the stage bounces back and everybody has a good time together rather than focusing on us.”

3. Experimentation

There is an element of experimentation in everything they do. Each track is an experiment in tricks and effects. It was like jewelry work, with so many production techniques at once, and the process was precise. During the making of their song Touch from Random access memories, they sampled over 250 tracks. According to them, this was one of their most challenging songs to create.

Daft Punk experimented with music in many different ways

  • Achieving a unique experience and timelessness by combining the styles from the past and imagery from the future (Retro + New) Eg. Robots playing Disco Music.
  • They used Remixing and sampling technologies extensively
  • Humble and grounded by their anonymity, and could be as creative as they desired without it affecting their personal lives.
  • Following the Bricolage technique, which is a technique or creative mode, where works are constructed from various materials available or on hand, and is often seen as a characteristic of postmodern art practice.

Breaking convention, they often use instruments in ways that they were not intended to be used. They don’t stick to one particular genre. Their album Discovery features songs of different genres. A whole new world opens up when you listen to them.

4. Slow down! Do your best work

Since they began recording in 1997, they have only released a handful of albums. The fact that they only released four studio albums in 28 years proves that they valued quality over quantity. The following is a timeline of their work

Studio albums

Soundtracks

It was not about craving for likes or views and making profits. Creating master prices was what it was all about. In order to achieve something unique, they needed to spend all those years learning something new and experimenting with it.

5. Be a futurist and embrace technology

When we think of Daft punk, we think of the future and good music.

Daft punk is more than just music. They are both equally fascinated by technology and have made technology an integral part of their identities. To generate sounds we have never heard before, they used instruments that we have never heard before

Technology has always been associated with hardware and software. Daft Punk put it in the context of art and music.

They remained ahead of their time with a band website and a new way to launch music on social media.

“Technology has made music accessible in a really philosophically interesting way but when everybody has the ability to make magic, it’s like there’s no more magic.”

Thomas Bangalter.

Daft Punk performing with their most iconic pyramid stage in 2007.

6. Saying — that’s enough!

Given their fame, they could have planned to make more money through world tours and collaborations. However, they concluded that it was enough.

There seems to be no end to what enough means to a significant part of our society, including many of the richest and most powerful among us.

The idea of concluding their career at its zenith is amazingly wise and powerful.

Although everything seems over at present, contacts between the two seem friendly from the recent separation, suggesting that they may get together in the future. I feel that their split might just be a part of the storyline they’re building for their next album. Let’s hope it’s true 😉

For now, we will have to settle for a discography as broad as their cultural legacy.

The ending scene of the Epilogue video released by Daft Punk 2021

References:

https://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/daft-punk/ https://www.nssmag.com/en/fashion/25343/daft-punk-fashion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOpvLGlgjyw

Originally published at https://owaiz.in on June 29, 2021.

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Hi, I’m a designer from India creating experiences to help people live better. I humanize products and services through design. Learn more at https://owaiz.in/

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Mohammad Owaiz Shaik

Mohammad Owaiz Shaik

Hi, I’m a designer from India creating experiences to help people live better. I humanize products and services through design. Learn more at https://owaiz.in/

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