Unlike many others, I was unable to sit down on December 10th to watch Daft Punk’s documentary on Showtime, Daft Punk: Unchained. Fortunately, plenty of others did and wrote down their thoughts.
Jason Black for Insomniac and Ben Cardew for the Guardian each put up their own list of “what we learned” from the documentary, and there’s a lot of information to go through. Daft Punk’s saga spans over 20 years, even before their debut album Homework was released in 1997.
And speaking of Homework, according to the documentary, and Black & Cardew, the album created so much hype after its release that “Madonna, Janet Jackson and George Michael all wanted to collaborate with the duo but the band politely declined.” In addition, the album was previewed to Virgin Records executives, people who were used to professional studios, on a boombox in their apartment. “It was hit after hit,” says Maya Masseboeuf, former artistic director of Virgin France.
In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album, Human After All. What most people wouldn’t know is that it was made in close to only two weeks in an attempt to go back to the sound of Homework, after the critically acclaimed Discovery in 2001.
The next year Daft Punk played Coachella for $300,000, after turning down an offer the previous year for $250,000. The performance was so hush hush and secretive that even their manager, Pedro Winter, had no idea that it was about to be a show that would define electronic music for the next decade. “I wasn’t allowed to see the lights yet,” he jokes.
Some other notable pieces of information from the documentary:
- The masters for Random Access Memories were driven from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine, for fear that they would ever leave someone’s sight.
- The original Daft Punk helmets were designed in 2000 by LA-based special effect designer Tony Gardner.
- The duo’s live show in 2007 at the LA Sports Arena was attended by a young Sonny Moore, who would go on to become Skrillex. It inspired him to pursue electronic music.
- After the release of their first 12″ in 1994, the reaction was so massive that Glasgow techno label Soma began to answer phones as, “Hello, Daft Punk,” rather than the name of their label.
Daft Punk: Unchained is available in English via Showtime; go here for local listings.