After 28 long years, French music duo Daft Punk have announced their split in a short film released on Feb. 22.
On a typical Monday morning like any other, fans were excited to see that a video had been uploaded by the duo, titled “Epilogue.” Known for their mystery and usually obscure music videos, fans assumed this was simply another video to be deciphered and picked apart.
However, this time was different. Viewers could see how ominous the vibe was at the beginning of the eight-minute video, with the two walking through a vast, empty desert. Wearing their legendary helmets and leather jackets with their name outlined in jewels on the back, the two turn to face each other silently.
One unzips their jacket and turns around to reveal a detonator. The other engages said detonator and walks out into the desert, the ominous beep echoing as a one-minute countdown begins. When time finally runs out, the member explodes into smithereens, an ode to a scene from one of their films titled “Electroma.”
A snippet of their song “Touch” begins to play as the scene of the explosion switches to black, displaying the dates “1993-2021,” signifying the end of the Daft Punk era. The other member begins walking into the sunset, with a choir singing, “Hold on. If love is the answer, you’re home.”
Later that day, their publicist Kathryn Frazier confirmed the breakup but had not given an exact reason why. Following the news of their split, their discography sales skyrocketed.
Many artists who had been influenced by Daft Punk took to Twitter to express their thoughts on their departure, like Swedish DJ Alesso, French singer Christine and the Queens and English electronic duo Disclosure.
“Thankful to be a part of the journey,” wrote Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd on his Instagram story, sharing clips and photos of their collaboration on his third studio album, “Starboy.”
Daft Punk, born Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, met in high school in Paris back in 1987. The two bonded over their similar music tastes and most of all, over their shared love for the 1974 film “Phantom of the Paradise,” which they saw over 20 times.
Before being helmet-wearing robots known and loved as Daft Punk, the two were formally known as “Darlin’,” an indie rock band they had begun in 1992. They named themselves after the Beach Boys song, of which they eventually did a cover. In the May issue of the British weekly music magazine Melody Maker, the band was not very well received. In a review by critic Dave Jennings, he called their music “daft punky thrash.”
Little did Jennings know that this piece of criticism would go on to become Bangalter and Homem-Christo’s future act name.
When the two went to a rooftop rave in Paris in 1993, they were completely and utterly entranced by what they experienced. Between the bass thumping and the neon lights, this particular encounter with house and techno music had completely inspired them to shift their musical direction.
Soon enough, they had their first worldwide hit with their 1995 song “Da Funk.” This particular song gave them the groove-infused sound that they are known for. In 1997, they released their debut album, “Homework,” which soon became critically acclaimed and changed dance music in its entirety with the song “Around the World.”
Wanting to retain their anonymity in their newfound fame, the duo often showed up to interviews in dollar store masks and face paint. They truly wanted to keep the focus on the music.
When they released their second album “Discovery” in 2001, Bangalter and Homem-Christo debuted their signature helmet look. In an artistic collaboration between music video directors Alex and Martin, Alterian Inc. SFX designer Tony Gardner and Ironhead Studios, the sleek, metallic LED helmets were created after much trial and error. Thus, the mystique of Daft Punk’s persona was born.
Daft Punk created lore surrounding the birth of their robotic visage, claiming that an accident occurred in the studio one day where a sampler exploded in front of the two, turning them into robots.
In 2003, the duo also created an animated sci-fi film titled, “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem” that served as a visual companion to their “Discovery” album. The story features the abduction of four musically talented aliens who reprogrammed to become an intergalactic pop band, The Crescendolls. The band sets off to rescue their bass player, Stella, and to figure out who they once were prior to their kidnapping.
In 2005, Daft Punk returned with the album, “Human After All,” which was not widely well-received; however, they ventured on tour after a decade following their previous album release and dazzled their audiences with their retro set, featuring a giant light-up pyramid.
They struck even more fame when Kanye West released “Stronger” on his third studio album “Graduation,” which sampled their song, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” from their album “Discovery.” They soon went on to collaborate at their 2008 Grammy performance.
That same year, Daft Punk scored their first Grammy win for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” followed by Best Electronic/Dance Album for their album “Alive 2007.” In all, Daft Punk have received 12 Grammy nominations and have won 6 of the 12.
In 2010, the duo created the complete soundtrack for Disney sci-fi film “TRON: Legacy.”
In 2013, Daft Punk released their album “Random Access Memories,” which was different from anything they had ever done before. Staying true to their electronic roots, the album is named after RAM, an element in computers which holds all of its memory. It featured countless instrument based collaborations and features with legendary producer Pharrell Williams, disco group Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers, Julian Casablancas, Paul Williams, Todd Edwards and Panda Bear.
The album sold millions of copies thanks to the hit “Get Lucky,” featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, giving ode to that old school disco funk sound that so many love. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year and the album became their first Billboard 200 No. 1 album. “Get Lucky” won Record of the Year at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Daft Punk went on to win three more Grammys that year for Album of the Year, Best Electronic/Dance Album and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
That same year, Daft Punk co-produced Kanye West’s album “Yeezus,” working on tracks like “Send It Up,” “On Sight,” “Black Skinhead” and “I Am a God.”
In 2016, Daft Punk collaborated with Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd on his album “Starboy” on the song “I Feel It Coming,” and the title track itself. “Starboy” reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100.
After the “Epilogue” video had been posted, many hopeful fans speculated that perhaps the band would pull a “Swedish House Mafia,” and reunite in a tour in the coming years. Swedish House Mafia is a Swedish house music group who split up in 2012. They had reunited in 2019 with their Save The World Reunion Tour.
Considered one of the most influential electronic acts to walk the face of the earth, Daft Punk will forever remain the blueprint of many electronic music acts that come after them.
Will they eventually have a reunion tour of their own? We will just have to wait and see.
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