Journalist in the culture department of World, Aureliano Tonet answered your questions about the separation, announced on Monday February 22, of the electro duo Daft Punk, flagship formation of the French touch composed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

Read our story: “The epilogue” of Daft Punk, pioneers of the French touch, after three decades of hits

LeTigre: Could it be that it was intoxicating, or were there any warning signs of this separation? And is it really a surprise, by the way?

Aureliano Tonet: It is a surprise, insofar as the French, although discreet, were still active. Although released in 2016, their hits for R’n’B singer The Weeknd (Starboy and I Feel It Coming) were the highlight of his show, Sunday, February 7, during halftime of the Super Bowl. According to an insistent rumor, the duo was even supposed to make an appearance, as was the case at the Grammy Awards, in 2017. This concert given four years ago was therefore their last.

Read also Daft Punk, founding duo of French Touch, split after 28 years

Another rumor, in early 2020, was of the imminent release of a new album. Their separation has been confirmed by those around them, it seems that this time it was not intoxicating. However, Daft Punk are masters in the art of secrecy, opposites and marketing, nothing can be ruled out – not even a comeback, sooner or later.

Read also Documents on Daft Punk’s new album are believed to be fake

José: How to explain the success of Daft Punk?

In popular music, success can never be fully explained; it is often a matter of misunderstandings. It is a very inexact science, because very human… The Daft Punk, by putting on their robot masks, give the illusion of a career mastered from start to finish, of an almost mechanical popularity, which would rely on finely calculated marketing: the elegant logo of the group, its polished image, its clips – signed by great directors, such as Michel Gondry -, its impressive stage performances, its collaborations with the stars of yesterday or tomorrow – by Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers to Pharrell Williams and The Weeknd – give the impression of a flawless.

Now it is precisely in their part “Human, after all” [comme le nom de leur album, Human After All] that nestles their success: their gift for melodies and catchy loops, a very fine way of breathing in the zeitgeist, patience also to wait for the necessary time between two albums … An artificial intelligence would have published a thousand times more!

Bus shelters: Has there been another example in the world of a group that is both aesthetic, sharp and popular?

We think of the Beatles or David Bowie, who bridged the avant-garde and the general public. To take references closer to those of Daft Punk, musicians such as the Italian composer Giorgio Moroder, who made a whole generation dance in the golden age of disco, or the American filmmaker John Carpenter, whose soundtracks are cult, have similarly navigated between aesthetic radicalism and more “mainstream” accessibility.

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Read the portrait: Giorgio Moroder still prowls

A pretzel: For their 2001 album “Discovery”, Daft Punk would have used samples of older songs that influenced them for all the tracks. Is it true ?

Daft Punk indeed multiply the winks, quotes, tributes more or less transparent on each of their records. Random Access Memory (2013) is, in this, the most eloquent: each employee seems to have been chosen because he constitutes a “madeleine” of the duo. Thus the unknown Paul Williams, the voice of one of the favorite films of Daft Punk, which they saw thirty times before getting into music, in the early 1990s: Phantom of the Paradise, by Brian De Palma (1974).

Read also Daft Punk: down the helmets

We also hear the notes of this collaboration with Williams, Touch, at the end of the video Epilogue, which seals the separation of Daft Punk. Some go so far as to interpret the date of the publication of this video – February 22 – as a reference to De Palma’s film, which was also released at the end of February …

This is all the magic of this duo: by handling signs and symbols in such a mysterious way, they play the role of smugglers with great poetry, directing their audience towards the sometimes unknown treasures of music, cinema, games. video or Japanese animation.

+ Fast + Strong: At the beginning of Daft Punk’s first successes, how does their music differ from what is then done in electro?

In the mid-1990s, when Daft Punk met, electronic music was binary. On the one hand, what is called eurodance triumphs in all the nightclubs of the European continent, with a fairly naive aesthetic, extolling globalization, easy and catchy melodies, a completely assumed commercial character: this trend is above all carried by Italian musicians (Corona, Alexia…) and, to a lesser extent, German (La Bouche), Swedish (Ace of Base), Belgian or Dutch (Two Unlimited).

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On the other hand, in France in particular, the more radical and politicized side flourishes in the underground, with its more or less legal scenes – the raves -, its codes, its very stylized and innovative aesthetic. The “Revolution 909” – from the name of one of their titles – that lead, in the mid-1990s, by Daft Punk consists in uniting these two worlds, which looked at each other like faience dogs: the one, very accessible, pop and commercial , dance and the one, sharp and sharp, almost punk, raves and underground.

T: Does the separation of Daft Punk, a French group, have an international impact?

The French part of Daft Punk should not be underestimated. Thomas Bangalter’s father, Daniel Vangarde, is a figure of the hexagonal variety: we owe him in particular the words of Masked ball of the Creole Company… They have recorded a lot in the Gang studios, created in 1974 by Claude Puterflam: most of the French variety showed there, from Michel Berger to Jean-Michel Jarre – a pioneer of electronics to whom, for In many ways Daft Punk owes a lot.

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And there is the generational dimension of the French touch: the Daft Punk were not alone. At their beginnings, they are part of a collective movement, Ile-de-France, which sees young house enthusiasts dreaming of global success.

The news of their separation moved beyond our borders. Specialized American publications, such as Variety or Pitchfork, devoted their headlines to it. Information went around the world – Around the World, as the Dafts sang almost a quarter of a century ago.

The Sky: Hello, who do you think are the heirs of Daft Punk in France? Can an artist or a group succeed them with dignity as ambassador of French music?

For now, their most worthy heir is Canadian: it is their collaborator The Weeknd, who is triumphing around the world at the moment. I think he borrowed a lot from Daft Punk, especially in the management of his image, very controlled, and his references, extremely vast. He is a fascinating, avant-garde and popular artist, who does not limit himself to one style (electro, R’n’B…). A very good performer, too, who knows how to play with gigantism and mystery.

Read the review: The Weeknd takes refuge in the 1980s

As for France, we did not have to wait for their separation to measure the influence of Daft Punk on our electronic scene. For the past twenty years or so, each new generation has paid it more or less explicit homage, particularly in the poetic use of marketing, the way of mixing universes a priori very distant, the desire to turn, very early on, to the stranger… Justice or Zombie Zombie did it yesterday, The Empress or Polo & Pan today. An imaginary group as French as Fauve has just reinvented itself from A to Z, under the name of Magenta: refined texts, in French, on hypnotic electronic loops, very filtered. Their main aesthetic reference? Daft Punk.

T&P: After the disappearance of several key figures of what is called the French touch (Cassius, DJ Mehdi), what remains of this current?

Eden, the film that director Mia Hansen-Love devoted to this movement in 2014, nicely captured its melancholy, almost twilight part: behind the globalized party floats like an air of hangover. The death in 2019 of the flagship producer Philippe Zdar (half of the duo Cassius), the dormancy for several years of the group Air, the separation today of Daft Punk could suggest that what we called the French touch lived.

But that would be going very quickly. Another flagship group of this movement, very popular abroad, Phoenix is ​​currently in the studio, to record a new album. More or less peripheral artists from the French touch galaxy, from Sébastien Tellier to Christophe Chassol, from Laurent Garnier to Etienne de Crécy, continue to meet their audiences – including abroad. And like the two members of Air, who multiply solo projects, I hardly see Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo remaining inactive …

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