February 26, 2021
Skrillex, Erol Alkan and those close to the French duo chart how they went from being industry outsiders to defining the trajectory of dance music
They left an indelible mark on my psyche: how Daft Punk pushed pop forward
Following their split this week after 28 years, Daft Punk have ascended to pop Valhalla. Perhaps they’re sitting next to Prince, whose pirouetting falsetto funk and emotional vulnerability inspired the duo’s 2001 masterpiece Discovery, and Led Zeppelin, from whom they cribbed double-necked guitars and 10-tonne drums on 2005’s Human After All. Yet those albums were met with a mixed reception – audiences and critics alike had to learn to trust Daft Punk’s vision of the future.
For British producer-DJ Erol Alkan, whose fan forums were an essential incubator of the blog house movement that swept through club culture in the 2000s, the Parisians had a “deeply profound impact” on a generation, including Alkan. “They were a gateway into so much music that I love, and a big part of that admiration comes down to their position as outsiders,” he says. Daft Punk’s magpie approach to songwriting and visual art was a dominant story of early 21st-century music, similarly colouring the work of MIA, 2ManyDJs, the Avalanches and other sample-stitchers. Although some commentators queried how much inspiration could actually be bound up in recycling, Alkan thinks that in Daft Punk’s case, “the references are strong and familiar, and there is enough of themselves in there for it to always remain theirs”.
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