Daft Punk Announce Breakup
Daft Punk, the massively popular and influential Paris-based dance music duo, have broken up. Members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter announced their split in a new video titled “Epilogue,” excerpted from their 2006 film Electroma, which features the producers in their iconic robot costumes silently parting ways in the desert before one blows the other up. The rest of the clip is set to their Paul Williams collab “Touch” and includes a “1993-2001” message followed by an extended sunset scene. Daft Punk’s longtime publicist confirmed the breakup to Pitchfork.
Bangalter and de Homem-Christo formed Daft Punk in Paris in 1993 and helped to pioneer the French touch subgenre of house music. They perfected their take on classic Chicago house with their 1997 debut Homework, but even then they were showing off broader pop aspirations. The album spawned two massive MTV hits, “Around The World” and “Da Funk,” which respectively boasted videos from the visionary directors Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. “Around The World” also cracked the Billboard Hot 100. This era of the group is captured on the live album Alive 1997.
By 2001’s Discovery, Daft Punk had blown out their sound to incorporate elements of disco, funk, R&B, and arena rock. Cheery opening track “One More Time” returned the duo to the Hot 100, while the playfully mechanistic “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” later became the basis for Kanye West’s #1 hit “Stronger.” After 2005’s more divisive Human After All, they took their famous pyramid live show to festivals around the world, documenting the era with another live set called Alive 2007. The proggy bombast of their concert productions, and the instantly legendary quality they took on, helped to lay the groundwork for the EDM craze of the early 2010s.
In late 2010, around the time both members were knighted in their native France, Daft Punk entered the realm of Hollywood film scores with their soundtrack to the movie Tron: Legacy. Their final studio album, 2013’s Random Access Memories, would bring them their broadest notoriety yet. Inspired by nostalgia and the American disco music of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the album included a number of noteworthy guest stars, most famously Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers on “Get Lucky,” which climbed all the way to #2 in the US. It also yielded killer collabs with Panda Bear and Julian Casablancas and “Giorgio By Moroder,” in which key Daft Punk influence Giorgio Moroder narrates his own electronic music memories. In an upset victory, Random Access Memories won Album Of The Year at the 2014 Grammys over the likes of Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore. “Get Lucky” also won Record Of The Year that night.
Around the same time Random Access Memories was popping off, Daft Punk were again aligned with Kanye, producing multiple tracks on his abrasive 2013 effort Yeezus. Since then they’ve been even more elusive than usual, rarely appearing in public without their robot helmets, mostly keeping a low profile, and releasing hardly any music at all. But they did return to pop prominence with a feature credit on two hits from the Weeknd’s Starboy, the chart-topping title track (Daft Punk’s first and only #1 hit) and the #4-peaking “I Feel It Coming.” Both their look and their sound made them one of the most iconic, heavily imitated dance artists of the early 21st century.