After winning five Grammys for their newest album Random Access Memories, Daft Punk have solidified themselves as one of the most popular and intriguing electronic music groups of all time. For those looking to learn more about the enigmatic duo, author Dina Santorelli has written Daft Punk: A Trip Inside the Pyramid, a book that chronicles the robots’ rise from producing their first album in a small bedroom in Paris, France to putting on a sold-out world tour.
The book starts by diving into historical information about the duo, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, including their upbringing in Paris and their first band Darlin’ (which included Laurent Brancowitz, who would go on to become one of the guitarists for Phoenix). The two initially became friends when they realized they had a shared taste in film after meeting at the Parisian secondary school Lycèe Carnot in 1987. The book then goes on to highlight each of Daft Punk’s albums, shedding light on where they got inspiration from for each of their songs, as well as their overall musical influences:
Newcomers to the Daft Punk sound are often surprised to learn that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s early music influences were more rock and pop than dance. In their teen years both men gravitated toward music icons such as The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, and Led Zeppelin.
The author does a great job at exploring where the duo got their samples from (Barry White, Vaughan Mason & Crew, and Chic just to name a few) and who it was that inspired them the most.
The most interesting parts of the book tend to be the sections that talk about Daft Punk’s need to always push the boundaries that had been set before. One of the most notable examples of this is when Daft Punk put together the score to Disney’s highly anticipated sequel to Tron. John Kosinski, director of Tron Legacy, wanted to try something new, so instead of going with a traditional film composer, he decided to go with the robotic duo. Disney tried to give them support, but in the end Daft Punk ended up doing it all by themselves:
In 2008, Disney Arranged to have Daft Punk meet with several successful soundtrack composers about a potential collaboration, including Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, and Christophe Beck. “They were very generous and very open, sharing a lot of technical advice,” Bangalter has said. However, in the end, Daft Punk scrapped any collaboration plans.
Another example of Daft Punk’s rugged individualism is their experimental full-length film Electroma, which was directed by the duo and originally started out as a music video for their track Human After All. In classic Daft Punk fashion, “they undertook the effort with the same philosophy that they do all of their artistic endeavors: create without rules and without standards, and when approaching something unfamiliar learn from scratch.”
One of the major highlights of the book are the passages exploring the group’s latest album, Random Access Memories, and the many artists that collaborated on the project. An entire section of the book goes through each of the collaborators, explaining where they came from, how they met Daft Punk, and which tracks they worked on. Each of the collaborators has a unique story and contribution to the album, including Pharrell Williams, who ended up lending his vocals to Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance. Williams met Daft Punk at a Madonna party and “expressed interest in working with the duo on their new record, even if that just he meant he was to play the tambourine.” Another notable collaborator, Nile Rodgers of Chic fame, had wanted to collaborate with Daft Punk for a a long time but was never able to until Random Access Memories because of a series of near-misses and scheduling conflicts.
If this brief synopsis has piqued your interest at all, Daft Punk: A Trip Inside the Pyramid is a book you need to add to your reading list. It is currently available for purchase on Amazon.