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Random Jukebox Memories: Daft Punk’s Da Funk

In 2021, Daft Punk shocked the music world by announcing they were splitting up after nearly three decades as a one of electronica‘s most celebrated double acts. 

Preaching the gospels of the galactic dance floor to the masses, the French robots’ love of raving and rock defined their work over their many eras — all the while remaining mysterious and masked. They released only four albums and toured just twice, leading to them become mythical mastermind figures in a genre they inevitably helped define. As the erstwhile duo’s final album Random Access Memories receives the obligatory anniversary expanded edition, here‘s a reminder of how it all started…

Before they settled on their iconic crash helmet dummies image, the not-so-young Parisian pairing of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo experimented with all kinds of disguises for the Daft Punk project, including a variety of masks. 

In the featured image here, is it me or is there a hint of a photo-Pet Shop Boys ‘Samurai in Autumn’ image from the British duo’s turn-of-the-millennium Nightlife period?  

During this nascent era, Bangalter and Homem-Christo casually worked on the tunes that would make up their first album in the former’s bedroom, utilising what The Guardian’s Ben Osborne referred to as “low technology equipment”— two sequencers, a smattering of samplers, synths, drum machines, and effects, with an IOMEGA zip drive rounding out their setup.

A masterpiece of G-funk meets mutant disco, Da Funk was the duo’s second single but the first to be lifted from their debut album Homework, and their first release to really cause a stir.

Da Funk hit stores as a limited edition private pressing in 1995. Its initial 2,000-platter pressing was virtually ignored until rave-electronica bridge-gap veterans the Chemical Brothers started airing out its A-side during DJ sets. 

A major-label bidding war ensued, with EMI-owned Virgin as the victor, who re-released the instrumental as a proper single, with non-Homework track Musique as its B-side. Of course the latter would later grace an album and its title by being included as the opening track of the 2006 anthology Musique Vol. 1 1993–2005, leading into Da Funk.

Inevitably, something harder, better, faster, stronger was just around the corner.

Steve Pafford (who first owned Da Funk in 1997 via its inclusion on the Virgin soundtrack CD, The Saint. Naturellement)

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