Daft Punk Diversifies

From filmmaking to furniture design, this French duo is multi-faceted.

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter crashed onto the electronic-music scene in the early '90s with a love for Chicago house music on their sleeves and indie-rock pedigrees in their back pockets. This mixed background came through in subtle ways on early singles like "Da Funk" and "The New Wave," which earned the duo fans in both electronic and rock circles. While arpeggios, samples and techno trills lit the upper registers of Daft Punk tracks, the bottom end was firmly anchored by simple bass lines and drum programming that was equal parts Phil Collins and Giorgio Moroder.

In a genre that frequently favors quantity of output over quality, Daft Punk has released surprisingly few records in its nearly fifteen-year history. Rather than churn out "Around the World" nine times a year, "Guy-Man" and Bangalter prefer to take their time, exploring new ideas in music and other art forms. Their last album, Human After All, was released two years ago, but their current tour supports the recent release of their debut feature film, Electroma, a silent, non-linear narrative about two robots attempting to become human. Guy-Man spoke with us about the film and how it fits into their oeuvre.


Cylon Raiders or Daft Punk? Only their hairdresser knows.
Cylon Raiders or Daft Punk? Only their hairdresser knows.

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Westword: How did you come to direct a feature film?

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo: It was a dream that Thomas and I had since we were twelve or thirteen years old and we met at school — before we made music together. We've always been big movie fans.

How did you learn what you needed to know about filmmaking to pull this off?

Ten years ago, we did our first video with Spike Jonze. Then Michel Gondry did our second video. Having all these great directors as videomakers for us was like a great gift. On the second album, we spent more than three years working on an anime film with Kazuhisa Takenochi. Then, after directing some of the videos for the last album, we decided to dive into making a real movie, if we can call it that.

How does the process of making a film compare to making an album?

Since the first album, it's been about focusing on just the two of us. Working on the movie, though, we opened ourselves to a bigger team. It was maybe a greater experience, because when you're happy with the results, the whole crew is really happy with it. It's a great thing to share. It was also funny to see a lot of similarities [between making the film and making music]. Thomas was running around with the camera, and I was on the monitor, and when we make music, it's the same: Thomas is more focused on technical things, while I'm trying to see the big picture from a different angle.

Any plans to get involved in any other art forms?

We've been working on some furniture with Habitat. We designed a glass coffee table that was lit like a dance floor. We're always looking for new stuff to do. We don't have any special ideas right now, but as long as we think we can handle it, we'll try it. If we see that we're really bad at something, we won't put it out there. We probably won't be making a cookbook anytime soon.

 
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