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Daft Punk: Need More RAM!

Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Is this it? Nope. It’s another fan made remix that Stereogum jumped on too fast. Second time today I fell for something like this. Oh, there it is! False alarm. Argggh! And that’s how I spent Tax Day 2013. I’m in full-on junkie mode searching for the full version […]

Daft-Punk

Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh. Click. Refresh.

Is this it?

googlereaderscreenshot

Nope. It’s another fan made remix that Stereogum jumped on too fast. Second time today I fell for something like this.

stereogumfail

Oh, there it is!

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 7.10.49 AM

False alarm. Argggh!

And that’s how I spent Tax Day 2013. I’m in full-on junkie mode searching for the full version of the first single “Get Lucky” off the upcoming Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories. Where did this all start?

Come back in time with me for a minute to suburban Coon Rapids, June 7, 1994. My high school days started around 6 am back then, so I was rarely a night owl. That evening was an exception. The new Stone Temple Pilots album, Purple, was coming out at midnight that Tuesday night, and I was determined to hear the new, much-hyped album from one of the leaders of the “alternative nation.” I remember I expected a long line at the strip mall music store, but happily got in and out without a wait — home again by 12:15 am. It wasn’t enough merely to get the disc early — I stayed up so I could hear it right away. Two listens later, I finally headed to bed, only to wake up soon after so I could dub the CD on to tape to play in my car on the way to school. Stone Temple Pilots debuted that week at #1 on the Billboard charts.

This is the first time I remember really itching with anticipation for the release of a new album, but it was surely not the last.

A year prior to that late night excursion, two French musicians grew tired of rock ‘n’ roll and started making electronic music. Months before the release of Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple, Daft Punk released their own first single, “The New Wave.” Three years later, they were the toast of the burgeoning international club music scene with their album Discovery. The duo, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, synthesized the best elements of house music, leaning heavily on the type of disco music heard in the ’70s and ’80s at the Loft and Paradise Garage. Over the last 15 years, Daft Punk has become legendary, not only for their music but for the striking imagery in their elaborate live shows, their wildly creative videos and movies. Combine all this with near radio-silence on the interview front and you have an element of real intrigue surrounding their latest project, too.

In the last 20 years, my personal music tastes have shifted. That Stone Temple Pilots CD is somewhere, I’m sure, but I’ll be damned if I remember the last time I considered listening to it. Daft Punk was something I first heard in college, but I didn’t get it. At the time, I was searching out the “real” punk and hardcore records from Southern California and Washington, D.C.; dance music felt outmoded to me then, like baggy pants and glow sticks. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty and repetitive simplicity that is the calling card of truly danceable music. When artists like Ted Leo started covering Daft Punk, their work started to make sense to me; I could hear in it some of that urgency for making the most of the “moment” that I love in rock music. Look at the history of house music, and you see it’s equally subversive.

The myth of Daft Punk has now grown to epic proportions. The long wait for new music from them has created a collective yearning you don’t often see anymore in today’s ADD culture. In January, Daft Punk announced they would be releasing a new album this year. I was giddy and so was the world of music. The hype has been crazy. Shortly after they announced the upcoming record, rumors about Daft Punk playing the spring Coachella music festival started popping up. A 15-second commercial aired during Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago giving a taste of the new single, and those 15 seconds were the talk of the music media for days afterward. DJs and fans did their best to capture the moment through extended remixes … of the 15-second teaser. Word hit that the duo would launch their new album at an agricultural fair in Australia eight hours outside of Sydney. Despite their absence from the lineup at Coachella, one of the biggest questions in advance of the festival last weekend was whether the “robots” might make a cameo. And on Friday, April 12, before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set, a one-minute, 42-second video featuring Daft Punk playing drums and bass, backing Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers, showed on a big screen to the festival crowd.

That additional one minute and 27 seconds of previously unheard material subsequently took the internet by storm. Multiple versions of the Coachella video exist already, and the combined views of these videos on YouTube is staggering; the teaser linked above had well over a million views in the span of just three days. Full disclosure: I account for at least 50 of them.

Anticipation stoked to fever pitch by the video release, hopeful fans were sure Daft Punk would be joining fellow Frenchmen Phoenix for their Saturday late-evening set at the festival. Phoenix goes on to wild applause; the group finishes their set, and the lights go dark. R. Kelly appears. Phoenix closes the evening collaborating with R. Kelly to make a mash-up of both of their biggest hits, “1901″ and “Ignition.” The collaboration was a rare treat in its own right, but if you watch video of the performance, you can hear both artists finishing the song to chants from the crowd for … DAFT PUNK.

So back to me, this Monday: rumor coming out of the weekend has it that the full version of the duo’s new single, “Get Lucky,” is going to be released. After suffering through another snowy mid-April weekend, I can feel myself becoming unreasonably excited at the prospect of a bright, shiny new Daft Punk tunes on the horizon; based on the obsessive chatter by fans and music media on the internet, I’m not alone. But the single doesn’t materialize. On Monday, what shows up instead is a new Daft Punk “Collaborators” video, this one an interview with Pharrell Williams. In fact, the contributors to this record are, themselves, notable — collectively responsible for creating infectious dance and pop music that spans the last 40 years.

I know all too well the amount of marketing effort that is put in to hype of an album, but the organic, grassroots fervor for this one gives me hope that it’s more than just clever PR. And after days of news stories about the Boston Marathon bombing, I’m happy to go along for the ride, grateful that there are still things being created in the world that give us all something we can so look forward to.
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Tom Loftus is founder and owner of the Modern Radio record label, a creative/music event planner, social media consultant, DJ, mini-golf enthusiast and a college career adviser. He has been deeply involved in the Twin Cities music community since the mid-1990s and has attended over 2000 shows across the world in basements, bars, ballrooms and beyond. While not immersed in the world of music, he loves word games, traveling, and his two cats adopted from Pizza Farm.