Daft Punk in an extremely rare unmasked shot
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Love it or loathe it, no one could escape the slinky 'whaouhw, wah-wah-wha, whaouhw' riff that propelled DAFT PUNK's 'Da Funk’ out of the underground and onto the worldwide stage.
Words: Rory Weller Photograph: Ashley Walker
OF ALL THE BANDS playing this weekend in the Slam music tent. by far the coolest are the disco-tinged. hard rockin’ acid housers Daft Punk. The two Gallic pranksters Thomas Bengalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem- Christo. 23 and 22 respectively. have swiftly gone from teen sensations to being the premier buzz band in dance music. The release of their debut album Homework last January was one of the year's most eagerly anticipated events.
The two Parisians met at high school as teenagers and set up an indie/rock/surf guitar band called Darlin‘ with Thomas (tall dafty) playing bass and Guy-Man (shorter dafty) singing and writing the music. Their sole release. ‘Cindy So Loud‘ was. they admit. ‘not very good at all‘.
Moving on swiftly. they discovered Paris’s burgeoning dance scene and were quickly hooked. hanging out at the legendary Rex club where they were introduced to the Detroit/Chicago sound. When Thomas was given a sampler for his eighteenth birthday by his lather — who penned Ottowan‘s ‘D.l.S.C.O’ hit — he and Guy-Man began creating their own sound. Their influences were clubs. their parents‘ music collections. and the experience of bunking off school. going round record shops and taking in afternoon B movies.
Cut to 1992 and the pair bumped into Stuart McMillan. of Glasgow’s Slam and Soma Records. during a rave at EuroDisney. They had heard of McMillan through his DJing and Slam’s ‘Positive Education’ track and slipped him a demo tape of their own track ‘Alive‘. Proving fairy tales can come true. Soma released the record later that year on the strength of this one demo.
By now our dynamic duo were calling themselves Daft Punk after a Melody Maker journalist’s description of their original band. They were bubbling around the underground scene. releasing ‘Da Funk‘. and ‘lndo Silver Club’ on Soma as well as making a name for themselves with ‘Daft Mix‘. a DJ set using equipment to mess up the sound coming from the turntables.
When ‘Da Funk‘ began appearing in the music press‘s charts and Daft Punk landed a tour with The (‘hemical Brothers. the industry began noticing the duo were doing something more creative than most teenagers manage in their bedrooms. Cheque book waving began in earnest and. at the end of 1996. the band finalised a deal with Virgin records.
Daft Punk were doing something in their bedrooms more creative that most teenagers manage.
The album went straight into the charts in January at Number Eight. and the re-release of ‘Da Funk‘ kicked off at Number Seven in February. When ‘Around the World' — the second single from the album — came out in April. it slammed straight in at Number Five. Their celebrity status led to the pair creating their own uniquely frustrating approach to PR. refusing to have their picture taken unless they wore masks and adopting a monosyllabie response to interviews. Asked by The List about their album. they said: ‘Ee’s just a collection of songs we like. you know.‘ All other questions were ignored or caused pitying looks. especially the one about Thomas’s father‘s disco legacy. Other interviewers have fared little better.
The T in the Park gig is only their third full live set in the UK - they will already have played Tribal Gathering and then Glastonbury. Their PR manager guarantees they will be previewing new material from the album they are currently working on. Get down the front
early and get ready to see a tent ﬂy.
Daft Punk play the Slam Muzik Tent on Sat 12 Jul.
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Slam Muzik Tent, Sat 12 Jul (live set) & Sun 13 Jul (DJ set).
WHEN SLAM’S STUART McMillan and Orde Miekle mouthed off to T In The Park organiser Stuart Clumpas about the quality of the dance tent at last year's festival, they never expected that nine months down the line they'd be putting the finishing touches to their dream line-up.
The Slam organisation have been the cornerstone of the Scottish dance a scene for the last ten years now (five years at their weekly night at the Arches in Glasgow) and the first people to do an all-nighter in Scotland.
'We weren't necessarily touting for the work ourselves,’ says Miekle. 'We just felt that a prestigious festival such as T in the Park deserved something better when it came to representing dance. I, personally, would have been very disappointed if they had chosen an English outfit instead of someone who would represent Scotland and Scottish tastes.’
Slam's concrete legacy within club culture makes them perfect for the job, having organised large scale events before and travelled the world appearing at similar festivals. ‘We have quite a strong idea of what we wanted to do, and there is now an understanding from people in the industry that we’ve put together a strong and attitude-driven line~up.'
Pinnacle of the weekend for the two of them will be Slam's first ever UK live performance, when they will use a sampling workstation to sequence the main set, spinning in CDs and acetates over the top of the music with a 909 running live, punched in during the set. 'It's going to be really exciting, but it's a little daunting at the moment,’ Miekle explains. ‘We're played twice before (Roskillde and Dublin), just to see how much can go wrong on a night before re-tweaking it for T in the Park. It's going to be an interesting couple of days and loads of the people who are appearing are our friends, so I just imagine it’ll be a two day piss-up and a lot of good music, that's it.’ (Rory Weller)
Slam: live and mixing
27 Jun—10 Jul l997 THE "ST 11