13 Daft Punk-inspired artists who are helping further their legacy
Beyond the illusion of their masks, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (or, Daft Punk as you know them) permanently transformed the music industry. Their 1997 debut album, Homework, and 2001 follow-up album, Discovery, introduced the world to electronic music with an unprecedented voice. Over their nearly 30-year career, Daft Punk were always on the cutting edge of whatever they did—be it their music, their image and marketing or even their legendary 2006 live performance at Coachella.
When the French duo announced their split in February, musicians from an array of genres thanked Daft Punk over social media for their lasting impression on the music industry. While the robots may not be with us anymore, their sound still flourishes through today’s musicians. For these 13 artists, Daft Punk were a mysterious illusion that heavily influenced their musical work.
Not only are Justice also a French electronic duo, but they helped carry Daft Punk’s ’90s electronic sound well into the ’00s. With their debut album, Cross, Justice use EDM and industrial rock to mimic Daft Punk’s signature sound from their 1997 debut album, Homework. Tracks such as “Genesis” use scratchy drum beats and metallic riffs to emulate the overly filtered sounds of ’90s electronic music.
For dubstep icon Skrillex (aka Sonny Moore), attending Daft Punk’s ’06-07 Alive tour was an existential experience. “[It] was like walking into the portal of my destiny,” Moore told The Guardian in February. “It left an instant and indelible mark on my psyche.”
The DJ was also inspired by Daft Punk’s ability to transform the niche sound of electronic music into something for the masses. “The Alive show was like entering a massive hug with everyone part of it,” Moore continued. “Daft Punk transcended a niche culture and made something global for the masses, uniting all of these people with hooks that are simple and true.”
Porter Robinson’s life would be completely different if it weren’t for Daft Punk. When the duo announced their split Feb. 22, Robinson tweeted, “Thinking about how every stage of my life would have gone so differently if it weren’t for Daft Punk.”
Robinson also reminisced about his childhood years, which consisted of listening to Daft Punk on LimeWire and watching their music videos. He tweeted, “Thinking about being 11 and exploring LimeWire, searching ‘Daft Punk music videos’ and seeing Interstella 5555 piece by piece. Seeing that fusion of electronic music and anime for the very first time. Haahhhhhhghj damn I am crying.” So are we, Porter.
English duo Disclosure consider Daft Punk “the greatest to ever do it,” according to a recent tweet. Not only that, but brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence happily admit to ripping off “Voyager” by Daft Punk “shamelessly.” Daft Punk’s 2001 album Discovery is also considered a major influence to Disclosure, with the album’s mix of robotic and human vocals.
Disclosure tweeted their infinite admirability for Daft Punk, sharing, “Words can't describe the inspiration and knowledge we gained from listening to the two robots over the years. Wishing them nothing but good energy and positivity for the future."
Russian-German DJ Zedd considers Daft Punk to be music royalty, tweeting, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Daft Punk. Long live the kings that paved the way for EDM.” While he wasn’t initially a fan of electronic music, Zedd claims Daft Punk are what turned the tides for him. In the tweet, Zedd explains that Discovery was the first album he ever bought, with “One More Time” being the first electronic song he fell in love with.
Dillon Francis’ love of Daft Punk spawned from an unusual place—Cartoon Network. When Francis was 12, he saw the music video for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” while watching Cartoon Network—and the rest is history. In 2006, Francis would attend Daft Punk’s Coachella performance, one of their greatest live shows. Shortly after the news of Daft Punk’s retirement hit the internet, Francis also reshared his remix of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on the music streaming platform Audius.
The success of Daft Punk’s Discovery and their sudden worldwide fame landed them in the title of an LCD Soundsystem single. For “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House,” lead singer James Murphy imagined the narrator name-dropping the duo when trying to get people to come to their house party.
Daft Punk’s 2013 album, Random Access Memories, shifted the pop music scene entirely, kicking off a dance and funk renaissance. And Waterparks took note, as their recent single “Snow Globe” from their upcoming fourth LP, Greatest Hits, embraces a Daft Punk-influenced sound.
Kelly Lee Owens
Like many other artists, what attracted electronic musician Kelly Lee Owens was Daft Punk’s raw energy and mystery. She compared Daft Punk’s album Homework to being transported to another dimension. “It was like a door opening for me that allowed me to step into another place, where everything is new and sounds weird and interesting,” Owens explained.
Homework is even inspiring Owens’ current music. “I was particularly inspired by the production on Homework,” Owens said, “definitely in terms of the beats and the punchiness—I’m moving toward that with my music now.”
For Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Daft Punk’s split feels almost like a death. In an interview with Matt Wilkinson on Apple TV, Parker reminisces about discovering Daft Punk as a child while watching Saturday morning music videos. “I wasn't really into that kind of music then, but it definitely stuck in my brain,” Parker explains. “I was like, ‘What is this?’”
Parker compared the split to the type of shock of a loved one dying but overall applauded the duo for having the guts to call it quits. “That must take so much guts to do,” Parker said, “and not just say, 'Someone might offer us a billion dollars for a show next year. Maybe let's just hold out.’”
Daft Punk’s evolution and experimentation through multiple subgenres are what really inspired electronic musician Alison Wonderland. “Pushing boundaries and embracing other genres within electronic music helps it to move forward and will always create a new and interesting sound,” Wonderland said in an interview with Billboard. Wonderland applauds Daft Punk’s bold experimentation, particularly from Homework to Discovery, in which the latter contains more vocals—both robotic and human.
Years & Years
For Olly Alexander, the one-man show known as Years & Years, Daft Punk’s music and live performances were something he refers to as “brain-melting inspiring.” In a tweet, Alexander explains that he was able to see Daft Punk perform live in Tokyo while he was shooting Enter The Void. Not only did Alexander get to see them live, but he watched the show from the barriers and had pizza with the duo afterward. Super casual.
For the Weeknd, his 2016 album, Starboy, was more than just a collaboration with Daft Punk. “Those guys are one of the reasons I make music,” The Weeknd said in an interview with Variety. “Their branding and how seriously they take their craft and image and everything. They’re almost not even real.” The Weeknd also let Daft Punk take the wheel in the studio, explaining that he didn’t even care if they made music but really just wanted to be friends. But actually recording was the right decision, with both of Daft Punk’s featured songs, “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming,” reaching No. 1 and No. 4, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100.