The Wall Street Journal has revealed the entirety of its Terry Richardson-shot spread featuring Daft Punk and Gisele Bündchen for the November 2013 “Innovators Issue” of The WSJ Magazine. Styling by George Cortina.
ON SOME DAYS this summer, the robots would rise, get into their cars and pull onto Sunset Boulevard or Melrose Avenue—streets that, with their sun-sloshed vistas and waving palms, seem engineered for windows-down, volume-up music listening. Yet no matter what radio station they turned to, the robots were greeted by the same song, one they recognized right away. There was the supple, shoulder-lifting guitar lick; that sturdy, urging drumbeat; and the aerial chorus that functions as a brag, a mission statement or both: We’re up all night to get lucky. And though Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo —the two French musicians better known as the robo-attired duo Daft Punk —usually make a point of never listening to their past creations, they’d always let the music play. Despite having lived with the song for more than a year, even they weren’t sick of “Get Lucky.”
“It’s an unexpected, simple, very cool surprise,” says de Homem-Christo. “Seeing the next car is listening to it, and people are nodding. Or the other day, at a restaurant, seeing kids and mothers having a birthday party, and they’re all dancing. I know it can be annoying, having it everywhere like that, but it seems to have spread.”
It’s a midsummer afternoon, and Bangalter and de Homem-Christo are sitting in a control room at Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, the city that serves as their stateside headquarters. The space is dominated by a gargantuan console teeming with hundreds of buttons and knobs. It looks like the kind of device that, were you to flip the wrong switch, would accidentally launch a drone strike on Palm Springs.
A little over a year ago, the two men were working out of this room, overseeing the final mixes of not only “Get Lucky”—a song so huge, it would sire endless remixes and remakes—but also much of Random Access Memories, their fourth studio album. Bangalter and de Homem-Christo describe their creative process as “research and development,” and for Random, they worked without deadlines or budgetary constraints, with the hope of capturing the scope and sound of mammoth studio-crafted records from the ’70s and early ’80s—a time when cost was not a key consideration, and when a hit album had the same reach and life span of a hit movie.
As they were finishing up, Bangalter says, “We had a very strong sense of happiness. It was like a weird fantasy: Let’s make a record like it’s the ’70s. But we were very puzzled by the way it would clash with today’s world.”
This is understandable, given that, on paper at least, the album would seem like a potential disaster—a record that found the duo turning away from the type of sound that’s made Daft Punk one of the most memorable and unpredictable acts of the last 20 years. Ever since their 1997 debut, Homework, Daft Punk’s been at the vanguard of electronic music, creating one sample-jacking, endorphin-morphing hit after another. And the group’s ultrarare, mega-elaborate live shows helped set the standard for today’s lucrative, spectacle-driven electronic-dance music festivals.
On Random, though, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo moved toward live instrumentation and a big studio sound. And, after years of working largely on their own, they brought in a raft of collaborators that ranged from strikingly of-the-moment ( Pharrell Williams ) to blatantly anachronistic ( Paul Williams, the former Muppets collaborator and writer of such Nixon-era classics as the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun”).
The resulting album features not only the lushly produced disco of “Get Lucky,” but also a career-recapping spoken-word history lesson from 73-year-old Italian producer Giorgio Moroder ; an eight-minute power-ballad featuring Paul Williams, a choir and a 65-person orchestra; and a handful of downer synth ballads that sound like they’re being performed by a GPS device that’s gone off its Wellbutrin. Sonically and culturally, Random resembles nothing else produced in 2013.
Thanks to BRIAN RAFTERY and The WSJ Magazine for the news!
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