I was determined to board the hype train. So, I got to work with the end goal of desperately wanting this mysterious record.
Christo’s labels, Roulé and Crydamour, respectively, I likely would have never begun my record collection.
May 17th, 2013 was a momentous day for sure, as I will never forget finding my CD copy of “Random Access Memories” at the end of a jittery walk home from school (I even took the CD to school the next day wrapped in plastic wrap to show off, knowing a fraction of how dramatic that was). However, in the grand scheme of my fixation on Daft Punk, something I’m hesitant to call a phase, it’s just another check point for nostalgia. The closest I got to that level of thrill was when they performed at the 2014 Grammys and won album of the year. It was quite a time to be alive for a fanboy.
However, from that point on, the time between new bits of Daft Punk related news began to grow. There were the two new tracks, one fresh and one archival, from Homem-Christo’s side project Le Knight Club, the unearthed Thomas Bangalter throwaway, rumor after rumor after rumor after rumor, but not much else. When the samples for “Fresh” and “Teachers” were finally found by internet lurkers, it was about as exciting as a generally liked artist announcing an album.
By the end of middle school I had squeezed almost everything I could get out of their discography, and I unconsciously stopped listening to them. It is still rare that I listen to even a single track, let alone a full album of theirs as I have scrutinized every detail of every album already. Relistening to any of their albums, especially “Random Access Memories” and “Discovery” (which is still my favorite album of all time) is like rewatching a movie that you’ve seen a thousand times and have watched the director's cut and know all the behind-the-scenes lore for. I was cautiously optimistic for a new project or tour, but I would be lying to say that I was devastated to watch the announcement of their inactivity.
robots. Seeing the outpouring of love from all sectors of the internet, from people who had a cursory love to die-hards who had as much connection to the duo as I did, was overwhelming. I even took a moment to look up my old French house fanatic internet friends from freshman year of high school to see their responses to the heartbreaking news, setting in more nostalgia than I knew what to do with. While it was the news I never wanted, it was the first time I was truly able to put into perspective how much their career formed my life for a critical time in my development.
Just the other day, I sent three paragraphs of informative texts to a friend who was vaguely considering checking out their short-lived side projects. How easy it was to convey the history of these rare releases off the top of my head was the greatest testament to my love. As fans, news like this often comes with equal parts resentment and regret. There’s always the question of whether you enjoyed something enough while it lasted, but distributing what I had learned through Discogs surges and Wikipedia pages 8 years ago was all I needed to know that I never took them for granted.
Upon reflection, this breakup only hurts because it was made official. I was not expecting anything anytime soon, and if they quietly retired, it would have been easier to just keep my fingers crossed. But the official status of their inactivity removes the possibilities of tainting their legacy with a less-than-adequate or divisive project. There is something to be said for quitting while ahead, and Daft Punk has always been ahead. Regardless of whatever their undisclosed reason for departure is, I trust the robots that this was their time to self-destruct. We will never know if they would have put out another handful of classic albums, where their inspirations would take them next, or if the quality of their output would have taken a nosedive. What we do know is that they left a near perfect package of music that will stay in mint condition by keeping it sealed.
I will continue to cherish both of my posters, my old fan art, my two DVDs (and I’ll probably buy “Electroma” just for the hell of it), my many, many CDs and vinyl EPs and singles for the rest of my life, and my collection will likely expand. If we never see another Daft Punk related anything, I will be happy with their well preserved legacy. Furthermore, “Random Access Memories” is one hell of a record to go out on.
Still, I’d love to hear solo projects from each of them. I’d love to see what Le Knight Club would sound like in the 2020s or what would come from a Roulé return, but I won’t hold my breath. At this point, all I want is to stream “Waves I” and “Waves II” on Spotify, and dear God do I want vinyl pressings of those, but that’s as much of a pipe dream as Alive 2017… or maybe not. They said it themselves: “like the legend of the phoenix, all ends with beginnings.”