By: Amanda Mcmillan
I must start this with a confession: The first time I ever heard Daft Punk was in the early 2000s. I was a young teenager, rife with angst and a penchant for music that matched. I was a fairly serious teenager, moody and discerning, resulting in a fairly strong stance against anything that was, even remotely, “pop.” The music video for “One More Time,” would sometimes play on MuchMusic and I would always change the channel. It would come on the radio, and I would sigh and switch to something ”edgier”, something more serious.
A couple of years later, at age sixteen, a friend of mine from South Africa that was a huge house/techno guy, put Daft Punk on while we were hanging out. I told him to switch it, and I am embarrassed to admit that I may have even said “I hate Daft Punk.” He launched into a righteous sermon on why Daft Punk was so great, but I wasn’t ready to hear it.
That’s right, I used to hate Daft Punk, and I was wrong.
The lens through which I was evaluating Daft Punk was misguided. I was just coming into my own musical tastes and trying to define what they were. I wanted to stand out and be taken as a 'serious' music person (or as serious as someone who listened to as much pop-punk as I did could be) and Daft Punk seemed too pop, too dancey, too Electric Circus. What I hadn’t yet been able to see, or rather to hear, is that Daft Punk was making some of the edgiest, genre-bending, and truly punk music out there.
As I got a little older, approaching my early twenties my feelings changed. I attribute some of it to the fact that I was starting to party a little bit and letting go of the chip I had put on my own shoulder about being alternative. I found myself becoming increasingly more attracted to EDM, and I assumed it was because I liked to dance when I got drunk. That was, to some extent, definitely true. Plus, you know, Kanye.
But as time has gone on, I have come to realize that it wasn’t about the drinking, or the parties, or even Kanye for that matter. It was a realization that when I listened to Daft Punk, I was having fun. When I listen to Daft Punk now, I feel like how I did as a ten-year-old dancing to Spice Girls, and ABBA; pure joy. Over time, Daft Punk’s discography became a soundtrack to feeling good, letting loose, and getting lost in the moment.
So when the announcement of their disbandment was released earlier this week, I had an epiphany: Daft Punk taught me how to have a good time.
Beyond just telling me how to “Lose Myself To Dance” in 2013, a time of intense self-discovery, beyond piquing my interest about the technologic magic that is early EDM, and beyond an obsession and adoration of their mysterious metallic aesthetic, learning to love Daft Punk truly felt like finally learning to accept them as my robot overlords.
To this day listening to Daft Punk just wakes something up inside my soul. It is a full-body experience. Daft Punk gives me permission to surrender, and as a self-proclaimed anxious (some might even say neurotic) person, surrender does not come easily to me. But, Daft Punk sets me free.
In the end, Daft Punk redefined what music was to me. They allowed me to see that the ideas and ideals I had about rock music are an attitude, not just a sound. Dressing up like robots is a punk rock aesthetic. Using computers, synthesizers, loopers, and vocal distortions to create music is punk rock engineering. They subverted a growing fear of technology and turned it into music that made people excited, mashing it together with the growing rave subculture of the 90s and early aughts. They made people want to dance, and jump around, and release all the bullshit. One spin of their live set on “Alive 2007” is enough to jack you up for days. They made so much noise; the noise of a generation.
It might have taken me a while, along with most of North America, to jump on the electronic music train, let alone whatever it is that Daft Punk was making. I resisted, and then I gave in.
I was lost, but then I was found.
So, I guess in the end, it’s come full circle for me. This is a love letter to Daft Punk. Thank you for showing me what music could be. Thank you for waking something up inside me I didn’t even know was sleeping. Thank you for teaching me how to let go. Thank you for the robot rock.
I love you, Daft Punk. Harder, better, faster, stronger than ever.