Last month, while the world was buzzing over the ‘Get Lucky’ clip that had just premiered at Coachella, I found myself walking into Bing Crosby’s $3.5 million estate in the nearby hills where Daft Punk were staying for the festival. They’d invited me there to tell the story of how they’d spent the last five years making ‘Random Access Memories’. The front door was open. I let myself in and walked through an opulent living room which opens onto the outdoor pool, where the longhaired Guy-Man was doing lengths in a pair of tiny black shorts. Thomas spotted me from the kitchen, where he was pouring a bottle of champagne into glasses of Pimm’s.
I was one of those rock kids who, as James Murphy famously explained, got switched onto dance music by the French robots. After expanding my mind with 1997’s ‘Homework’ and 2001’s ‘Discovery’, they then blew my beleaguered brain in 2007 by landing their spaceship on it in Hyde Park. Now I was face to face with them, and they were wearing swimming trunks. Not just human after all, but human all over.
The world got to hear the album for the first time last night, but back then everything about the record was still shrouded in secrecy. I’d had to sign a lengthy ‘Non-Disclosure Agreement’, and even there with the band the only way to hear the record was on headphones from a laptop that the band’s assistants kept in a locked briefcase. As well as creating an ambitious, progressive and exhilarating album, the band have also succeeded in making the release itself an ‘event’.
While lead single ‘Get Lucky’ set a retro tone, it’s impossible to listen to tracks like ‘Touch’, ‘Doin’ It Right’ or ‘Contact’ and claim this is a band simply repeating the past. On ‘Random Access Memories’, Daft Punk pull off the difficult trick of creating a strange, experimental and often psychedelic record that never loses its joie de vivre.
Daft Punk described how they did it in this week’s NME, along with the thoughts of their collaborators including Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder and DJ Falcon. It’s a hell of a story. Oh, and because if a things worth doing it’s worth doing right, we’ve included their cocktail recipes too. Enjoy.