No rules: how Daft Punk's 'Homework' changed dance music forever - - Mixmag

No rules: how Daft Punk's 'Homework' changed dance music forever

The album is 20 years old but its influence hasn't diminished one bit

  • Matthew Collin
  • 20 January 2017
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Rolling Stone magazine once ranked ‘Homework’ at the top of its list of the ‘greatest EDM albums of all time’, arguing that their sound had “transformed r'n'b and pop music”. But their stage show would prove equally influential in the US. Combined with the robot outfits, the dazzling pyramid installation created for their breakthrough US performance at the Coachella festival in 2006 solved the vexatious conundrum of how to transform ordinary-looking chaps into techno superheroes.

Crucially, younger producers like Skrillex and Deadmau5 were taking notice, and the Daft Punk stage set-up became the source material for the bombastic EDM extravaganzas of today - although the French duo have said that they would have preferred it if their adventurous intentions had been emulated, not their show itself.

For all their ostentatiously ‘futuristic’ gestures, Daft Punk were always obsessed with the past, and have been offering up reverential eulogies to the golden eras of house and disco since they began. On ‘Homework’, the tribute track ‘Teachers’ namechecked a list of originators like DJ Pierre, Lil Louis and Jeff Mills - an attempt to settle a debt of honour to predecessors who remained underground: “The least you can do is pay respect to those who are not known and who have influenced people,” Bangalter explained at the time. Now of course they can pay respect and satisfy their nostalgic urges by putting disco heroes like Nile Rogers and Giorgio Moroder on their records.

‘Homework’ contains many of the vital essences of the styles that Daft Punk have gone on to develop since then; it’s a glittering synthesis of dancefloor fantasies, sometimes euphoric, sometimes kitsch or cartoonish in a Japanese anime kind of way, but never venturing far into darkness. Indeed, the sunny quote from the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson that they printed on the album sleeve could still serve as their motto: “I wanted to make joyful music that made other people feel good.”

Matthew Collin is the author of ‘Altered State’ and ‘Pop Grenade’. He wrote Daft Punk's Mixmag cover feature in 1997

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