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Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter Talks Random Access Memories Production With Billboard

Brad Bershad

by Brad Bershad

Published May 06, 2013

Daft-Punk-Thomas-Bangalter-Interview-Production

Billboard Magazine's Kerri Mason interviewed one half of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter. The full interview isn't online, but some excerpts have been released at billboard.com.

The interview is mainly focused on technical aspects of record production, but it's also a revealing look at the generally reclusive Daft Punk. Highlights:

- Daft Punk has been inspired by experimental classic rock albums for their upcoming album Random Access Memories (due out on May 21st). Bengalter was asked about things that they've used to model the album and look toward, and responded:

The Eagles, “Hotel California.” Fleetwood Mac, “Rumors.” Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon.” The biggest artists in the world totally experimented and really pushed the limits. We were like, “Why aren’t pop artists today trying to experiment when they really have the means to do so?” There have been movies like “Paranormal Activity” or “Blair Witch Project” in Hollywood that showed you could do movies with little or no money. It doesn’t prevent them from creating larger than life spectacles as well.

- The concept behind R.A.M. and the importance of the recording studio as an instrument:

The whole starting point of that record was to somehow question the magical powers of recorded audio at a time when pop music is mostly recorded on laptops with a small microphone and a pair of headphones in airport lounges and hotel rooms. We’re not really part of that generation. We’re part of the previous generation, where a studio was a collection of hardware and electronic components assembled in a discreet way to try to create a unique global system in a home environment; somehow a distinctive system.

- The reason why most pop and electronic music today sounds so similar:

I think it’s mostly the tools; I think they might be missing the tools. The problem with the way to make music today, these are turnkey systems; they come with preset banks and sounds. They’re not inviting you to challenge the systems themselves, or giving you the ability to showcase your personality, individuality. They’re making it as if it’s somehow easier to make the same music you hear on the radio. Then it creates a very vicious cycle: How can you challenge that when the system and the media are not challenging it in the first place? We really felt that the computers are not really music instruments, and we were not able to express ourselves using a laptop. We tried, but were not successful.

- The sonic characteristics of different recording studios:

When we started to record at Henson, which used to be A&M Studios, you can still see the concrete in the studio on the floor and the walls, just because while they were constructing it in the early ’70s, engineers loved the sound so much as it was that they decided not to finish. That’s the kind of magic. Those are the kind of special places that we’re speaking about.

Click here to check out the interview at Billboard

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