Deconstructing Daft Punk’s Classics
Friday December 29, 2017. 03:09 PM , from Sweetwater inSync
Daft Punk may be the most universally known name in electronic music. Their signature sound has permeated culture worldwide for two decades now, and their reach extends from French dance music to Hollywood soundtracks to twenty-first-century pop.
The Parisian duo, consisting of Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, began their musical career as members of a rock band called Darlin’, alongside future Phoenix guitarist Laurent Brancowitz, and began developing their signature sound in the early ’90s.
The signature Daft Punk sound is almost confounding in its simplicity. Equal parts disco savants and pop artists (in the Warhol sense), the group has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music of the last 40 years and an uncanny knack for whittling musical forms down to their most basic functional elements. Fortunately for us, that makes the music pretty easy to re-create with the hindsight we have today, and it’s a lot of fun to do just that.
Today we will examine two of Daft Punk’s biggest hits and dismantle them and reconstruct them as best we can.
“One More Time”
If there’s one Daft Punk track to remember, it’s their impossibly catchy subwoofer workout from the year 2000, “One More Time.” Featured on the record Discovery, which is loaded with nostalgia-steeped hits, “One More Time” was played in more cars, at more parties, and by more DJs than anything else in the early 2000s. It’s arguably the perfect party anthem.
The construction of the track is simple; you’ve got a sample from Eddie Johns’s “More Spell on You” that makes up the majority of the instrumentation, lyrics performed by artist Romanthony with a heavy dose of purposeful Auto-Tune, a drum loop that sounds an awful lot like a TR-909, a tambourine loop, and a mellow pad at the breakdown. Oh, and liberal use of a compressor sidechained to that big, fat 909 kick drum.
Why don’t we take a stab at re-creating it?
“Harder Better Faster Stronger”
Another hit from Discovery, this one served as Daft Punk’s path to the middle of the American music mainstream when it was sampled on Kanye West’s 2007 “Stronger.” Following a similar formula to “One More Time,” this tune took most of its instrumentation from a tune from 1979, this time by sampling Edwin Birdsong’s “Cola Bottle Baby.”
Let’s explore how to chop that sample up and add some other twenty-first-century electronic percussion to make it sound Daft:
The bouncy, quacky bass synth and the signature “ting, ting, ting, tintin” of the ride cymbal bell already make the track unforgettable, though Mr. Birdsong really deserves credit for creating those elements. Daft Punk just found them and brought them to the masses. On the other hand, the fantastic talkbox vocals are 100% Daft Punk, and YouTuber Lorenz Rhode does a pretty swell job of re-creating the classic vocal.
Lorenz gets pretty close to the Daft Punk vibe. Any analog or analog-modeling synth — Moog’s Subsequent 37 would be a great fit — plus a talkbox, like a Rocktron Banshee, and some keyboard skills and vocal chops will give you the tools you need to cop the vibe.
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