"Give Life Back to Music" is a song written and recorded by Daft Punk for their fourth studio album, Random Access Memories. It is the opening track on the album. The song features lyrics performed by Daft Punk using vocoders. "Give Life Back to Music" also includes guitar work by Nile Rodgers and Paul Jackson, Jr., drums by John "J.R." Robinson and keyboards by Chilly Gonzales. The song was distributed to radio stations on January 31, 2014, as the album's fifth overall single. Prior to this, it charted in France, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
It is the last single by Daft Punk before they split in February 2021.
Rodgers commented that a collaboration was "something we've [Daft Punk and Rodgers] talked about for a long time. We've respected each other endlessly." He had first met with the duo at a "Daft-Punk-listening party" in New York City several years ago and noted that a series of near misses and scheduling conflicts had delayed their chance of collaborating ever since then. Daft Punk later visited Rodgers' home for an informal jam session, and an official collaboration would later be undertaken. The duo eventually invited Rodgers to the Random Access Memories sessions at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, which, coincidentally, was the studio where the first Chic single had been recorded, and also, was the neighborhood in which Rodgers grew up. He expressed that working with Daft Punk "[felt] like [...] working with contemporaries" and that they motivated each other to excel when collaborating on the album. He remarked that the duo's style has evolved whilst simultaneously exploring music's past, expressing that "they went back to go forward."
Most of the vocal sessions for the album took place in Paris, whereas the rhythm sections were recorded in the United States. Sound effects were newly recorded with the help of film experts from Warner Bros.When asked which of the two Daft Punk members performed the robotic vocals on the album, Bangalter expressed that it did not matter. The duo produced most of the vocoder tracks in their own private studio in Paris, with later processing done by Mick Guzauski at Capitol Studios. Giorgio Moroder elaborated that Daft Punk would take "a week or so" to find an adequate vocoder sound, and an additional few days to record the lyrics.
Gonzales, who played keyboards for "Give Life Back to Music", stated in an interview that his contribution to the album was recorded in a one-day session: "I played for hours and they’re gonna grab what they grab and turn it into whatever." He explained that Daft Punk prompted him at the piano in the same manner that a film director coaches an actor, and Gonzales left the Los Angeles studio without knowledge of what the final product would sound like. He later elaborated on the filmmaking analogy by saying that his presence on the album was the equivalent of a cameo appearance rather than a lead role, and that "it requires a great film director such as Daft Punk to use the person properly." Gonzales previously recorded a cover version of Daft Punk's song "Too Long" that appeared on the 2003 album Daft Club.
"Give Life Back to Music" features guitar work by Nile Rodgers and Paul Jackson, Jr., drums by John "J.R." Robinson, and lyrics performed by Daft Punk using vocoders. The song reflects the duo's goal to create a light yet polished and elegant record. Pedal steel guitar work on the record was performed by Greg Leisz. Daft Punk sought to use the instrument in a way that bordered between electronic and acoustic. As stated by NME, the album begins with "a stupendously vast rock intro that obliterates any trace of Human After All's brittle techno". Regarding the lyrical content, Thomas Bangalter felt that the song's message is open to interpretation and that "The way it’s sung [...] it’s an optimistic statement. And it’s got a certain innocence that the ‘70s were filled with. No cynicism of any kind." Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo nevertheless acknowledged that listeners could interpret the lyrics as being pretentious, and that he personally felt that mainstream music has lost depth in recent years.
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- Lachman, Ed (April 11, 2013). Daft Punk | Random Access Memories | The Collaborators, Episode 3: Nile Rodgers. The Creators Project. YouTube. Retrieved on April 11, 2013. “[...] I feel like I'm working with contemporaries [...] with people who grew up with me and feel it the same way we felt the vibe when we were creating this stuff. It's like they went back to go forward (10:24 min).”
- Blistein, Jon (April 11, 2013). Nile Rodgers: New Daft Punk Album 'Went Back to Go Forward' (YouTube video). Rolling Stone. RollingStone.com. Retrieved on April 11, 2013.
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- Lachman, Ed (April 3, 2013). Daft Punk | Random Access Memories | The Collaborators, Episode 1: Giorgio Moroder. The Creators Project. YouTube. Retrieved on April 3, 2013.
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- Lachman, Ed (30 April 2013). Daft Punk | Random Access Memories | The Collaborators, Episode 6: Chilly Gonzales. The Creators Project. YouTube. Retrieved on 30 April 2013. “(07:15) - I was playing quite blindly in the end and was more like a cameo actor than an lead actor of any kind. And it requires a great film director such as Daft Punk to use the person properly.”
- Cubarrubia, RJ (30 April 2013). Chilly Gonzales Explains Daft Punk Harmonies (YouTube video). Rolling Stone. RollingStone.com. Retrieved on 30 April 2013.
- Ghosn, Joseph, and Wicker, Olivier (April 18, 2013). Daft Punk Revient Avec Random Access Memories (French). Obsession. Retrieved on April 18, 2013. “Exclu: Les morceaux de Random Access Memories commentés par Daft Punk.”
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