Random Access Memories is the fourth and final studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk. It was released by the duo's imprint Daft Life, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, on 17 May 2013. The album pays tribute to the late 1970s and early 1980s era of music in the United States, particularly the sounds that emerged from Los Angeles. This tribute was reflected in the gradual promotional rollout for the album that included billboards, television advertisements, and a web series.
Unlike their previous studio albums, Daft Punk recruited session musicians to perform live instrumentation in professional recording locations, and limited the use of electronic instruments to drum machines, a custom-built modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders. The album features collaborations with Giorgio Moroder, Panda Bear, Julian Casablancas, Todd Edwards, DJ Falcon, Chilly Gonzales, Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, and Pharrell Williams.
Random Access Memories is Daft Punk's most critically successful album, scoring 87/100 on Metacritic. In the 2014 56th Annual Grammy Awards, it won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, and lead single "Get Lucky" won for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The album was a commercial success and debuted at number one in twenty countries. The duo has been inactive ever since, apart from their collaborations with The Weeknd on his tracks "Starboy" and "I Feel It Coming".
Daft Punk began experimenting with material for a fourth studio album in 2008, while they were working on the Tron: Legacy score. As Thomas Bangalter of the duo mentioned at the time: "Making music for a movie is very humbling. We’ve been working on some of our music concurrently." The duo were dissatisfied with the Random Access Memories demos, in which synthesizers were prominently featured, so eventually decided to work with live musicians: "We wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with people." They avoided the use of samples on the album, with the exception of the closing track "Contact".
The album features Chic frontman Nile Rodgers, who commented that a collaboration was "something we've [Daft Punk and Rodgers] talked about for a long time. We've respected each other endlessly." Daft Punk eventually visited Rodgers' home for an informal jam session, and an official collaboration was later confirmed and completed. Singer-songwriter Paul Williams announced in a 2010 interview that he had worked with the group, after Daft Punk had been introduced to Williams by a sound engineer with whom they were mutually acquainted.
In May 2012 Daft Punk's collaboration with Giorgio Moroder was announced—Moroder had recorded a monologue about his life for use in a track on the album. Rodgers was also present during the Moroder recording session. Moroder clarified that he was not involved in the composition of the track or its use of a synthesizer: "They did not let me get involved at all. Thomas asked me if I wanted to tell the story of my life. Then they would know what to do with it." Daft Punk had been in contact with Moroder in relation to a possible contribution for the Tron: Legacy score, but this never happened.
Chilly Gonzales stated in an interview that his contribution 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 had previously recorded a cover version of Daft Punk's song "Too Long" that appeared on the duo's 2003 album Daft Club.
Pharrell Williams collaborated with Daft Punk and Rodgers by providing vocals for two tracks on Random Access Memories. As a member of The Neptunes, Pharrell had previously provided a remix of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" that appeared on Daft Club. The Neptunes and Daft Punk also co-produced N.E.R.D.'s song "Hypnotize U".
Recording took place at Henson Recording Studios, Conway Recording Studios and Capitol Studios in California, Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and Gang Recording Studio in Paris, France. Daft Punk enlisted various musicians of the 1970s and 80s, which the duo consider the most appealing era. Bangalter clarified that "it's not that we can't make crazy futuristic sounding stuff, but we wanted to play with the past". The duo noted that the session players were enthusiastic to reunite in the context of the new album and the perceived elegance of the studio locations.
Drummer Omar Hakim recalled being asked by Daft Punk to perform on the album, and was surprised by what they wanted of him. He at first assumed that the duo wanted electronic drum work, since Hakim had done some drum programming in his career. Daft Punk instead specified that they were looking to record Hakim performing acoustic drum riffs that the duo had conceived. Rather than play out the entire structure of a song, Hakim would perform individual patterns for extended periods, thus creating a library for the duo to cull from. Daft Punk conveyed their ideas to session musicians via sheet music and in some instances by humming melodies. Bangalter recalled an example in which he hummed a complex drum and bass line to Hakim, who replicated and improved upon it for the track "Giorgio by Moroder".
Most of the vocal sessions took place in Paris, whereas the rhythm sections were recorded in the United States. The album incorporates a variety of accompanying performances including a horn section, woodwind instruments, a string orchestra and choir. Orchestral parts in particular were recorded for almost every track, but were only included on a few songs in the final product. The use of such performers and places came at great monetary expense, as noted by Bangalter: "There used to be a time where people that had means to experiment would do it, you know? That's what this record is about." He estimated a cost of over one million dollars, but felt that the number was not important. Todd Edwards recalled that the microphone he sang on for his contribution to the album is "more than my car is worth" and had previously been used by Frank Sinatra. Bangalter stated that the sessions were financed by Daft Punk themselves, which allowed them the luxury of abandoning the project if they had so wished. He also specified that "there are songs on the album that traveled into five studios over two and a half years."
Various sound effects were newly recorded with the help of film experts from Warner Bros. Bangalter noted one example in which the sound of a busy restaurant was achieved by placing microphones in front of the forks of a group of people. In another instance, the effect of dripping water was recorded on a soundstage. Use of electronics was limited to drum machines that appear on only two tracks, a large custom-built Modcan modular synthesizer performed live by the duo, and vintage vocoders. 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. 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.
Although the duo felt that the presets and parameters of digital tools would inhibit creativity and innovation, they admitted that Random Access Memories could not have been made in the complete absence of computer technology. The sessions were recorded simultaneously onto Ampex reels and as Pro Tools tracks; Daft Punk and Guzauski would then listen to each recording in both analogue and digital iterations, deciding which of the two they preferred. Subsequently the elements were edited by the duo with Pro Tools in a manner similar to how they would work with samples.
In an interview conducted in November 2012 by Guitar World magazine, Fourplay member Nathan East mentioned that he had contributed to the project. The percussionist Quinn also stated that he performed on "every drum [he] own[s]" for the album. 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. Additional session players include John "J.R." Robinson, Paul Jackson, Jr., James Genus, Thomas Bloch and Chris Caswell.
Prior to the release of Tron: Legacy Soundtrack, the composer Paul Williams stated that he was working with the band in an interview with Eddie Muentes. In another one with Tracey Jackson, he confirmed once again his work, specifically working on the writing of some songs.
Chilly Gonzales was later confirmed to have collaborated with the band on the project, while it has been said that Panda Bear has as well.
In May 2012, in an interview with the Italian artist Giorgio Moroder he said he was working with Daft Punk in Paris. Moroder stated:
"Thomas wanted me to talk about my life, and I said 'And what are you going to do with it?', and he [Bangalter] said 'Oh you just talk and we are going to snip it in the stuff'. So I came to Paris in the studio and he had three microphones to record me, they were different microphones, and I said 'Why do you have three? Is not one enough?' and then he said 'This one in here -a very old microphone of the '60-, if you talk about your life around the '60, this is how the microphone is going to sound. Then, if your going to talk about the '70, you have the second microphone'. And then I asked the sound engineer, 'Is anybody ever, be able to distinguish the different sounds?', he said 'No', then I replied 'Then why?' which he responded 'Well, he knows the differences.'"
On Feburary 26, 2013, Daft Punk updated their website with a new image, confirming a new album and collaboration with Columbia records.
On March 2, 2013, Daft Punk released a 16 second teaser through a Saturday Night Live advertisement.
On April 11, 2013, Daft Punk played a teaser for their 4th album at Coachella, confirming that Panda Bear, Julian Casablancas, Pharrell, and others are working on the album.
On April 13th, 2013. A minute long teaser aired during SNL. Similiar to the Coachella teaser.
On April 19th, 2013. "Get Lucky" was officially released and available on many platforms such as iTunes.
On August 13th, 2013. "Lose Yourself to Dance" was officially released.
|1.||"Give Life Back to Music" (feat. Nile Rodgers)||4:34|
|2.||"The Game of Love"||5:21|
|3.||"Giorgio by Moroder" (feat. Giorgio Moroder)||9:04|
|4.||"Within" (feat. Gonzales)||3:48|
|5.||"Instant Crush" (feat. Julian Casablancas)||5:37|
|6.||"Lose Yourself to Dance" (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)||5:53|
|7.||"Touch" (feat. Paul Williams)||8:18|
|8.||"Get Lucky" (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)||6:07|
|11.||"Fragments of Time" (feat Todd Edwards)||4:39|
|12.||"Doin' It Right" (feat Panda Bear)||4:11|
|13.||"Contact" (feat. DJ Falcon)||6:21|
|Japan bonus track|
Many speculated that Daft Punk would probably release their new album on Sep. 9, 2009 since in the Daft Punk mythos, they became robots after an accident with their sampler on "Sep. 9, 1999 at 9:09 am". Some rumors after Electroma's Opening Night in Paris said that Daft Punk would start recording a new album after their 2007 tour. On May 28, 2008, Busy P, former manager of Daft Punk, revealed that Daft Punk were currently in the studio, but it was later mentioned that Daft Punk disliked all of the material they had initially put together and scrapped all of the work.
There was speculation after Tsugi Magazine included a "Daft Punk" song under the name "Renoma Street" to be released the 21st of July. The supposed song was later revealed to be "a little joke" from the editors, disappointing many fans, and ending the hype.
On 26 February 2013, Daft Punk's official website and Facebook page announced the signing to Columbia with a picture of the duo's helmets, and a "Columbia" logo in the corner. Billboards and posters featuring the helmets and logo then appeared in several major cities.
On 2 March, a 15-second television ad aired during Saturday Night Live (SNL) depicting an animated, stylized version of the band's logo and the aforementioned image of the helmets. A second TV ad also premiered that was similar to the first on Saturday Night Live, but with a different music clip and the title Random Access Memories in place of the stylized Daft Punk logo. During the first night of Coachella Festival 2013, a third trailer debuted that featured Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Rodgers performing, as well as a list of collaborators on the album.
The first single from the album, "Get Lucky" was released on April 19th, 2013, on iTunes and Amazon.
|Giorgio Moroder||Italian record producer, songwriter and performer.|
|Nile Rodgers||American musician, producer, composer, arranger, and guitarist.|
|Paul Williams||American composer, musician, songwriter, and actor.|
|Chilly Gonzales||Canadian musician, pianist, producer, and songwriter.|
|Panda Bear||American experimental musician and a founding member of Animal Collective.|
|Nathan East||American bass player and vocalist.|
|Pharrell Williams||American rapper, record producer, and a founding member of N.E.R.D and The Neptunes.|
|Todd Edwards||American house and garage producer.|
French DJ and record producer.
American musician, singer, songwriter, and frontman of The Strokes .
|John "J.R." Robinson||American drummer and session musician.|
|Omar Hakim||American jazz, jazz fusion and pop music drummer.|
|Paul Jackson Jr.||American fusion/urban jazz composer, arranger, producer and guitarist.|
|Quinn||Drummer and percussionist.|
|Chris Caswell||American keyboardist.|
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- Field Day Radio Episode 10. Field Day Festival (2 June 2012). Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved on 10 February 2013.
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- Warren, Emma (May 2013). Todd Edwards – Red Bull Music Academy. Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved on 18 May 2013. “57:58 – Thomas wanted me to see if I could put some cut-ups in there [...] he gave me like the biggest compliment because he's like [...] you actually helped kinda save the track [...] because it was so contemporary sounding, it didn't have any vibe that was kind of along the electronics line.”
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- Mason, Kerry (10 May 2013). Daft Punk: How the Pioneering Dance Duo Conjured Random Access Memories. Billboard. Billboard.com. Retrieved on 10 May 2013.
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- Wood, James (29 November 2012). Interview: Bassist Nathan East Discusses Fourplay's New Album and His Days with Eric Clapton. Guitar World. GuitarWorld.com. Retrieved on 21 December 2012.
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- Chris 'Kazz' Caswell – Conductor/Musician (26 April 2013). Retrieved on 26 April 2013.
- Hit Records Nightlife
- Fifthy @ Fifthy with Tracey Jackson - Paul Williams interview
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|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|
- Daft Punk Official Site
- Random Access Memories Official Website
- Columbia Records Webiste
- "Get Lucky" on iTunes | Amazon
- Random Access Memories on iTunes | Amazon
- W Media related to Random Access Memories at Wikipedia.
|Daft Punk albums|
Homework (1997) •
Discovery (2001) •
Human After All (2005) •
Random Access Memories (2013)