Before unveiling a new album Random Access Memories, their first in eight years, on May 21, Daft Punk sits down for an interview with Sky Ferreira.
Sky Ferreira: What’s the meaning of your album’s title, Random Access Memories?
Daft Punk: The title plays with concepts of computer memory and human memories, establishing a loose parallel between the human brain and the hard drive—both are somehow randomly fragmented devices. We have always been fascinated by the relationship and connections between man and machine.
Sky Ferreira: What is the essence of the album?
Daft Punk: This album is about technology going towards humanity, in a world where humanity is going towards technology. We tried to capture robotic emotions with music, replacing this time our electronic machines by real human beings.
Sky Ferreira: What was the most difficult aspect of realizing the album?
Daft Punk: Making this album was difficult and challenging in an exciting way, but that is the nature of these empirical musical experimentations. We tried to do some things we had never done in a studio. We wanted to learn techniques we did not know. We did not want to take the easy route. But somehow, the difficult parts of the entire creative process are what made the journey really worth it.
Sky Ferreira: It’s been almost 10 years since your last album. How do you think music has changed?
Daft Punk: Everything now changes at a frantic speed. Our previous album seems to have been released a lifetime ago. We just created a timeless bubble around us for the last five years in order to create the music we wanted to listen to.
Sky Ferreira: You’re fascinated with the past. If you could travel to any moment in time, when and where would it be?
Daft Punk: It’s a tough question to answer. Maybe witnessing the completion of the Great Pyramids, then traveling to see the remaining Six Wonders of the World, which are now long gone.
Sky Ferreira: You have said in many interviews that dance music as a whole is suffering right now. Why?
Daft Punk: Dance music is almost exclusively made today with laptop computers, on the same software, with the same virtual instruments, and a lot of the same drum sounds. Computers, as music instruments, are making it difficult for musicians to have their distinctive sonic personality, and a lot of dance records are starting to sound the same, in a very formatted way.
Sky Ferreira: What was your creative brief to [Saint Laurent designer] Hedi Slimane for this album?
Daft Punk: Hedi is a longtime friend of ours. We share a lot of the same tastes in art and music. There was no specific brief for this album; we just played him the music. We generally prefer the music to do the talking.
Sky Ferreira: This album has been in the works for a long time. What is one of your best memories from putting it together?
Daft Punk: Being in the studio with Nile Rodgers, one of our childhood heroes, was definitely one of the highlights. He just brought his guitar to Electric Lady Studios in New York and started to play. It is the exact same guitar he’s been playing on all these records and songs we love, like “Le Freak,” “Good Times,” “I’m Coming Out,” “He’s The Greatest Dancer,” “Upside Down,” “Let’s Dance,” and “Like a Virgin.” It was an amazing moment.
Sky Ferreira: All of your albums before this one were more or less homemade. Why did you decide to begin recording in a studio?
Daft Punk: After having made three albums, we were looking for a fourth album we had not yet done. We’ve been making music as Daft Punk for 20 years, and we are always trying to feel like beginners. Going in a studio for the first time felt exciting because it was something new. With Random Access Memories, we ultimately decided we wanted to do a record we could not have done at home.
Sky Ferreira: Where do you see yourselves in another 20 years?
Daft Punk: That is classified information.