Mickey Kojak celebrates his new Daft Punk cover by going on a deep dive into 'Discovery'
"I have a lot to thank Daft Punk for."
Words by Mickey Kojak.
17 years ago one of the greatest albums ever made was bestowed upon us worthless humans. In 2001, electronic music was nowhere near as widespread as it is today. Bands like The Strokes, The Libertines and The White Stripes were all putting out seminal records, starting up the garage rock revival and dominating the airwaves globally. Electronic music was for the clubs and the underground with a few pop acts producing some crossover hits here and there. Daft Punk’s Discovery was set to change all of that.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo weren’t always the robots our brains conjure up when we think “Daft Punk” - the duo adopted the personas in the lead up to the release of Discovery, saying it was a result of a studio mishap, merging their human souls with their electronic instruments and equipment. This conceptual change helped usher in the sounds, style and imagery of their new record. While it is very much an “electronic” album, filled with rigid synths and drum machines, it still has the soul and touch of a record made and played by great musicians. That might sound a bit dumb. I mean, they actually are great musicians creating this music, but there is still a huge hurdle in making electronic music feel warm and organic. I believe a big part of how the duo have achieved this is thanks to their astounding ear for a good sample.
A quick google search shows that Discovery is filled to the brim with incredibly obscure samples from incredibly obscure records. Sampling had already been heavily used in hip hop throughout the late '80s and '90s as well as the emerging breakbeat scene spearheaded by artists like The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. Like a DJ picking the right track for the right moment, it feels as though every sample used in the album had been effortlessly pulled from the depths of musical history, ready to have its glorious moment in the sun. With these samples comes the wear and tear from that one particular vinyl, imprinted with that one particular performance by that one particular group of musicians playing that one particular song. There are so many variables in live music , it’s damn near impossible to emulate their sound accurately with hardware and software. Sampling can break down that wall and turn a stale track into an absolute heater, the perfect example being One More Time, the most successful song on the album. The entire track revolves around three notes from the intro to Eddie Johns’ More Spell On You, without which… look, the song just straight up wouldn’t have been made! Have a listen to the original track:
WHAT?! Who hears that shit and thinks “oh yeah lets grab that one horn hit there and oh yeah that’s a good one and yeah why not chuck that third in” (all in French of course). A few more of these samples are below, played side by side if you’re keen to dive in the deep end:
But like I said before, sampling had been around for a little while already and had made a huge impression on music across multiple genres. So what else makes this album so good? Is it that their production is incredible and forward thinking? The coupling of new and old? Goddamn it, it’s all those things. However, what I think is often overlooked in making stand-out electronic music is possibly the most obvious thing of all - plain and simple, these guys wrote some incredible songs. Tracks like Digital Love, Face To Face and my personal favourite, Something About Us, are beautiful, thoughtfully crafted pieces of music filled with great lyrics, great progressions and structures which are then supported by their unique sampling, production and style. NOT the other way around:
This entire thing might’ve come across as a bit of a suck up, but gimme a break. As someone who spends their days in a studio making electronic music, I have a lot to thank Daft Punk for. These guys paved the road to popular success for electronic artists across the world while simultaneously setting the standard of style and cool in dance music. Sure they’ve made some bad moves in their time, but they’re human after all.
Check out Mickey's just-dropped (and bloody wonderful) cover of Something About Us below:
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