DAFT PUNK: (Singing) One more time...


Long before every pop singer on the charts was playing with auto-tune and every wannabe D.J. with oversized headphones was writing music on a laptop, there was Daft Punk.


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) One more time, we're going to celebrate.

CORNISH: The French electronic duo burst out of the late '90s dance movement and rocketed up the charts with music they produced in a home studio. They gained a cult following and cultivated a robotic persona, literally wearing robot helmets while performing. Well, Daft Punk is back now with a different sound and a different attitude.


CORNISH: Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo made this new album "Random Access Memories" in a real studio and with real musicians.


PHARRELL WILLIAMS: (Singing) She's up all night 'til the sun. I'm up all night to get some. She's up all night for good fun. I'm up all night to get lucky.

CORNISH: This single, "Get Lucky," features vocals from producer Pharrell Williams, and it's a collaboration with the disco super-producer Nile Rodgers, two of the many big names who helped Daft Punk take their music in a new direction.

GUY-MANUEL DE HOMEM-CHRISTO: This record is really about the music we wanted to listen right now, and so it's this kind of summer disco jam that we wanted to make with Nile and Pharrell.


WILLIAMS: (Singing) We've come too far to give up who we are.

CORNISH: Both of these producers, Nile and Pharrell Williams, are very closely aligned with the kind of period that they came out of. I mean, Pharrell is one of the kind of definitive producers of the aughts' kind of modern hip-hop. And now, Rodgers, obviously, a huge voice of late '70s radio and disco.

THOMAS BANGALTER: There was no sense on this record to think really about the music of the future rather than really to focus on, OK, what are we missing right now as music, and what is the music we want to make, but also let's just team up with musicians from different eras and different generation and really try to create something contemporary and right now to make the music of today.

CORNISH: And it sounds like this speaks to the album title "Random Access Memories." Obviously, RAM is reference to a kind of computer data storage. What does it mean for you here?

BANGALTER: Well, it's really the, you know, the parallel between computers and hard drive and the human brain, but it's really also having fun with the word memory, which has become a very technical, very sterile term. And, obviously, when you use the plural, which is memories, it's something that is totally different. It's something that is highly emotional. This felt interesting to us right now in a world that is predominantly technological today.


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) Let the music in tonight. Just turn on the music. Let the music of your life. Give life back to music. Let the music...

DE HOMEM-CHRISTO: The music of today is a lot of different style, a lot of different genres. It's a lot generated by computers. And what was really lacking to us is the soul that a musician can bring.


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) Lose yourself to dance. I know you don't get a chance to take a break this often. I know your life is speeding, and it isn't stopping. Here, take my shirt and just go ahead and wipe up all the sweat, sweat, sweat. Lose yourself to dance. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on. Lose yourself to dance. Come on. Come on.

CORNISH: You know, it's interesting because you're talking so much about kind of putting the humanity back into this music. At the same time, you know, a huge part of your persona is the idea of the robot. You guys are always in public with the helmets so people don't know what you look like, the use of the vocoders and the sort of robo voices in the songs. It seems like it's the opposite, really, of what you're trying to do here.

BANGALTER: It's - it is, and it is not, because the fiction and the story, it's about these two robots, which were us, that were somehow desperately trying to become human, and that's maybe what somehow is the story of this record.


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right.

BANGALTER: The story of these robots that are trying to feel an emotion in a world where human are gradually now becoming maybe robots in a certain sense, but mixing both is what makes us excited about the future, about getting the best of both worlds.


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) Doing it right. Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right. Let it go all night. Everybody will be dancing. Shadows on you break out into the light. Doing it right. If you do it right. Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right. Let it go all night.

CORNISH: Well, Daft Punk, thank you so much for speaking with me.

BANGALTER: Thank you.

DE HOMEM-CHRISTO: Thanks a lot.

CORNISH: Daft Punk is Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. The new album is called "Random Access Memories."


DAFT PUNK: (Singing) If you lose your way tonight, that's how you know the magic's right. Doing it right. Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right. Everybody will be dancing and be doing it right. Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right. Everybody will be dancing and will feeling it right.


You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from