MEN BEHIND THE MASKS Daft Punk faces unmasked – inside the group, their shock split and the funny reason they wore robot helmets


The breakup video, titled “Epilogue,” is a clip from their wordless 2006 film “Electroma,” which shows the two of them walking through the desert.

One of them blows himself up while the other walks alone into the sunset before the years 1993 to 2021 appear on the screen.

“Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home,” reads the lyrics to their song Touch, which plays over the end of the clip.

It’s the dramatic end of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter’s collaboration, which earned them six Grammy Awards, amassed a legion of millions of fans and generated a combined fortune of around £50 million.

But their lasting legacy will be that they are one of the most influential acts in the history of dance music, whose solo work and tracks with the likes of The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams kept them at the top of the charts for decades.

Here’s the story of the men under the robot masks.

The robots are exciting people

Before there was Daft Punk, there was Darlin’.

That was the name of the rock band that de Homem-Christo and Bangalter formed after they met in secondary school in Paris.

A million miles away from the sound that would eventually make them famous, a review in Melody Maker called Darlin’s work “daft punky trash.”

The two found the criticism funny and paraphrased it as the name for the electronic act they formed in 1993.

A year later, they presented a demo of their new tracks to the head of a Scottish techno label at a rave at Disneyland Paris.

The influential single Da Funk followed, and in 1997 their debut album Homework was released after they recorded the songs in Bangalter’s bedroom.

Interest in the band exploded, thanks in part to the mystery surrounding their identities.

The two performed in the ’90s with black bags on their heads and wore really disturbing Halloween masks to photo shoots.

And on the way to the 2001 photo shoot where they first revealed their now iconic robot masks, they decided to ditch the brown wigs that were originally planned as part of the look.

“We’re interested in the line between fiction and reality, in creating these fictional personalities that exist in real life,” Bangalter told Rolling Stone about why they donned the masks.

“We’re not performers, we’re not models – it wouldn’t be comfortable for humanity to see our facial features,” de Homem-Christo added, “but the robots are exciting for people.”

‘Life-changing’ live shows

Their 2001 album Discovery featured some of the greatest dance tracks of all time.

One More Time topped the French singles chart and landed at number two in the UK.

Arguably the most influential song on the album was Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, which sampled a largely forgotten ’70s funk song called Cola Bottle Baby by Edwin Birdsong.

The song got a second boost in 2007 when Kanye West sampled the Daft Punk song in his single Stronger, which hit #1 in four countries, including the UK.

A year earlier, Daft Punk played the first of their legendary Pyramid live shows, which included a highly influential LED light show that Skrillex said “changed my life.”

And in 2010, they wrote the soundtrack to the science fiction film Tron: Legacy, starring Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde.

But their last album came in 2013 in the form of Random Access Memories.

The lead single, Get Lucky, featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, won the Grammy for Record of the Year.

In a promotional video before the single’s release, Williams said he had spoken to Daft Punk “at a Madonna party” and told them he would love to work with them, “if you just want me to play the tambourine, I will.”

Get Lucky was Daft Punk’s most successful single at the time – surpassed only by The Weeknd’s 2016 song Starboy, on which they collaborated.

It was their only song to reach the top of the US Billboard Hot 100, and after the news of their breakup, it seems to be their last.

THE greatest of all time

As shrouded in mystery as they were on their way to the top, the reasons for their split are now unclear.

Their publicist Kathryn Frazier has confirmed Daft Punk’s split, but offered no explanation or statement as to why they are going their separate ways.

Countless tributes to Daft Punk and their influence have poured in from the stars since the release of Epilogue.

“Daft Punk have left an impeccable legacy,” tweeted Mark Ronson.

“I’d say enviable, but impossibly unattainable is more appropriate.”

The English electro duo posted a series of crying emojis on Twitter, captioning an image showing Daft Punk’s breakup.

“THE greatest to ever do it,” they added.

“Words can’t describe the inspiration and knowledge we’ve gained from listening to the 2 Robots over the years.

“We wish them nothing but good energy & positivity for the future – thanks for everything, Guy & Thomas.”

In a world where audio-visual electro shows are a huge industry and laptops have become a common sight on stage at live performances (remember those?), Daft Punk have always shown how technology can be used to push the boundaries of music without losing their spirit.

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