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RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES DAFT PUNK

Daft Punk’s 2013 smash-hit record had a five-year gestation period, during which the robots decided to shun software and craft intricate music using hardware technology and live musicians. In the first of a new series of recording spotlights, we take an inside look at the making of a modern classic…

MTRECORDING SPOTLIGHT

Daft Punk perform with The Weeknd during the 59th Grammy Awards in 2017
© Getty Images

With a career spanning 25 years, electronic-music duo Daft Punk (aka Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) have been instrumental in pushing electronic music into the mainstream. They’re also one of the few popular acts that retain an air of mystique – their robotic alter egos (and futuristic helmets) have kept their personalities private, while their infrequent interviews leave their music to speak for itself.

Following their third full-length LP Human After Allin 2005, the duo decided to embark on a series of live dates. Although initially set to be a short-term affair, the Alive tour became a near-two-year undertaking. Joining them on the tour was engineer Peter Franco, who engineered their Grammy Award winning live album Alive 2007and went on to work on Random Access Memories. We spoke to him about his tour memories, his first encounter with ‘the robots’ and how the record’s concept developed.

“I first met Daft Punk in 2005, when they were preparing their live tour,” Peter tells us. “They hadn’t performed in 10 years at that point, so they were kind of looking for a crew. They needed someone to mix their front-of-house. I had done a tour with Martin Phillips, who was doing all the lighting for their videos, so they’d already asked him if he’d help design the live show. They asked him if he knew any front-ofhouse engineers and he suggested me. He called me one day and just said: ‘I know a couple of guys who want to do a short tour, would you be up for it?’. It was originally scheduled to be just eight shows, but I met Thomas and Guy-Manuel – they asked me what I’d done. When I told them I’d done Paul Williams’ front-of-house their eyes widened and they were pretty impressed. Then we had a long chat about how much we all loved Paul Williams,” Peter remembers. “The eight shows that they’d planned eventually turned into something like 80 shows! We toured for two years, pretty much; we started in 2006 and it ended at the tail end of 2007. I got to know the guys so closely during that time. That led to a lot of things. Thomas really talked a lot about gear during that tour and at the outset we decided to utilise an analogue console to achieve a warmer sound on the tour, and not to use digital technology, because of the reason of conversion.

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About MusicTech

Emulating the artists that inspired us in our many music-making ventures is as much about rekindling those feelings as it is knowing how the sounds were created. In our cover feature this month we show you how to get impossibly close to the sonic signatures left by your musical heroes. Continuing the theme we present our newest feature ‘Recording Spotlight,’ where we speak to Peter Franco, engineer on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, and gain insight into the complex, painstaking work that went into creating this modern classic. Additionally, we sit down with dance-music producer Stefano Ritteri and rising UK production star Rhiannon Mair, get into the meat of Cubase 9.5 and get hands-on with all the latest gear, tech and software. We hope you enjoy the issue…