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Flesh and bone robots: Daft Punk
Ever since the beginning of modern music, many bands, solo artists and groups of different genres have presented their work behind a mask or anything that would hide their face. There may be all sorts of reasons behind this attitude, but there is one that they talk about again and again: putting the focus on the music, concentrating on what is really important and getting away from any type of distraction that could interfere with what is really important. This was the idea behind the birth of Daft Punk, a duo of intergalactic robots that have turned into one of the reference points in electronic music and who have been able to reinterpret the universe of pop music with their unique style. Even though they want to sell us on the fantasy, the reality is that—behind these futuristic helmets—stand two men of flesh and blood, Thomas Bangalter (the tall one) and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (the shorter one).
The two have gone to great lengths as far as maintaining their privacy is concerned, but their success has been so huge that it has meant keeping anyone who is curious well away from their biographies and their respective family trees. After all, we all have a past and ancestors, just like Thomas Bangalter, whose passion for music did not come to him out of the blue, but because his father, Daniel Vangarde, was a famous musician, singer and producer. He was the creator of summer classics such as “Un Rayo de Sol” for Los Diablos and “Help, Áyudame” by Tony Ronald. He also belonged to several unclassifiable French bands such as The Yamasuki Singers, Ottawan, and the famous Gibson Brothers.
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s family does not have an illustrious musical past; his parents (Portuguese immigrants after the Carnation Revolution in 1974) are in the advertising business. In fact, they run an agency that the group even consults about its marketing strategy. However, he does have one famous relative, although for reasons that have nothing to do with artistic ones. His grandfather was Francisco Manuel Homem Cristo, a renowned Portuguese fascist leader, and friend of dictators such as Oliveira Salazar and Mussolini. He made such an impression on his city, Aveiro, that both a street and a school are named after him.
Being one of the most important bands on the music scene has not affected them when it came to having families. Thomas Bangelter is married to the French actress Elodie Bouchez and they have two children, Tara-Gay and Roxan. Although they have a spectacular mansion in Beverly Hills, their daily life takes place in Paris. Guy Manuel is the one who is most secretive about his private life; the name of his wife—with whom he has two children—is not even known.
The identity of the members of Daft Punk was one of the best kept secrets in the music industry. And I use the word ‘was’ there because it was not until 2013 when, by mistake, the faces of the famous duo were revealed. The producers of The Knocks visited Sony's offices in New York, and came across a big party. Daft Punk had reached number one in the United States. One of members of The Knocks thought it would be a great idea to take a clandestine photo of them, but his big mistake was in posting it on his Facebook profile. Daft Punk went up the wall and Sony’s executives went for their jugular, demanding that they take down the photo. They removed it immediately, but we already know what happens on social media: once something has been uploaded, making it disappear is practically impossible. The photo spread like wildfire and the Daft Punk’s identities ceased to be a mystery.
With or without a helmet, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel of Homem-Christo have managed to create a singular sound and a group that—with each work—goes beyond what it did before. The year about to begin is full of promise as Daft Punk appear to have finished a new album that will be launched during this year. Up until then, we are going to carry on enjoying their classics and who knows, maybe one day, we can see them play live on the island of electronic music, Ibiza.Read more Close