Ever since their conception in 1993, Daft Punk have dominated the electronic music genre, but almost all of their hits have not entirely been their own work. Daft Punk frequently sample other songs in their tracks, typically utilising funk music from the 70s and 80s. Drawing from this era adds to Daft Punk's retro aesthetic, whilst adding their own electronic elements keeps it feeling futuristic and new. Below are three examples of how the French duo have lifted aspects of songs and utilised them into their own to varying degrees.
Image Credit: Dean Chalkley
Many people don't know that Daft Punk's number one hit Harder Better Faster takes its main funky melody from Edwin Birdsong's Cola Bottle Baby. Daft Punk use this as the basis for their song, increasing the tempo and adding their own heavily auto-tuned vocals. Birdsong's track itself seems way ahead of its time, and therefore fits well with Daft Punk's futuristic yet retro mantra. Ironically, Harder Better Faster was sampled by Kanye West in his track Stronger, although its draws mainly from Harder Better Faster and no elements of Cola Bottle Baby are overtly present.
One of the more shameful instances of Daft Punk's sampling habits is their track Robot Rock which is virtually just a loop of the intro of Release the Beast by funk band Breakwater. Daft Punk did add elements to it such as a punchier kick drum and vocoder vocals spouting the songs title "Robot Rock". The elements added by Daft Punk give the track a dancier vibe akin to their own style. This track has also been sampled by American rapper Murs in the intro to his 2004 album, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition. It is clear that both of these artists thought that Release the Beast featured a catchy musical hook that they wanted to showcase in their own music.
Possibly their most controversial example of sampling, One More Time has been claimed to feature excerpts from Eddie Johns' More Spell on You, which Johns was never credited for. The track uses an altered and looped section of the horns in More Spell on You to create the iconic sound in One More Time. Despite it being only a very small part of the original track, the notion that it was taken from More Spell On You is hard to deny. Youtuber SadowickProduction demonstrates just how Daft Punk may have achieved the sound in this video.
In his 2014 Ted talk entitled How sampling transformed music, music producer Mark Ronson describes the mentality of sampling as taking something you love and building on it. He expands by saying adding something significant and original to the music you love merges your respective musical journeys and allows you to be a part of its evolution. I have no doubt that Daft Punk have chosen their samples based on music that inspired them, and they have demonstrated their own creative interpretation of it in every one of their tracks - albeit more prominently in some than others.