Unless you are Amish and disconnected from the real world aka the Internet, you probably know that the French robots are back in the game. Daft Punk's new album, Random Access Memories, will be released worldwide on May 20th, and while our buddies at The Creators Project did a great job teasing the whole thing, we spoke with the group's biggest fan, Djamel from Paris, for a completely fresh take on Daft Punk. Better known as DaftWorld, he told us about the day he discovered their music at Mcdonalds, the first time he met them without their robot masks, and a bunch of other things that you won't believe.
Thump: So, DaftWorld, the biggest Daft Punk fan in the universe, what are you doing today?
DaftWorld: Well, like every day, I'm digging around on the Internet searching for fresh news about Daft Punk. I've been spending way more time online since the new album was announced. Random Access Memories… that's a promising title, I must say.
You must be so busy with all the news about it coming out. Do you still find time to sleep?
Yes, it's crazy! Not a day goes by without a new announcement. Finally! We have been waiting for so long… Last month, I received 23,000 visits on my blog, a record since its creation. I guess I'm not the only one who's excited!
Tell me more about the blog. Do you have any secrets as to how you stay so sharp on Daft Punk news? What are your investigative methods?
I've been running it for about eight years. I started it on Skyblog, a blog network for teenagers. I was visiting all the forums and blogs I could find to gather whatever information was out there. Little by little, I made more and more connections with other fans and my network grew organically. Then, Overblog came to me and offered to move my content on their platform. After that, the visits never stopped going up. I'm even doing better than some big music websites! Same thing happened on the Facebook page I've created, which counts over 26,000 fans. About my investigation techniques, they're nothing surprising or secret. I'd just like to say thank you to all the people who take the time to send me what they've got. I read every message I receive!
Let's go back to how it all started. What was your very first contact with Daft Punk's music?
This close encounter of the third kind happened on a random day in December of 2001. I was working at a McDonald's in Paris, where I used to watch MTV during my lunch break. On that day, I saw Daft Punk's music video "One More Time" for the first time. Love at first sight. I had never heard anything like it before and the video was amazing, all in manga style. At the time I was deep in my otaku period and this Daft Punk video reminded me all the stuff I liked--Dragon Ball Z, Saint Seiya… and the music fit perfectly with the images. Immediately, I wanted to know everything about this band. I ran to the closest public library and tried to find out more about them from the magazines. The machine was launched… I also spent hours in cyberbcafés trying to find out more about them. And I'm still learning today! My only regret is that I missed the whole pre-Discovery period. Homework, Crydamoure, Roulé… I missed so many parties and I prefer to not even think about what I missed out on.
Don't say that! I love that album. It's his best one!
Yeah? Well, I was also listening to IAM, NTM, 113… I learned later that a lot of tracks I liked were produced by DJ Mehdi. I guess I was unconsciously already fascinated by the use of samples.
What were you doing with your life at that time?
It was kind of a dark period for me. I dropped out of school at 16 and took the first job I found--at McDonald's, where you can come as you are [laughs] (in reference to the French McDonald's ad slogan "Come as you are"). I had a shitty job, no personal life, no real friends, and a lot of problems. I needed to find something to be interesting in. Daft Punk entered my life at the perfect time. I grew up with them. They bring me a lot of happiness. Thanks to their music, I have started to go out to clubs, where I meet girls.
How did you start your collection?
From scratch! I wanted everything but I didn't have a lot of money. I started buying the singles with my paychecks, some vinyl when I got some tips but no real collector's items, in fact. Also, at first, there weren't a lot of goodies, but as Daft Punk themselves are big collectors, they started releasing a bunch of collectible stuff. Then I met my wife, who knew exactly what to get me for birthdays and Christmas. Then we started tracking down all the stuff we could find like magazines, T-shirts, posters, jackets, even a table. It's been a long and hard but passionate quest and the best thing about it is that it will never end.
How many Daft Punk items do you have in your collection?
Whoa. Honestly, I can't count, there are so many things everywhere. I'd say more than 200, but honestly I don't know.
What's the last Dafy Punk item you bought?
A Daft Punk wallet I got for Valentine's Day.
That's cute. How much have you spent on all this shit?
What kind of question is that!? I have no idea, but you should ask this other journalist, who is apparently also an accountant because he estimated in an article that my collection is worth more than 10,000 Euros. Interesting, as I have no idea myself. People spend their money on cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. I spend mine on Daft Punk and I have no problem with that.
Right. Sorry, clearly French people don't like to talk about money. What's the piece you are the most proud of?
My favorite one is a Darlin' record. That's the very first Daft Punk recording and there are only 1500 copies of it. My dream would be to have it signed by them. Perhaps if they read this interview…
I'm sure they will! I see that you also have a Daft Punk tatoo on your arm?
Yes… I got my first tatoo when I was 20, a Dragon Ball on my chest. The thing about tattoos is that you always want another one. So I decided that I will get a new one every five years, to give me enough time to think about what I really want. Contrary to what people might think, getting this Daft Punk tattoo was really not impulsive. Also, today it's not suprising to see that kind of stuff from fans, but at the time I got this, I was one of the first people doing it. When I showed it to Guy Man, he told me I was crazy.
When was the first time you met Daft Punk?
That was at the premiere of their movie Interstella. I painted myself in blue on the occasion and even though I didn't have a ticket, I managed to get inside the theater. I was so lucky. When I got inside, the first thing I saw was a big poster of them. As you can imagine, I couldn't resist stealing one, even two if possible. So while I was trying to get those down, I heard somebody behind me saying, "Hey Thomas, look at this guy in the blue." I was about to tell whoever it was to shut up and not to blow my cover, but then I realized it was Guy Man speaking. I just knelt and started crying tears of joy like a child discovering his gift under the Christmas tree. I couldn't speak. I just told them how much I loved them and we took a picture together, and they left just as they came.
How many times have you met them? What do you say to each other?
I don't really know, it has happened randomly, but I feel really lucky every time it does. The good thing is that I stick to my role as a fan. Our encounters are always brief and never more than small talk. They are very simple guys. I've never gotten any exclusive information from them, but it's better that way.
Do you hang out with other fans?
Not really. It's mostly discussions on the Internet but sometimes we catch each other at parties or concerts. But I have some people who have been following me since the begining. I like to call them my Friends 2.0. I'm also always happy to answer every message I receive.
Is there any beef between fans? Some people have accused you of spreading rumors…
I don't pretend that I'm a journalist. I just want to share all the Daft Punk-related news I find. There is a big culture around Daft Punk and I find it very interesting. Thanks to that, we have discovered a lot of good artists like Louis la Roche, Uppermost…
How does your close circle react to your passion?
I assure you, I don't always talk about Daft Punk! But I know my friends and my family always think of me when they hear Daft Punk somewhere.
With all the Daft Punk stuff you have, you could open a museum. Any projects based on the collection in the works?
Not at all. I just want to finish the comic I started. In the past, I have lent out my collection for some exhibitions, but if one day I'll open up my house, it would be for Daft Punk…
Naturally. What about their french pals Justice. Do you follow them?
They are undeniably the robots' little brothers as they have the same father (Pedro Winter, former Daft Punk manager, current Justice manager). I like their music. I remember some rumors in 2005 saying that Daft Punk were hiding behind Justice's music. At least with Justice, I have been following them since the beginning! That's kind of my revenge here.
Daft Punk and Justice excluded, what do you listen to?
Various things, electronic music mostly. Recently, I listened again to the Doc Gyneco first album, just for fun.
I also do that sometimes, it's always refreshing! Oh Vanessa… [laughs] Otherwise, what do you dislike about Daft Punk? There might be at least something…
Humm… The only thing I could reproach them for is the time they spend producing new music while David Guetta is releasing a new single every two weeks! But quality remains more important than quantity obviously.
That was quite a reproach! How do you feel this new album?
I think it's gonna be the best one ever! The promotions are incredible. I like the title, it reminds me of Tron in a way. It's very connected to our digital era. Also, I realy appreciated the subtle reference to Thriller in the album title typography. It presages something very funky and disco… I wish them the same sucess Thriller had!
That's an interesting challenge! To conclude, if I gave you an address in Paris where I know the album is, would it drive you crazy?
I will suprise you but not at all! I really want to enjoy again this magical sensation of going to buy a copy in a real store on the official release day. By the way, I think I might go to the Champs-Elysée Virgin Megastore… everyone is invited to come with me!
DaftWorld's own episode of The Collaborators series: