Asking Humans About Robots at Daft Punk's Pop-Up Shop
We spoke to people at the LA shop about helmets, rare memorabilia, and Sean Spicer.
All photos by Jacqueline Verdugo
I spent Valentine's Day 2017 at the Daft Punk pop-up shop in Los Angeles because I'm single and figured a holiday popularized by an emotionally robotic greeting card corporation would be best served in the company of two actual robots. I was in luck, as the West Hollywood store (which is open until February 19) had several on display, suited up in full Daft Punk attire and positioned in between racks of custom-made merch by up-and-coming designers including Off-White and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, the two elusive musicians behind the group, were, shockingly, nowhere to be seen.
These days, high-end pop-ups tend to aim for a half-assed minimalist aesthetic (looking at you, Yeezus). But this is Daft Punk we're talking about; they don't do anything half-assed. They even have their own Snapchat filter. In addition to the limited edition t-shirts and jean jackets on display were rare proofs of vibrant and colorful album and tour photo shoots, and the intricate, wire-y inside of one of Daft Punk's famous helmets. For me, however, the standout piece had to be the see-through Delta Digital DX500t Glas organ—something I would happily trade my first born for (joking, I do not currently have kids to trade)—last spotted in the liner notes from Random Access Memories.
Though I was hoping to drown my lonely V-Day sorrows in some clothing purchases, one look at the price tags (I saw t-shirts for $150 and sweatshirts marked $295) had me permanently stuck in browsing mode. So I interviewed a few Daft Punk fans instead, mostly about their love of Daft Punk, their thoughts on robots, and whether we might get a Daft Punk tour this year.
THUMP: How did you hear about the pop-up?
Snapchat. And I was in LA, which never happens.
So you don't live here?
No, I'm from France, where the Daft are from.
I see you're wearing a Daft Punk ring on your finger.
It's a gift from a friend who works in French TV and he had this on his desk and I was like, Man, you're not wearing it?! He was like, It's too small for me. And I have small hands.
What does it mean to you as a Frenchman to see Daft Punk become a worldwide phenomenon?
I am proud. They are not from France anymore though, they are from outer space.
Rossella, 22 and Julian, 22
What's your first Daft Punk-related memory?
Julian: I think a friend of mine in high school showed them to me freshman year. She asked me if I liked electronic music and I had never even heard anything. I don't remember what song she showed me but I was like, Woah.
Anything in particular that's caught your eye here?
Rossella: The [inside of the helmets].
Julian: Yeah, they're pretty incredible. It's crazy how much wiring there is.
Rossella: It's true. They look a lot heavier in real life. I figured they'd be made out of plastic or resin or something lightweight.
What do you think Daft Punk does once they take off their helmets?
Julian: They take an oil bath.
Are you into Daft Punk?
Yeah I've been listening to their music for awhile—not intensely, but I'm a fan.
Do you think they're going to tour again?
Yeah I think so.
What are your thoughts on the helmets?
I think it's awesome. They kind of pioneered that whole incognito DJ thing.
How would you rate this pop-up so far?
I was just saying that it kind of reminds me of Disney World. You go to Disney World and you wait in lines and there's a whole lobby waiting room experience. I have been to a couple of pop-up shops and this is one of the craziest ones I've been to for sure. This is way more versatile.
Trevor, 19 and Alexandria, 19
How did you hear about the pop-up
Alexandria: And I heard about it from him. He was like, "Look! Daft Punk has a pop-up shop!"
So you're spending your Valentine's Day here.
Trevor: Yeah, we got breakfast at Denny's then came here.
Alexandria: I had $2 pancakes.
What are your thoughts on Daft Punk's robot persona?
Trevor: I think it's awesome, because as an artist they get to be really cool and popular on stage. As soon as they get off, no one has to know who they are.
Alexandria: I love that. You don't have to deal with going to the mall and getting swarmed by people. I have friends who are decently well-known and it's really annoying for them to go out. It's like Holy shit! Can I get a picture with you?!
Trevor: They make a living and can still live a normal life.
Alexandria: Exactly! You get the best of both worlds. It's literally like the real-life Hannah Montana [laughs].
Were you surprised at how expensive everything in here was?
Trevor: So much.
Alexandria: I expected it—I know pop-up shops, I do modeling, and I'm like, it's going to be expensive. He didn't know and I didn't want to put a damper on it.
Trevor: I was like, "It's not going to be too bad. Like, I'm sure I can afford a few things." Nope.
How did you hear about the pop-up?
My friends were here for the private event on Friday.
On a scale of 1-10, how big of a Daft Punk fan are you?
I'm like a 5 or 6. I'm not really a big fan. They're really edgy and cool.
What makes them cool?
You don't even know who they are! And the music is very good. It just has a personality to it.
Do you have a favorite Daft Punk song?
I don't know. I just listen randomly.
How told you about the pop-up?
My friend Brendan, who is a huge Daft Punk fan. Today after school we were hanging out and he asked me if I wanted to come with him and I was like, sure.
What's the verdict so far?
I think it's dope. The look of it, the aesthetics.
Do you have a favorite Daft Punk song?
Not really. Just the mainstream ones. I just came to support Brendan.
Would you recognize Daft Punk if they walked in the room without their helmets?
Definitely. Over the years, everyone has that question: what do they look like?
How much would you pay for a Daft Punk helmet?
Pshhh, it has to be quality. I would pay thousands—even more if I had to.
Do you think they will tour again?
Well, I saw the Alive 2017 announcement. It looks legit, but I don't think so. It might be too good to be true. They performed at the Grammys, which was awesome. People think they are sellouts because of it. But I think it's awesome. Any chance we get to hear them, to see them perform live at the Grammys or whatever, it's amazing regardless.
Someone recently unearthed a 2014 tweet from the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, basically calling Daft Punk sellouts. What did you think about that?
I was just like, wow. I try to stay out of everything political right now, but I saw that and I was like, "Cmon. That will just piss off the Daft Punk lovers."
What artists would you like to see them work with that they haven't yet?
What brought you out today?
I saw on Hypebeast that Daft Punk was having their first pop-up shop. And it's Daft Punk. You don't hear much from them so I had to come and check it out.
Are you a fan?
I wouldn't consider myself a fan, but I do respect them because they're great producers and they make some really good music with really good people.
Do you have your eye on anything here?
Well another thing that brought me here, I saw Virgil [Abloh] designed some stuff for them for Off-White and I'm a really big fan of Gosha. I've got the Gosha Reeboks on [points to his shoes]. So I support Virgil and Off-White and Gosha.
How does this compare to other pop-ups you've been to?
Honestly, whoever did the art direction of this and put everything together did a really good job. Usually at pop-ups, you just have the shirts.
For those in Los Angeles, the Daft Punk pop-up is located at Maxfield in West Hollywood and runs until Sunday, February 19.