Celebrating 20 years since the French duo’s debut, Junior Sanchez revisits this classic of electronic music, discussing some of the keys to its groundbreaking sound.
20 years ago, Daft Punk released their debut album which has since become a beloved classic of electronic music. Homework placed the duo at the forefront of dance and house music as well as the top of the charts. Since then, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have gone on to reinvent genre conventions, deeply influencing artists both new and veteran. To celebrate two decades of brilliance, we’ve asked producer, DJ and Daft Punk remixer Junior Sanchez (Madonna, Katy Perry) to revisit the album’s greatness and pick his three favorite tracks.
Waves: Do you remember the first time you heard Homework?
Junior Sanchez: “It was 1997, I remember it well. I bought the album, ripped open the vinyl, and was just in awe.”
What was its immediate effect on you?
“I was already familiar with Daft Funk and their work on the Soma label, but this was so unexpected. It was the next level in production and sound for house and dance music.”
Did Daft Punk inspire your work as a producer even before you remixed them?
“Oh, sure. Their level of creativity and how their mixes sounded influenced us all. We all were impressed – myself, Armand Van Helden, Roger Sanchez. We couldn’t figure out how they did it, until I met and became friends with them around late ‘97.”
What was it about their sound that was so fresh at the time?
“The dynamics. The compression. The way it was side-chained before anyone else was doing that in house music. Every element stood out. It sounded tight and big. Their sound made U.S. and European producers really reevaluate how they mixed their records.”
Can you explain what was unique about the dynamics on the album?
“Well, it was different from what was happening in our scene and genre. It was tight but still big. The kicks and the basslines were pumping and it all melded well together due to how they chained the front end and what they ran their mix through. I learned what it was very early on at Thomas’ Paris studio where all his gear was on the floor, but I can’t divulge that secret – I’ve held onto it since 1999.”
Tell us about the “Revolution 909” remix you made for them. How did the collaboration go?
“By that time, I was already friends with Thomas and Guy-Man and we had a collective – a sort of Wu-Tang of house, if you will – called Da Mongoloids. It consisted of myself, Armand Van Helden, Daft Punk, DJ Sneak, Roger Sanchez and Basement Jaxx, to name a few, and we would DJ and produce, collaborate or remix each other’s projects. So Daft Punk asked Roger and me to remix their next single “Revolution 909.” We also appeared in the video for that song which was filmed in Chicago – a remake of [1974 movie] The Towering Inferno.”
Daft Punk were originally considered part of the French house scene, but obviously they’ve grown as artists to become a lot more important and influential than that. What do you think made them such leaders in their field?
“They never stopped being themselves. They never cared about the fame or vanity. They make music because they love it, no holds barred, and that has stayed true to this day.”
From the beginning, they had that powerful visual vision: the masks, the brilliant videos. It’s like they created a new type of stardom for electronic musicians, where the faces remain anonymous but the band image and brand name are very definite and strong.
“Yes, of course, they revolutionized how artists represent themselves. Without them there would be no Deadmau5, Marshmallow, or any other anonymous artist. Most electronic music and even many pop artists today would be a tad different if Daft Punk never existed.”