On the new album, Random Access Memories, Daft Punk leaves behind many of its familiar electronics and machines. Instead, the French duo turns toward a decidedly retro-sounding mix of funk, disco, jazz fusion, and early electronic music, showcasing more organic instrumentation and lush production, as well as heavy collaboration.
For the album, Daft Punk invited in collaborators like Nile Rodgers, Pharell Williams, The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and Paul Williams, the award-winning composer perhaps best known for "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie. For Random Access Memories, Williams wrote the lyrics for the tracks "Beyond" and "Touch," which he also sings.
It's not the type of collaboration many expected Daft Punk to seek out. Williams says he didn't see it coming, either.
"If you asked me 30 years ago what kind of collaboration musically I would have going," Williams says, "I probably never would have guessed it would have been Daft Punk."
Paul Williams, on feeling nostalgic while making Random Access Memories:
It's been an interesting time travel experience for me. We met at what was the old A&M Studios, which is now the Jim Henson Studios. I’m sitting in the studio, talking to these guys about an album that is, to me, really an album almost about time travel in a location that inspired a great deal of time travel memory for me.
On whether or not he knew how epic "Touch" would turn out to be:
I had absolutely no idea. They played me this delicate, pretty little melody. It was so pretty. [They] played it for me on this keyboard. I took it home, wrote words, and they disappeared. They asked me to sing that one. And then they went away again, and when they returned after what must have been a year, they played me the finished cut, and I was astounded.
On what he got out of working on Random Access Memories:
What I got was freedom. When I look at the work that I've done with Daft Punk, what I see is a real gift. I see a 72-year old guy who’s been given a chance to participate in something that has no boundaries of age, no boundaries of style.