Daft Punk won album of the year at the 2014 Grammy Awards on Sunday night. The win capped their biggest year yet, and threw the helmeted Frenchmen into the mainstream spotlight, leading many to wonder what the duo looked like under their futuristic robo-helmets. In this piece from last year, CBC Music's Matt Meuse dug through the archives to uncover the duo behind Random Access Memories.
Yesterday, an electronic music duo, the Knocks, made waves by posting a photo on their Facebook page. The photo shows another electronic music duo, Daft Punk, without their signature robot helmets that they have used to obscure their identities for more than a decade. The image was quickly deleted, but that has done little to stop it from being one of the most clicked-on stories of the last 24 hours.
Of course, if you've followed the band from the beginning, you know this is not the first time the reclusive robots have shown their faces in public. Click through for a few choice photos of the real faces of Thomas Bangalter (silver helmet) and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (gold helmet) over the years.
1. One of the best photos of the duo's faces is a promotional photo from 1995. It's a tightly cropped shot depicting the duo in blue face paint. (This would have been around the recording and release of their breakout single, "Da Funk.")
2. The January 1996 issue of British DJ culture magazine Jockey Slut features an unmasked Bangalter and de Homem-Christo on the cover, and even more photos alongside the story. The interview and photos were done in 1994.
3. If you own a physical copy of their debut album, 1997's Homework, you'll know that the liner notes actually include a maskless shot of the duo playing live. Also included are photos of both band members as toddlers.
4. Some time between the release of Homework in 1997 and the release of Discovery in 2001, the Frenchmen decided to start keeping their identities out of the limelight. Promo shots from this period feature them wearing face-obscuring masks of varying description and creepiness.
5. Daft Punk's now-iconic robot helmets debuted with the release of their second album, Discovery, in 2001. The outfits have changed over the years, and photos of the band without them since then are rare, but they do exist. The duo usually at least partially obscures their faces, however — often with their hands or their records. They once covered their heads in tinfoil for a promo shot, and conducted an interview for their 2006 film, Electroma, with their backs toward the camera.
So yesterday's goof is far from the first time the beans have been spilled on their real faces. But isn't their decision to remove their egos from the equation an admirable one? Isn't the anonymity one of the most intriguing things about the band? Isn't it fun to keep the mystery alive? Bangalter, from the band's in-depth interview with Rolling Stone last month:
"We're interested in the line between fiction and reality, creating these fictional personas that exist in real life.... The robots are exciting."
He's right — the robots are exciting. Try not to spoil the magic for yourself too much.
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