Nile Rodgers has become the latest Daft Punk collaborator to discuss his experience of working on the duo’s Random Access Memories album, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Speaking in Episode 7 of Daft Punk’s Memory Tapes series, Rodgers recalls that his first encounter with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo came when he attended a listening party to mark the release of their 1997 debut album, Homework, where he learned that the record was to be dedicated to his late Chic bandmate Bernard Edwards, who had died the year before (a Chic record sleeve actually features in the album’s artwork).
It wasn’t until much later that Rodgers caught up with Daft Punk again, though - in New York’s Electric Lady Studios, where the French duo were recording what would go on to become Random Access Memories (and, coincidentally, where Chic had recorded many years before).
Explaining to Rodgers that they “wanted to do an album as if the internet never existed” - ie, in an ‘old-school’ way with ‘real’ instruments - they invited the Chic man to participate in the project, but Thomas Bangalter had a specific request.
“He insisted I bring my plexiglass guitar,” says Nile. “It’s the only other guitar that actually sounds like my Hitmaker [the name given to the legendary Olympic White Stratocaster that Rodgers has used throughout his career].”
Footage in the Memory Tapes episode shows Rodgers working on guitar parts for Get Lucky, Random Access Memories’ lead single and a song that quickly blew up around the world. “The distinctive, linear lick was coming from the plexiglass guitar,” Nile confirms.
Rodgers goes on to recall the evening that he and Chic played the Glastonbury Festival in June 2013, just a couple of months after Get Lucky’s release. At the time, some people expressed surprise that the song wasn’t included in the band’s set, but there was a specific reason for that.
“I always have this rule that I will never play an artist’s song that I worked on until after they play it first,” Rodgers explains. “So I wanted Daft Punk to perform it first, because when I add it to my show I’m going to ‘Chic-ify’ it - I’m going to add it my way and do whatever we’re going to do.”
No matter - Chic’s live engineer took it upon himself to play Get Lucky over the PA at the conclusion of Chic’s set, leaving an emotional Rodgers to lead the crowd in a singalong.
Reflecting on his experience of working with Daft Punk, and how it encouraged him to start working with younger artists, Rodgers says: “Life was one way before Random Access Memories, and completely different after.”