Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter helped to fill the void left by the death of producer Philippe Zdar, say Phoenix: “he played a little bit of the same role”

(Image credit: Shervin Lainez)

Producer Phillipe Zdar, who died following a fall in 2019, was mourned across the music industry, but fellow French musicians Phoenix felt it more acutely than most. Zdar was one of the band’s most frequent collaborators, notably serving as producer on Grammy-winning 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

Phoenix’s new album, the just-released Alpha Zulu, is their first since Zdar’s tragic death, and the band have been reflecting on his passing and how it affected the recording of their new record.

Speaking to Stereogum, guitarist and keyboard player Laurent “Branco” Brancowitz said: “Philippe had a really strong personality, and in a way, he’s stronger than death, because his influence is still felt.”

Brancowitz goes on to say that “in the studio, he wasn’t there, but we could feel what he would’ve said, we could protect ourselves imagining.”

What’s more, Phoenix had another French house legend to help fill the void left by Zdar’s absence - Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter.

“[He] came a few times to help us out,” says singer Thomas Mars, “just to play the role of Philippe, who was this charismatic force that knew who we were and could give us advice because he knows where we want to go, he knows where we come from, he’s a friend. Thomas played a little bit of the same role. He knows the potential of a song; he knows what a demo could sound like. He would help us choose a little bit.”

Daft Punk disbanded in 2021 and, despite the duo (Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo) recently arriving on TikTok, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a reunion any time soon. 

Bangalter’s first post-Daft Punk project was a ballet score, and he’s also been spotted in the studio with Lil Nas X.

Phoenix’s Alpha Zulu is available now on Loyaute/Glassnote Records. It was recorded in Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which sits in the Palais du Louvre. 

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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