How Jeff Mills influenced Daft Punk’s ‘Rollin and Scratchin’


Forget Get Lucky, One More Time, or even Da Funk. For us, the quintessential Daft Punk track is Rollin and Scratchin.

I remember a big name DJ telling me about 15 years ago that Daft Punk’s first album was the “sound of two people enjoying themselves through music”, and this is no more the case on the album’s eighth track, which builds and builds over screeching synths and laser-sharp beats.

It’s seven and a half minutes of unadulterated rawness; an essential track in the self-styled robots’ back catalogue, and an early live favourite, as Alive 97 demonstrated.

And what’s more, it appears to have been influenced by Detroit techno legend Jeff Mills.

In 2001, Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo gave an interview to DJ Times, in which they were asked about their influences. For both, it seems one name rises far above the rest.

Interviewer: “Who are some of your favourite DJs?”

Bangalter: “I think my favourite DJ is Jeff Mills. It’s cool the way he combines innovation, energy and minimalism, taking something that could appear to be really repetitive and dumb and make it very intelligent and radical, and also very entertaining – and especially more entertaining than the records themselves, than if they were taken separately. It’s a situation where the difference between the original material and the outcome is higher, which is sometimes easier with techno because there’s no harmony.”

De Homem-Christo: “There’s many really good DJs, so it’s hard to say just one, but every time I’ve seen Jeff Mills play, he’s taken me to a new dimension where he’s throwing records away. This is not just DJing. There’s lots of great DJs, but every time you see him, he’s doing something special every time.”

Bangalter: “The interesting thing is the fact that he has become one of the most important musicians in electronic music, maybe one of the most important producers of techno music ever. People tend to often confuse the difference between DJs and live shows and maybe he is part of that confusion because when he spins it’s almost like he is making music live with three turntables.

“He represents an important statement that we were trying to do with tracks like “Rolling and Scratchin” that were harder edged, that these noises are music and it’s not just noise and can be accessible and experimental.”

Five years on from Random Access Memories, I wonder can we convince Jeff to collaborate on Daft Punk’s next album?

[Article snippet taken from DJ Times, May 2001]

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