Few tracks are as synonymous with early-80s disco as Ottowan’s D.I.S.C.O – a pop smash that soundtracked many a summer holiday in 1981, not to mention countless sojourns to the dancefloor in the years since.
But while Ottowan are forever etched in disco history, the individual that wrote that track is perhaps today better known for being the father of one half of Daft Punk.
Born in 1947, Daniel Bangalter (aka Daniel Vangarde) enjoyed moderate success in France as a solo artist in the late 1960s, but it was his work as a disco producer in the late 70s and early 80s that proved his real calling – a mixum gatherum of world music, hi-NRG pop and soulful funk.
Along with D.I.S.C.O., The Gibson Brothers’ Cuba was another Vangarde-penned disco smash, as was Aieaoa by The Yamasuki Singers, later recorded as Aie a Mwana by a fledgling Bananarama.
For the young Thomas Bangalter, born in 1975, it no doubt left an itch that he and fellow Daft Punker Guy Manuel de Homem-Cristo had the opportunity to scratch on more than one occasion (especially on 2013’s disco-pop masterpiece Random Access Memories).
As Soma Records’ Stuart McMillan recently told 909originals, he visited Vangarde’s home in Paris in the early 90s, just as Daft Punk were lining up their first releases on the label.
“I remember one time going into Thomas’ bedroom – his house was up in Sacré-Cœur. He lived in a really nice house, his dad was a disco producer that was involved in the music industry,” McMillan explained. “He was quite instrumental in shaping and guiding their career as the success came.
“I said to Thomas, ‘where’s the studio?’. And he said ‘that’s it on the floor’ – there were a couple of drum machines and things like that. And then I was like, ‘where are the speakers?’, and he pointed to this little ghettoblaster.”
Vangarde also earns a credit on Daft Punk’s first two albums – on Homework, he is thanked in the liner notes for “his precious advices”, while on Discovery, he is credited with ‘Design Concept, Art Direction’.
Vangarde’s works continue to influence artists today – D.I.S.C.O was sampled extensively in She’s Bingo by MC Blitzy feat. Luis Fonsi and Nicole Scherzinger (2021), while Erykah Badu took a snippet of his 1971 work with The Yamasuki Singers, Kono Samurai (a track that married Japanese rhythms with porto-disco beats), in 2007’s The Healer.
A few years back, CK303 did a deep dive into Vangarde’s back catalogue for Dazed Digital – putting together an excellent mix (listen here), and offering his thoughts on the level of influence that he would subsequently bestow on Daft Punk.
“He gave Thomas a Minimoog and some other studio equipment that they used on their earliest recordings and he certainly helped them to navigate the shark-infested waters of the music industry and keep tight control over the business aspects of their career,” CK303 wrote.
“So there’s little doubt that he was an influential figure in the background during the early years of their career. I also suspect that he must have been involved in the early development of their production technique – certainly it seems unlikely they created such a distinctive and utterly professional sound from a little bedroom studio in Paris without any input from an experienced record producer who happened to be living in the same house! But again, that’s pure speculation on my part.”
Listen to a playlist of some of Vangarde’s biggest hits below.