The duo that inspired The Weeknd to make music
(Credit: YouTube)

Old School Archives

The duo that inspired The Weeknd to make music

The Weeknd, alongside figures such as Bryson Tiller and Anderson Paak, is one of the most successful new-generation R’n’B artists currently making music, and his impact has been profound. With hits such as ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘After Hours,’ the vocalist (real name Abel Tesfaye) has been at the forefront of the culture. However, he once revealed that he would never have made music without one duo.

Following the release of his fourth album, Scary Hours, in 2020, Tesfaye sat down for an in-depth interview with Variety, during which he credited the French duo Daft Punk for inspiring him to make music. When opening up about his love for them, the Canadian crooner talked about their impact and how they stood apart from other influential groups.

Daft Punk has been around since the 1990s and has profoundly impacted many individuals in hip-hop. The French duo have produced electro-funk classics. With albums such as 1997’s Homework, 2001’s Discovery and 2013’s Random Access Memories, the masked Frenchmen created one of history’s most influential dance groups.

Many hip-hop acts have utilised the duo’s talent for hip-hop purposes. Busta Rhymes’ ‘Touch It’, produced by Swizz Beatz, was an anthem and was based on a catchy sample from Daft Punk’s ‘Technologic’. Furthermore, Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ is based on a sample taken from the Daft Punk song ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’.  The vocoded, robotic voice featured on Kanye’s track is an integral part of Daft Punk’s signature sound, which matches their futuristic aesthetic.

Even the Neptunes legend Pharrell Williams teamed up with Daft Punk for their 2013 hit ‘Get Lucky’ which also featured Nile Rogers. As such, it is safe to say rappers have engaged with Daft Punk for decades, so it’s unsurprising The Weeknd knocked on their door in 2016. Together, they released the singles ‘I Feel It Coming’ and ‘Starboy,’ the latter became Daft Punk’s first and only number-one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Speaking about the duo, Tesfaye told Variety, “Oh my God — that’s different. Those guys are one of the reasons I make music, so I can’t even compare them to other people. Their branding and how seriously they take their craft and image and everything — they’re almost not even real.”

He concluded, “But seriously, they’re very strategic, they’re very smart, and they don’t attach themselves to anything they feel isn’t right.” Although the duo split in 2021, they still influence Tesfaye and his music. You can hear Daft Punk’s collaboration with The Weeknd below.