Image via Street Piracy
Every skate site was obligated to have a “Dill & AVE Off Alien”-post, and every website on the entire internet is required to mention the new Daft Punk album. Combined with the release of Kendrick Lamar’s debut last fall and next month’s Kanye album, we are in an eight-month rut of opinion onslaught from an unholy trio of annoying fanbases.
…but even skateboarders are talking about Daft Punk! Skaters previously only acknowledged electronic music when posting “wtf iz with dis song?” comments on video parts that dared to use it. And now they’re interested in dance music? Instead of giving an opinion about Random Access Memories like everyone else on the internet, here’s an abridged history of how Daft Punk, and in turn, electronic music as a whole, achieved acceptance in skate videos.
[Much like how Europeans are more sexually liberated than Americans, they also have a deeper history of accepting electronic music in their skate videos. So, please note that this is a North American timeline. Accounting for European usage of electronic music adds another dimension entirely. Frozen in Carbonite wrote about French house, French Fred, etc. back in 2011, so read that for a more worldly take.]
This is the year that Ty Evans likely began to wane off the rave scene, and focus his attention on a career in videography. His legacy would become primarily tied to an across-the-board heightening of production value in skate videos, but do not forget that he paved the road for #EDM tolerance in skateboarding. With Genesis, Evans edited a video containing the most electronic music-heavy soundtrack of its era, setting a precedent for the remainder of his career.
1997 also saw the release of Daft Punk’s debut album, Homework. Given his musical biases, Evans definitely knew about “Da Funk” or “Alive,” the two singles released in years before the album. Why Genesis failed to utilize them will remain to be one of skateboarding’s greatest mysteries. (Or it could be one of those tragic things he’s second guessing to this day, much like Gino’s choice of skating to “Publicity” and “Motherless Child” sans vocals.)
Chomp On This, the first major “ironic” skate video, is released.
Though Chomp remains a classic, it unfortunately convinced a generation of upcoming skate video editors that they should not be sincere in their utilization of rap and electronic music. Everyone giggled at Jamie Thomas ironically skating to Master P’s “Hoody Hoo.” Then the credits came, which, knowing Evans’ involvement with the project and synth-friendly ear, featured very un-ironic usage of Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” Club riot-inciting New Orleans rap and French house were still taboo music supervision choices in 2002, even if one was clearly used with more sincerity than the other. By convenience, amateur skate video editors lumped these two genres together under the “irony” label, and it took nearly a decade for the damage to be undone.
J. Strickland, one of the most un-ironic skate video directors of all time, set out to do what Evans had neglected seven years earlier and edited a friends section in Bootleg’s Side B Re-Mix to “Da Funk.” Bootleg would soon go out of business and the DVD saw limited circulation, so the movement to un-ironicize Daft Punk in skate videos did not pick up much steam.
Daft Punk had a “moment” in 2007.
They went on a successful world tour, Kanye West sampled them for a hit single, and then-popular groups like Justice, who were obvious decedents of the duo’s sound, championed their influence. (Justice, in their “prime,” would be used as music in parts where the skater predominantly wore party promoter hats, e.g. Greg Lutzka in Globe’s United By Fate.)
Then came the Canadians.
2007 culminated with the Winnipeg-based Green Apple releasing Supper’s Ready, the Daft Punkest video ever made. They didn’t just edit to Daft Punk songs — they broke new ground by using Thomas Bangalter’s solo work, complimented by all sorts of weird blog-baiting electro remixes by kids on MacBooks trying to capitalize on the aforementioned “moment.” Above all, the video’s visual effects (probably) capture the high of anyone who experimented with hallucinogenic drugs after watching Genesis. And this was all by dudes whose YouTube page had live concert videos of a trip to Berekely to see the Alive 2007 tour, and who wore robot masks for the video’s premiere.
Alex Olson, noted skater-skater-who’d-rather-be-makin’-beatz, addressed the topic of his favorite Daft Punk album on an episode of Skate Talk. Closeted electro fans in the skate community rejoiced in knowing they finally had an A-list, un-ironic pro skater representative, and were hopeful that he would pick the song for his next part accordingly.
#EDM was fully mainstream by 2012, and what remaining intolerance existed in skateboarding eroded with time.
Talks about Daft Punk’s fourth album had been going on since 2008, as was discussion regarding Girl and Chocolate’s follow-up to Yeah Right! It is easy to imagine Girl holding meetings throughout 2012, in which they tried to schedule a deadline for Pretty Sweet some months after the release of Random Access Memories so that Evans and Daft Punk could reunite un-ironically. Alas, it was not meant to be, with the French group ultimately winning the battle of postponements. Girl was forced to use lackluster Daft Punk substitutes like Justice in Pretty Sweet, and Ty Evans moved on from the Girl fam soon after.
Pretty Sweet‘s outing with Daft Punk came on a much smaller stage, in the release of a shop-curated Justin Eldridge remix part edited to “Get Lucky,” the first unremarkable single from their new album. The early consensus on Random Access Memories is that it’s “okay,” but the fact that people are talking about it so much, mostly to compensate for not paying attention to the group when they were actually making great music (see also: post-Black Album Jay-Z), will give skateboarders cause to edit at least two dozen clips to songs off it. Yes, #trendwatch2013.