Discovery, Daft Punk’s second album, came out in early 2001 and was a real departure from the duo’s first release. Whereas their first CD, Homework, drew from a range of influences while still staying true to Chicago- and Detroit-style electro music, Discovery focused more on a danceable disco and electronic sound engineered to produce hits. Some of the album’s tracks, including “One More Time,” “Aerodynamic,” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” were heavily played on the radio. The two robots also enlisted 90s house legends like singer Romanthony on two tracks and English musician Todd Edwards on “Face To Face.” The album climbed high on the charts throughout the world; between the US, France, and other international markets, 2.8 million copies were sold.
What truly made Discovery innovative, however, was less its music than the way it was marketed. At a time when the Internet was still under development, Daft Punk embraced this innovation and offered listeners a “member card” with the release granting access to a fan club on its website, the Daft Club, that included new tracks and remixes. Daft Punk went on to have a busy year in 2001. That fall, they also released a live performance recorded in England at the end of the 1990s called Alive 1997.
During the sixteenth Victoires de la Musique, many of the awards went to French Touch artists. In fact, all three French Touch nominees walked away with a trophy. St Germain won for Best Electronic Album and Best Newcomer Stage Artist, Air was awarded Best Original Soundtrack for Virgin Suicides, and Etienne de Crecy took home Best Music Video.
March saw the last major French Touch hit, “Starlight” by The Supermen Lovers (also known as Guillaume Atlan). The song aired on radio stations throughout the world and was a sensation wherever it was played. “Starlight” broke into all the top-10 listings in Europe and paved the way for the singer’s first album release one year later.
Before the French government stepped in, there was one final legendary free party. In early spring 2001, around 5,000 people converged on Piscine Molitor, an abandoned hotel and swimming pool complex in Paris. While the police were present, they were caught off guard by the size of the event and decided to not interfere.
Before he became a global electronic star, David Guetta first had to make it in Ibiza. For a few years prior to 2001, the Parisian DJ and his wife, Cathy Guetta, had been organizing events on Spain’s party island. They had never secured an official venue, however. The couple’s F**k Me I’m Famous events were created when Francisco Ferrer, the artistic director at Pacha, asked the Guettas to host a party at his club.
David Guetta took care of the music, making sure to include French DJs like Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig, Joachim Garraud, and Pedro Winter in the line-up, while his wife, Cathy Guetta, transformed the Spanish club into a genuine electro cabaret. It was a success right off the bat. In just a few years, the Guettas’ event set the standard in Ibiza for both partiers and the celebrities who often came to the island. The party at Pacha switched from a monthly to a weekly schedule, and the concept was exported to other nightclubs throughout the world. A clothing and accessories line was launched, and a F**k Me I’m Famous lounge club even opened at the Ibiza Airport. It would prove to be the first step in the French artist’s career; Guetta eventually became one of the world’s top DJs.
Another style started emerging in the French and European electronic scene at the same time as French Touch. Electroclash was influenced by the 1980s, new wave music, and rocker-chic style. It was popularized in France by Miss Kittin & The Hacker, which released their first album at the end of 2001. Today, it’s considered a classic example of the genre.
Another French artist arrived on the electroclash scene at the same time as Miss Kittin & The Hacker. Dijon-born Pascal Arbez-Nicolas, also known as Vitalic, released his break-out CD, Poney EP, in October. The four-track album, whose unique sound set it apart from the rest, was crucial to the artist’s career. Whereas many French musicians were making warm-sounding dance tracks similar to Daft Punk, Vitalic’s four songs featured fast, hypnotic rhythms and a highly overdriven sound, giving the tracks a rock feel that had never before been incorporated into electronic music.
Vitalic’s live performances also helped rocket him to fame. After his album release, the French artist quickly put together a strong stage presence, both visually and musically, which he employed in concerts and festivals. Long before a wave of new-generation French and international artists started combining rock’s energy with electronic music, Vitalic blazed the trail. Poney EP was released under top electroclash label Gigolo Records and was wildly successful—in fact, it was the best-selling album in the record company’s history.
That fall, the French Parliament voted on a domestic security bill put forth by the Jospin government. The law included an amendment by Deputy Thierry Mariani that authorized the police to confiscate the equipment of any unsanctioned free party and regulate the events for safety reasons. It entered into effect one year later, but was the subject of debate.
Deputy Thierry Mariani