The Weeknd is one of the great serial collaborators of this era, and he is generous with his praise about the artists he’s worked with, who range from Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey to Travis Scott and SZA. But when asked about Daft Punk — who announced their breakup on Monday, and with whom he collaborated on two songs in 2016 for his “Starboy” album — during interviews for his Variety cover story last year, his voice took on tones of awe.
“Oh my God — that’s different,” he said. “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 laughed, catching the irony of that statement in light of the duo’s long-running conceit about being robots. “But seriously, they’re very strategic, they’re very smart, and they don’t attach themselves to anything they feel isn’t right.”
The pioneering electronic-music duo — Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo — met as teenagers in Paris and formed Daft Punk in 1993. Intentionally enigmatic, the duo have been a pioneering force in dance music since the mid-1990s, most notably via their debut album “Homework,” their galvanizing 2006-7 tour (immortalized on the “Alive 2007” album) and their 2013 album “Random Access Memories,” which spawned the hit single “Get Lucky” (No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100) and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2014.
“Working with Daft Punk was like, ‘Whatever you guys want!,’” the Weeknd recalled with a laugh. “I just wanted to get into the studio with them — I didn’t even care if we made music, I just wanted to be friends. I met Guy-Man first, out partying in L.A., and I actually partied with him more than I worked with him. He’d would tell me, with loud music playing over drinks, how much he liked my work.”
“And we went into the studio in Paris and did both those songs — ‘Starboy’ and ‘I Feel It Coming’ — in the span of four days. ‘Starboy’ was their first American No. 1 song, and ‘I Feel It Coming’ is up there as one of my favorites for sure. It’s one of those songs that’s like, I can’t believe I made this, it’s so warm!”
The public agreed: “Starboy” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “I Feel It Coming” hit No. 2.