The Engineers Behind “Random Access Memories” Discuss the Recording Process

Image via LA Times / Brian van der BrugName
Image via LA Times / Brian van der BrugName

When Daft Punk set out to make Random Access Memories, their desire to recreate the sound of the ’70s, rich with a number of classic and innovative projects, went further than hiring legendary session musicians. They assembled a foursome that truly took the art of setting up one mic for one snare drum to get that warm feeling to new levels, giving the album a feel that rivals today’s digital mixing and mastering process via vintage techniques.

In this awesome interview with the L.A. Times, Peter Franco, left, Mick Guzauski, Florian Lagatta, and Daniel Lerner spoke on the process, which prided itself in taking the time to get it right instead of whatever kind of trickery was about. Franco states that “there’s a process that’s been lost. All of my favorite albums were done in these kinds of studios. I think Daft Punk wanted to have that experience and see what they could do here.” The process took five years, and was featured in studios that a multitude of classic albums were created in, without digital means – remember that Modcan synth we saw? All of the synths and vocoders were hand-designed and had all kinds of knobs, dials, and intricate parts. And hearing these guys compare the way dance music is mixed and mastered today compared with how they sorted out Random Access Memories, maybe today’s producers and engineers can learn something:

“I’ve never heard music that shows up the most subtle differences in gear like their music,” Ludwig said via email. “When they play back the disc in clubs, because the recording is not squashed like 90% of electronica music seems to be, the record bursts through with punch and dynamics.”

They must be onto something; Random Access Memories is up for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at this year’s Grammys. We’ll see if they win.