You connected with Kanye West to help produce his Yeezus LP. It sounds very different from when he sampled you guys for “Stronger.”
BANGALTER: It’s good that it is different, beccause the impact that “Stronger” had is very important. Somehow, it turned out to be this combination between hip-hop and electronic music, and almost started the mix of those genres. We’re all trying to push the envelope and to see where the music can go.
Were you surprised by the sound that Kanye West was going for on Yeezus?
BANGALTER: No, we were not surprised. I think the interesting thing is that we were the first people that Kanye came to. It was at the very beginning of the process, and he just wanted to make the record. We discussed it a lot... the approach. The very first track we did was “Black Skinhead.” We had recorded [the drums] earlier during the recording of our album, so we had those drums. It was a great twist of pushing the envelope. The last trackwe did was “On Sight,” which was even more ghetto, but in another sense. One was super rock and the other was more techno/ghetto/ house. His ideas were really making a lot of sense... Do something with a lot of integrity. And [they were] also about reinventing; this is what we try to do ourselves as artists. And that’s what you appreciate with someone as popular and as big as Kanye is. We were happy to help figure out a direction he was looking for in terms of substance. He really responded positively to those ideas we were throwing out to him. And then he ran with it.
Seems like you guys had to tap into an entirely different energy from your own album.
BANGALTER: It’s funny because working on those two records—Random Access Memories and Yeezus—was like a preposition of what else it can be. Dance music can still be this joyful disco-bliss, something that it’s currently not. And hip-hop, even on a mainstream level, can still be a very radical punk-rock approach. Those two records, in the end, are very radical.
You’ve been very busy lately, too, Pharrell, working with Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Robin Thicke. But what was it like in the studio collaborating with Miley Cyrus on her album?
WILLIAMS: Her album is dope. She’s super duper talented, but I want to spend this time talking about the Robots. It’s a rare opportunity, because they don’t talk to people.
BANGALTER: [Pharrell’s] getting a lot of exposure right now, but he would totally be [relevant] 30, 40 years ago as well. He has that timeless quality of what a great entertainer is.
You’ve got a lot of other great musicians who played on Random Access Memories. How did you go about getting them all on the album?
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