Almost immediately as their careers began, Daft Punk were more than just a group. In 1995, Thomas Bangalter founded Roulé records, and started putting out music under his own name (1995’s “Trax On Da Rocks”), for fellow French artists (Alan Braxe), and for American artists working in a similar vein.
One such song was “Hold On” by American singer and producer Romanthony; its uplifting, gospel-influenced vocal style is considerably more in the American house music tradition than the French one. (It is also a track liable to leave tears on the dancefloor.) Romanthony would go on to collaborate with Daft Punk directly; those are his vocals on their hit “One More Time,” from Discovery.
Then there was "So Much Love to Give," a collaboration between Bangalter and DJ Falcon. The song pushed the boundaries of possibility: It was a snippet from The Real Thing's "Love's Such a Wonderful Thing," extended out to nearly 11 minutes. It was like an experiment: how much repetition could a listener or dancer take? Bangalter and Falcon seemed to theorize that, given the right injection of euphoria, the answer was, "a lot."
But perhaps the biggest track on Roulé was partly Bangalter’s own, released with the band Stardust. “Music Sounds Better With You” became a major international smash, blanketing dancefloors across the world for the next several years after its 1997 release. It sampled Chaka Khan’s “Fate,” but in its euphoric optimism and the vocal performance by singer Benjamin Diamond, the song was like a European interpretation of an American style.
It was also helped propel an even wider fascination with filter-house in Europe and throughout the world. Artists like Pete Heller, Modjo, and We in Music helped spearhead a movement that popularized house music on the other side of the ocean, while hip-hop was busying itself on stateside dancefloors.
House in the late 1990s wasn’t just Daft Punk; they were one of its more well-known quantities, and likely released two of the movement’s best full albums in Discovery and Homework. But amazing house music was still being made across the world, from Chicago, to records released on New York labels like Strictly Rhythm, to labels helmed by Daft Punk themselves, like Bangalter’s own.