Earl Scioneaux’s Brassft Punk Project Goes Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

For Earl Scioneaux III, sometimes the best ideas are the ones that are hidden in plain sight. The Preservation Hall recording engineer and mind behind 2009’s Electronola is back with plans to re-imagine and record four popular Daft Punk songs this summer through the lens of a New Orleans brass band. As he put it, “I wanted to take electronic music and redo it with an acoustic ensemble, and brass band just seemed like the obvious choice for that.”

Earl Scioneaux III of Brassft Punk. Photo by Howard Lambert.

Earl Scioneaux III of Brassft Punk. Photo by Howard Lambert.

Scioneaux’s Brassft Punk Kickstarter campaign recently cleared its goal of raising $10,000, allowing him to move forward with plans for a live performance of the album in December.

The project, which was started a little over a year ago, will take the popular trend of replicating older songs and albums in an electronic style and turn it inside out. In what initially began as an attempt to recreate a full-length electronic studio album, Scioneaux has ultimately settled on recording a “greatest hits” tribute, choosing four songs from multiple Daft Punk albums including “Around the World”, “One More Time”, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and “Da Funk”.

“It started with me looking at projects like Kind of Bloop or Dub Side of the Moon where people had taken well-known music in one style and redone it in another style. Typically those things are putting a more modern twist on older classics, and it occurred to me that it would be really cool to go backwards in time.” Now that he has cleared his Kickstarter goal, Scioneaux plans to write arrangements for an 8-piece brass band over the first half of the summer with tentative plans to record in mid-July.

“There are tunes that are going to be easier to do than others. Part of the beauty of this project, for me, is the challenge of doing it—because some of it’s going to be difficult and that’s kind of what I’m looking forward to. I’d looked at actually doing Daft Punk’s whole Homework as the entire album, but there are several tunes on that record that are a little bit too abstract, that I didn’t think it would translate well with a completely acoustic band.”

As a former roommate of Kickstarter founder Perry Chen, Scioneaux is no stranger to the funding platform. With Electronola, one of the website’s earliest ventures, he was able to come away with a knowledge of incentivizing that contributed to the successful clearance of the project’s goal. “It seems that the rewards that people are really drawn towards and the things that I think are really cool as well are the ones that create a more personal connection with someone. More than just selling them an item or selling them a download, it’s where there’s something that’s a little more human. And those kinds of connections I think are fantastic.”

Since clearing his goal, Scioneaux has been able to explore additional ideas that weren’t originally a part of Brassft Punk, including a release party at Preservation Hall that he envisions as a hybrid of electronic and acoustic music leading up to the live performance of the album. Also in the works is a possible plan to offer access to multitrack stems of the record, which would allow listeners and DJs to remix the songs themselves.

Now that the future of Brassft Punk is no longer in jeopardy, Scioneaux will be able to proceed with writing the arrangements for the songs as well as selecting musicians to record the album. As with most things, moving forward often necessitates looking back, as Scioneaux expressed his excitement of seeing the project through to fruition.

“Last December, I’d written the arrangement for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and actually did a quick proof of concept where I had a couple guys play through it. And it translates really well—that’s when I realized, ‘Okay, I need to do this.’ I had gotten myself so busy working on other people’s recordings that it’s taken me a little while to get around to stepping up and doing this, so I’m glad I’ve finally gotten here.”