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Nile Rodgers: Daft Punk Collaboration 'Felt Unbelievably Natural'

Disco legend discusses his new projects at Miami's Winter Music Conference

Nile Rodgers with collaborator, Adam Lambert at the We Are Family Foundation Gala in New York City.
Shahar Azran/WireImage
March 23, 2013 1:07 PM ET

Daft Punk, Avicii, Tensnake and Chase & Status are a few of the acts from the EDM world that have recently hit the studio with disco legend Nile Rodgers. At Miami's Winter Music Conference, the guitarist, producer and songwriter discussed how these new partnerships came to be.

"About a year ago, I get a knock on the door – first a virtual one and then a real knock – from [Daft Punk's] Guy-Manuel and Thomas," Rodgers said during a Q&A session on Friday. "The collaboration felt so unbelievably natural that it made me realize that I need to be in the studio with people. I love partnering with people. And then from that moment, a windfall of recording started happening. I just started going in with whomever I could."

Rodgers, whose guitar work can be heard on a 15-second trailer of new Daft Punk music that premiered during a Saturday Night Live broadcast earlier this month, said he couldn’t fill in details about the shape of the partnership with the French duo, or when music from their sessions would be released. "All I can say is that when you listen to the clip which dropped on Saturday Night Live, it pretty much shows you the great collaboration," he said. "It’s clear as a bell."

Chic's Nile Rodgers Toasts Fans in 'We Are Family' - Premiere

Rodgers helped bring suave musical sophistication to disco in the late Seventies as a founding member of Chic and producer of hits like Diana Ross’ "I’m Coming Out" and Sister Sledge’s "We Are Family." His career reached a second peak in the Eighties when he produced hits for Madonna ("Like A Virgin," "Material Girl"), David Bowie ("Let’s Dance") and Duran Duran ("The Reflex"). In recent years Rodgers, who has battled an aggressive form of prostate cancer since a diagnosis in 2010, has focused much of his creative energy on video game soundtrack production. But the rise of EDM has brought renewed relevance for the mastermind behind so many dance classics.

"The great thing about today’s musical climate is I really just do what I want to do, and a lot of the artists feel like the old rock & roll artists, that they can do whatever they want to do," Rodgers said. "And that’s what’s gotten me so excited about the EDM movement. Every artist I talk to, we just get on the phone and make our own deals and we’re, like, at it the next day or the next week."

Just about all of these new connections – including one with theatrical former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert – were made through Twitter, Rodgers said.

"[People] say, 'Yo, you want to play on my record?' and I say, 'Send me the shit, let me see if I like it,'" Rodgers said. "I didn’t even know who Adam Lambert was, really. I don’t watch American Idol. The guy who contacted me on Twitter to do the Adam Lambert record was a guy called Sam Sparro, who did a record called Black and Gold which I thought was the shit."

Rodgers likened the run of soon-to-be-unveiled music to his twin heydays in the Seventies and the mid-Eighties. "Sometimes you’re on a roll and you just keep knocking 'em out the park," said Rodgers, who turned 60 last August. "I had that roll in the late '70s with Chic and then I picked it up again right after Bowie where it’s a string. I feel even at this age I’m in the space right now where I’m in the zone."

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