Millions know the name Romanthony because of Daft Punk, but he was really so much more.
Don’t we always say that when someone passes away? But this time it’s true. It takes a monstrous appetite for music to wend your way through Romanthony’s catalog, which is probably the single greatest catalog of any individual artist in our scene, much of it classic and known by heart, but so much of it still sounding so good…
Throughout an exhausting night, searching for confirmation of a fact I didn’t want to be true (but secretly feared it was), I kept coming across the songs. Those songs. There’s a Wall of YouTube Videos that creates itself upon the death of any artist of note. It’s the ritual of our time, like ship burials and Irish wakes once were.
Ned Raggett posted this one, and I heard it for the first time again tonight. For the first time, again. It’s that beautiful moment when enough time has elapsed that you’ve truly well forgotten a song and can listen with virgin ears. With music, like nothing else, you truly can go home again:
And there it is, another – sorry – another brick, and soon you’re building a wall of your own:
And then it comes down to the man.
Romanthony always seemed to be “introducing” himself. Just a few months ago, Mystic Bill told me that one of his great sources of pride was bringing Romanthony to Chicago to play at an underground party. Daft Punk mediated a worldwide handshake between Romanthony and millions of people on Discovery. From Jersey Garage to the rave scene to the brave new world of whatever you want to call Daft Punk’s crowd – it isn’t a bridge many people can cross. I’m not aware of another artist of his generation that’s done it. But Romanthony, he made those crowds his own.
“My music in production is usually physical pain…. When you get a certain rhythm going at the studio, a certain sequence of melodies, sometimes, it’s like… it’s not funny at all, it’s like the opposite of it…”
One of the reasons this story was so hard to verify tonight was the strange isolation around Romanthony. Many of the people that knew him before – the ones you would, from afar, identify as his “peers” and colleagues and collaborators – don’t seem to know him now. No one I spoke to knew he was in Austin. They’ve lost touch. It happens. But the people you thought knew him as a friend could only report back to you rumors you’d already heard from someone else. That likely played some kind of a role in why it took nearly two weeks for this news to spread.
There’s almost certainly more to say on this subject, and we will probably add more to it. In the course of a long night I’ve sent out inquiries to probably several dozen people. We’ll probably hear back from them, and hopefully they’ll have something they wish to share.
We lost still another hero, and all I want to do is listen to records and be very quiet.