‘I wrote 350 songs, and I couldn’t sing you one of them’: disco maestro Daniel Vangarde breaks his silence

Daniel Vangarde plays the bongos

‘You can’t stop people dancing to a rhythm’ … Daniel Vangarde. Photograph: Zagora Archive

The legend behind songs like D.I.S.C.O. – and the father of half of Daft Punk – ruled the 70s then scorned the music industry for decades. With the reissue of his own wildly eclectic oeuvre, he is re-emerging – briefly

Almost the first thing Daniel Vangarde says when he walks into the Paris office of his record label is that he’s never done an interview in English before. Then again, he adds, he had never done an interview in his native French either until this morning. He never bothered talking to journalists at the height of his career, when he was a key figure in French pop: an artist, writer and producer behind an array of releases that range from the wildly obscure to the instantly familiar. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to start meeting the press aged 75: Vangarde had retired years ago, relocating to a remote fishing village in northern Brazil.

But then a record company unexpectedly approached him about a career-spanning compilation, named after Zagora, the label he founded in 1974, which piqued his interest. When they sent him the track listing, he told them that some of the songs on it weren’t his. They were – he’d just forgotten them entirely.

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