IN 1977 GIORGIO MORODER CHANGED THE FACE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY WHEN HE CO-WROTE AND PRODUCED ‘I FEEL LOVE’ FOR DONNA SUMMER. 36 YEARS LATER, AS HE GEARS UP TO COME TO THE ELECTRIC PICNIC ON THE CREST OF A DISCO RENAISSANCE WAVE, HE TALKS TO JANE CASEY ABOUT HIS LEGENDARY CAREER AND HOW WORKING WITH DAFT PUNK PUT HIM BACK ON TOP.
Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand and Giorgio Moroder. What do they have
in common? They are all among the handful of legends that have been honoured with both an Oscar and a Grammy Award in their careers. Oh, and Giorgio? He only picked up three of each.
“Winning my Oscar was probably the highest point of my career,” Giorgio tells me on the phone from Los Angeles. I can’t be sure of which Oscar he is talking about, since he won three in total for producing the soundtracks to Top Gun, Flashdance and Midnight Express. “Not many musicians can
say they have won an Oscar.” Coming from humble Italian beginnings, Giovanni ‘Giorgio’ Moroder moved to Munich in his teens and quickly went from sleeping in his car at night and singing and playing guitar in discotheques, to becoming the father of modern dance music.
The music industry first took notice of Moroder’s genius in 1977 when he lent his talents to the Donna Summer track that pounded out on the floor of every gay club that summer, the legendary ’I Feel
“At the time, nobody, and me included, thought that it was going to change music the way it did,” Moroder says of the song, which infused electro into its disco soul, thereby pointing the way towards the synth revolution of the ‘80s, and paving the way for the next 30 years of music. Moroder collaborated with Donna Summer once more on ‘Love To Love You Baby’, but won’t say much more about Summer than agreeing with the fact that he worked with her. In the 80s, we went on to create another gay club anthem, with Irene Cara’s Flashdance theme, ‘What A Feeling’, and
in the intervening time became the songwriter/ producer literally everyone on the planet wanted to work with.
He wrote and produced soundtracks for such era-defining movies as Scarface, Neverending Story, Metropolis and American Gigolo, and in between collaborated on tracks by Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, Blondie, David Bowie, and Pat Benatar. More recently, he’s collaborated with the hugely popular Daft Punk.
“I fl ew to Paris and I just sat in the studio and spoke about my life for maybe three hours,” the 73 year-old says of his fi rst encounter with Daft Punk, who called him up and asked for his contribution. “When I got back to LA I heard nothing else about it for months and months. It was all very secretive. It was only three months ago that they finally played me the fi nished song.”
The song was, ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ the third track on the French duo’s long awaited 2013 album, Random Access Memories. “I was very happy with it!,” he says. “It’s strange now, because suddenly everyone is knocking on my door wanting to talk to me again.
“I did my first ever DJ set recently at a Red Bull event when I was in New York. There were people there who were 18, 19, and 20 – who weren’t even alive when I had my big hits – and they loved it. It is quite nice to get a new generation appreciating my songs.”
Despite his reputation, Giorgio is modest. When I call him an icon, he laughs softly. “I don’t know if
I could be considered an icon,” he says. “I mean, I guess I’ve had hits in the movies, I’ve won a few Grammys, I’ve written songs for three Olympics, a World Cup; I’ve done a few video games… I even have a religious song that I wrote and now they sing it every Sunday in Italy…” he trails off. “So, I don’t know if I could call myself an icon, but it’s nice that disco became dance, and then dance became house and house became electronic. Maybe I had something to do with it. ”
With such a stellar career, it’s hard to imagine he might have any regrets, but when I put the question to him, he answers instantly. “I wish I had a better manager. There were times that I was overworked and physically exhausted. I loved my work, of course, but I had no time for anything else.”
With mainstream artists like Justin Timberlake and Daft Punk now jumping on the disco bandwagon, what does Moroder think about the revival?
“If you listen now to the American radio, it is 50 percent dance music. And then you hear songs like
Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, which is bringing back the live disco sound too. Songs like ‘Get Lucky’ perfectly combine live sounds like guitars and bass guitars, with electronic sounds. That is a genius innovation that I certainly can’t take credit for.”
Although he has been making music for over half a century, Giorgio has no plans to slow down. “There are several artists I’d like to work with,” he says. “I’d like to sign with a record label to do an album called ‘Giorgio Moroder Featuring…’”
“I’d love to work with Lady Gaga. She is an obvious choice, being one of the biggest pop stars around. I’d even like to work with Rihanna sometime. “ But queens of pop will have to wait, as Moroder’s schedule shows no sign of freeing up anytime soon. Coming to Ireland for a stomping set at this year’s Electric Picnic (which he says will feature all his old hits and possibly two new songs), before then he’ll be in the studio working with electro newcomer, Avicii. He’s also in talks with a director about writing the soundtrack to an upcoming Hollywood
“There’s nothing finalised yet,” he says, when I ask him about the film, and our conversation ends abruptly. He’s not a man to talk about things he doesn’t want to, but then again who cares? Giorgio Moroder is a living legend, and as far as I’m concerned, legends can do what they like.
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