Men Of Note: Mr Giorgio Moroder
Composer, producer and musician Mr Giorgio Moroder eats breakfast at home in April 1979 in Los Angeles, California, 1979. Photograph by Michael Montfort/ Getty Images
The Italian forefather of disco and dance picks a classic 1970s-inspired playlist.
Mr David Bowie famously recalled hearing Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” for the first time with producer Mr Brian Eno, while they worked on his “Berlin Trilogy”. The producer burst into the studio to play Mr Bowie the track, and told him, “I have heard the sound of the future. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.” It was quite a statement to make, but it turned out to be true (although Mr Eno was a little conservative with the figure).
Written and produced by Mr Giorgio Moroder, the song influenced disco, left an indelible mark on the 1970s and has helped shape dance music today. If you don’t hear its futuristic bassline on a night out, you’re likely to hear a track trying to recreate the euphoric formula Mr Moroder achieved on an old Moog synthesiser.
“I Feel Love” is probably the defining moment in a career littered with accolades. Just a year after the song’s release, while disco was in decline, Mr Moroder moved into film, winning an Oscar for his synth-driven Midnight Express score. He went on to receive a further two Oscars for his work on Flashdance (1983) and Top Gun (1986). As for Grammys, he has four – the most recent a reward for his appearance on Daft Punk’s game-changing 2013 album Random Access Memories.
Working with Daft Punk reminded everyone what Mr Moroder does best. The nine-minute track “Giorgio By Moroder” featured his fatherly voice layered over an ever-changing bassline. It triggered a reappraisal of the producer and disrupted a hiatus (Déjà Vu, released in June this year, was his first album for 30 years) during which the eccentric innovator tried his hand at everything from making cognac to designing the logo for a concept Lamborghini (as part of a joint venture with Mr Marcello Gandini, the man behind the iconic Countach, no less).
Clearly influenced by Mr Moroder, it is a surprise Daft Punk didn’t knock on his door sooner. “I knew them, but I didn’t know them personally,” says Mr Moroder. “One day their manager called and asked if I wanted lunch with them. Obviously, I said yes, because I loved some of their latest stuff. At the meeting they asked me to come into the studio. I assumed we’d sit down at a piano, but they said they needed me to talk about my life. So I spoke for about two hours. They called me back seven months later and played me the song. It was a little bit emotional. I’ve only heard it twice and I’m not going to hear it again. I play a remixed version with my voice taken out in my sets.”
Having celebrated his 75th birthday in April, you might assume Mr Moroder was experienced behind the decks. Not so. “I only started to DJ two years ago. I love it,” he says, with the air of a man who has stumbled upon a pleasing hobby. Playing his own stuff and classic disco, he attracts crowds of up to 30,000 and has major DJs such as Skrillex and Avicii wanting to work with him. It was the same story with the chart-topping Déjà Vu, where he updated his sound collaborating with the likes of Mikky Ekko and Charli XCX.
To celebrate all things 1970s, we asked Mr Moroder to select some of his favourite tracks inspired by the era. Head over to Spotify to listen to the full playlist.
“The guitar that \[producer\] Nile Rodgers played so well on this track was the basis of the whole r’n’b era of disco. Nile is still great at keeping this sound up to date, and always focuses on the new. He’s a legend.”
“One of the very first disco songs, it has a subtle melody, but it made a big impact. Kind of a Philadelphia sound, but still innovative. Sylvester Levay, who wrote it, was a friend of mine.”
“This is probably the disco track I love the most. The lyrics are great, she sings well and the arrangement is nice. It’s a little bit r’n’b, but it’s a top song.”
“This is not a typical disco track, but it’s done so well. The guitar strings and the background melody have been sampled and covered like nothing else.”
“This was my first big song. It feels a little slow now – 110 BPM, I guess. It worked well, though.”
“I like the simple, incredible novelty of this one. It’s so corny, but sounds great with her voice and the funny lyrics.”
“I still listen to this now. It’s a very beautiful, r’n’b-influenced song. I worked with Diana at one point – what a great lady.”
“This one’s a little slower. The track is accompanied with an incredibly beautiful video. It’s exceptionally shot.”
“This is a very happy song about love in your family. It became a big hit at sports events when it was released. And, not many people know this, but Nile Rodgers wrote it.”
“I love this song because it’s just so happy. Earth, Wind & Fire are great performers and always put on a great show with this track. They’re really nice guys, too.”