By Scott T. Sterling
His recent collaboration with Daft Punk for the duo’s GRAMMY-sweeping Random Access Memories introduced Giorgio Moroder to a new generation. But for a good chunk of time between the mid-‘70s well into the 1980s, he was the Pharrell Williams of his time. Well, sort of.
Producing timeless dance-floor classics like “I Feel Love” and “Love to Love You Baby” with the late disco legend, Donna Summer, Moroder became a veritable hit generator, connecting with a wide range of artists to crank out songs that still radiate on radio airwaves and dance floors around the world.
While steadily making solo albums like 1977’s From Here to Eternity, Moroder began cementing his legend with movie soundtracks, earning his first Academy Award in 1978 for the haunting synthesizer soundtrack for 1978 movie, Midnight Express, best known for the instrumental single, “Chase.”
Hollywood continued to tap Moroder for his magic touch, as he produced the soundtracks to such big screen hits as Scarface, American Gigolo (where he connected with Blondie for “Call Me”), Flashdance (which earned the producer even more Academy Awards, including Best Song for Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” as well as his first two GRAMMYs) and Top Gun, which boasted his work on both Berlin’s Academy Award-winning “Take My Breath Away” and Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.”
Thanks to the Daft Punk collaboration (“Giorgio by Moroder”), the producer is back in the spotlight, doing high-profile DJ gigs, fielding all sorts of new offers (including a proposed glitzy Las Vegas stage show) and recently set a May 10 date at the famed Hollywood Bowl with fellow Daft Punk collaborator, Nile Rodgers, and his legendary dance outfit Chic.
“I have several songs which I’m trying to find the right singers,” the 73-year-old Moroder told Radio.com during an interview just two days before Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories took home multiple GRAMMY awards. “I have one where it’s almost confirmed which I’m probably starting in about two or three weeks. I’m finishing right now a group from New York called Class Actress. I’ll do this with Evan Bogart,” he added, referencing music producer “Kidd” Bogart, son of the late Neil Bogart, founder of ’70s powerhouse label Casablanca Records, home to many of Moroder’s biggest hits.
“It’s great. It opens again the whole disco world,” Moroder smiled about the renewed interest in his sound now that Random Access Memories has revived the warm, analog feel of classic ’70s production styles, explaining how he plans to make “new disco,” utilizing live instrumentation much like Daft Punk did on RAM.
In Moroder’s attempts at recapturing even some of his former glories, he’s eager to work with today’s female pop superstars, such as Rihanna and Katy Perry. He’s all but confirmed a collaboration with EDM hit-maker David Guetta, and is scheduled as a featured speaker at this year’s Moogfest.
“The response is incredible,” is how he explained his current foray into the world of being a superstar DJ, which he called “kind of a piece of cake. I was playing to about 20,000 people in Mexico about two months ago…the young people, they are all from let’s say 20 to 40. They know the songs,” Moroder marveled. “They know the Donna Summer songs, they know ‘Danger Zone’…they know all those songs.”