With the recently-released soundtrack to the USA Network crime-thriller “Queen of the South,” the original cast recording of Broadway’s “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” and a full-blown DJ event with Dave Kiss Presents – “Discoteca” – that brings him to the Trocadero on Aug. 30, the Giorgio Moroder comeback tour is in full swing.
Then again, the legendary disco king behind Donna Summer’s greatest ’70s dance hits has been working toward this return since 2015’s “Déjà Vu,” Moroder’s first solo album in 23 years. Giorgio Moroder has even appeared as an opening act DJ for electronic groups such as Disco Biscuits and appeared during monster-mega dance music festivals around the globe. Pretty good for a 78-year-old gentleman who never really toured before this last decade.
Getting groovy with Giorgio Moroder
“It’s very different now, as there are so many people involved with each production—co-writers, co-editors—that it is hard to conjure up a seduction,” says the synth-and-sequencer master when asked if he is truly making albums and singles differently today than he did 30 years ago.
“It is not so intimate, now,” Giorgio Moroder says in his still-thick Italian accent. “It has changed so much from when it was just me and maybe Pete Bellotte in a sound studio. There were no such things as vocal producers and executive producers. There was one producer. But, I am happy the way it is now. You really have to be, as there is no way back.”
The “way back” includes more recent collaborations with Daft Punk (on their multi-platinum “Random Access Memories”), and legendary production and writing work with David Bowie (“Putting Out the Fire”), Blondie (“Call Me”) and film scores, including three Academy Award winners. The first came for his score to the 1978 film “Midnight Express.” The second recognized was Irene Cara’s inspirational hit, “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” from the film “Flashdance.” Lastly, “Take My Breath Away” from the film “Top Gun,” brought him his third Academy Award.
Though he worked with Bowie and Queen’s Freddie Mercury, it is the sound of a woman’s voice that always made his music purr, in the past with Deborah Harry, and on “Déjà Vu,” with Charli XCX, Sia, Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears.
“I don’t know, maybe it is the sex feeling, the sensuality of the female voice against my melodies,” says Giorgio Moroder. “I can’t think of too many guys who can do it. I mean, in the old days, you had the Village People, but … A woman has a more pleasant, sexier sound. They project the image of sexiness better.”
Of course, there is no one such as Summer, with whom Moroder forged his most dynamic, signature sound, one that was as robotic as it was sensual. “With Donna, it was an accident, as Pete and I were working on a project and needed women without English accents to sing. We found her. She did a great job. I also said that when I had something great for her that I was going to call her. That was ‘Love To Love You Baby.”
Before 2013 and Daft Punk, however, Moroder was happily retired, out of the music game (“Llived through ‘death to disco’ remember”), and onto a life of neon art crafting and leisurely travel. “I did some composition for one of the Olympics, but I was out of the game,” he says, laughing. “Then, I did dip a toe in doing some DJ work, and then came the Daft Punk success. That really spurred me on. Changed my mind. I thought a modern dance record with some retro—disco—could work. I didn’t want to rely on the past.”
Neither did Philadelphia-based party producer Dave Kiss want to pull exclusively from Moroder’s past for their “Discoteca” event. “Moroder’s music is the very definition of timeless,” says Kiss. “He made music from-and-for-the future in the past, and that will be influential for generations to come.”