Today saw disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder release the full details of his long awaited new album Déjà Vu. Featuring the likes of Kylie, Britney, Kelis and Charlie XCX it's set to a be a poppy affair, dropping on the 12th of June for maximum summery impact. A few months back our colleagues in Germany were lucky enough to have a chat with the man who pretty much single handedly made club culture what it was. Here's what went down.
Giorgio Moroder's story is one of a boy who grew up in a tiny South Tyrolean village and ended up becoming one of the 20th century's most important musicians. It reads, on paper, like a fairy tale. Moroder, a child blessed with a pioneering spirit went on to create new genres, ended up working with nearly every big name in recent history, and, amongst other accolades, racked up about 200 gold and platinum records and three Oscars.
You'd think that at this point in time the man known to his family as Hans-Jorg could afford to sit back, satisfied with what he's achieved, content with being able to say he's worked with Elton John, Janet Jackson, Daft Punk, the Rolling Stones and more. But he isn't. This year sees the release of his first solo album in over thirty years and THUMP was lucky enough to spend a little time with Moroder in Munich. We ate chocolates and chatted about the past, the present, the ever-exciting future.
THUMP: Mr. Moroder, I would like first of all go back in time to when you were 19 and had just left South Tyrol.
Giorgio Moroder: I'd been offered the chance to play as a guitarist in a hotel band in Switzerland. After a fortnight the pianist suggested I swapped the guitar for the bass. That was how my music career began.
Did you see this as an opportunity to escape from South Tyrol? The Ladin minority to which you belong, was suppressed by the Italian State and there were riots.
No, as I walked away, it was relatively quiet. I also do not care about that. I wanted to be a musician and in Val Gardena you can not live off music. I ended up working in Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, France. I was on tour for seven or eight years.
During this time you ended up in the legendary Scotch Club in Aachen, which was Germany's first disco, right?
Yes, that's right – as a sort of a mix between a DJ and a singer. My manager, Mr Ouirini headed up the DDO – which was a German disco thing – and thanks to that we went everywhere: Hamburg, Hannover, Kassel. And every evening we went back down to Aachen.
Were you really sleeping in a car like you say you were on the Daft Punk track?
I was. It was a Mustang Fastback and it was a bit cold.
Flash forward a little and you're here in Munich.
Yes, Berlin was too far away from home. I had my first hit in Berlin, "Mendocino", which sold a million copies. But it was here in Munich where it started for real. That, after all, was where I found Donna Summer.
Were you part of the legendary Munich nightlife scene?
No, not really. I'm not a great dancer. I used it to test out my own stuff though. If the dance floor emptied, I knew I had to throw that track in the bin.
Now you're fully entrenched in the club scene again, the world over.
I love it – DJing is now as big as signing. It's easy money too. After all, you just need a USB stick. No bands!
Do you think that the cult of the DJ is beneficial for music?
I think that's good, because that's a whole new direction and good DJs are also really good artists. You deserve the recognition. There are only a few among thousands who do it right. Those who are now in top 20 on the road, are not only good DJs, but also good producers and composers. It's not as easy as it looks.
Who do you really want to see DJ?
I'm almost friends with all of them. I have worked with David Guetta, Tiesto, Calvin Harris and Skrillex too. And Avicii.
I've heard some demos of their new album. You can tell right away that they come from an EDM fan. It isn't straight nostalgia.
Yeah yeah. The company wanted me to do more disco, but I wasn't so into it.
Did the anti-disco movement in the US affect you?
No, by then I was already gone, so it didn't affect me. I was already doing film music when disco died. I have to admit that I haven't really noticed any revivals, either.
Everyone's at it though, from Daft Punk to Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry to Arcade Fire.
Well, dance music never went away. The word disco was perhaps frowned upon, but basically everything has kept running as before. We just called it dance and now they say EDM. Modern dance music will always exist.
Their motto these days is yes, "74 is the new 24". How would you advise your 24-year-old self?
Do everything exactly how you did it!
Déjà Vu is released on Giorgio Moroder Music on June 12th.