Disco king Giorgio Moroder at 75 | Music | DW | 24.04.2015
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Disco king Giorgio Moroder at 75

Making music history in the 1970s, the electronic dance music wizard's disco sound circled the globe. Moroder's influence on many musicians is as strong as ever - and a new album is due for release.

Alone on a big stage, a DJ pushes a couple of faders and speaks into the mike, his voice electronically distorted. "The name on my passport is Giovanni Giorgio, but you can call me Giorgio. And this is my music!" Beats thump forth from the loudspeakers as he peers into the dancing and jumping masses.

This somewhat older gentleman, with grey hair and moustache, is celebrated like techno DJs at electro festivals. Now 75, he is one of the most successful music producers ever - and Giorgio Moroder stays on the go.

Last year's electro track "74 is the new 24" was a pre-taste of the album "Déjà Vu," due to hit the record counters in June. Joining him are pop veterans Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears, Australian meteor Sia Furler and young artists Charli XCX and Foxes. Nobody will be surprised if the CD clocks up astronomical sales. Hits are the famous producer's specialty.

Cover Giorgio Moroder Déjà Vu. Copyright: Sony music

"Déjà Vu" is scheduled for release on June 12, 2015

Just the music

Born into a family of farmers in the mountains of South Tirol on April 26, 1940, Giovanni Giorgio Moroder began making music as a teenager. Learning the guitar, he discovered an early interest in producing synthetic sounds.

Leaving the mountains behind at age 19, he crisscrossed Europe in various bands, developing a taste for music production and starting to compose. Using electronic elements in pop, he scored early success with his partner Pete Bellotte in the late 60s.

Donna Summer in 1979. Photo: Nick Ut/AP/dapd.

"I Feel Love" was the Donna Summer/Moroder/Bellotte team's biggest hit

Moving to Munich, he opened "Musicland," his own studio. After meeting American singer Donna Summer, he worked with her for three years until a number erupted on the disco scene in 1975: "Love to Love You Baby." The thrusting bass, bass drum-enhanced groove, hypnotic guitar and sugar-sweet strings hovering above it all were a perfect foil for Donna's lascivious, even orgasmic moans. Although the BBC refused to play it, it soared into the dizzying heights of the world's charts.

The Mount Olympus of Pop

With that disco song, the man with the dark moustache and shaded glasses made music history. Nothing else could match up. Grooves and synthesized loops became Moroder's trademark sound.

Wanting the Disco King's signature on their songs, star musicians lined up outside Moroder's studio: the Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Blondie and many more.

Producer and composer Giovanni Giorgio Moroder. Photo: Marc Tirl/dpa (c) dpa - Bildfunk

He'd rather push the faders than the walker: the world's oldest star DJ

Working nearly round the clock, Moroder churned out Number One hits like on an assembly line, taking a pile of Grammys and Golden Globes home.

Moving on to Los Angeles, he composed film music. His first soundtrack - for the movie "Midnight Express" (1979) - won an Oscar. The second, for "What a Feeling" from the dance film "Flashdance," came four years later. In 1986 he created "Take My Breath Away" for "Top Gun" with Tom Cruise, yielding Oscar #3.

He also wrote the anthems for the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) - and for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

A 30-year break

After all those triumphs, Moroder had his fill of the music merry-go-round. He occupied himself with other things: Building the Cizeta-Moroder sportscar, golf, artwork and spending time with his wife. Now and then a new song would appear, but the incontestable godfather of the electro scene seemed content being named in a single breath with techno pioneers Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream.

Daft Punk at the 2014 Grammy Award ceremony in Los Angeles. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Daft Punk have reactivated Moroder

The picture was complete - till 2013, when he met up with the two sound manipulators of Daft Punk in Paris. Joining them in the studio, Moroder sat before the microphone and told his life's story.

Out of that, Daft Punk created "Giorgio by Moroder" - a nine-minute track with typical Moroder sounds. They put it on their album "Random Access Memories" but kept it a secret until the release.

"What they did there completely surprised me," said Moroder in an interview with YouTube channel Filtr TV. Hearing his life's story narrated in a song had been an emotionally charged experience.

Listen to audio 04:26

Giorgio Moroder collage

A calm and collected restart

Giorgio Moroder's guest appearance with Daft Punk two years ago brought him "back into the business a bit." His serene existence was transformed into the former one overnight. "I used to get up in the morning and wonder which golf course I'd hit today. Now I wonder: What song should I write today?"

Moroder loves new technologies and the chance to work across borders with other musicians without climbing into a jet. In the Net Age, tracks can be produced anywhere, which expedited the collaboration with so many different artists on his new album.

Giorgio Moroder is relaxed about his current work. "There's no pressure," he says. "I do what I can. If they like it, they like it. If they don't, there's nothing you can do. I won't lose any sleep over it." After all, he's achieved just about everything a musician can achieve. And at 75, he's still around.

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