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Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk Dazed
Giorgio Moroder and Daft PunkPhotography and styling Hedi Slimane

Giorgio Moroder: Daft Punk, DJing and days of disco

The godfather of electronic music on collaborating with superstars, his favourite Rihanna track and the 70s trend he hopes never returns

The last time Dazed met Giorgio Moroder was in 2013, when he starred with Daft Punk for our June 2013 cover story, shot by Hedi Slimane. The godfather of electronic music has officially returned after a 30-year hiatus with a new solo album, Déjà Vu, (provisionally titled 74 Is the New 24, also a track on the album), and a freshly regrown moustache (sadly not pictured). “It’s all Daft Punk’s fault,” jokes Moroder, “they put me back in the business!”

The duo originally introduced the trailblazing record producer to a new generation in 2013 with “Giorgio by Moroder”, a nine-minute standout track on their celebrated album Random Access Memories, with an autobiographical narrative by Moroder (“It’s funny, people now recognise my voice before they recognise what I look like,” he says of the song’s impact). For those unfamiliar with his oeuvre, he’s the man responsible for pioneering electronic dance music, launching Donna Summer’s career, creating some of pop’s most influential tracks including “Call Me” by Blondie, and working with artists including Sia, Kelis and Britney Spears, many of whom star on his new album. He has also been busy putting a soundtrack to the new Tron videogame and starring in the upcoming and highly anticipated Daft Punk documentary, Daft Punk Unchained, released this week.

Dazed meets Moroder this time around at #Firenze4Ever (#F4E11) in Florence, a biannual celebration of fashion, art and music organised by luxury fashion retailer LUISAVIAROMA. Moroder closed the three-day event with a DJ set (warmed up by Amber Le Bon) at the historic Ex Manifattura Tabacchi, a former tobacco factory, opening with the iconic “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer and taking us back to where it all began back in 1975. 

Why was the time finally right for a new record?

Giorgio Moroder: After the Daft Punk album came out, I had some offers from various record companies. It really got me back into the music, and when the RCA offer came long, I went for it. That’s it, basically! 

How did you decide who you wanted to collaborate with?

Giorgio Moroder: I started thinking and looking at who the record company had, and began talking to the singers. Some said yes and we recorded, some said yes but they couldn’t work with us as they had their own album coming out and it would interfere. It was a lot of phone calls and contact, and it was a real job to get those eight people together. We have Kylie, Britney, Kelis, Sia – it is maybe less disco than people might expect, but it’s a great mix.

Who was the biggest surprise to work with?  

Giorgio Moroder: Maybe the biggest surprise was Britney Spears. She knew I was looking for artists, and she asked the record company if I wanted to produce a cover of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega, which she liked. I like the song, so I said yes, and that’s how I came to work with Britney.

How has your approach to making music changed over the course of your career?

Giorgio Moroder: It is the way that you record. When I used to record, there would be one producer who would do the whole album. Like with Donna Summer, I would be in the studio with her and produce the whole thing. Nowadays every singer has three, four, five different producers. It is much less about being in the studio and working, there is a greater focus on the internet. Tracks are sent around via email – I will send you a mix, you send your comments, I send it back. It is a much more difficult thing to coordinate – it has to go through a lot of management and there is much more communication.

“It’s all Daft Punk’s fault, they put me back in the business” – Giorgio Moroder 

You only really began DJing in the past few years. How do you enjoy it?

Giorgio Moroder: There are two different environments. One is DJing in a club which is about 1,000 people, but the one I like better is DJing at a festival. I did a big one at the Electronic Beats festival in Vienna, with about 20-30,000 people, and one in Chicago at the Pitchfork festival. That was quite fun because you have so many people, it is more interesting and you can give more, I think. Everyone really goes for it and there is a fantastic energy. 

How has the DJ culture changed during your lifetime? 

Giorgio Moroder: DJs 20 years ago were as good as they are now, but there was no such thing as a DJ superstar. DJs have only really become big in the last five years or so. Especially in America when Las Vegas started to get all those guys with big money, and of course, Ibiza. The Ibiza dance culture has changed everything. DJs used to be the guys who played songs in the discotheques, and now most of the big DJs don’t even play discotheques any more. They play concerts – which is great, though, I like it. 

Is there any particular track in the past few years that you wish you had produced?

Giorgio Moroder: Hundreds! But you know what, the one track I really love is Calvin Harris with Rihanna, “We Found Love”. That is a great song.

You have also started to work in movies again. Can you talk about that?

Giorgio Moroder: I worked with Skrillex on the Tron videogame, which has been a lot of fun. I guess I was an obvious choice after Daft Punk worked on the last one. I am also talking to a director just now about a new film. Musically, it is based on disco music, and I have already started working on one or two songs, it is going to be my next project. It’s not a movie, but it’s similar – watch this space. 

The 70s is having such a huge revival at the moment. Is there anything you hope doesn’t come back?

Giorgio Moroder: Not really, I loved everything about the 70s. Although there were a lot of drugs – but I didn’t have any!

Is that’s why you are still here making music aged 75?

Giorgio Moroder: Yes, probably. Whatever comes back from the 70s, I am OK with it. Everyone wants a piece of 70s disco, and I like that, it was a great decade for music and fashion. Well, maybe less for men’s fashion. The big flares on men, I don’t like them!

Watch the video for “Déjà Vu” featuring Sia below: