Giorgio Moroder could well have been a part of the 70’s Electro Kraut wave alongside people such as Kraftwerk, Can, Neu and Supermax, although the latter were Austrian. We at some time thought he was hailing from Munich. Eventually thinking he might have had German roots with such a name. But… Not at all! The only thing which we can be sure about being his obvious contribution to the genesis of the Disco sound. And what a contribution! But it’s far from being everything…
Wie geht’s mein Herr? (How are you doin’ Sir?)
“Sehr gut, danke! Very well, thank you!”
So you now live in L.A.
Have you ever happened to meet Cerrone over there?
“We’ve never met. I thought he was living in Paris. On the other hand, I’ve been lucky enough to meet the late Jacques Morali (the co-producer of Village People, Ritchie Family and Patrick Juvet to name but a few) more than 15 years ago.”
You stand as one of the most emblematic producers during the Disco era. How did you get to it?
“I was touring a lot in Europe as a musician when I was between 20/21 and 28 years old. Then I decided to drop my bags for a while in Berlin – don’t ask me why! – where I started to compose. I then relocated to Munich (which made me a bit closer to my native Italy) where my activities have taken shape. As shown by collaboration with Donna Summer…”
Quite surprising at the time to see an American singer landing in Munich to record all these hits…
“Donna had been booked by a German production company to do some backing vocals locally for the ‘Hair’ tour if I remember properly the things. And when the company ceased its activities she, alongside numerous other people from America, got stuck in Europe. That’s about how we met in Munich…”
And how you got together with Munich Machine and Pete Bellotte???
“This happened a little bit later. And there was also Keith Forsey who was to produce Billy Idol a few years later…”
It’s been said that the very first version of ‘Love To Love You Baby’ was shorter than the one which has officially been released…
“Correct. We started with a traditional 4 mininute version. Then Casablanca Records CEO Neil Bogart buzzed me after having seen many people asking for more while listening to it at some night.
He asked me about my feeling at the perspective of doing a 15 to 18 minute version. Something we ended up recording within a 2 month time. And I got to say that it was like a second birth for the song.”
Speaking of which the least we can say is… suggestive!
“Yup, although it was just a thing for the fun at the beginning. I had in mind to do some XXX thing for a while. I then had a chat with Donna about it and she came up with the chorus. We then took the opportunity to record it when the studio was free. And when I came to MIDEM and introduced the song to various people, their reaction was immediate and incredible. It really came as a surprise to me as I thought nobody would love it. But it became an instant hit and this is how everything started…”
This hasn’t been your only sex related concept. I mean you also had ‘Oh l’amour’. And also ‘Knights In White Satin’ which would be the title track of your debut LP as a recording artist…
“I’ve had some problems with this LP. First because I’ve never been a great singer even though I tried to do my best. And also because the spelling of the title track. Neil bogard changed it consciously without having me knowing about its meaning at the time. I didn’t know that the gay community was effectively targeted. I guess I understood the allusion a bit later when someone gave me the translation of the word (knight).”
How come have you sort of disappeared after such a success?
“Disco came to an end and Donna signed a record deal with another label. On top of it, she stayed for quite a while with the impossibility to work. And I also had problems with the label in the meantime.”
I heard somewhere that Casablanca had gone nearly bankrupt because of too heavy production costs within the Disco scene.
“That happened before we came and I’d like to say that Disco saved them. As a matter of fact, they’d spent too much money while overestimating the potential of a few artists. Most notoriously with Kiss. Having each member of the band releasing a solo album at almost the same period. They had millions of returned records. And this is how Neil ended up selling 50% of the company to Polygram.
We lost contact soon after Donna signed with Geffen Records. I later heard that Neil had sold the other half of the company before dying a few months after…”
It has also been said here and there that Disco Music was essentially a white gay thing…
“I can understand that Disco has seduced the gay community. Having the phenomena being overrated in places such as Studio 54 for instance. But Disco to me has been much more than that. Having all Europeans dancing to it. And I guess that whenever there has been this strong association between Disco and gay people, it was first and foremost in America. I couldn’t talk precisely about the representation of the gay community on a worldwide scale. But to me, it makes it clear that when you sell around 15 million units for a single record, its impact is much wider than that…”
The late Barry White talked about the necessity of a formula as the basis of a durable success…
“It’s an evidence as far as singing is concerned. But it’s another thing when you compose…”
He was also a composer…
“Of his own songs! What I’ve done with Donna couldn’t fit with Sigue Sigue Spoutnik for instance. As with Janet Jackson or Blondie who I’ve also worked with…”