“Godfather of disco” Giorgio Moroder, 76, has been really busy since the release in 2013 of Daft Punk album “Random Access Memories,” featuring his spoken word contribution in a tribute track titled “Giorgio by Moroder.” It generated his fourth Grammy, a globetrotting tour as a superstar disk spinner, and a solo album titled “Deja Vu,” released in 2015. More recently Moroder also revived his glorious career as a soundtrack composer, co-creating the music for Disney’s “Tron RUN/r” videogame and for USA network’s TV series “Queen of the South,” set to go on air this summer in America. With current composing partner Raney Schokne, Moroder is also working on the soundtrack for Walter Hill’s upcoming gender reassignment thriller “Tomboy,” which stars Michelle Rodriguez as a male hitman who falls in the hands of a rogue surgeon – played by Sigourney Weaver – who turns him into a woman. He’s also got a new solo album in the works.
Moroder, who was honored on Friday at the American Academy in Rome with a McKim Medal, spoke to Variety about his new forays into crafting soundtracks and the latest twists in his career.
I think ‘Tron’ was the first time you scored a videogame. Was it a challenge?
It’s actually a lot easier than a movie. Because the tracks are a lot shorter. I can compose – say – fifteen-seconds of music; then we do about twenty different mixes of that piece, which the guy who is editing the game can use. It’s all very fast. And you don’t need to watch the visuals while you are composing, because you can’t do anything directly yourself anyway. I’m not saying it’s that easy, but it’s quite different. Also, initially the new ‘Tron’ videogame pieces were short, but then we made them longer. We made eight or nine three-or-four minute tracks.
Can you tell me about ‘Queen of the South’?
It’s about dirt poor Mexican woman who becomes a drug-smuggling queen. She goes from Mexico to Texas and becomes a Scarface-like drug lord character, sort of like a female El Chapo. It has some similarities with Mexican telenovela ‘La Reina Del Sur,’ which starred Kate del Castillo, the actress who was with Sean Penn when he interviewed El Chapo, so I guess it’s all interconnected.
I believe this was your first time scoring a TV series. What was the work like?
The production sort of wanted the sound and fast rhythm I created in the 1970’s on songs like Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” and also Blondie’s “Call Me.” They also really liked my 1980’s work on the “Scarface” soundtrack. Initially I thought to myself: ‘I would have gone for a different sound.’ But now I’m really happy with the way Raney [Schokne] and I did it.
What can you tell me about working on Walter Hill’s ‘Tomboy’?
I met Walter Hill when he produced “Alien.” Right now “Tomboy” is one of my main projects. I’m working on it with Raney Shockne and we are almost done, but I can’t tell you more.
What’s your other main project?
I’m working on a new single with Windy Wagner, which I will be releasing after I finish my dj tour in September. It will be the first single from my next album.
What are the movie soundtracks you’ve done that you are most fond of?
Well, I haven’t done that many. “Midnight Express” was all synth. It was my first film and is still the closest to my heart because, aside the fact that I won an Oscar for it, I had no idea what Alan Parker wanted. He never told me, so I did pretty much what I wanted. “Scarface” was a great film for me. But there are two really standout films for me. One is the theme I wrote for “Flashdance,” because it encapsulates a complete body of music. The lyrics are good, Irene Cara who sang it, was amazing. It was released before the movie, and it helped the movie. The other is “Take My Breath Away” [from “Top Gun”], that’s the one I like the most from a purely musical standpoint.
How does it feel at your age, to spin discs for such huge crowds?
I really like it. I’ve always wanted to be a performing artist, but my voice wasn’t that great. And I was also afraid of performing. So I never really pursued it. But now I’m not nervous at all. The great thing about it is around 70 percent of the tracks I play are my own, including some new tracks.
Your works have been remixed and covered so much. What’s your favorite redo of ‘I Feel Love’ besides the Donna Summer version?
I love the way violinist Vanessa Mae covered ‘I Feel Love,’ it’s certainly one of my favorite remixes of that song