Giorgio Moroder greets me with a fist bump. He’s been giving interviews all afternoon at a hotel in Mumbai for his upcoming performance at Johnnie Walker – The Journey 2015. As I settle into a chair next to him he whispers a question to his wife who laughs and answers quietly. Then he turns to me and says with a big smile ‘Namaste!’ A long afternoon of interviews and the 74-year-old electronic music legend is still in full form.
Tell us what you’ve got planned for Mumbai.
First of all, a great show! I’m going to play 20-25 songs of mine, the hits of the past. Then about three new songs from my new album and then some songs from friends of mine like David Guetta.
What has been the most surprising thing about your journey in music?
Actually I had several journeys – one was when I moved from Italy [to other parts of Europe] to work as a musician. But the big journey was when I had my first international hit with Donna Summer then going from Munich to America, that was a big jump you know, it’s not just like going there for a month or two, it’s “Ok now I live in Los Angeles”[Smiles]. So that was a big one but I don’t regret it at all.
Do you ever wake up and not feel like making music?
Quite often! [Laughs] No, some times I say ‘Okay, I’ve done enough’ and then you wake up and… I have a studio at the house so I just go in and start a little bit.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of people – what is the key to a good collaboration?
Well I can tell you with Donna Summer that was the best, because I knew her so well. With Donna it was really easy. I would have the main melody, then she comes in and she, first of all, wrote the lyrics with Pete Bellotti and then when we started to record everything went relatively fast. [Unlike some other singers] if I would tell her ‘Don’t do it this way, do it that way’ she did what I said and that’s really good because then as a producer you know… I know her really well, I know how she can sing. Some other people would get a little upset [and say] ‘You don’t have to tell me how to sing’ but in this case Donna was absolutely fantastic.
What is the most unlikely place you’ve heard one of your songs play in?
I travel so much right now and maybe the most incredible was in Shang-yung. It’s a big city in China but totally unknown and I wrote the music for a festival there. We were sitting in this hotel and they were playing my songs from radio and I thought, ‘Wait a second, where am I? I am in the middle of China, way north, in a city called Shang-yung!’ [Laughs] That was the most unusual.
Every article about you always says that you knew how to “make the synthesizer human”. How did you do it?
Usually the sounds are very harsh but the great thing with synthesizers is that you can change them, you can make them very soft, very melodic. Somehow I see it more like an instrument, not just to do certain kinds of music, but to use the synthesizer as I would a piano.
What was your goal for yourself as a musician when you started out?
At the very beginning I was just happy to be able to do some music. Then when I started to compose I said ‘Okay, now I know how to do that’ and then once you start to have success you know that’s what you really want. [Smiles]
BONUS VIDEO: What advice do you have for aspiring producers?
Giorgio Moroder performs at Johnnie Walker – The Journey in Mumbai on December 12, 2015. Find out more and buy tickets here.
Photo: Elvis D’Silva