Giorgio Moroder: What I've Learned

The disco pioneer shares wisdom on drugs, Duran Duran and his dislike of dancing

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I had a moustache at the height of my career. Then I didn’t have one for a long time. When I returned to music, my wife said, “You have to get the moustache back.” I’d prefer it without but it’s not bad. There’s less shaving.

I don’t have any expensive hobbies. I love to do crosswords. That’s about £2 a week. Right now I only do ones in Italian. I used to do German ones, too. I’ve tried some in English but they’re too difficult.

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If you’re good at something and you have that aura of being successful, it’s much easier to get the girls. Being handsome also helps.

I’m probably best known for two things. One, for having co-created disco music, and two would be electronic music, which I helped to launch with “I Feel Love” [1977] with Donna Summer. “Love to Love You Baby” [1975] was the first really big electro hit. I noticed that sometimes the newspapers, magazines and the paparazzi would harass Donna. I’m happy being behind the scenes.

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I love a show called Shark Tank. There are four wealthy investors and you have the chance to propose a business. I think it’s called Dragons’ Den here. It’s very interesting because you see those people trying to get the money. They always say the company’s doing well and it turns out that it isn’t.

I grew up in the Dolomites, in a town called Ortisei. When I was 13, I went to boarding school. I hated it. The food was bad and I had to go to mass every morning at 6:30. I probably went about 1,000 times. Terrible.

If I could be someone else for a day then I’d be a beautiful woman and fuck around!

There’s nothing good about ageing. I did some rollerblading about 15 years ago and tore the tendons in my shoulder, so I had surgery. Then, two years ago, I fell at home and I tore them again, and it still hurts. When you’re old you have to be careful because accidents happen so fast and easily. About two months ago, I was just walking on the street and I fell and broke my finger. It’s not great.
I don’t hate dancing but I certainly don’t like it. That’s why I don’t go to discotheques.

I built a 16-cylinder sports car, the Cizeta-Moroder. It was a friend of mine who had the idea. We sold about seven or eight of them. I still have the prototype. It doesn’t have a speedometer but the others were fully equipped. The Sultan of Brunei bought two.

When I lived in New York, I went to Studio 54. I arrived in a limo and saw a huge queue outside. I thought, “I’m not going to stand in that line”, so I sent the driver to the doorman and he got me in. Inside it was empty. The more you have to wait the better it is, kind of, so they just didn’t let anybody in. It was such a disappointment – I left after half an hour.

I’m not a perfectionist. If the overall feel of a song is great then that’s good enough for me.

My father was very intelligent. But like a lot of men, he had a little bit of a problem with gambling. My mother was happy – but not that happy – when I became a musician, because I’d studied to be a geometra, which is a little lower than an architect. In Italy, a geometra can design a building but no more than two storeys high. Even when I was flying my mother first class to America to visit me, she’d say, “This is great, but you should have stayed at home, worked for the city and had a steady income.” I’d say, “No, no, that’s not my life.”

There isn’t much about Italy I miss. Some friends and some food. You can get great spaghetti almost everywhere – certainly in Los Angeles. There’s some stuff I can’t get, like ravioli that we only have in my part of Italy. I particularly like the spinach one, with butter on top. There is a type of prosciutto called speck that you rarely find outside that region.

If people are on coke, and they don’t want you to know, they can hide it quite well. With some of my musicians and my technicians, I never really knew. Are they snorting or not? I found out later that they would do it at night after I’d left the studio. I never tried it. I was always afraid that I’d get hooked – three of my employees back then ended up in rehab.

I bought my beautiful house back in 1979. It’s in Beverly Hills and belonged to Vidal Sassoon. The real-estate guy I spoke to said that Sassoon had spent one night there. The only thing that was left was a jacket and a toothbrush. I loved the place and I had it for more than 30 years. Then I sold it. Now I think that was a mistake. Today, we rent an apartment. When you leave, you lock the door and that’s it. With a house, you can lock it but it’s never safe. I rented one once, went away for three days and somebody broke in and stole everything we had.

Cognac was my drink at one time. I don’t like it now. Not that I’m a big drinker, but before bed I might have a vodka or two. Just plain. No ice.

I’ve been married for 25 years. After 15 years we really got our act together – not that we ever had a problem, but at that point you start to say, “OK, I’m nice and you’re nice, so let’s keep this as a nice relationship.” We have so many friends who got into problems with their kids, where the kids would do drugs and they would divorce. Bitter divorces. We are lucky with our son. We’re a very happy family.

When I’m DJing I always finish with “Call Me” by Blondie. It’s uptempo and most of the people know it, even the young ones. I wrote that song with Debbie Harry.

I should be more outgoing and meet more with friends. I like to go out for dinner but I’m nothing like the typical Italian, where they go out and there’s always ten people. I should have a little more contact with some friends but instead I’m home with my crosswords.

There were some groups I could have produced but I didn’t because I was too lazy. One was Duran Duran. I should have taken that. 

Moroder’s album Déjà Vu is out now. He was photographed in London, January 2015. 

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