Disco legends are facing a musical revival thanks to Daft Punk
Time Out Dubai staff
His name is Giovanni Giorgio, but everybody calls him Giorgio Moroder. What they don’t call him is lazy. Having casually laid down the template for electronic dance music in the ’70s aided by a bank of synths, a lustrous moustache and colleagues such as Donna Summer, David Bowie and Blondie, Giorgio Moroder hasn’t dropped the pace in his own eighth decade. After surprisingly launching a DJ career last year at 74, he’s putting the finishing touches to a new record that features vocals from Kylie, Sia, Charli XCX, Kelis and many more.
Meanwhile, Chic founder Nile Rodgers has balanced his prolific work as a hit writer with a desire to keep Chic gigging in the absence of bassist Bernard Edwards, who died in 1996. In recent years, Rodgers has overcome the horror of cancer and rebooted his career with Daft Punk and ‘Get Lucky’. And now, at 62, he’s finally reviving Chic as a recording concern.
Why have these two disco kings chosen 2015 to make their return? What do they think of the pop scene whose foundations they helped lay? And do they have any disco regrets?
How has the business changed since the ’70s? It’s totally different now. When I would work with Donna Summer or Blondie, I was much more in charge. I would tell the singer what to do. Now, some singers you don’t even meet, because tracks are done over Skype.
Are you a perfectionist? No, not like Daft Punk, who really are perfectionists. There’s no limit for those guys. If I listen to some of the old Donna Summer songs, for example, I can hear some notes that aren’t played quite right. Now, of course, it’s easy to fix, but I don’t use Auto-Tune.
Is it true that Britney Spears is on the album? She is. From the very beginning, I always liked her. Then she had that little incident with the shaving of her head but she is fully back and very successful in Vegas.
You DJed for the first time last year aged 73. How has night clubbing changed from the days of Studio 54? Studio 54 was crazy. The big difference is that the DJ at Studio 54 would play the songs and people would dance – that’s it. Now they don’t even dance. They just look up at the DJ.
Finally, you’re 74. Does your family think you’re crazy? No, my son thinks I’m crazy but my wife loves it. I like this better than not doing anything interesting all day long, stuff like playing golf. I mean, how long can you really play golf? The album, Déjà Vu, is out June 16. The single of the same name (featuring Sia) is available now for Dhs4.75 at itunes.apple.com.
I know you’re still recording the new Chic album, but tell me what to expect from it. I have Michael McDonald on one song, Elton John on another. Janelle Monáe, Chaka Khan and Miley Cyrus will be on it too.
You’ve dropped a single, ‘I’ll Be There’. Is it true that it’s based on rediscovered tapes of Chic in the ’70s? Yeah, the A-side has everyone who appeared on Chic’s first single [1977’s ‘Everybody Dance’], and the B-side is everybody who was on the very last Chic single – before I broke up the band and recorded ‘Let’s Dance’ with David Bowie about five days later.
How come that original track didn’t get used? The only reason we have this outtake is because black bands didn’t get the same budgets that the rock bands got. Our sessions were only half a day. So we recorded this track at the end of a session.
I believe you always wear white on stage to honour Bernard Edwards. Can you explain why? Bernard died while we were in Japan. They put together an impromptu chapel at the police station and he was in a glass-topped coffin wearing a white kimono. And that’s why we wear white.
Do you have any style regrets? I wasn’t a really big fan of the big shoulder pads. In the movie Coming to America, there’s a tiny cameo of me walking past Eddie Murphy’s character and my shoulders are out there like an American football player. I also had a Jheri curl hairstyle too. It looks ridiculous. Chic’s ‘I’ll Be There’ (featuring Nile Rogers) is available now for Dhs4.75 at itunes.apple.com. The album, which is yet to be named, is scheduled for release in June.