Photo by Ian Witlen/Red Bull Content Pool Giorgio Moroder.
"Hello, my name is Giovanni Giorgio. But you can call me Giorgio," he says before kicking off his hour-and-a-half set on the rooftop of the Gale Hotel on South Beach.
Reality is, the man needs no introduction. He's Giorgio Moroder, one of the 20th Century's most influential record producers. He's worked with everyone from Donna Summer to Debbie Harry to David Bowie. However, the works that may have most firmly secured his spot in the pantheon of American pop culture are his compositions for films. Whether it be "What a Feeling" from Flashdance or "Chase" from Midnight Express or "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun, you've encountered Moroder's work.
However, since the early '90s, it seemed Moroder may have quietly retired, scaling back on the amount of music he was producing and composing. That's until Daft Punk came calling, asking Moroder to appear on its album Random Access Memories for the track "Giorgio by Moroder."
The cut is essentially an ode to Moroder, allowing him to explain, in his own words, the influence he's had on dance music. It doesn't feature the slick hooks of "Get Lucky," but once Moroder finishes his talk about the "syn-tha-sizer," the robots break down the song beautifully.
Needless to say, since his Daft Punk collaboration, Moroder admits his popularity is rising once again.
"It's not that people recognize my face, but my name people are slowly starting to recognize," Moroder tells us a few hours before his set at the Gale.
"It certainly was one of the things that happened, that song with Daft Punk. I started a little earlier than that, DJing for Red Bull. I think the DJing would have happened even without Daft Punk, but the record gave me a big boost."
Photo by Ian Witlen/Red Bull Content Pool
At 73 years old, Moroder is embarking on a new phase of his career.
While he's been turning knobs and producing music in the studio for decades, he's now getting behind the decks to DJ, which started in 2013 with an appearance at a Red Bull Music Academy event at Output in New York. This fresh career path finally brought him to Winter Music Conference for an appearance at the Red Bull Guest House.
Miami seems an appropriate place for Moroder to spin. His music, which combined the club influences of disco music with Kraftwerkian aesthetics, was always so Miami, dripping in over-the-top glitz and glamour. (We've always personally felt that the most appropriate setting in which to listen to a Moroder track resembles something like the Babylon Club scene in Scarface, where Tony dances with Elvira.)
The Gale rooftop is less dazzling than a fictitious '70s nightclub, but the golden sunset provided an awe-inspiring backdrop for Moroder as he began his set with Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby." By the time he kicked into "From Here to Eternity," he'd completely won the crowd over.
"As an Italian, maybe I took a bit some of that melodic Italian music and put it into 'Take My Breath Away' or 'The NeverEnding Story,'" Moroder says when asked about his influence on American music. "Coming from a little town in Italy and now living in America and people saying, 'You brought some music to the American generation,' it's quite interesting to be here."
And a new generation might be influenced all over again, because in addition to DJing, Moroder is back to producing music, recently working with eccentric R&B singer Kelis and remixing Haim's track "Forever." He assures us there is more to come as well, but he can't talk about it yet.
At the rooftop Red Bull Guest House, his energy was captivating. He was part DJ, part orchestra conductor as everyone cheered and sang along to "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls." When he kicked into the theme song for The NeverEnding Story, the mostly 30-something, late-20 something crowd was obviously feeling the childhood nostalgia.
He tried to end the set with Blondie's "Call Me" (his contribution to the American Gigolo soundtrack), but the crowd wouldn't let him go, shouting "Gior-gi-o! Gior-gi-o! Gior-gi-o!"
Moroder was obviously feeling the love, because he continued with about three more encores, until the Gale finally pulled the plug on the party.
"Playing golf is all great too, but it's boring," he had told us earlier. Moroder must now know that a new generation of fans is eager to cure his boredom.