Whether it’s making his definitive stamp on disco through his work with Donna Summer, scoring the likes of Midnight Express and Scarface or collaborating with David Bowie, Blondie and Daft Punk – Giorgio Moroder’s extensive body of work is the stuff of legend.
With the imminent release of the soundtrack for video game Tron RUN/r - a collaboration with fellow composer Raney Shockne, which comes complete with remixes from the likes of Autechre, Bibio, Plaid and Rusko - the duo sat down for a brief chat with Paul Weedon to reflect on scoring the latest chapter in the cult franchise.
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Tron has extraordinary pedigree when it comes to its music. Wendy Carlos’ score has attained an iconic status all of its own and Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy score obviously built on her work and very much became its own thing. How did you go about crafting a sound that was distinctly ‘Tron-esque’, but ultimately had an identity all of its own?
Shockne: The Tron universe is such a vital landscape for inspiration in synthesized music. We tried to come at it from a perspective that was unique and more based in Giorgio’s past than that of Tron’s past. We tried not to listen to any of the previous work while constructing these scores. In our initial creative conversation with Gwen Riley (music supervisor at Disney) and (executive producer) Christopher Nicholls, they told us to “reinvent the future” and then they turned to Giorgio and said, “just like you did in the past”.
Moroder: That is exactly what they said, so that is what we did. There were so many visuals and story lines to inspire us. Raney and I went into the studio and just created what we thought would work. And it worked!
Giorgio, the transition from making records to composing is one that many musicians make with varying levels of success. Looking back at when you first started out scoring films, what were some the biggest challenges you faced and how did that process compare to scoring a project today?
Moroder: Well, at the end of the day, the task is the same - to create music that makes people feel beyond just what they are seeing on the screen. Technology-wise, it is very different. A game like Tron has so many digitally stimulating visuals, and the studio process is technically different.
With that in mind, EDM has evolved so much over the past six decades and you’ve been at the forefront of its evolution along the way. Artists continue to pay homage to you by reworking your material. As a musician and a DJ, how vital has that collaboration with other electronic artists been for you as part of the genre’s evolution?
Moroder: From the beginning, this has been a partnership. Raney approached me to collaborate with him on the project and I thought it was a fantastic idea. His ability to be on the forefront of the newest technology, as well as being a cutting edge composer, was the perfect match to score this with me.
And is hearing an artist like Autechre or Rusko re-working your music something you find particularly exciting? Is it something you find you’re able to listen to objectively?
Moroder: Well, as far as the remixes go, it is always interesting to hear how other people interpret sounds and feelings. I am just as inspired by the younger producers as they are by me! They make such amazing sounds these days… always on the computer.
Looking back, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the significance of some of your other work. There’s an interview with David Bowie where he recalls Brian Eno playing ‘I Feel Love’ to him and declaring that it was “going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years”. Reflecting on the influence of that song now, does it seem odd, or perhaps gratifying to some extent, that that song has become something of a cultural signifier for the era?
Moroder: It’s hard for me to quantify significance per say. Every time I meet someone who was impacted by a song, or someone says they started to make music, or listen to music because of me, or my work, that is what makes change. If there is more music in the world, or music can evoke a feeling of another time or night, then it does its job.
Raney, I’m guessing you were quite heavily influenced by Giorgio’s work yourself?
Shockne: Well, I was born right at the end of the 'disco sucks' era. My electronic era was marked by bands like New Order, Joy Division, Berlin, Eurythmics, then Ministry, Rammstein, and Nine Inch Nails, which was a more apathetic electro-landscape. This blend really served us well when creating music for Tron.
On that note, how marginalized did you feel during the ‘Disco Sucks’ era, Giorgio? I know you’re on record as having said that disco basically killed itself because it saturated the market.
Moroder: What disco sucks era?
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Words: Paul Weedon
The Tron RUN/r soundtrack is released digitally on May 31st.