Giorgio Moroder Talks Scoring New 'Queen of the South' TV Series & 'Tomboy, A Revenger's Tale' Film
Sitting in the balcony of a Giorgio Moroder DJ set in San Francisco as he drops the theme from Midnight Express, the first film he ever scored and won an Academy Award for in 1979, I realize he’s the only artist you can see perform today who not only has three Oscars, but will drop tunes from his film scores on the dancefloor. When he plays the theme from Never Ending Story, the place goes absolutely ballistic.
“Scoring was something you could say I fell into,” says Giorgio, “It never occurred to me that it was something I could do but when Alan Parker [director of Midnight Express] asked me of course I said yes.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say he’s produced some of the most iconic music of all time for American films including scores for Scarface, Flashdance and American Gigolo as well as songs like Berlin’s "Take My Breath Away" and Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone" from Top Gun. Now Giorgio and frequent collaborator Raney Shockne are working together again on USA Network’s Queen of the South, a show about a woman on the run in the US after her drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered in Mexico. He says working with a 30 minute format is completely different from a feature length film, which for him traditionally involves individual songs in defining moments of the story rather than predominantly instrumental work.
“I’ve heard it said the best scores are the ones you don’t notice. I liked Queen of the South because it reminded me a bit of Scarface,” he says. The show’s theme has a sexy disco groove that would be welcome at any Giorgio performance but with an eerie darkness to it that perfectly embodies the story. Queen of the South commercials are backed with building, frantic instrumentals that eventually quiet down into the echoing sound of high heels walking down a hallway. In other words, it’s absolutely perfect.
Although deadlines and turn around times for Queen of the South are tight, Giorgio and Raney are already taking on their next feature film project. Tomboy, a Revenger’s Tale starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, is a story about an assassin who gets revenge after pissing off the wrong people and falling into the hands of a rogue surgeon who turns him into a woman. Eager to get back to writing a combination of songs and instrumentals and using live musicians, Giorgio is stoked on the project. “I’m at least interested in doing some scores, not just electronic. I love what Hans Zimmer does, I think he’s fantastic. It’s electronic but with real instruments.” Queen of the South’s music production is almost entirely digital, which is great for efficiency but not always great for sound innovation.
Giorgio’s 20-plus-year hiatus from making music has not left him rusty or non-innovative in the slightest. After Daft Punk unofficially brought him out of retirement with their track "Giorgio by Moroder" off 2013’s Random Access Memories, which was based on an interview with him about his early life and career, Giorgio started doing DJ performances and working on his 16th studio album. Déjà Vu was released in 2015 featuring collaborators like Sia, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Matthew Koma and more. Last month he performed at Fendi’s 90th anniversary celebration and fashion show in Rome. Next month he’ll be performing at an immersive musical experience in Brooklyn called I Feel Love alongside Soulclap, Armand Van Helden, Jackmaster and more in an abandoned factory built out to recreate a Studio 54-like setting.
“Do you have any information on I Feel Love?” Giorgio asks much to my surprise at the end of our interview. “They’re being very secretive, see what you can find out.” The ‘they’ he speaks of are the parent-label, Universal Music Group, of his label Casablanca Records who have partnered on the event. Patrons are given an intriguing warning as they purchase tickets. “This experience isn’t for everyone. Please be prepared to be comfortable standing, walking, climbing stairs, being touched, interacting with participants or being alone. Throughout the experience you may be offered alcoholic beverages. Also note this experience may include nudity.” After reading that, I purchased my ticket immediately.
Queen of the South airs Thursdays on USA Network at 9 pm CST and Tomboy, A Revenger’s Tale is slated for release next year. Catch Giorgio Sept. 9 and 10 at I Feel Love in Brooklyn, tickets available at IFeelLove.co