Giorgio Moroder’s Beat Goes On, Part I, first appeared in DINOSAUR Vol 2, Issue 1, under the title “The Beat Goes On.” Interview conducted by Kurt B Reighley.
Some masterpieces demand a lifetime’s work and inspiration. Others reach completion before lunch is served. Despite being sung by a narrator with an “ageless heart” who can “stare for a thousand years,” Giorgio Moroder insists that “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” his 1982 collaboration with David Bowie, falls into the latter category.
The legendary producer already had the music ready for a theme song to accompany director Paul Schrader’s supernatural thriller. “We were wondering who could sing it,” Moroder recently recalls from Los Angeles. “We didn’t have tot think about it too much. There was only one person, and that was David Bowie. He’s a mysterious guy, and I’ve always liked him.”
Bowie gave Moroder’s original demo a thumbs-up, and in July 1981, the three men met in Montreux, Switzerland. They discussed the lyrics over dinner, and then Bowie proposed they record the song the next morning. Moroder registered pleasant surprise. “Usually with that kind of artist, you start in the afternoon and work into the night.”
After breakfast the following day, they decamped to Mountain Studios, where Bowie cut another landmark collaboration that same month: “Under Pressure” with Queen. “[‘Cat People’] was probably done in an hour,” says Moroder. “David was done in two or three takes. And Paul Schrader said, ‘Wait, wait, wait… you’ve only done three takes. You can’t possibly be finished. In the movies, we do ten takes of every scene.'”
Moroder and Bowie shrugged. They offered to make one more pass at it, but as far as they were concerned, it was in th can. “That was it. We were probably done by one o’clock. I got back in my rental car, drove to Geneva, and flew back to the States.”
Take it from a man who’s worked with icons including Donna Summer, Cher, Elton John, Janet Jackson, and Blondie: Collaborations rarely go this smoothly. “With some artists, nothing clicks, and you have to work and work. But with a professional and genius like David Bowie, you don’t worry. You just let him do his thing, and you know it’s going to be good.”
The making of Moroder’s latest album, Déjà Vu, didn’t go quite as quickly. Wrangling a roster of A-list guest stars including Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Kelis, and Charli XCS takes time. “Even if an artist wants to participate, it’s actually quite a long process,” he explains – even if the answer is no.
“Pharrell [Williams] wanted to work with me but then had this huge hit and was trailing all over the world and never had a minute to spare.” Despite his enthusiasm for Moroder’s remix of Coldplay’s 2014 single “Midnight,” Chris Martin found himself unable to participate in the project. “Chris wanted to collaborate on a song, but it’s not easy to sit down with these big artists in a studio in the same country at the same time.”
Part II of “Giorgio Moroder’s Beat Goes On” can be found here. https://dinosaurmagintl.com/music/giorgio-moroders-beat-goes-on-part-ii/ Interview by Kurt B. Reighley. Illustrations by Jim Winters. www.jimwinters.com