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.’
And you’re dropping a single, ‘I’ll Be There’, this week. 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.’
Why release the single way before the album?
‘It’s simple. Out of all the records I’ve ever put out, I don’t know a single date any of them were released. But because this record feels like something of a rebirth, I wanted to make sure I’d always remember it. I lied to my record company when I signed the deal. I told them I’d put out “I’ll Be There” last year. But I knew way in advance that there was an eclipse coming on the vernal equinox. Not only is it a total solar eclipse, it’ll also be a supermoon – where the moon is at its closest point to the earth. How are you gonna forget that, huh? Also, because of the moon’s gravitational effect, the earth slows down 1/250,000,000th of a second, so in fact it will be the longest vernal equinox in the history of the planet. And BTW, it’s also the day my record comes out!’
How did you come by those original tapes?
‘They were being digitised by Warner Brothers. They’ve been going through their tapes alphabetically, so when they got to “C”, they sent them to me. The banter between tracks is priceless. It’s like opening a time-capsule, because we’re talking about things going on that day. It’s like ghosts are right in the room with you.’
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 go. Our sessions were only half-day sessions. So we recorded this track at the end of a session. The basics are the same. I mean, what do you need to add to a Bernard Edwards bassline? The only thing I did was write a song on top of it.’
I believe you always wear white onstage to honour Bernard. Can you explain why?
‘Bernard died while we were in Japan. I didn’t know the custom is to bury people almost straight away. They put together an impromptu chapel at the police station, and he was in a glass-topped coffin wearing a white kimono. The chief of police said, “Please, be with your friend.” And that’s why we wear white. Also at the very start of every Chic show, we make a huge racket and then we stop and go into a brief moment of silence, for Bernard.’
What’s your policy on playing ‘Get Lucky’? Because for a while you weren’t including it in your sets.
‘Oh, we do it now. I didn’t want to play ‘Get Lucky’ until Daft Punk got to play it. After we all did it at the Grammys, I was totally fine. I wanted it to be a very important moment. A few years ago, I was stricken with cancer. When I pulled through, I decided to try make as much music as possible, and “Get Lucky” was one of the first things to come out of that. I can’t tell you how important that was to me.’
Finally, Giorgio Moroder seems to regret ever becoming synonymous with his moustache. Do you have any style regrets?
‘[After a very long pause] Y’know, I was never a fan of jumpsuits [laughs]. I wasn’t a really big fan of the big shoulder pads too, but when we did it, boy did I have some big ones. 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.’
Everybody regrets Jheri curls though.
‘I know. It makes me laugh when I see pictures of NWA for example, all gangstered-out but with Jheri curls. “Yo, I gotta go get my gun, but first, I gotta get my curl activator…”’