Richard Melville Hall, a.k.a. Moby, is one of the most important dance music figures of the early '90s, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in England and in America.
Born in Harlem, New York in 1965, and raised in Darien, CT, he played in a hardcore punk band called the Vatican Commandos as a teenager before moving to New York City, where he began DJing in dance clubs. During the late '80s, he released a number of singles and EPs before, in 1991, he set the theme from David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks to an insistent, house-derived rhythm and titled the result "Go." The single became a surprise British hit single, climbing into the Top Ten, and was named one of Rolling Stone's top 200 records of all time. Moby, his first full-length album, appeared in 1992. Since then, Moby has recorded eleven studio albums, including his multi-platinum breakthrough Play (1999), 18 (2002), Hotel (2005), Go: The Very Best of Moby (2006) and Last Night (2008).
In addition to his musical endeavors, Moby is the proprietor of teany cafe and teas. He is also a well-known advocate for a variety of progressive causes, working with MoveOn.org and PETA, among others. He actively engages in nonpartisan activism.
Question: How do you choose your collaborators?
Moby: Well, in a perfect world, I would never collaborate with anyone because I am a megalomaniac, and I would love to be able to just be completely autonomous and do everything by myself, but the problem is I’m not such a good singer, so if I want to have good vocals on my record I either have to work with good singers or sample old vocals. I mean, I wish I could sing like Bono or David Bowie, and then I would just stay in my studio and never have to interact with real people. But, unfortunately, you know, as I said, if I want to have good vocals on the record I have to work with vocalists.
Sean McManus: What have been some of your experiences with collaborations, any disasters, any sort of wonderful experiences?
Question: What are the highlights?
Moby: Well, I mean, at this point, I have worked with so many different musicians and so many different vocalists and I don’t know if I have had any disasters. I mean, it can be uncomfortable when you are working with someone you have never worked with before, they come into the studio and it is clear from the get go that it is not working out. I guess it’s the equivalent of being set up on a blind date and like in the first 30 seconds you know that it is not working out but how do you politely excuse yourself. But in this case, they are in your home, they are in your studio, and then I just try and like if someone is not very good at doing one thing I try and maybe push them in a different direction or try and get something that I can salvage in the future.
Question: What do you consider your biggest strength as a musician?
Moby: What’s your biggest strength as a musician?
Moby: My biggest strength as a musician? Hmm, I can’t pick one thing. The answer that sort of, if I didn’t stop to think about it, the answer that would have come out was that I guess my biggest strength as a musician is very simply how much I love music, you know, I mean I have been making music for 30 years, and it is still, more than any other art form, can affect me so powerfully and so emotionally. So I guess that is my biggest strength, is that very simply I just really love the media in which I work, or medium in which I work, and I love how it affects me emotionally.
Recorded on: 6/16/08