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.
Moby: How do I balance work and play? Well, my flippant but actually kind of relevant answer is like work is sober, play is not. I guess one of the downsides of being self-employed is you never have anyone to tell you to stop working, and I love being self-employed, I love the autonomy of it, and I like being able to do what I love, but when friends of mine who have 9 to 5 jobs, when the weekend rolls around, you know, it’s 5:00 o’clock on a Friday and they are done for two days, and the liberation that comes with that. Like I don’t want to have a 9 to 5 job, but I do envy that freedom, or when they go on vacation and they take two weeks with nothing to do and just that, you know, with no pressure and I do envy that because the last real vacation I took was 14 years ago, I went to Hawaii for five days. So I don’t know, I think I need a life coach to sort of teach me how to have a life outside of work, because even when I am not working I’m thinking about work or if I do try and take some time off, then that old sort of like Calvinist WASP-y guilt creeps in and I start feeling guilty about the fact that, you know, I’m in a canoe instead of in my studio.
Question: Do drugs and alcohol play a part?
Moby: I love drugs but they are so bad for me that I can’t take them. I mean, it does sort of bother me that we can map the human genome and we can put a man or a person on the moon, but we cannot invent recreational drugs that are good for you. Why can’t some scientist, I guess there was Alexander Shokhin [ph?] he was a drug researcher, so he did sort of invent some different I guess chemical isotopes that were intense psychedelics that weren’t that bad for you, because I love drugs, I just can’t deal with the hangover and the long-term sort of like cognitive impairments. I feel the same way about alcohol, you know, I love to drink and if I didn’t ever get hung over I would drink every night because, you know, especially living in New York, New York is such an easy city in which to be a drunk because the bars are open until four, you don’t drive anywhere, you can walk from place to place, meet tons of interesting people, so, but unfortunately, I tend to like alcohol and drugs a lot more than they like me.
Question: Do you compose under the influence?
Moby: I have never made any music under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I tried, and it was terrible. I remember one night 10, 15 years ago, I came home and I was drunk, and I was like I’m gonna write a song and see what it is like to write a song while drunk, and it was just bad. So, strangely enough, for me, like liquor and/or drugs used to be a release, but not something I ever used like performing, I have never, at least during my own shows I have never performed drunk and I have never been in the studio drunk. I envy people who can do that because, I mean, you look at the history of music, and like a lot of phenomenal records have been made while people are under the influence. Unfortunately, I am not capable of doing that.