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: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the way the world is headed?
Moby: I think things are fantastic. I mean it’s easy for me to be pessimistic; but at the same time you look at certain benchmarks for the, you know, for human progress. And life expectancy is up. I mean, just go back . . . Excuse me. Go back 100 years ago. Women couldn’t vote. Basically we lived in a country that was run by apartheid. Children were working in factories. The life expectancy for your average non-farm worker was about 48 years. So things are great. And one of the problems we have now is that things are almost too good, and we’re all kind of bored. You know? So we have this, like, desperate need to find . . . you know, to legitimize our lives and to establish significance for our lives. And that’s what comes with, you know, beating the odds and figuring out how to survive. So I don’t know. I mean sure, there are bad things going on in the world, but overall I think things are fantastic. And we also live on a planet that’s pretty good at self-regulating. It might not self-regulate in ways that we’re particularly happy with, you know. But I mean global warming for example. Yes, the earth is going to get warm and then it’s going to cool again. You know? And it’s gonna get warm because of human behavior. And then if we can’t adapt, we’ll get killed off and other species will rise up to take our place. Well because there’s the . . . the cumulative effect of all our actions. And things are pretty good, but they can always be improved. And especially like if you see the disaster looming on the horizon and you know can do something now to prevent that disaster, well you might as well. I mean it just sort of makes sense.