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: Well my name is Moby.
Question: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?
Moby: I was born here in New York on September 11, 1965.
Well I moved to Connecticut when I was two, actually not two or three. And how Connecticut shaped me? It’s an interesting question.
Well cause I grew up primarily in Connecticut I grew up in Darien, Connecticut, which is a very affluent, suburban bedroom community. And I grew up dirt poor. My mother and I were on welfare until I was 18, which was very strange because every single person I knew in Darien came from, they had very affluent families and came from a lot of money. And so it was strange. Up until I was 18, I was basically the only poor person I’d ever met.
Well I think it’s given me a lifelong feeling of inadequacy. Almost a sort of J. Gatsby almost sort of need to kind of prove myself sometimes. And on a positive side, luckily the public schools were really good. And all my teachers when I was growing up were very idealistic children of the 60s and 70s who saw public education as a way of really, sort of like, establishing this almost like progressive, utopian world. So I had great teachers and great public schools.
Moby: Do I have a single defining characteristic? I’m bald.
Well somehow, I’ve had a reputation for being very serious. And I’m not saying that I’m funny, but I think that I have more of a sense of humor than a lot of people would give me credit for. Like I think people think of me of being very strident and very didactic and earnest. And hopefully none of those things are the case.
May 29, 2007