What do you do?
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: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?
Moby: Well I’ve been making music now for 32 years. And, I mean, I’m a dilettante so I do lots of different things. But most of my life and most of my time and my work is just spent working on music. So it might be a very reductive term, but I’m pretty happy just calling myself a musician.
Well when I was growing up, most of my heroes were musicians.
So it just made sense that I would learn how to play an instrument. And I think if you look at musicians, oftentimes they’re not very good at sports and they’re not particularly intelligent. Because if they’re good at sports or they’re really bright, they would spend their time when they were growing up either playing sports or working on computers. So musicians are the ones who are sort of left alone in their bedrooms in the afternoon learning how to play guitar and listen to records.
Question: What is the struggle in what you do?
Moby: Hmm. What a big question. I mean on the most simple level, the challenge of my work is to make music that I love, and that ideally other people will love as well. I mean first and foremost, I have to try and make myself happy through my work. But then in a perfect world, I can make myself happy through my work and also somehow reach other people as well. And that is sort of my life’s work. I do a lot of other things. Like I said I’m a dilettante. But my life’s work is trying to make music that will affect me emotionally, and ideally affect other people emotionally as well.
Question: What is the joy in what you do?
Moby: The biggest thrill of what I do is not knowing where inspiration comes from. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m so prolific, is because I feel like as long as I keep working, it increases the chances that inspiration might happen. So I write a lot of music, and a lot of it’s pretty mundane.
And a lot of it’s not very good. But every now and then, something that I think is really spectacular will happen. And if I’m not in my studio working on music, there is no way that I’ll be able to capture that. But as long as I just stay in my studio and keep working and working and sort of like slogging through the mundane aspects of just day-to-day, ritualized working, that just increases the chances that something great might happen.
Question: What are you working on right now?
Moby: Well right now I’m just trying to finish my next record with the “Pollyanna-ish”, naïve hope that people will still be buying records when it’s released.
When you made a record, there was a simple way of making a record, and a simple way of distributing the record, and a simple way of selling the record. And now, if I’m finished a record now and it comes out in six months, I have no idea how people might buy it, or listen to it, or download it. I mean it could be all the platforms could be completely different in six months.
May 29, 2007
Moby is a dilettante who has been making music for 32 years.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
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The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
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