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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: When you read the newspaper or watch the news, what issues stand out for you?
Moby: Well the one thing that I take great issue with is suffering, because death is inevitable. I mean I’m going to die. At some point you’re going to die. Everybody watching this at some point, we’re going to die. It’s really not such a big deal. So death is unavoidable. Suffering, on the other hand, is avoidable. And more than anything else – more than global warming, more than terrorism, more than anything else – it’s the fact that we as a species perpetuate and propagate suffering. And I think that’s just . . . It’s so sad and so unnecessary, you know, that there are literally billions and billions of creatures who are unnecessarily suffering because it’s convenient for us.
Question: How do we stop suffering?
Moby: Well I think we can all take personal responsibility for our actions. I mean very simply, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a vegan and an animal rights activist. I’m not so upset about animals dying. I’m upset about them suffering needlessly. And we can stop being involved in processes that are . . . that result in animal suffering, or that result in human suffering ‘cause it’s just so unnecessary. I mean, I guess I love the golden rule, you know, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or done unto you. And just extending that as far and wide as possible. Like there’s no harm in having a very broad application of the golden rule. You know? So apply it. And it might even seem absurd, but apply it to bugs. Apply it to other people. Apply it to animals. Apply it to seemingly _________ creatures. ‘Cause I’d rather err on the side of extending compassion than restricting compassion.
Question: How can we get people to care?
Moby: I think that we live in a world where people make . . . people have very strong opinions about things that are not in front of them. You know, I remember back when Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House, and he was all upset about welfare moms. And it dawned on me. I was like, “How many welfare moms has he ever met?” You know, he’s sitting in an air-conditioned hotel suite doing an interview talking about welfare moms. It’s like, “If you’re gonna talk about something, talk about it when it’s in front of you.” And I have a feeling that he would not be so flippant about welfare moms if he was, say, on 179th Street in a shelter with a bunch of welfare moms. And so, when I meet people who claim to not care about animal suffering, it’s usually because they’re not experiencing suffering animals. You know, if you took that person and put them in a battery farm with 300,000 chickens, they might feel differently about animal suffering. So I just . . . I don’t trust anyone’s opinion on something that’s not right immediately in front of them.
Question: Why are you a vegan?
Moby: Well I became a vegan twen – I almost forget how old I am – 23 years ago . . . 22, 23 years ago. And for me, it was the simple logic of, well, I love my cat. And I would want to see my cat suffer. And I certainly wouldn’t want to eat my cat. So if I wouldn’t want to make my cat suffer and I wouldn’t want to eat my cat, I guess I shouldn’t make other animals suffer. And I shouldn’t eat other animals.
Moby talks about suffering, veganism, and his cat.
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