July 31, 2021

Interview | “Activism is my day job”: Moby, music composer

The beginning American music composer Moby started in the industry in the early 1980s when he was part of a punk band called “Vatican Commandos”, with whom he released several singles. His first hit was “Go” a progressive song that was used by the television series Twin Peaks.

“I’m 55 years old and I feel like my years of partying are over. It’s hard for me to say, but my life in a pandemic has been very similar to before. Some would say I’m boring,” explains Moby from his home in Los Angeles.

It is hard to believe that one of the promoters of “dance”, composer of breakers like “Go” and “South Side”, defines his daily life with the words “simple” and “monastic”.

“I don’t have a lot of social life or romantic life, but I am happy,” he says.

The New York musician, based in Southern California, has taken time to think. He published two memoirs, “Porcelain: A Memoir” and “Then It fell Apart”, and at the beginning of the month he released a double: A compilation and a documentary featuring David Bowie and David Lynch.

“I don’t have a lot of social life or romantic life, but I am happy”

The album, which features the Budapest Orchestra, is inspired by the concert that Moby gave in 2018 with the Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Classical music is in my DNA,” he says in this interview in which he recalled his friendship with David Bowie, his obsession with fame and his past with drugs.

Going from “techno” to the solemnity of an orchestra … Very different worlds?

When they asked me to make the album, I realized that many of my songs already had that format. The difference was that there were keyboards but, for example, “Natural Blues” was very orchestrable. It was easier for me than for another band like the Foo Fighters, who I love, but going from rock to orchestra is difficult.

Why did you choose “Heroes” by David Bowie for the only version of the album?

It is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. But I also wanted to remember how special it was to befriend Bowie. We once played “Heroes” at my house, on acoustic guitar, and it was one of the most magical moments of my entire life.

How did that friendship start?

Well, in the least exciting way that one can imagine. He was my favorite musician, I bought his records with my first salary !, and one day in 2000 I received an email from him saying that he had moved to my street and that if we had a coffee. I wish it was a better story.

Who is it? Richard Melville Hall Compositor

Trajectory: It has 12 studio albums, 10 compilation albums.

He has managed to sell more than 20 million albums.

You haven’t been on tour for a long time. Will you present this album at concerts?

I love playing live but I hate traveling. One of my goals is to never go on tour again. The only good thing about it is being on stage for a few minutes, the rest of the day I’m not well.

And that has left you time to write, shoot a documentary, review your career …

It has been akin to psychodrama therapy in which other people act out things in your life. I remembered that when I wrote songs like “Go” I was broke and I thought that no one would listen to them. Or the songs on “Porcelain”, which I recorded after losing my record deal and didn’t know they would be released.

In the documentary you review the ups and downs that you lived in your beginnings, with very strong family experiences. Did you ever think about leaving?

When I go out through Griffth Park I always see black beetles climbing the hill. They are my spirit animal. They are not glamorous or elegant but they follow their own thing. I don’t know how to do anything else, giving up was never an option. My mother painted all her life and never showed her paintings.

With social media that seems complicated. Would your career have been different?

In the 2000s I was obsessed with external validation, but at one point I realized that it was insane. Now I don’t pay attention to the opinions of people I don’t know. My identity cannot come from comments on Instagram. I have cultivated that ignorance and it works very well for me.

Is that why you start your documentary with a monologue of contempt for fame?

I managed to stay sober 12 years ago because I came to the conclusion that alcohol and drugs were destroying me. People sometimes don’t accept the evidence. Fame has destroyed the lives of many people and there are still people who believe that they will be happier. Look at Donald Trump, he’s still miserable and angry. Would Kanye West be happier as a small producer in Chicago?

How do the rest of your famous friends experience it?

With David Bowie I always tried to pretend that I was not his fan and David Lynch … is fascinating. His movies are dark but he is very cheerful. In all the time I have spent with him I have never had a serious conversation, something one does not expect from the director of “Blue Velvet”.

But fame has allowed you to be an activist …

My two concerns are animal rights and climate change, which are related. Other gender and race battles won’t be fought if we don’t fix this. Making music is what I like but activism is my daily job.


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