On the phone: Moby
|Artist as astronaut
Whether wearing a spacesuit for his new album, 18, or bouncing
around the US with David Bowie at the head of his just finished
Area concert tour, Moby is omnipresent. Metropolis tracked
him down to discuss life as pop music's most famous vegan.
This is the second year of Area. How did it go?
It was wonderful. I never thought that I would have the opportunity
to do something like this, and the fact that I had the opportunity,
and it went so well, I am thrilled.
Is there a good audience for festival-type events like
Yeah, it's gone surprisingly well. Most people in the music
business were of the opinion that I could never do something
like this-that to put on a successful festival you had to
have only one type of music. But I'd played festivals throughout
Europe and Asia, especially something like Fuji Rock, which
has lots of different types of music together, and I thought
it was time to do something like that in the United States.
Any thoughts as to where you want to take it next year?
We just finished this year's; I would love to do a third year
and a fourth year and a 20th year, and what have you, but
it's still premature.
Recently on CNN, you said you'd planned the lineup by writing
down a bunch of names of your favorite bands on a napkin.
Will you be planning your set list for Japan the same way?
Kind of. We think about the set list beforehand, but a lot
of it is about tailoring it to the night itself. If we're
playing a show, and people seem like they're receptive to
some of our newer, more experimental songs, then we'll play
newer and more experimental songs, but if it seems like people
want to hear the older songs and the hits, then those are
the songs that I'll play.
On the cover of 18 and in the video for "We Are All
Made of Stars," you're wearing a spacesuit. What appealed
to you about that image?
The video is directed by Joseph Kahn, and to be honest with
you I had nothing to do with it. I guess in his wanting me
to wear a spacesuit, it was an attempt to convey the idea
that, although I am involved in Hollywood and the world of
entertainment, I am still very much an outsider and observer.
Do you still work out of your home studio in Manhattan?
Yes. I have a two-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan and
my second bedroom is a recording studio. Pretty much every
record I've ever made has been recorded in my second bedroom.
I like working at home, and I find that I can have a lot more
freedom and flexibility if I do everything at home. But there's
a big difference between how I write songs and record them
at home, and how I perform them live. When I'm at home it's
just me alone in my studio, but when I tour there are usually
about ten people on stage, although for Japan we're bringing
a slightly stripped down contingent. I think there will be
about five or six people on stage, because the venues are
a lot smaller than the venues we normally play.
You are known as a Christian and a vegan. What does that
mean in terms of your daily life on the road?
I've been a vegan now for 16 years, and basically I'm a very
nonjudgmental vegan. I don't force my views on any one. And
it's pretty easy being a vegan on the road. As far as being
a Christian is concerned, I am the strangest Christian in
the world. I'm nondenominational-I'll never argue with anyone
about religion. Just because I have my own beliefs doesn't
mean I'm going to force them on anyone. Whatever Christianity
I have is on the most basic level; I love the teachings of
Christ, and I love that he talked about compassion and forgiveness
Your birthday is September 11. How will that affect your
plans this year?
As much as I'm looking forward to coming to Japan, there is
a part of me that wants to be in New York on September 11.
But maybe being in Japan will be good because it will give
me a bit of distance and a different perspective on things.
You've made the transition from the dance world to the pop
If that's your perspective, then fine, but I couldn't disagree
with you more. Over the course of my life I've made a lot
of different kinds of music. I've written classical music
for movies, I've played bass in a reggae band
of people first heard about me in the States because I was
writing classical music for film. There are some people who
might know of me best because I played in a punk rock band.
Everyone has their own perspective and that's fine.
Do you see yourself transitioning into something yet different?
I just want to make good music. I've never felt any allegiance
to one genre. My allegiance is to the emotional power of music.
In becoming famous, did you find it difficult?
I've been making records now for about 12 years. In the early
'90s, the first single I ever put out was "Go,"
which was a big hit throughout Europe. So throughout these
12 years I've had some records that were successful, others
that were unsuccessful; I've had periods of intense media
attention; I've had periods of less intense attention. The
last few years it's been pretty extreme, but I always keep
in the back of my mind that it might not last for too much
If your career as a musician were to end tomorrow, what
would you pursue?
My second love after music is architecture. I'd like to build
interesting buildings. I get so depressed when I see a conventional
building going up. I would like to make a building that would
inspire people to live in it, inspire people to look at it,
inspire people to work in it. Any building that is not inspirational
is a waste of space.
Moby plays Akasaka Blitz on September
9-10. See listings for details.
Photo courtesy of Beatink