The man know to the world as Moby used to be something of a great white hope for techno music. He became known to me and many other dance music aficionados as a producer and reached a level of fame when he added the theme to Twin Peaks to his underground classic Go. Not content with just making excellent music, Moby became a spokesperson for clean living, high moral standards, a vegan diet and decent politics. Ten years down the line the diminutive giant has grown into a world class musician, playing all of the instruments on Play as well as performing some vocals.
Highwire Daze: One of the concepts on your new album is the use of old blues and gospel recordings. Where did you get the idea and how did you get your hands on these old records?
Moby: There are 18 songs on the record and there are only five of them that are based around the old vocals. I had been at a friend's house a few years ago and he had this box set from Atlantic records called Sounds of the South. They are these old recordings made by Alan Lomax from the 20's and 30's of people singing in fields and in prisons and churches. I borrowed this box set and came home and sampled the vocals and started writing some songs around them.
HD: I thought maybe you went and got the songs from the Library of Congress.
Moby: No, I'm not that ambitious.
HD: In the past you've been known as a supporter of animal rights and clean, Christian living, then you seemed to rebel against that. Have you relaxed your views or are you still fighting for the cause?
Moby: As I get older I definitely see the world in a different light. When I was younger I was very didactic and quite strident in my beliefs. As I get older I've seen the world as a much more complicated place. I've been wrong so many times that it's difficult at this point to, for me, to take my beliefs too seriously.
HD: Where does "Little Idiot" come from?
Moby: That's the name of my publishing company. My manager in Europe, who's German, when we first stated working together he used to refer to me as 'Little Idiot.' I thought it was appropriate because I'm little and I'm an idiot, so I kept it as a pseudonym. Whenever I take myself too seriously, I end up making a fool of myself.
HD: When you heard these old records did you pick up on the spirituality of the songs, was that obvious to you?
Moby: I liked what the lyrics were saying and I liked the way the music sounded but the words spirituality and love really didn't enter my mind when I heard these recordings.
HD: Do you think it's necessarily a bad thing to use what's old, re-use it and call it new?
Moby: If I thought that then I wouldn't have done that on this record. I think that music is always inspired by what's come before it. Some music sounds exactly like music that has come before it and some music is just more subtly inspired by it. It doesn't matter to me how a record is mad or what components comprise a record. What matters to me is how I fell listening to it when it comes out of my stereo.
HD: What artists are you listening to these days?
Moby: I like everything. I just had to admit to myself that as I've gotten older that I pretty much like every different type of music. I don't have too many favorites. I like the new Jay-Z record a lot, I like the new Mercury Rev record, but I can't think of too much specific stuff I've been listening to. I find that the more open-minded I can be in my approach to music and culture, the more I enjoy myself.
HD: Knowing that on your last few albums you have played guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, you seem to have a lot of musical talent.
Moby: I've been playing music now for 25 years, since I was eight years old and in that time I've studied classical guitar, I played in a jazz trio, played punk rock and I was a hip-hop DJ. I certainly have a pretty extensive and weird musical background.
HD: Do you see your new album as integrating those styles more organically?
Moby: It's certainly a reflection of what my musical influences are.
HD: I only received Play in the mail a few days ago and when I was talking to your publicist, as we were setting up this interview, I said that I've liked everything you've done, so I would like your new album, and I do. It's very listenable, and it has many different elements that I like.
Moby: Well thank you.
At the time of this magazine's release, Moby has opened for The Verve Pipe, played at KROQ's Weenie Roast and will tour this summer and fall. Call up KROQ and Y107 and request one of his new songs.