I spoke with Moby for nearly forty-five minutes. He was very down to earth and easy to talk to. Before speaking with him, I saw him a bit as a religious-like figure; one with a small group of devoted followers. As you can imagine, Moby was extremely interesting. He is a very strong person who does and says what he wants. He seems to have an idealized justification for all of his individual beliefs.
I read that you enjoy visiting the Cloisters Museum in NYC. Not many people from New York even know about that museum. I was wondering how you heard about it and how you gained an interest in visiting the Cloisters?
I don’t go there too often because it is very far from my house. It is about as far as you can go in Manhattan before you leave Manhattan. I discovered it pretty recently, when I was an adult because I am thirty-three now. I can’t remember the first time I went there but I try to go back there whenever I can, so that becomes once every two years. I love it. The location is phenomenal, and I have such a soft spot for medieval art and architecture. I tend to think that the Renaissance is a bad thing. Things like the Renaissance made the world a sadder place, making it a man-centered universe.
Where did you learn how to play piano, or cultivate your other musical talents?
I started out playing guitar twenty-five years ago, when I was eight years old. I took lessons for a long time and my mom was a piano player.
Did your mom make you take piano lessons?
Everything I did was all voluntary. I didn’t do it because my mom made me. I mean, I wanted to do it. I studied guitar and then, because she was a pianist, we had a piano in the house. I took what I learned on guitar and put it over and applied it to piano and taught myself how to play piano, then taught myself how to play drums and bass, and percussion also.
I can’t believe that you do everything and you even play harmonica!
No, I wish I could play harmonica. I can play harmonica, but I’m not a good harmonica player. I wish I could be like a terrific blues harmonica player. A good blues harmonica player is a wonderful thing.
What are your plans for New Year’s?
I am trying to arrange a trip to Las Vegas.
Why would you want to come to Vegas for New Year’s?
I would either like to be in a very quiet place in the woods with a group of friends or at the epicenter of the most debauched degenerate western culture. Vegas, if nothing else, is the epicenter of the most debauched degenerate western culture. Either like a cabin in the woods, Times Square, South Beach, LA, Las Vegas. I mean, if the world is going to end, it is going to start to ending in Las Vegas.
Have you ever played in Vegas?
Played there once about a year and a half ago at this club. I don’t remember the name of it though. It was near the MGM.
Did you go to college?
I went to university and studied philosophy but never graduated.
What was the worst job you ever had?
Well, I’ve had a lot of awful jobs. Probably the worst job was washing dishes at Macy’s, the restaurant in Macy’s. I worked in an arts and craft store in the mall in Stanford, Connecticut called Feats of Clay. Stuffing envelopes, I did that for a while. Well, it is hard to prioritize, it is hard for me to establish a hierarchy of shady jobs, but those are some of the worst.
I just wondered because not many people get to do what they want, and that’s what you’re doing. I mean, that’s your job.
And I have been doing this for a long time. And even, I mean, I spent many, many years not making any money but still doing music because I lived strategically. For about three or four years I was living in a sort of semi-abandoned factory paying one hundred dollars a month rent, and the trade off was that I had no running water and no heat. Apart from that it was terrific.
Who influenced you to be vegan or was that something that you decided one day?
I have been vegan now for twelve years and vegetarian for fourteen, and I guess I just became a vegetarian sort of on a whim. I always wanted to be a vegetarian because I didn’t know anyone who was. And one day I just woke up and said, ‘What the hell. Why not? Just make belief and become a vegetarian.’ The more that I found out about how animals were being treated, it lead me to be a vegan. Mainly for ethical reasons, but also for health and environmental reasons.
What is your nationality or your descent, and how does your being a vegan fit in with your beliefs about Christianity?
I was born here in New York and grew up in New York and Connecticut, and I’m not really Christian. I am an American of Northern European extraction. My ancestors were mainly Scotch-Irish and English. And I am firmly of the opinion that if I ever have children, it will have to be with someone that is far from a Scottish-Irish background, or else our children will be retarded. If I have children it will have to be with a woman who is black or Korean or Chinese or something, just to sort of mix up the genetic line.
Have you lived or spent any amount of time overseas?
I checked my passport the other day and I have been to England ninety-five times in the past eight years. A lot of times just going to England for a day, then on to Germany, or going on to Italy, but I probably spend at least two months a year or more in Europe, never living in one place but just going around.
Which of the places did you like best that you played at or visited?
I love Scandinavia. I really love Sweden and Norway. I love Scotland. I like Spain an awful lot. And those would be my favorite places.
I once read a comment that you said: “You never fail to feel more intensely in your life than when you are an adolescent.” Could you explain what you mean by this?
Certainly adolescents experience things quite intensely, but I think it is just more or less intent than the feelings that people have when they become an adult. I think that the character is different. We tend to be a little bit more self indulgent when you are an adolescent, at least emotionally, we tend to be a little bit more involved emotionally. I don’t know if I really meant that.
About five years ago, when you were doing what you are doing, what was it like and where were you at that point? You are one of the electronic music makers who is frequently in the media; many of them are not. I was just wondering how you made that transition and what it was like.
I never really noticed. I mean, the first single I put out was “Go” which reached the top ten. So from the moment I started making music it just seemed natural to do interviews, and make videos, go on tour, and do all that sort of stuff. I always appreciated the underground, I felt very connected to the underground, but it didn’t limit me from communicating with as many people as possible. Essentially, I don’t hold out any great aspirations to be a rock star or to be on the cover of every magazine in the world. I aspire to make music that I care about, and try to communicate with as many people as possible. My background is more traditional music. I mean, classical music and punk rock and whatever. When I was growing up, all the musicians that I loved were all public figures. I mean, whether it was Johnny Coltraine, George Gershwin, Bad Brains; people who made records and put their pictures on the records, did interviews, and went on tour. It just seemed natural for me to make records and to do all those things. I do have a respect for and an appreciation for people who don’t pursue music in that way. I think there is a big world and I think there is room for people to pursue their musical career however they choose.
The album that you just put out is like that. It’s electronic but I don’t think that it is what people expect. I like it.
Yes, the response has been really great so far, and I am very happy.