By Maranda Pleasant


MP: What is it that makes you most excited, in life, when you wake up? What’s that thing that you’re most excited about?

Moby: Well, you know, it’s a really good question, and in some ways it’s a hard question to answer because there are so many thing that excite me and make me want to jump out of bed. But still—after all this time—the main thing that excites me and makes me want to get out of bed is the thought of being able to go into my studio to work on music. Which is kind of amazing, because I’ve been making music for thirty-six years and, you know, I’m still just as in love with working on music now as I was thirty-six years ago.

MP: For you, what is the most emotional part of that process of creating?

Moby: Well, the most emotional part is when I go into my studio every day and pretty much never have an idea of what’s gonna happen. I go into the studio and start writing, and I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself when I’m writing. You know, it feels like if I come up with something good, or I come up with something bad, I’m not too worried. But I guess the most emotional part is when I have that moment when I end up writing something that I really, really love. So not only is there the emotional connection with the music that’s being created, but there’s also the magic of the fact that you’re essentially creating something from nothing.

MP: I’m a painter so I relate.{laughter}What makes you feel the most vulnerable?

Moby: Honestly, the most vulnerable part of my life is probably just honest expression, as cliché as that might sound. And I think that, for a lot of us, the closer we get to showing people who we really are, that’s where we feel the most uncomfortable, the most vulnerable. But it’s also where the healthiest growth comes from. Like when I can really open myself up to someone and show someone who I really am, it’s amazing when it happens.

MP: What do you do with your pain? How do you transform your pain?

Moby: Let me think…how do I transform pain. I guess the number one way in which I do that is by working on music, but also it can be anything from just talking about it with other people or doing kickboxing or meditating or running around with dogs. Or just simply trying to sit with it and be mindful and be aware of it.

MP: As an artist, or even as a human being, what is the best that you have found when it is time to let go and release something? How do you let go?

Moby: As far as letting go, my question would be, letting go of what?

MP: Anything, whether it’s a person or an experience, when it’s evident that you have to let go of something.

Moby: Well, I think I do two things. One: I look back and think of all the times I’ve had to let things go in the past, and how traumatic it seemed while it was happening, but how my understanding of it changed as time passed—and oftentimes things that seem really difficult and traumatic in the short term seem a lot less difficult and traumatic in the long term. So I remind myself of that. And I also remind myself that the universe is 15 billion years old, and I’m only 46 years old, so my perspective is sort of limited and fear-based and skewed. So I sort of turn things over to whatever you want to call it—whether it’s God, or the universe or the spirit of the universe—and I just sort of turn things over to God and hope that this spirit that has been around for 15 billion years will have a better understanding of how things should be than I do.

MP: In your work that you have coming up, what projects are closest to your heart—that you’re most excited about?

Moby: Well it’s interesting because, as you know, the record business has kind of fallen apart, which in some ways is really emancipating, and pretty much all I want to do with my life is try and make music that I really love, and so every day I try and work on music. And I don’t think too much about how it might exist in the world in a commercial sense—I more just try and focus on making music that I love and trying to put it out into the world. I’m not too concerned about whether people pay for it or whether they don’t pay for it. I just want to try—on a daily basis keep trying—to make music that I really love. I guess the last project that I had was the book and the album that came out last May, but right now the only project that I have is to wake up every day and try to work on music that I really care about.

MP: One of our editors (DJ Spooky) told me to check out your book (Destroyed). It’s beautiful. Are you touring with it?

Moby: Last May I put out an album and a book, both of which are called Destroyed, so over the summer I did a concert tour, but we also had a lot of gallery and photo gallery events in London and Paris and Berlin and Milan and Bologna and Copenhagen and Amsterdam and New York and Brussels and Madrid, but the tour just ended about a week ago in Australia, so now I’m back in Los Angeles.

MP: One thing that I read about your book, you said something about the vast polarity—about the isolation of traveling and then performing. I’m thinking about what that must be like for you. How do you balance keeping your open heart so you can really channel, so you can really create with this open clear space? How do you balance that with a thick skin of not letting outside circumstances or what you may hear about yourself affect you. How do you keep your energy shielded?

Moby: That’s a good question. I think part of it is experience. It mean, it’s having been a quasi-public figure for a while. Because there was a time when I was way too reliant upon other people’s opinions and perspective of me. And I guess over time came to see how unhealthy that was. I mean it’s almost like a sign of mental illness to base your self-worth on the opinions of complete strangers, you know? So I just have to remind myself that my daily quotidie in life has almost nothing to do with any aspect of my professional life as a public figure. And I think a lot of people get to that point—specifically, sort of getting comfortable looking out for yourself and taking care of yourself and defining yourself based on healthier criteria, and not criteria that’s established by complete strangers that you’ve never met.

MP: Well that just blew my head open. Thank you. I heard that you had a vegan BBQ last year at SXSW. Are you planning on coming back?

Moby: Well I was at SXSW last year and the year before and two years before that. So I say there’s a chance I would come back, but I also stopped drinking a few years ago and I found that my experience of being in Austin for SXSW, sober, was quite a lot different than being in SXSW as a drunk.

MP: {laughter} Two non-drinking vegans together! We’re gonna tear it up!

Moby: So I feel like last year I still had a good time, but I have to say, walking around Austin on a Friday night at 11pm when you’re sober, you do feel a little bit disconnected from what’s going on.

MP: You’ve been vegan for quite a while?

Moby: I’ve been vegan now for 26 years.

MP: Oh my god…{laughter} that’s before yogis shaved.

Moby: Yeah. I have to say that being a vegan in 1986 or whenever was a lot different than being a vegan in 2012. You’d go to health foods stores and basically your choice was between Mung beans and nutritional yeast, and that’s about it.

MP: That’s making me hungry actually. So what’s the alien thing, what’s that?

Moby: Oh, I guess…on one hand, I spent way too much time watching science fiction and reading science fiction when I was growing up. But a part of it is I also never felt much of a connection to the world in which I lived while I was growing up, and so, oddly enough, I think I felt a lot more connected to the worlds that I read about in science fiction. And so I think ever since I was really little, I’ve just always had an obsession with, not just science fiction, but science and space. And also because as time passes and the more advanced science becomes, the more interesting it becomes.

I don’t know, I’m just fascinated with the world that I can see, but I’m even more fascinated with the world that I can’t see.

MP: Do you think that growing up with a level of shame, or isolation, or not fitting in, do you think that that’s really helped you channel all of this energy, and you went inward? Do you think that’s a huge connection to what you do now?

Moby: I think that growing up very poor in a very wealthy town gave me a sense of being an outsider, and I hated it when I was growing up. You know, when I was growing up, all I wanted to do was fit in, but if you’re perpetually an outsider, it gives you a perspective that might have a little more objectivity than people who really feel connected to their social environment in which they grow up. So, you know, yeah, I mean, I’m grateful for the perspective that I have. There’s a whole host of other issues that comes along with it that might not be as healthy, but I do appreciate the objectivity and perspective that I have as a result of it.

MP: Your humanitarian work—it’s astounding. Everything from sound-healing to Wasteland to sustainability to domestic violence. What are the things right now that are closest to your heart? Are there organizations or things that you just are really passionate about right now?

Moby: Well, right now, because it’s an election year, my biggest concern is trying to keep crazy Republicans out of office.

MP: {laughter}

Moby: And I feel like a lot of the other issues that I care about would be really well-served by keeping lunatic Tea Party Republicans out of office. So my hope for the next nine, ten months is to really focus on 2012 electoral politics. A lot of issues that had been taken care of on a state level are no longer being taken care of on state level because of budget problems. You know a big example is domestic violence programs. The state of California had a great domestic violence program, but the budget has been cut so much that it’s almost become completely ineffective at this point. So with the lessening of funds that are available for state programs, a lot of really great programs need to reach out for private funding. So I guess I’m just trying to help where I can.

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