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Moby

Moby

Musician, performer, producer

Moby is perhaps the most well-known name in the subculture of music and style known as techno. This fast-paced electronic dance music is mainly heard at nightclubs, parties, and especially at "raves," generally described as giant, marathon dance parties. While raves are notorious for rampant drug use, Moby is substance-free and a Christian, although he has admitted a weakness for chasing members of the opposite sex. He steers clear of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, and is also a vegan, a person who does not consume any meat or animal products, including dairy or eggs. Despite the contradictions between his lifestyle and those of hedonistic ravers, Moby is arguably the leader of the techno genre, although he did take a detour in 1997 with the heavy metal album Animal Rights. In 1999 he returned to his roots with Play, an eclectic melange that reached beyond sheer dance music while once again showcasing techno.

Moby was born Richard Melville Hall on September 11, 1965, in New York City, and raised in the suburb of Darien, Connecticut. His nickname, which he has had since he was a baby, is based on the novel Moby Dick, written by his great-great-great uncle, Herman Melville. Moby's father, a chemistry professor named James Melville, died in a car accident after driving drunk when his son was two. His mother, Elizabeth, who became a doctor's aide, then worked as a secretary by day and played keyboards in a band at night. Moby lived during the week at the spacious home of his well-to-do grandparents, but spent weekends with his unconventional mother. His grandparents taught Sunday school, but Moby's childhood was not particularly religious. He told Chris Norris in New York magazine that he was raised "sort of Presbyterian."

Discovering both music and drugs at a young age, Moby played the guitar in elementary school and was smoking pot and listening to Led Zeppelin by around age ten. His tastes switched to the Clash and Sex Pistols by age 14, and at that stage he quit using drugs and alcohol and began a "straight-edged" hardcore punk band, so called because the members were devoted to staying straight, or sober. The Vatican Commandos, as they were called, performed at high-profile Manhattan punk clubs like CBGBs and Great Gildersleeves. However, when he went off to the University of Connecticut, he began drinking again, attending parties and playing in bands in addition to studying religion and philosophy.

Became Born-again Christian

In college Moby began spinning records at the campus radio station. He then dropped out of school after just eight months, and began hanging out in clubs in New York City, where he learned to love dance music. "I just realized how powerful and celebratory dance music was," he recalled to Norris. "I love that real anthemic quality. Just big piano breaks, screaming diva vocals, and real high energy." He began working as a DJ for a club in Port Chester, New York, and then moved to venues in New York City, including the club Mars. By 1987, under a variety of stage names like Voodoo Child, Barracuda, and Mindstorm, Moby was spinning for big names like Cher, Run-D.M.C., and Big Daddy Kane, and started recording his own club mixes on the Instinct label in 1989.

At just about the time he left college, Moby became a born-again Christian. Although he does not belong to any specific church, and has been known to sharply criticize religious conservatives, he has been open about the fact that he tries to live according to Christian principles. "I try to live up to [Jesus'] teachings but fail all the time," he told Lorraine Ali in Rolling Stone. In addition, he is a vegan, and he does not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or bleach his clothes (citing that bleach harms the water supply).

When Moby remixed the theme song from the popular David Lynch television series Twin Peaks with a thumping beat to create the track "Go," he became a major name not only among the ranks of deejays but also on the charts. The song reached the top ten in Britain in 1991, and Moby continued to churn out club singles for Instinct, such as the hits "Next Is the E" and "Thousand." He also compiled a number of singles on Moby (1992), and experimented with a minimalist sound on Ambient in 1993. In 1993 Moby signed a five-record deal with Elektra and released the EP Move, which appealed to many fans who had not previously been fond of dance music.

Philosophy Inspired Album

Right after the release of Move, Moby toured with the Lollapalooza festival concert, headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This exposure helped reveal Moby to a much more mainstream audience and made him virtually the only techno deejay at the time who was known to a widespread audience. Neil Strauss wrote in Rolling Stone, "A year ago, the name Moby and the word techno were practically synonymous." However, Strauss added that some techno fans had begun to think of Moby as a "traitor" due to his lifestyle, not to mention the fact that he had worked on a remix for pop star Michael Jackson.

In 1995 Moby released his debut album, Everything Is Wrong, deriving the title from his philosophy of the world. "I think 500 years from now, people are going to wonder what was going on now," Moby told Strauss. "They'll see this race of people that smoked cigarettes and drove cars and fought wars and persecuted people for their beliefs and sexual orientation, and none of it accomplished anything. … Everything is absolutely 100 percent wrong, and how do we change it is the question." For the album's liner notes, Moby listed 67 statistics concerning topics such as the plight of the rain forests and the destruction of trees.

Everything Is Wrong cut across several musical genres, from jazz to classical piano to hard rock to disco grooves, but as Ali noted, "Amazingly, these transitions aren't jerky or abrupt; rather, the music evolves naturally from one style to the next." The album soon became a critical favorite, although some techno purists rejected it as a "sellout."

Moby's discontent with dance music came to a head with Animal Rights (1997), in which he gave up his synth sound in favor of a hard rock style. Much of the content revealed his early punk influences and featured his screaming voice and wailing guitar riffs. This effort was not warmly received, but did not slow down his career. In the meantime, Moby was busy working on other artists' projects, remixing "1979" for Smashing Pumpkins, "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" for Aerosmith, "Until It Sleeps" for Metallica, and "Dusty" for Soundgarden. He also produced "Walk on Water" for Ozzy Osbourne.

For the Record …

Born Richard Melville Hall on September 11, 1965, in New York, NY. Education: Attended University of Connecticut.

Club deejay, c. late 1980s-early 1990s; began releasing singles on Instinct, 1989; signed with Elektra Records and released EP Move, 1993; released debut album, Everything Is Wrong, 1995; creator of music for film soundtracks; produced remixes for artists such as Aerosmith, Brian Eno, Michael Jackson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and others; has produced for Ozzy Osbourne; toured with Lollapalooza festival, 1993; signed with Mute Records, released the EP Move, 1994; released Everything Is Wrong-Mixed and Remixed and Animal Rights, 1996; issued I Like to Score, 1997, Play, 1999, and 18, 2002; founded Area: One Festival, 2001, followed by Area2, 2002; released Hotel, 2005, and Last Night, 2008.

Addresses: Office—Mute Records, 43 Brook Green, London, W6 7EF. Web site—Moby Official Web site http://www.moby.com/.

Subsequently, Moby began getting calls to mix music for film soundtracks. In 1997 he came out with the album I Like to Score, a collection of 12 pieces that he originally created for movies and television (thus the title, a pun on the word "score," which refers to writing music for such media). It included an energetic re-mix of the "James Bond Theme," as well as his early hit "Go," in addition to "First Cool Hive" from the horror flick Scream and a cover of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades" from the film Heat. After this, he began to indicate that he was regaining his enthusiasm for techno. "Overall, the scene feels healthier to me, and I certainly like the music more than I did two or three years ago," Moby told Michael Mehle of the Denver, Colorado, Rocky Mountain News.

New Album Revisited Earlier Terrain

In the summer of 1999, Moby issued Play, an effort that harkened back to his techno roots while displaying an even more fervent eclecticism that intrigued and delighted many critics. In addition to the drum machines and hip-hop beats, much of the structure was developed from old blues and gospel music. Moby sampled, or excerpted, a 1943 version of the gospel classic "Run On for a Long Time," featuring slide guitar and a haunting piano. He also used samples from Alan Lomax's field recordings of African-American folk music from the early twentieth century, and included the Bessie Jones blues tune "Honey."

Play seemed to indicate a shift from Moby's earlier works, in that it did not contain any overt references to his thoughts on subjects like the environment, politics, and the like. He commented to David Proffitt in Arizona Republic, "With Play, I wanted to make a record that was very personal but also that people could bring into their lives and fall in love with." He also remarked to Vickie Gilmer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "The songs I used are … beautiful songs, and the lyrics are interesting. But it's me singing, too." He noted that it was a pet peeve of his that people think his electronic music consists solely of samples.

In 2001 Moby founded Area: One, a traveling festival partly inspired by Lollapalooza and featuring the OutKast, New Order, and Nellie Furtado. He also organized Area2 the following year with David Bowie and the Blue Man Group. Moby followed Play in 2002 with 18, and toured heavily to support the album. Although many critics gave the album a lukewarm reception, 18 rose to number four on the Billboard 200, and three songs reached the Top 20 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. Moby incited a controversy in 2001 after calling rapper Eminem's music racist and homophobic, and the two singers confronted one another during the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.

Moby continued to collaborate with a number of artists, co-writing "Is It Any Wonder" with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and collaborating with Public Enemy on "Make Love, F—War." The latter song was released before the 2004 election, and Moby publicly supported Democrat John Kerry during the U.S. presidential election. In 2005 Moby issued Hotel, which spawned two number one European hits with "Lift Me Up" and "Slipping Away." In 2006 Moby accepted an acting role in Pittsburgh, a film starring Jeff Goldblum, and also worked on soundtracks for Richard Kelly's Southland Tales in 2007.

Released in 2008, Last Night was an eclectic album that found Moby exploring earlier musical terrain. Andy Kellman wrote in All Music Guide, "A good number of Moby fans who began to follow the producer's moves well before Play will be inclined to think of Last Night as the best Moby album since Everything Is Wrong." Ian Roullier, writing in OMH, concurred: "If you're one of those people that rued the day Moby stopped producing storming, hook-heavy dance music, then you'll welcome Last Night with open arms." Moby also continued to combine his love of music with his interest in film, performing with two turntables and a mixing board at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival in June of 2008. The producer-DJ surprised audiences by delivering a remix of Guns 'n' Roses' "Paradise City" for an encore.

Moby, who is five-foot, eight inches tall and sports a shaved head, lives in Manhattan's East Village, where he keeps a stash of equipment including keyboards, mixers, samplers, recording equipment, and more. In keeping with his conviction about not harming living creatures, Moby has refused to kill cockroaches or even mosquitoes, living with a bevy of bugs in his studio.

Selected discography

"Mobility," Instinct, 1990.

"Go," Instinct, 1991.

"Voodoo Child," Instinct, 1991.

(Contributor) Instinct Dance: A Collection of Dance Music from Instinct Records, 1991.

Moby, Instinct, 1992.

The Story So Far, 1993.

Ambient, Instinct, 1993.

Early Underground, Instinct, 1993.

Move (EP), Elektra, 1994.

Everything Is Wrong, Elektra, 1994.

Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993, Instinct, 1996.

Animal Rights, Elektra, 1997.

I Like to Score, Elektra, 1997.

Play, Elektra, 1999.

18, V2, 2002.

Hotel, V2, 2005.

Go: The Very Best of Moby, Mute, 2006.

Last Night, Mute, 2007.

Sources

Periodicals

Arizona Republic, August 12, 1999, p. 32.

Entertainment Weekly, February 21, 1997, p. 125.

Interview, March 1996, p. 92.

Newsday, May 25, 1995, p. B9.

Newsweek, June 14, 1999, p. 69.

New York, March 27, 1995, p. 48; March 17, 1997, p. 48.

New York Times, July 31, 1999, p. B17.

People, November 1, 1993, p. 82; March 10, 1997, p. 24; August 23, 1999, p. 45.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), November 23, 1997, p. 18D.

Rolling Stone, November 17, 1994, p. 102; March 23, 1995, p. 125; May 4, 1995, p. 58; October 30, 1997, p. 68; June 24, 1999, p. 64.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 6, 1999, p. E2.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), June 4, 1995, p. 3F; August 20, 1999, p. 3E.

Time, August 17, 1992, p. 60.

Online

"Moby," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 15, 2008).

Moby Web Page, Elektra Records, http://www.elektra.com/ambientclub/moby (October 19, 1999).

"Moby," Rolling Stone,http://www.rollingstone.tunes.com (October 24, 1999).

"Moby," Music OMH,http://www.musicomh.com (June 15, 2008).

—Geri Speace and Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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Moby

Moby

Composer, DJ

From Pot to Christianity

Became Hot DJ

Thats Progress

Technology and Lifes Meaning

Selected discography

Sources

The best way to communicate should be banging on a drum and screaming, said technos best-known performer, Moby, in Rolling Stone, but the best way Ive found to reach people is through plastic equipment. I like that irony. The soft-spoken but passionate and driven artist has won universal accolades from critics for investing the frequently anonymous electronic dance music genre with soul and spirit. By tucking tangible emotion into the musics mechanized grandeur, observed Rolling Stone writer Lorraine Ali, he makes techno personable, approachable and alive. An unorthodox Christian vegetarian, Moby has also seized every opportunity to trumpet his views on the environment and other issues; the title of his widely praised album Everything Is Wrong pretty much encapsulates his view of the modern era.

He was born Richard Melville Hall to a professional couple in Connecticut; a great-great grandnephew of famed nineteenth-century writer Herman Melville, he was given the nickname Moby after the novelists most celebrated work, MobyDiok. His father died when Moby was only twohis parents were planning to divorce and he was shuttled between the apartment of his struggling-musician mother and his upper-crust grandparents. I was torn between the two, he told Ali, and I knewthey were both weird. I wasnt brought up with this paradigm of how to live. So now Im like, Anything goes. His mother worked as a secretary by day and at night played keyboards in a band.

From Pot to Christianity

Moby began making music at a young age; by his tenth year hed discovered pot and hard rock. A few years later came the anti-authoritarian anthems of punk, by which point Moby disdained drugs and booze and advocated a sober lifestyle as a rejection of decadent high-school values. The confusion and pain of his growing up fueled his development as an artist. A lot of what drives me to create is a feeling of inadequacy, he told Spin. Growing up a latch-key child, I spent a lot of time by myself. I wasnt good-looking. I wasnt good at sports.

During his brief college career Moby dove into the twin pools of philosophy and alcohol; he also played in a band influenced by post-punk British rock. He recorded indie singles with punkers the Vatican Commandos and the Pork Guys, as well as noise bands Shopwell and Peanuts. Ultimately, however, he dropped out and underwent a new series of transformations. Paramount among them was his becoming a Christian. Though he has never identified himself with a particular church or sect and has been harshly critical of religious conservatives,

For the Record

Born Richard Melville Hall, September 11, 1965, in Darien, CT. Education: Attended University of Connecticut (one source says State University of New York at Purchase), c. 1980s.

Musician and performer, c. late 1970s. Played in bands the Vatican Commandos and AWOL, among others, 1983-84; worked as DJ at Club Mars, New York City, c. 1980s; remixed recordings by Michael Jackson, Brian Eno, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, the B-52s, and others, c. 1980s; recorded singles for Instinct label under a variety of names, including Voodoo Child, Barracuda, and Mindwave, 1990-92; appeared on album Bloodline by Recoil, 1992; signed with Elektra Records and released Move EP, 1993; started Trophy Records label, c. 1990s.

Addresses: Home New York, NY. Record company Elektra Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019; or 345 North Maple Dr., Suite 123, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Websites The Ultimate Moby Page: http://mindvox.phantom.com/~hymn/moby.html.

Moby has often detailed the tenets of his faith in interviews. Im not a cultural Christian, he insisted in Rolling Stone, but I love Christ. I try to live up to his teachings butfail all the time. Its this yardstick that I hold up to my life that I can never, never live up to. Its more interesting than frustrating. His religious awakening accompanied a decision to give up not only drugs and booze but also meat and other animal products, and his advocacy of vegetarianism seems at times even more vehement than his Christian proselytizing.

Became Hot DJ

Mobys newfound clean lifestyle coincided with his discovery of dance culture, which was in the early-to-mid-1980s still an underground phenomenon. When I first got into itwhen it was primarily a bastion of gay, black cultureit was so foreign and viscerally satisfying, he recalled in the Rolling Stone interview with Ali. Moby was about 19 when he began working as a club DJ in Port Chester, New York. He moved on to New York Cityground zero of the U. S. dance music sceneand began working the turntables at the popular club Mars. Even so, as he related in Spin, he hardly felt at home: I spun records for [rap stars] Run-D.M.C., Big Daddy Kane, [pop legend and actress] Cher; everybody went through there, but I never felt like I fit in. I didnt know how to dress. I didnt even know where to buy my records. He hid behind a variety of DJ nicknames, among them Barracuda, Mindstorm, and Voodoo Child.

By 1990 Moby was making records for the Instinct label; his eclectic, original approach soon acquired a buzz. After a while pop luminaries like Michael Jackson and producer Brian Eno approached him to remix some of their material. But it wasnt until Move, his 1993 debut for Elektra Records, that his reputation spread outside the hippest music circles. Soon he was winning fans who otherwise disliked techno, ambient, and other new dance music forms, even though many on the dance scene regarded him as their brightest hope.

Thats Progress

Mobys appeal derived in part from his refusal to honor musical boundaries. Juxtaposition and hybridization is where newness comes from, he insisted in Spin. Its where jazz came from, its how rocknroll was invented, its where all great culture comes from. Putting things together that havent been together before. Thats invention, thats progress. In an interview with Neil Strauss for Rolling Stone, Moby derided this pernicious tribal mentality we all have that separates fans of different kinds of music. We desperately seek out a tribe with which we can align and identify ourselves at the expense of all the other tribes. Defining yourself as a white supremacist and saying I hate techno arein very broad terms the same thing to me. Its exclusionary, and its wrong.

Indeed, Moby began to feel that as far as modern life was concerned, everything was wrong. The phrase resonated so much for him as he studied the folly and waste of human societiesparticularly the U.S.that he decided to use it as the title of his next album. Released in 1995, Everything Is Wrong garnered rapturous reviews. Moby has the right idea about dance musicits whatever moves you wherever you feel it, enthused Rolling Stone, which declared that the album throbs with all the kick and courage of his contradictions. Ali, reviewing the disc for the Los Angeles Times, deemed it one of the most gripping collections of the year.

The album embraces a striking range of styles, from frantic jungle grooves to speedmetal to evocative, neoclassical keyboard excursions. I think itd be very confusing to be a Moby fan, he mused in Rolling Stone, though from an emotional perspective it makes sense. Moby acknowledged that his success would cause defenders of dance musics underground status to regard him as a sellout. At the same time, he expressed dissatisfaction with the emotionless, featureless, per-sonalityless quality he detected in much techno. His own concerts saw him rocking out on guitar to classic rock covers, kicking over equipment, and leaping into the audience.

Technology and Lifes Meaning

Musician magazine gave readers a glimpse of Mobys home studio, itself a jungle of keyboards, mixers, samplers, recording equipment, and other gear. I like working by myself, the artist reflected in the magazine spread. Engineers makemetooself-conscious. Apart from some vocalists who trill fervently on several of the albums tracks, he is wholly responsible for the recording. In his Elektra bio he remarked on the degree of expertise this requires. People tend to be dismissive of dance acts; oh, hes some dumb DJ, anyone can do that, he pointed out. But an electronic musician has to know the system of 40, 50 pieces of equipment where the operating book for each is the size of a phone book. In some ways, its much more difficult than other kinds of music. Such breadth of knowledge, however, has not disrupted Mobys humility and sense of social responsibility. The booklet accompanying Everything Is Wrong is filled with alarming statistics about environmental degradation, quotes from esteemed thinkers about the benefits of vegetarianism, and two short essays penned by Moby. The first explains the ecological despair that motivated the title, while the second lashes out at right-wing Christians, whom he labels intolerant, greedy bigots.

But Mobys views appear to be more than mere soapbox sentiments; in interviews he expresses concern for all living creatures, from mosquitoes and roaches (which he refuses to kill) to music journalists (he asked Rolling Stones Strauss if he had to transcribe his own interview tapes). And though he has insisted on the viability of Christs teachings, he has also chosen to live with the contradictions of being a mere mortal. In a chat hosted by the SonicNet online service, he was asked by one of his many devoted fans to encapsulate the meaning of life. The meaning of life, he replied, is to be loving and open-minded and full of spunk.

Selected discography

Mobility, Instinct, 1990.

Voodoo Child, Instinct, 1991.

Go, Instinct, 1991.

Instinct Dance: A Collection of Dance Music from Instinct Records, Instinct, 1991. Recoil,

Bloodline, Sire, 1992.

Ambient (reissue), 1993.

Move, Elektra, 1993.

Everything Is Wrong, Elektra, 1995.

Also recorded with groups the Vatican Commandos, AWOL, Shopwell, Peanuts, and the Pork Guys; did remixes for Michael Jackson, the B-52s, Brian Eno, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, and others.

Sources

Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1993; June 21, 1995, p. CAL-5; July 1, 1995, p. CAL-10.

Musician, August 1995.

Newsday, May 25, 1995, p. B-9.

Rolling Stone, November 17, 1994, p. 102; March 23, 1995;

May 4, 1995, p. 58; December 28, 1995.

Spin, June 1995, p. 54.

Additional information for this profile was provided by Elektra Records publicity materials dated 1995, the liner notes to Everything Is Wrong, and a SonicNet online chat from December 6, 1995.

Simon Glickman

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Moby

MOBY

Born: Richard Melville Hall; New York, New York, 11 September 1965

Genre: Rock, Electronica

Best-selling album since 1990: Play (1999)

Hit songs since 1990: "Bodyrock," "Southside," "We Are All Made of Stars"


The mainstream success of the iconoclastic vegan, substance-free, and born-again Christian artist Moby is one of the big surprises of the techno-electronica music subculture of the late 1990s. Moby was born Richard Melville Hall. (His middle name refers to his lineage: Moby is a great-great-great-nephew of Herman Melville, author of the great American novel Moby Dick. ) Moby spent a good portion of the 1990s recording techno-electronica albums using synthetic instruments such as keyboards, synthesizers, sampling equipment, and software that helped him loop, double-track, and create unusual textures. After releasing a few albums that fared well in the United Kingdom and on the U.S. dance music charts, he surprised himself and his record label with the album Play (1999), which sold more than 2 million copies in the United States and tens of millions of copies worldwide.

Moby was born and lived in Harlem until the age of two, when his father was killed in a car accident. In 1967 he moved with his mother to an apartment in Darien, Connecticut. He also lived briefly in San Francisco, and returned to Darien to live with his grandparents when he was four years old. Moby's mother is his primary musical influence; she worked as a doctor's aide by day and as a keyboard player in a band by night. By the age of ten Moby was playing guitar, smoking marijuana, and performing in a band. By 1983 he acquired his first four-track recording device. "This is when I realized I could finish songs by myself," he writes on his website, "and that I didn't need to be so reliant on other musicians." Shortly after this realization, Moby fell in love with dance and techno music. He moved to New York City in 1989 and started to DJ at clubs. He shopped around his demo tape to record labels to no avail until Instinct Records signed him in 1990. His dance music fared well and garnered him a small following. Moby became known during the rave craze of the early 1990s, when all-night music and experimentation with drugs at urban clubs became the fashion.


The Making of Moby

By the time Moby released his first album, the wild days were behind him and he became an avowed vegan (abstaining from all animal products, including meat and cheese). He experienced a spiritual awakening. In 1995 he signed with Elektra and released his major-label debut album Everything Is Wrong, which Spin magazine named Album of the Year. This eclectic record, with the twenty-three-minute-long religious-techno tune "Hymn," won critical praise. In 1996 Moby began to suffer from acute panic attacks during the recording of his album Animal Rights. This less danceable album tanked (in terms of sales) and left fans confused. At the same time Moby's mother was diagnosed with fatal lung cancer. In 1997 Moby released an album of musical score compositions cleverly titled I Like to Score.


Pushing Play

Elektra dropped Moby from their roster shortly after the release of I Like to Score. He recorded a follow-up and shopped it around. Play (1999) was released by V2 Records, and the album's success gradually snowballed, thanks to radio play, extensive commercial licensing, and good word of mouth. When Moby began his tour to support the album, he played to a handful of people at a record store; by the end of the tour, he was playing to thousands in arenas. The album utilizes early African-American field recordings made by Alan Lomax, legendary folklorist and pioneer of world music. The lead-off track, "Honey," samples from a song by Bessie Smith, the great blues singer of the 1920s. The track "Run On" features slide guitar and haunting piano with samples from a 1943 classic Gospel tune, "Run On for a Long Time." A current of sadness and suffering runs throughout the album. The universality of such emotions made an impact on millions of listeners.

Moby organized a major tour for summer 2001 and invited a bunch of seemingly disparate artists such as the eclectic singer Nelly Furtado, DJ Paul Oakenfold, the Roots, and Incubus. He continued the tour in the summer of 2002, leading up to the release of 18 later that year. Thanks to the high sales of Play, 18 hit number one on the Billboard electronic charts. It reached number one on the Billboard Canadian chart, and it peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 chart. It went platinum in the United States. Like Play, 18 strikes a sad, bluesy, soulful chord. Yet it is far more contemplative, and mournful. Particularly notable are "Extreme Ways," which Moby sings, and the mellow, synthesizer-rich title track.

Moby's albums are best appreciated when listened to as a whole, which is ironic, because the snippets of songs from Play made their way all over U.S. television ads and movie trailers. Nevertheless, Moby is an original in the field of electronica. His roots are deep, his spirit is adventurous, and his music is emotionally resonant.

Spot Light: Play

From television commercials for Nissan cars and Nordstrom department stores to an Oliver Stone movie, Any Given Sunday (1999), the songs from Moby's album Play helped swell sales of the album to double platinum within two years of its release. The album, with its samples of blues and folk recordings, gained momentum through word of mouth, but it could not break through the rigid, niche-oriented playlists of American radio stations. It was the commercial licensing of every single song from Play, however, and Moby's nonstop two years of touring that really boosted his visibility. Surprisingly, the idea to license his songs came from Moby himself; he and managers Marci Weber and Barry Tyler devised a plan to garner attention for Moby's music, but little did they know the full impact such a maneuver would have. By 2001 it seemed as if Moby was everywhere. To date, Play has gone platinum in about twenty-five countries, shocking and remarkable for an album so eclectic and off the beaten path. The album has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and earned him three Grammy Award nominations.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Everything Is Wrong (Elektra, 1995); I Like to Score (Elektra, 1997); Play (V2, 1999); 18 (V2, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.moby.com.

carrie havranek

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Moby

Moby

Musician, performer, producer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Moby is perhaps the most well-known name in the subculture of music and style known as techno. This fast-paced electronic dance music is mainly heard at nightclubs, parties, and especially raves, generally described as giant, marathon dance parties. While raves are notorious for rampant drug use, Moby is substance-free and Christian, although he admits a weakness for chasing members of the opposite sex. He steers clear of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, and is also a vegan, someone who does not consume any meat or animal products, including dairy or eggs. Despite the contradictions inherent between this lifestyle and that of hedonistic ravers, Moby is arguably the leader of the techno genre, though he did take a detour in 1997 with a heavy metal album, Animal Rights. But in 1999 he went back to his roots with Play, which once again showcased techno, though it was an eclectic melange that reached beyond sheer dance music.

Moby was born Richard Melville Hall on September 11, 1965, in New YorkCity and raised in the suburb of Darien, Connecticut. His singular nickname, which he has had since he was a baby, is based on the novel Moby Dick, written by his great-great-great uncle, Herman Melville. Mobys father, chemistry professor James Melville, died in a car accident after driving drunk when his son was two. His mother, Elizabeth, who became a doctors aide, then worked as a secretary by day and played keyboards in a band at night. Moby lived during the week at the spacious home of his well-to-do grandparents, who belonged to the country club and played golf, but spent weekends with his unconventional mother at her apartment. His grandparents also taught Sunday school, but Mobys childhood was not particularly religious. He told Chris Norris in New York that he was raised sort of Presbyterian.

Discovering music and drugs at a young age, Moby played the guitar in elementary school and was smoking pot and listening to Led Zeppelin at around age ten. His tastes switched to the Clash and Sex Pistols by age 14, and at that stage, he quit using drugs and alcohol and began a straight-edged hardcore punk band, so called because the members were devoted to staying straight, or sober. The Vatican Commandos, as they were called, performed at high-profile Manhattan punk clubs like CBGBs and Great Gildersleeves. However, when he went off to the University of Connecticut, he fell into drinking again, attending parties and playing in bands in addition to studying religion and philosophy. Some of his other musical collaborations included the Pork Guys, Shopwell, and Peanuts.

In college, Moby began spinning records at the campus radio station, most of it New Wave alternative stuff of

For the Record

Born Richard Melville Hall, September 11, 1965, in New York, NY. Education: Attended University of Connecticut.

Club deejay, C late 1980s-early 1990s; began releasing singles on Instinct, 1989; signed with Elektra Records and released EP, Move, 1993; released debut album, Everything Is Wrong, 1995. Also creator of music for film soundtracks. Has done remixes for artists such as Aero-smith, Brian Eno, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden; has produced for Ozzy Osbourne. Toured with Lollapa-looza festival, 1993.

Addresses: Home New York City. Office c/o Elektra Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019; 345 North Maple Dr., Ste. 123, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

early 80sNew Order, Big Country and the Clash, he told Roger Catlin of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He dropped out after just eight months and began hanging out in clubs in New York City, where he learned to love dance music. I just realized how powerful and celebratory dance music was, he recalled to Norris. I love that real anthemic quality. Just big piano breaks, screaming diva vocals, and real high energy. He began working as a DJ for a club in Port Chester, New York, and then moved to venues in New York City, including the club Mars. By 1987, under a variety of stage names like Voodoo Child, Barracuda, and Mindstorm, Moby was spinning for big names like Cher, Run-D.M.C., and Big Daddy Kane and started recording his own club mixes on the Instinct label in 1989.

In the meantime, just about the time Moby left college, he became a born-again Christian. Though he does not belong to any specific church and has been known to sharply criticize religious conservatives, he is open about the fact that he lives his life trying to live by the principles taught by Jesus Christ. He does admit that he has trouble at times, especially when it comes to resisting sex, as well as in his efforts to be humble, unselfish, and nonjudgmental, but says that he puts in a sincere effort. I try to live up to his teachings but fail all the time, he told Lorraine Ali in Rolling Stone. In addition to living according to Christian principles, which includes reciting the Lords Prayer daily, Moby is a vegan, meaning he consumes no animal products, and he does not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or bleach his clothes (citing that bleach harms the water supply).

When Moby remixed the theme song from the popular David Lynch television series Twin Peaks with a thumping beat to create the track Go, he became a major name not only among the ranks of deejays but also on the charts. The song reached the top ten in Britain in 1991, and Moby continued to churn out club singles for Instinct, like subsequent hits Next Is the Eand Thousand. He also compiled a number of singles on Moby, 1992, and experimented with a minimalist sound on Ambient, 1993. Also in 1993, Moby signed a five-record deal with Elektra and released the EP Move, appealing to many fans who were not previously fond of dance music.

Right after the release of Move, Moby toured with the Lollapalooza festival concert headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He fit in with the rollicking tour, because unlike some deejays who somberly stand at the turntables, Mobys stage antics are bombastic. This exposure helped reveal Moby to a much more mainstream audience and made him virtually the only techno deejay at the time known outside the clubs to a widespread audience. The next year, 1994, Neil Strauss wrote in Rolling Stone, A year ago, the name Moby and the word techno were practically synonymous. However, Strauss went on to say that some techno fans began to think of Moby as a traitor, due to his lifestyle, not to mention the fact that he had worked on a remix for pop star Michael Jackson.

In 1995, Moby released his debut album, Everything Is Wrong, deriving the title from his philosophy of the world. I think 500 years from now, people are going to wonder what was going on now, Moby related to Strauss. Theyll see this race of people that smoked cigarettes and drove cars and fought wars and persecuted people for their beliefs and sexual orientation, and none of it accomplished anything. Everything is absolutely 100 percent wrong, and how do we change it is the question. For the albums liner notes, Moby wrote two essays about what he believes is wrong with the world and ticked off 67 statistics concerning topics such as the plight of the rain forests and the destruction of trees to make disposable diapers.

Everything Is Wrongcut across several musical genres, from jazz to classical piano to hard rock to disco grooves, but as Ali noted in Rolling Stone, Amazingly, these transitions arent jerky or abrupt; rather, the music evolves naturally from one style to the next. The album soon became a critical favorite but some techno purists rejected it as a sell-out. He explained that the changecame because he moved in a different direction from the rest of the dance community. Lately Ive been bored to death with techno, he remarked to Ali. It all sounds the same to me. He also noted to Catlin in the Star Tribune, In the rave community, the enthusiasm is more for the drugs and the clothes than for the celebratory aspects of it. It just seems very unhealthy.

Mobys discontent with dance music came to a head with Animal Rights, 1997, in which he gave up his synth sound in favor of a hard rock style. Much of the content revealed his early punk influences and featured his screaming voice and wailing guitar riffs. This effort was not warmly received, but did not slow down his career. In the meantime, Moby was busy working on other artists projects, remixing 1979 for Smashing Pumpkins, Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees) for Aerosmith, Until It Sleeps for Metallica, and Dusty forSoundgarden; he also produced Walk on Water for Ozzy Osbourne. In addressing the fact that his religious beliefs seem to run counter to the kind of company he keeps, Moby explained in a New York interview, Well, if /were Satan, I wou Idnt spend my time with guys who wear black leather and listen to metal. I would spend my time with CEOs!

Subsequently, Moby began getting calls to mix music for film soundtracks. In 1997, he came out with the album / Like to Score, a collection of 12 pieces that he originally created for movies and television (thus the title, a pun on the word score, which refers to making music for such media). It included an energetic re-mix of the James Bond Theme, as well as his early hit Go in addition to First Cool Hive from the horror f lick Screamand a cover of Joy Divisions New Dawn Fades from the film Heat. After this, he began to indicate that he was regaining his enthusiasm for techno. Overall, the scene feels healthier to me, and I certainly like the music more than I did two or three years ago, Moby noted to Michael Mehle in the Rocky Mountain News.

In the summer of 1999, Moby issued Play, an effort that harkened back to his techno roots while displaying an even more fervent eclecticism that intrigued and delighted many critics. In addition to the drum machines and hip-hop beats, much of the structure is developed from old blues and gospel music. Moby sampled, or excerpted, a 1943 version of the gospel classic Run On for a Long Time, featuring slide guitar and a haunting piano. He also used samples from Alan Lomaxs field recordings of African American folk music from the early twentieth century, not to mention the Bessie Jones blues tune Honey.

Play seemed to indicate a shift from Mobys earlier works in that it did not contain any overt references to his thoughts on subjects like the environment, politics, veganism, and the like. He commented to David Proffitt in the Arizona Republic, With Play, I wanted to make a record that was very personal but also that people could bring into their lives and fall in love with. He also remarked to Vickie Gilmer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, The songs I used are human and theres this quality of striving to them. Theyre beautiful songs, and the lyrics are interesting. But its me singing, too. He noted that it was a pet peeve of his that people think his electronic music consists solely of samples.

Moby, who is five feet, eight inches tall and sports a shaved head, lives in Manhattans East Village where he keeps a stash of equipment including keyboards, mixers, samplers, recordingequipment, and more. Keeping with his conviction about not harming living creatures, Moby refuses to even kill cockroaches or mosquitoes, living with a bevy of bugs in his studio.

Selected discography

Mobility,Instinct, 1990.

Go,Instinct, 1991.

Voodoo Child,Instinct, 1991.

(Contributor) Instinct Dance: A Collection of Dance Music from Instinct Records, 1991.

Moby, Instinct, 1992.

The Story So Far, 1993.

Ambient, Instinct, 1993.

Early Underground, Instinct, 1993.

Move (EP), Elektra, 1994.

Everything Is Wrong, Elektra, 1994.

Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993, Instinct, 1996.

Animal Rights, Elektra, 1997.

Like to Score, Elektra, 1997.

Play, Elektra, 1999.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, volume 17, Gale Research, 1996.

Periodicals

Arizona Republic, August 12, 1999, p. 32.

Entertainment Weekly, February 21, 1997, p. 125.

Interview, March 1996, p. 92.

Newsday, May 25, 1995, p. B9.

Newsweek, June 14, 1999, p. 69.

New York, March 27, 1995, p. 48; March 17, 1997, p. 48.

New York Times, July 31, 1999, p. B17.

People, November 1, 1993, p. 82; March 10, 1997, p. 24; August 23, 1999, p. 45.

Rocky Mountain News, November 23, 1997, p. 18D.

Rolling Stone, November 17, 1994, p. 102; March 23, 1995, p. 125; May 4, 1995, p. 58; October 30, 1997, p. 68; June 24, 1999, p. 64.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 6, 1999, p. E2.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), June 4, 1995, p. 3F; August 20, 1999, p. 3E.

Time, August 17, 1992, p. 60.

Online

Moby web page, Elektra Records web site, http://www.elektra.com/ambient_club/moby (October 19, 1999).

Moby,Rolling Stone web site, http://rollingstone.tunes.com (October 24, 1999).

Geri Speace

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