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Moby on music, Bowie, Gwen Stefani, and Trump

Larry King NowMay 16 '16

Bracingly honest and witty, Moby opens up about his struggles as an alcoholic vegan, his longtime friendship with David Bowie, and his uncensored feelings about Trump’s ascendancy. Plus, the multi-million record-selling musician on why he’s never had another hit like ‘Play.’


*Posted Online on Ora.TV on May 16th 2016:

“I didn’t want to. When I got my book deal, I really wanted to do this sort of ‘as told to’ approach. I would sit down with a real writer a couple times a week, I would drink tea and tell them stories…They would write the book and then I could take the credit for it. Kind of like being a DJ, you know? Taking credit for other people’s work.” — Moby on wanting someone else to write his book, ‘Porcelain,’ just taking credit for it in a DJ sort of fashion.

“My literary agent said, “You know, you’re descended from Herman Melville,’which is how I got my name. He said, ‘Because you’re descended from Herman Melville, you kind of have to write your own book.’ …Apparently, it’s great-great-great-grand uncle. Unless my parents were lying to me.” — Moby on how he is related to Herman Melville and how his literary agent used that against him.

“I’m ashamed to admit this: I don’t really pay that much attention to the world of popular music these days… I’m on my phone, I’ll look at Spotify, and I can either listen to new pop hits or listen to Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits and Led Zeppelin always wins out. I have the best intentions to stay educated as to the world of pop music, but I just can’t muster the enthusiasm for it. Then you have Gershwin and Led Zeppelin and Debussy and old punk rock records over here, and new pop records over here- the pop records just don’t hold up.” — Moby admitting that he doesn’t pay much attention to mainstream pop music these days.

“I was in a bar in San Francisco in 1995 and I just ended one of those unpleasant relationships that was terrible but had a hold on me…And it was New Year’s Day 1995 and I went to the payphone in this bar and called my ex-girlfriend to wish her happy new years and a man picked up the phone. And I hung up the phone and walked to the bar and ordered a drink and had nine or ten more drinks and that began a long run of crazy-alcoholism.” — Moby on what started his alcoholism.

“One of the most disconcertingly smart people I’ve ever met. Because he lived across the street from me in New York - I lived on Mott Street between Houseman and Prince for twenty some odd years and he lived right across the street on Lafayette and Mulberry - so we could actually wave to each other from our roofs. And we would have barbecues together, we would go get coffee together, I would see he and I'm in the local deli on Prince Street and we became very close. But the entire time, whenever we hung out, I was always aware of the fact that he was my favorite musician of all time and for me, he was sort of like a hybrid between a demigod and royalty.” — Moby on David Bowie.

“When the status quo’s been changed for a while, it’s sometimes hard to remember pre-status quo. But Prince was really - like the late ‘70s when Prince first came to popularity- there were almost no African-American musicians transcending the race barrier. There was black music and there was white music and rarely did the twain meet. And he was one of the first African-American artists who sort of crossed over in a very significant way. He wrote R&B songs but he also wrote rock songs and very, very untraditional music. His whole approach to music- it worked on a conventional level but his approach was very non-traditional.” — Moby on Prince and his role in bridging the racial gap within the world of music.

“Some promoters started a festival called ‘Electric Daisy Carnival’ and the first time I played at Electric Daisy was in 2007 or 2008.I thought I was going to an underground small party and I went to the stadium at USC and I walked in and there were 75,000 kids there. There’s 75,000 kids and this production that was like a cross between Cirque du Soleil and the olympics- fireworks and pyro and lights and strobes. And immediately, I understood if you’re an 18 year old kid and you’re given the chance to be with 75,000 other twenty year olds or nineteen year olds and take ecstasy and dance and be exposed to the best sound and the best lights and visuals you’ve ever seen, it’s hard not to get caught up in that.” — Moby on playing EDC for the first time and on the culture of electronic dance music.

“It’s sort of the dirty secret of the world of electronic dance music. I would say it’s very associated with drugs. Like if you’re at a rave and there are 50,000 people there, the number of people who are not on drugs is sort of like almost a statistical anomaly.” — Moby on the association between drugs and electronic dance music.

“I also fully understand that as a 50 year old man in 2016, we live in this environment where: 1) people don’t buy records 2) people don’t listen to records and 3) people certainly don’t the buy the 50th album from a 50 year old musician who hates to tour. So I love making records, I just don’t really expect anyone to listen to them.” — Moby on making music today.

“I love animals and I just don’t want to be involved in anything that contributes to animal suffering. But there’s also the environmental aspect. World Watch just released a report saying that 51% of climate change is attributable to animal agriculture, 90% of rainforest deforestation, and roughly 100% of famine can be attributable to animal agriculture. And what that means is, all the food that’s fed to livestock could be fed to starving people. It takes 300 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.” — Moby on why he is vegan.

“I would make smoothies - with vodka, kale, strawberries, and ginger smoothies -so it’s like the healthiest alcoholic I could be. Unless someone gave me a bag of cocaine that they had found on the street then I would do that.” — Moby on being an alcoholic vegan.

“The overwhelming weight of empirical evidence. Around 2008, I was drinking 15 drinks a night doing whatever drugs were being given to me. I was constantly hungover, panicking, depressed, unable to go on dates, just miserable. And at some point, I started realizing the reason I was so miserable was because I was having 15 drinks a night and doing whatever drugs…That was the last thing I wanted to admit. I never wanted to admit that drinking was hurting me because I loved drinking so much.” — Moby on ending his alcohol addiction.

“I think he is a baffling buffoon. Because, like you, I grew up in New York so Trump’s always been around and I remember he did one good thing: he fixed up Wollman skating rink in Central Park in 1980. Beyond that, I think he’s just a fraud, but kind of— and demographically, I don’t live in the rust belts so I don’t fully understand the appeal he has, but he seems so transparent to me. And you know the author, Philip K. Dick who wrote ‘Minority Report’? I feel like we’re living in a Philip K. Dick book where the potential next president of the United States, his qualification is he hosted a beauty pageant and he put his name on some stakes. That’s how low things have become.” — Moby on Donald Trump.

“Growing up poor means that I’ve experienced that, and then I’ve made money and now I’ve experienced that. And what I’m sure that we both have seen over and over again is there’s no inherent correlation between wealth and happiness.”

“Well I can’t say the best one I ever received because it’s between me and my current girlfriend and it’s a little grown-up. The best PG compliment I’ve ever received was an article was written about me at one point where I was called the Woody Allen of techno.” — Moby on the best compliment he ever received.

“The role of animal agriculture in the demise of our environment.” — Moby on what we all need to start paying attention to.

“Well unfortunately, he just died. It would’ve been Prince. That was one of my lifelong dreams, was to work on very romantic, slow music with Prince. And I thought I would have decades more to work on that but unfortunately, he died.” —Moby on the one artist he most wants to collaborate with.

“I was talking about my weird form of faith which is non-denominational or non-specific to my girlfriend and I just got very choked up at my idea of divinity….So I spent most of my life- I was a philosophy major. I was very interested in theology - but I spent most of my life looking at how other people described the divine - Buddhist, Sufi, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Muslim, what have you. Then at some point a few years ago, I thought to myself, ‘Why not actually see how the divine - whatever it might be - represents itself when we’re not paying attention?’ And this is gonna sound totally absurd but the first thing I thought of was puppies. And I thought, a divine that makes puppies? That tells me something about the divine- that it’s not stoic, that it’s not angry and judgmental, that it’s not stern, and that it doesn’t want people hurting each other. That it makes puppies.” — Moby on the last thing he cried about: thoughts about the divine and puppies

“When you think of New York or Paris or Milan or Sydney, there’s a center and the center is cohesive and beautiful. LA doesn’t have a center, so people come here and they expect to find this center that will in an instant tell them everything about the city. If you’re in New York and you’re at the corner of Central Park South and Seventh Avenue, in an instant you understand New York. If you’re in Paris and you’re by the Tuileries gardens, in an instant you understand Paris. If you’re in Los Angeles and if you’re at the corner of La Cienega and Sunset by the Pink Dot, it tells you nothing about LA, but people assume that it should. And LA’s this land of strip malls and beautiful mid-century architecture and a crumbling but beautiful downtown and two million acres of state park in the Angeles National forest. There’s just so much complicated stuff happening here that it sort of defies I think a generalization. And that’s one of the things I love about it.” — Moby on why he thinks people love to hate LA.

“There was this little video that showed up on Facebook of this very large, obese man from England and he was dancing at a concert and someone videotaped him and put it online and ridiculed him. And he looked so sad as he was being ridiculed that a bunch of people including Monica Lewinsky invited him here to dance and not be ridiculed. And I thought that’s a beautiful thing. I mean, I play for free all the time because I’d rather use what I have sort of on a philanthropic level.” —Moby on DJ’ing the party thrown for the ‘Dancing Man’

“The DJ’ing I usually enjoy. In Las Vegas, it’s kind of soul killing because you’re playing records for entitled— I don’t want to judge people but you’re playing records for let’s say not like the nicest people on the planet.” — Moby on playing Vegas shows.

Moby: ”Of all the politicians you’ve interviewed, who seemed like the most soul-less, like who didn’t have a soul? When you looked them in the eye you just realized there’s no one there.
Larry King: ”Nixon.”
“Yeah. Probably Nixon. But I strangely liked him.”
“Yeah, I mean sociopaths are charismatic.”  — Moby asks Larry a question.