GDD™ Exclusive Interview With MOBY at Electric Zoo

This was always one of my fantasy interviews when I started here at Gotta Dance Dirty. Moby… the legend, the visionary, the oft underrated virtuoso who as it happens is one of the friendliest, humblest, easiest to get along with people you’ll ever encounter. Despite that fact, I was incredibly nervous to interview him, so me and my friend Jack Daniel sat down to interview Moby together, and as we sat Benny Benassi had only recently started his set on the main stage, which was just a stones throw away from where we were doing this interview…

Moby: Damn I’m playing this record later… Oh well… What time is it do you know?

GDD: 6:09 P.M.

Moby: Oh well, people are probably on drugs now, they’ll forget by the time I play it.

GDD: See that’s funny I was actually going to ask you a little about that, you’re rocking a Minor Threat t-shirt, how do you feel about the festival environment, the rave scene, it has shifted so much from about the music, to a ton of kids just coming to get fucked up on drugs…

Moby: Yeah, I mean I had to stop drinking and doing drugs a few years ago, but I’ve certainly spent more than my fair share of time being completely fucked up at one of these festivals, so um, I don’t know I think… I remember when I was growing up playing in punk rock bands, playing in new wave bands, some people would go to shows because they liked the clothes, even in the early rave scene like the early nineties people would go because they liked the drugs, they liked the pacifiers, they liked the glowsticks and then over time really get into the music, or vice versa, some really nerdy electronic music people would go for the electronic music, take ecstasy, and suddenly they’re dancing for eight hours, you know the sun is coming up.

I mean talking about the relationship between drugs and electronic music has always been tricky for a variety of reasons, because at times so many people have such polarized opinions about drugs, but I find it really hard to generalize. You know for some people, some people can do drugs without any consequences and other people do drugs once and their life is ruined. It’s impossible for me to generalize. I assume a lot of people are here for the clothes, to be around other people, to take some drugs and dance and have fun. If they have a great time and they’re safe, far be it from me to criticize it.

Continue reading after the jump!

GDD: So it sounds like you, and I don’t want to throw you under the bus here, but there’s a lot of people who look at some EDM fans, and then would say fuck David Guetta, Tiesto, etc., those fans aren’t there for the music, that backlash happens with the more mainstream acts. And you’ve seen this before obviously as electronic music became mainstream [in the 90s], but that it’s just an entrance point… Would you say even if a small percentage of those people end up diving really, really deep into dance music then it’s worth it?

Moby: Cause I’m old, since I’m really old, in the early 80s I was really into straight edge, and punk rock, and more obscure music and my girlfriend at the time was not, but then she decided she really liked the Human League. So she bought a Human League record and then a few years later she’s listening to really experimental music.

No one is born cool, you know everyone has to start somewhere. So if there’s someone here who is really into David Guetta and they happen to wander over and hear Richie Hawtin do like a really experimental set, that’s cool. I think there’s a danger in criticizing people’s tastes because who knows what they’re gonna be into 6 months from now.

And also sometimes, I’ve done some festivals where you walk into the minimal, experimental tent and whoever is DJing just isn’t that interesting, and then you go over to the big mainstream tent, and it’s Carl Cox or whomever, and they’re playing a great set and everyone has their hands in the air so I try not to judge whenever possible.

GDD: Speaking of Carl Cox I remember seeing you in the Carl Cox tent like three years ago in Miami at Ultra and you, during ‘Rave Is King’ climbed the scaffolding like 20 ft and I was like, “this guy is a fucking mad man!” And you said it yourself, you’re a little older, you’re not like 21 anymore, how long do you see yourself doing this, playing mainstage at festivals like this?

Moby: I have no idea, there’s 3 things in my favor. One, I lost my hair a long time ago. I started shaving my head 20 some odd years ago, so if you shave your head no one can ever point to you and say, “he’s losing his hair or he’s going grey.” So that’s one thing. The way that happened is years ago I had an ex-girlfriend who also grew up in the punk rock world and she loved guys with shaved heads. I started shaving my head while we were dating and then we broke up and I tried to let my hair grow back in and during that time my hair had receded. And so as to not look like Phil Collins I’ve been shaving my head ever since.

The other is I’ve been a vegan for such a long time, not that it’s a better or worse way to live, but it definitely inhibits the aging process. And the third, is that, I mean playing live or standing on stage and DJing, I love it so much, there’s always that enthusiasm…

GDD: You feel younger…

Moby: And also it kind of covers up any sense of shame that I would have. Sometimes I’m like, you know what, I’m 45 years old, DJing for people who are less than half my age, this could be embarrassing except I’m having so much fun. I’d rather have fun and be embarrassed then be bored and protect my dignity.

GDD: It’s contagious, nobody wants to sit there and watch a DJ who is just standing up there…

Moby: Yeah! And sometimes, especially if I’m in like an underground club at like five in the morning, and someone is doing like a really experimental, glitchy set then I’m just focusing on the music. But at big events like this…

GDD: It’s about the crowd, you want to feel a part of something, and that’s what the festival is all about.

Moby: Yeah. I’m also just amazed that America finally has a huge dance scene. It kind of happened in the early nineties and then it sort of went away. It seems like four or five years ago, especially on the west coast, with Electric Daisy and some other things… oddly enough, and maybe this might sound strange, one of the things I think really has propelled the dance scene is Burning Man. A lot of my friends who weren’t interested in dance music would go to Burning Man, be on the Playa, take a whole bunch of drugs and suddenly be dancing to house music till eight in the morning and go home and be like, “Wow. I really enjoyed that maybe I should do that again.”

GDD: What do you think about the way that technology has evolved since the last time that dance music became mainstream that will help it stay in the mainstream this time around?

Moby: Part of it is the way that dance records are made. Cause in the 80s and early 90s to make a dance record you had to collect all this equipment. You had to have your 909s, and 808s, and a 303, and your 106 and your mixing desk and your different equipment, and it took a long time to save up enough money to have it and then figure out how it all worked. And now all you need is Ableton or Reason…

GDD: Anyone can just pirate a copy of something…

Moby: Yeah, some people criticize that, but I actually think it’s very egalitarian. Literally anybody with a laptop can make a good sounding and interesting dance record. Also to get a good playable dance track out of a [Roland TR]909 took quite a lot of work. You really had to know what you’re doing in terms of compression and EQ. Now with Ableton and Reason you kind of just turn it on and it already sounds pretty good. The sound quality of the records is kind of amazing and also, the sound systems themselves, every year they get better. The same thing with lights, just the technology keeps getting better and better. I remember doing EDC two years ago, and I’ve been doing this for a very long time, I’ve never heard sound that good and never seen production that good.

GDD: They really do spare no expense on production. I’m sure Pasqualle [Rotella, head of Insomniac Events] would love to hear that…

Moby: The first time I DJ’d in a nightclub was 1984, so after all this time to say that was the best production I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something.

GDD: Definitely. Okay few more questions. Live set, USA, when can we see it?

Moby: I just finished 3.5 months in Europe… truth is, America is actually my smallest market at this point, which is fine…

GDD: Well decent enough if you’re playing mainstage…

Moby: Yeah, it’s a little humbling. I’m only doing 5 live shows in North America: Mexico City, Toronto, Montreal, New York, DC, oh and then playing Moog Fest. The last time I toured live in the States was about 2-3 years ago and I’ll be honest with you we played fairly small venues that didn’t sell very well. So DJing is great, playing festivals is great but I don’t sell that many records in the States anymore…

GDD: The live production, to bring all the equipment everywhere, move it, tour it, is just kind of a hassle for the money it brought…

Moby: Yeah man we ended up losing money on the tour, so you know, I’ll do a few shows, doing some DJing, it’ll be fun. As opposed to a two month American tour where we’re playing to smaller and smaller audiences.

GDD: Okay Moby, thanks so much for taking the time, one last question. You move a lot behind the decks, but when you’re out do you like to dance dirty in the crowd?

Moby: [Laughs] Here’s the thing, when I first started DJing I DJ’d at this really degenerate club called The Beat in New York. It was like this perfect mix… it was near a methadone clinic, a homeless shelter, and an art school, and so it was like the most degenerate bunch of people. A good friend of mine was a tranny and he was the best dancer I’ve ever seen. I remember at one point we were very drunk and I said, “why can’t I dance like you?” and he said “cause you’re white, and you’re straight.” And I just sort of accepted when I dance, I dance the way African-American comedians dance when they’re imitating the way white people dance. I love to dance, but sadly it’s not in my DNA to dance well, so I dance all the time, just poorly…

GDD: [Laughs] Well as a white, straight man I take offense to that!

Moby: Well a lot of straight, white guys are really good dancers, it’s just not in my DNA [laughs].

burn unit.



8 Responses to GDD™ Exclusive Interview With MOBY at Electric Zoo

  1. Joelle says:

    this is so amazing! …i guess we are going to have to buy some plane tickets when the live show dates come out..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Moby is a O.G. and definitely one of the best live acts I have ever seen! He sounds like such a down to earth and humble guy too… great interview.

  3. Laura says:

    good yooobbbb matt black. we’re not worthy.

  4. Loonyland says:

    Nice interview, really sympathic! Saw you in Cologne once Moby in a SUPER small club was funny haha! Have fun!

  5. guest says:

    amazing interview 

  6. Canyouroyalhouse says:

    dude you thought you were cool asking some questions to Moby like you been around the dance scene forever. Then he turns your question right around, proves you wrong and in my opinion makes you look like idiot about the scene.  

  7. jonahberry says:

    hahaha what are you talking about? which question made him look like an idiot?

  8. bdub says:

    its true what he says about drugs and electronic. I I saw him at edc 2007 and could not have cared less. I know. I’m an idiot.

     I did it backwards, drugs brought me to the music and i haven’t looked back since.  it felt cheap until i realized that i love it still and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.  jealous man, great interview. 

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