Moby was one of the most controversial figures in techno music, alternately praised for bringing a face to the notoriously anonymous electronic genre, as well as being scorned by hordes of techno artists and fans for diluting and trivializing the form. In either case, Moby was one of the most important dance music figures of the early '90s, helping bring the music to a mainstream audience both in England and in America. Moby fused rapid disco beats with heavy distorted guitars, punk rhythms, and detailed productions that drew equally from pop, dance, and movie soundtracks.
Not only did his music differ from both the cool surface textures of ambient music and the hedonistic world of house music, but so did his lifestyle. Moby was infamous for his devout, radical Christian beliefs, as well as his environmental and vegan activism. "Go" became a British Top Ten hit in 1991, establishing him as one of the premier techno producers.
By the time Moby came to the attention of American record critics with 1995's Everything Is Wrong, his following from the early '90s had begun to erode, particularly in Britain. Nevertheless, Moby remained one of the most recognizable figures within techno; after he abandoned the music for guitar rock with 1996's Animal Rights, he returned to a heavy electronic base with 1997's I Like to Score and 1999's Play, the latter of which made him a genuine breakout pop star. A decade after the release Play, considered one of the best recordings of the 90's and one of the best electronic recordings ever made, during which Moby battled his records company for artistic direction through three albums, Moby scored another triumph with 2009's Wait For Me.
Here is the brilliant bio directly from Moby's website:
moby was born in new york city, but grew up in connecticut, where he started making music when he was 9 years old. moby started out playing classical guitar and studied music theory, and then went on to play with seminal connecticut hardcore punk group the vatican commandoes when he was 14. moby then played with post-punk band awol while studying philosophy at the university of connecticut and suny purchase. moby started dj'ing while attending college, and was a fixture in the late 80's new york house and hip-hop scenes, dj'ing at clubs such as mars, red zone, mk, and the palladium.
moby released his first single, 'go' in 1991(listed as one of rolling stones best records of all time), and has been making albums ever since. moby's records have sold over 20,000,000 copies worldwide, and he's also produced and remixed scores of other artists, including david bowie, metallica, the beastie boys, public enemy, among others.
moby has toured extensively, playing well over 3,000 concerts in his career. he has also had his music used in hundreds of different films, including 'heat', 'any given sunday', 'tomorrow never dies', and 'the beach', among others.
currently moby's touring in support of his most recent album, 'wait for me', as well as working closely with a variety of different charities, including the humane society and the institute for music and neurologic function.
moby was born september 11th, 1965 in harlem, nyc:
1967 – moves to danbury, connecticut where mother, elizabeth, finishes
her university education
1969 – moves to san francisco
1970 – moves to darien, connecticut
1970-1974 – attends royle school in darien, connecticut
1974-1976 – lives in stratford, connecticut where he attends birdseye elementary school
1977 – moves back to darien, connecticut and begins taking guitar lessons
1978 – attends middlesex junior high school, darien, connecticut
1979 – attends mather junior high school, darien, connecticut
1980-1983 – attends darien high school. during this time moby played in a variety
of bands, including the vatican commandoes and awol. releases 'hit squad for god'
ep with vatican commandoes.
1984 – attends university of connecticut in storrs, connecticut, majoring in philosophy.
1985 – drops out of university of connecticut. begins working at johnny's records
in darien, connecticut, and dj'ing at the beat in port chester, new york. releases
eponymous awol ep.
1986 – plays in 2 bands, caeli seoul, and gin train. continues dj'ing at the beat
and begins dj'ing at the cafe in greenwich, connecticut.
1986 – moves to greenwich, connecticut. lives next door to the bush family compound.
1987 – moves to an abandoned factory in stamford, connecticut.
1988 – dj's at the beat, 7 willow street, and the cafe. works on music. tries desperately
to get a record contract in new york city.
1989 – moves to new york city(14th street and 3rd avenue) with roommates damian loeb and stretch armstrong. signs recording contract with instinct records. releases single with jimmy mack entitled 'time's up'.
1990 – releases first single, 'mobility b/w go'
1991 – releases second single, 'go(woodtick mix)'. 3rd single, 'voodoo child', and 4th single 'mindstorm/brainstorm'
1991 – in autumn of 1991 'go' becomes a top 10 record in the uk. moby performs on top of the pops for the first time.
1992 – releases 'uhf'. 'next is the e'. 'thousand'. goes on tour with the shamen in north america. begins contract dispute with instinct records.
1993 – goes on tour with the prodigy and richie hawtin and john acquaviva in north america. later in the year goes on tour with orbital, aphex twin, and vapourspace. leaves instinct records and releases 'move' on mute records. 2nd performance on 'top of the pops' for 'move'.
1994 – spends the entire year working on everything is wrong.
1995 – releases everything is wrong and tours from march until december. headlines the 2nd stage at lollapalooza and tours europe with the red hot chili peppers.
everything is wrong is named spin magazines 'album of the year'.
1996 – releases animal rights and tours europe with soundgarden. animal rights receives very bad reviews and sells terribly. 3rd performance on 'top of the pops' for 'come on baby'. also releases 'voodoo child: the end of everything'.
1997 – releases 'james bond theme' as part of 'tomorrow never dies'. it gets to #8 in the uk charts. also releases i like to score, a collection of music that has appeared in different films.
1998 – ends contract with elektra records. spends entire year working on play and trying to find a record contract in north america.
1999 – signs with v2 records(run by dan beck and richard sanders) and releases play in may of 1999. play sells poorly at first and gets mediocre reviews but eventually goes on to sell over 9,000,000 records worldwide.
'play' tour started in march of 1999 and continued until august of 2001.
2000 – touring. 4th and 5th 'top of the pops' performances for 'natural blues' and 'porcelain'.
2001 – more touring. some tour highlights: the area1 festival with outkast and new order.
last show of the 'play' tour is with u2 at slane castle in ireland.
during this time moby is also working on 18.
2002 – releases 18 in may of 2002. tours from february of 2002 until autumn of 2003.
during this time he also opens [the tea house] 'teany', with ex-girlfriend kelly tisdale. 6th 'top of the pops' performance for 'we are all made of stars'.
2003 – begins work on hotel. also begins work with moveon.org and vigorous campaigning for john kerry.
2004 – continues work on hotel and 'teany'.
2005 – releases hotel in march of 2005. tours from january 2005 until december of 2005.
also releases 'voodoo child, baby monkey'. 7th top of the pops performance for 'lift me up'.
also releases 'teany book'.
2006 – begins work on unnamed next record. composes music for 'southland tales'.
begins preparing for autumn release of go: the very best of moby.
2007-works on music for last night.
2008-releases last night, which receives 4 stars in rolling stone and the sunday times. tours extensively with 'live:remixed', and dj's throughout europe and north america.
2009-releases wait for me on his own 'little idiot' record label. tours extensively in europe and north america.
end of moby.com biography...for now
Moby has been so open about the complexity of his Christian faith, the simplicity of his expression of that faith and his criticism of the institution we call Christianity that many believers struggle with how to relate to his music. The best way to get the facts is to listen to Moby discuss his faith in an interview with Sojourners that was published in January 2007:
"When I was around 19 or 20, I read the New Testament, specifically the gospels, and I was just struck by their divinity--the feeling that humans could not have figured this out on our own. We're just not bright enough," he says. "I also was struck by how utterly difficult so many of the teachings were. I was expecting a pat on the head, like, you know, 'Go be nice to people and be forgiving and friendly.'"
The gospel teachings were so overwhelming he didn't think he could follow them. Then he came across Matthew 11:29: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." "That put it all into focus," Moby said. "It's not just arbitrary, harsh teachings; it's harsh teachings with a purpose and motivated by divine love and compassion."
He says he tried to be "a good conventional Christian" by teaching Bible studies and going to church every week, but he soon became frustrated. "A lot of the religion I was encountering didn't want to talk about how nuanced and complicated the world is." Now, he calls himself a "clueless" Christian. "You know something is true, but how do you live it? Do you become a snake handler? Do you read Kierkegaard? Do you go to Russian Orthodox churches? Do you move to Calcutta and bathe the wounds of the poor? Do you go to strip clubs and minister to strippers?"
They are questions anyone trying to follow Jesus grapples with. Throw in wealth and global celebrity, and it gets a little more complicated. So how does he reconcile his material success with trying to live like Jesus? "It's incredibly uncomfortable. You sell a bunch of records and you make some money, and as a Christian, what do you do? Christ didn't have such nice things to say about the accumulation of wealth and money. I'm relatively comfortable with simple living, but I do a lot of stupid, ostentatious things as well. It's the hardest thing trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong, you know? Is flying business class wrong? I just don't know."
Playing the system's own game is one strategy. When ear companies have asked to license his songs for their advertisements, he agrees, but then donates part of the proceeds from the agreements to environmental groups. "There is sort of a perverse thrill in Robin Hood-style philanthropy," he says. "Take money from a bad corporation and give it to an NGO or a charitable organization that actually works against the corporation who gave you the money." But he's quick to add, "I certainly don't do it enough."
It's an example of how Moby's views have softened over the years, the ways in which he embraces more of life's grays. The title of his first major record, Everything is Wrong, released in 1995, reflected his adherence at that point in his life to hard and fast rules, his rigid veganism being one example. If he were to make a record today, he said, he'd call it "Everything is Complicated." "I don't think that everything is wrong, and a lot of things that are wrong lead to things that are right, you know?"
Like many, Moby's relationship with the church is certainly complicated. He says he found his early experiences of church restrictive and set off on a self-directed learning campaign--which included studying quantum mechanics--to figure out how a life of faith fits with a complex world. Moby doesn't currently belong to a home church or community--"unfortunately," he says--and has mixed feelings about the church as an institution.
"I think there are a lot of faithful people working in churches doing remarkable things, creating genuine community, and ministering to the needs of the poor and really trying to do Christ's work," he said. "It also seems like there are a lot of churches that are missing the mark and have gone astray."
Moby brought electronic music to the mainstream and he brought it with artistry and innovation. Moby has created a beautiful body of work that continues with his latest release Wait For Me.
Listen to Moby Here
|Early Underground||1993||Instinct Records|
|Everything Is Wrong||1995||Elektra/WEA|
|Everything Is Wrong (DJ Mix Album)||1996||Mute|
|The End of Everything||1997||Elektra/WEA|
|I Like to Score||1997||Elektra/WEA|
|Rare: Collected B-Sides||2000||Pinn|
|Play: The B-Sides [Limited]||2000||V2|
|18 B Sides (w/ Bonus DVD)||2003||V2|
|Live: Offenbach 05-25-05||2006||EMI|
|Go: The Very Best of Moby||2006||V2|
|Go: The Very Best of Moby Remixed||2006||EMI|
|Songs 1993-1998||2007||Rhino Records|
|Last Night||2008||Mute Records|
|Last Night Remixed||2008||Mute Records|
|Wait For Me||2009||Mute Records|
|Be The One EP||2011||Little Idiot|