Just press play - Moby
Henry Northmore chats to Moby as the dance behemoth visits Scotland for a number of low-key dates
It’s easy to knock Moby. His ubiquitous 1999 album Play went on to soundtrack nearly every advert in the known universe. In fact every single one of the 18 tracks it contained were licensed to TV, film or advertisements. It became so overheard that its sound lost any of the original impact. Then there’s the veganism, the Christianity and his high profile ‘beef’ with the world’s most popular rap artist (in 2001 at any rate) Eminem. Subsequent album’s 18 (2002) and Hotel (2005) carried on the lush orchestration, ambient dance beats and uplifting vocals. Now he’s back with a new album Last Night. ‘An eclectic dance record that hopefully sounds like a night out in NYC,’ according to Moby.
However if we strip back the adverts, we find an artist who has taken intelligent, reflective and often challenging dance music to the mainstream, experimented with genres and created some of the most enduring dance tracks of recent years.
The Twin Peaks sampling ‘Go’ and ‘Thousand’ - the world’s fastest song according to The Guinness Book of Records and running at 1,000 BPM - helped bring him to the attention of the mainstream. Play was a startling and intriguing record on its release, a slow burner that was originally poorly received with similarly poor sales. Word of mouth soon spread however and it ended up shifting in excess of nine million copies. When Moby headlined T in the Park in 2000 (and played Edinburgh’s Hogmanay the same year) he was at the peak of his live powers. He energetically whipped the crowd into a frenzy playing guitar, keyboards, drums and supplying vocals.
It’s also easy to overlook his punk roots. He began his music career in hardcore act Vatican Commandos and released punk rock album Animal Rights in 1996, a ferocious beast of snarling guitars and ragged riffs. ‘I love making dance tracks,’ he explains, ‘but I also really love playing loud guitar and screaming at the top of my lungs. In the old days it seemed as if people only listened to one style of music. Now it seems as if people are generally a lot more open-minded when it comes to different genres.’
He’s coming to Scotland for some rare DJ sets and an acoustic show in Glasgow on 22 July at Mono. In a typically innovative move, you can vote on where his late night Glasgow DJ set will take place.
‘Very simply Scotland is my favourite place on the planet to DJ or perform,’ says Moby, a sentiment which goes some way to explain the low-key, smaller venues on this tiny UK tour.
But what can we expect from a Moby DJ set? ‘It depends upon where I’m playing. If I’m playing a small bar I’ll play more experimental electronic music, but when I DJ in dance clubs I tend to play big, populist tracks.’ Citing legendary NYC DJs such as Larry Levan, Tony Humphries and Red Alert as influences, it’s a extraordinary opportunity to see one of the main players on the global dance scene playing out the music he loves in an intimate setting.
Moby will be DJing in Glasgow, Tue 22 at Avalanche Records and another venue tbc - vote at www.moby.com/node/8272 - and The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 26 Jul.