Richard Melville Hall (born September 11, 1965), also known as Moby, is an American musician, songwriter, singer, producer, and animal rights activist. He has sold 20 million records worldwide. AllMusic considers him to be "among the most important dance music figures of the early 1990s, helping bring dance music to a mainstream audience both in the United Kingdom and the United States".
After taking up guitar and piano at age nine, he played in several underground punk rock bands through the 1980s before turning to electronic dance music. In 1989, he moved to New York City and became a prolific figure as a DJ, producer and remixer. His 1991 single "Go" was his mainstream breakthrough, reaching No. 10 in the United Kingdom. Between 1992 and 1997 he scored eight top 10 hits on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart including "Move (You Make Me Feel So Good)", "Feeling So Real", and "James Bond Theme (Moby Re-Version)". Throughout the decade he also produced music under various pseudonyms, released the critically acclaimed Everything Is Wrong (1995), and composed music for films. His punk-oriented album Animal Rights (1996) alienated much of his fan base.
Moby found commercial and critical success with his fifth album Play (1999) which, after receiving little recognition, became an unexpected global hit in 2000 after each track was licensed to films, television shows, and commercials. It remains his highest selling album with 12 million copies sold. Its seventh single, "South Side", featuring Gwen Stefani, remains his only one to appear on the US Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 14. Moby followed Play with albums of varied styles including electronic, dance, rock, and downtempo music, starting with 18 (2002), Hotel (2005), and Last Night (2008). His later albums saw him explore ambient music, including the almost four-hour release Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep. (2016). Moby has not toured since 2014 but continues to record and release albums; his most recent is Live Ambients – Improvised Recordings Vol. 1 (2020).
In addition to his music career, Moby is known for his veganism and support for animal welfare and humanitarian aid. He was the owner of Little Pine, a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, and organized the vegan music and food festival Circle V. He is the author of four books, including a collection of his photography and two memoirs: Porcelain: A Memoir (2016) and Then It Fell Apart (2019).
Richard Melville Hall was born September 11, 1965, in the neighborhood of Harlem in Manhattan, New York City. He is the only child of Elizabeth McBride (née Warner), a medical secretary, and James Frederick Hall, a chemistry professor, who died in a car crash while drunk when Moby was two. His father gave him the nickname Moby three days after his birth as his parents considered the name Richard too large for a newborn baby. The name was also a reference to the family's ancestry; Hall says he is the great-great-great nephew of Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick.
Moby was raised by his mother, first in San Francisco from 1969 for a short period. He recalled being sexually abused by a staff member at his daycare during this time. This was followed by a move to Darien, Connecticut, living in a squat with "three or four other drug-addicted hippies, with bands playing in the basement." The two then moved to Stratford, Connecticut for a brief time. His mother struggled to support her son, often relying on food stamps and government welfare. They occasionally stayed with Moby's grandparents in Darien, but the affluence of the New York City suburb made him feel poor and ashamed. Shortly before his mother's death, Moby learned from her that he has a half brother. His first job was a caddy at a golf course.
Moby took up music at the age of nine. He started on classical guitar and received piano lessons from his mother before studying jazz, music theory, and percussion. In 1983, he became the guitarist in a hardcore punk band, the Vatican Commandos, playing on their debut EP Hit Squad for God. Around this time he was the lead vocalist for Flipper for two days; Moby played bass for their reunion shows in the 2000s. Moby formed a post punk group named AWOL around the time of his eighteenth birthday. He is credited on their only release, a self-titled EP, as Moby Hall.
In 1983, Moby graduated from Darien High School and started a philosophy degree at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. Around this time he had found the instruments he had learned "sonically limiting" and moved to electronic music. He spun records at the campus radio station WHUS which led to DJ work in local clubs and bars. Moby grew increasingly unhappy at university, however, and transferred to State University of New York at Purchase, studying philosophy and photography, to try and renew his interest in studying. He dropped out in April 1984 to pursue DJing and music full-time, which started his interest in electronic dance music. For two years he lived in Greenwich, Connecticut where he DJ'd at The Cafe, an under-21 nightclub at the back of a church. In 1987, he started to send demos of his music to record labels in New York City; he failed to receive an offer which led to a two-year period of "very fruitless labor". Around 1988, Moby moved into a semi-abandoned factory in Stamford, Connecticut that had no bathroom or running water, but the free electricity supply allowed him to work on his music, using a 4-track recorder, synthesizer, and drum machine.
1989–1993: Signing with Instinct, "Go", and breakthrough
In 1989, Moby relocated to New York City with his close friend, artist Damian Loeb. In addition to performing DJ sets in local bars and clubs, he played guitar in alternative rock group Ultra Vivid Scene and appeared in the video for their 1989 single "Mercy Seat". In 1990, Moby joined Shopwell and played on their album Peanuts. Moby's first live electronic music gig followed in the summer of 1990 at Club MK; he wore a suit for the show. His future manager Eric Härle, who was in attendance, recalled Moby's set: "The music was amazing, but the show was riddled with technical mishaps. It left me very intrigued and impressed in a strange way."
By mid-1990, Moby had signed a deal as the sole artist of Instinct Records, an independent New York City-based dance label then still in its infancy. The three-man operation saw Moby answer incoming calls and make records in a studio he set up in the owner's lounge. To appear that Instinct had more artists, Moby's early singles were put out under several names such as Voodoo Child, Barracuda, Brainstorm, and UHF. The first, "Time's Up" as The Brotherhood, was co-written by Moby and vocalist Jimmy Mack. This was followed by "Mobility", his first single released as Moby, in November 1990 which sold an initial 2,000 copies. He then scored a breakthrough hit with a remix of "Go", originally a B-side to "Mobility" with an added sample of "Laura Palmer's Theme" by Angelo Badalamenti from the television series Twin Peaks. Released in March 1991, it peaked at No. 10 in the UK in October and earned him national exposure there with an appearance on Top of the Pops. Instinct capitalised on Moby's success with the late 1991 compilation Instinct Dance featuring tracks by Moby and his pseudonyms. The following year, Moby revealed that "Go" had earned him just $2,000 in royalties.
The success of "Go" led to increased demand for Moby to produce more music and to remix other artists' songs. He often arranged for the artist and himself to trade remixes as opposed to being paid for his work, which was the case for his mixes for Billy Corgan and Soundgarden. The increased mainstream exposure led Moby to request a release from his contract with Instinct for a bigger label. Instinct refused, so Moby retaliated by holding out on new material. However, Instinct continued to put out records, mostly from demos, without his consent having previously copied many of his tapes and had the master rights. This was the case for Moby's debut album, Moby, released in July 1992 and formed mostly of previously unreleased demos that Moby considered old and unrepresentative of the musical direction he had taken since. Nonetheless, he claimed Instinct had insisted and had the legal right to put it out. It was re-titled The Story So Far and presented with a different track listing for its UK release. Four singles were released: "Go", "Drop a Beat", "Next Is the E", and a double A-side of "I Feel It" with "Thousand". The latter was recognised by Guinness World Records as the fastest tempo in a recorded song at 1,015 beats-per-minute.
In 1992, Moby completed his first US tour as the opening act for The Shamen. In mid-1992, Moby estimated that he had earned between $8,000 to $11,000 a year for the past six years. At the 1992 Mixmag awards, he smashed his keyboard after his set. After his second nationwide tour, this time with The Prodigy and Richie Hawtin, in early 1993, a second compilation of Moby's work for Instinct followed named Early Underground. His second and final album on Instinct, Ambient, was released in August 1993. It is a collection of mostly ambient techno instrumentals of a more experimental style. By this time Instinct had agreed to release Moby who then took legal action, claiming that the label demanded "a ridiculous amount of money" that he did not have to leave. He also expressed disagreements over the way Instinct had packaged and handled his music. Moby was eventually released after he paid the label $10,000.
1993–1998: Signing with Elektra, Everything Is Wrong, and Animal Rights
In 1993, Moby signed with Elektra Records which lasted for five years. He secured a deal with Mute Records, a British label, to handle his European distribution. Moby's output for Elektra/Mute began with Move, a four-track EP released in August 1993. He attempted to make it in a professional studio, but he disliked the results and re-recorded it at home. The song "All That I Need Is to Be Loved (MV)" is his first song to feature his own vocals. The first single, "Move (You Make Me Feel So Good)", reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and No. 21 in the UK. In 1993, Moby toured as the headlining act with Orbital and Aphex Twin. A rift developed between Aphex Twin and himself, partly due to Moby's refusal to tolerate their cigarette smoke, so he travelled to each gig by plane, leaving the rest on the tour bus. In 1994, Moby put out Demons/Horses, an electronic album of two 20-minute tracks under the name Voodoo Child.
Moby's contract with Elektra allowed the opportunity to make his third full-length album, which was underway in 1994. He chose to include a variety of musical styles on the album that he either liked or had been influenced by, including electronic dance, ambient, rock, and industrial music. Everything Is Wrong was released in March 1995 to critical praise; Spin magazine named it Album of the Year and some commentators considered it to be an album ahead of its time as it failed to crack the Billboard 200 or have an impact on the dance charts. In the UK, the album reached No. 25 and the singles "Hymn" and "Feeling So Real" went to Nos. 31 and 30, respectively. Elektra took advantage of its diverse sound by distributing tracks of the same style to corresponding radio stations nationwide. Early copies put out in the UK and Germany included a bonus CD of ambient music entitled Underwater. Moby toured the album with some headline spots on the second stage at the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. He followed it with a double remix album, Everything Is Wrong—Mixed and Remixed.
The success of Everything Is Wrong had Moby reach a new peak in critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times thought the 29-year-old Moby was "poised for greatness [...] to make that big crossover" from a respected underground artist to a mainstream dance and rock musician. Billboard declared him "King of techno" and Spin named him "the closest techno comes to a complete artist." In 1995, Moby was approached by Courtney Love to produce the next Hole album, but he declined. He directed the music video for "Young Man's Stride" by Mercury Rev. In 1995 and 1996, Moby put out a number of "self-indulgent dance" singles under the pseudonyms Lopez and DJ Cake on Trophy Records, his own Mute imprint, so he could release material that he was interested in without concern for its commercial impact. In 1996, Moby contributed "Republican Party" to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization and released his second Voodoo Child album, The End of Everything.
While touring Everything Is Wrong, Moby had grown bored with the electronic scene and felt the press had failed to understand his records and take them seriously. This marked a major stylistic change for his next album, Animal Rights, combining guitar-driven rock songs with Moby on lead vocals and softer ambient tracks. Upon completing the album Moby said that it was "weird, long, self-indulgent and difficult". Its lead single is a cover version of "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" by post-punk group Mission of Burma. Animal Rights was released in September 1996 in the UK, where it peaked at No. 38, and in February 1997 in the US. It was poorly received by his dance fan base who felt Moby had abandoned them, creating doubts as to what kind of artist Moby really was. Moby pointed out that he had not abandoned his electronic music completely and had worked on dance and house mixes and film scores while making Animal Rights.
After Animal Rights, Moby's manager recalled: "We found ourselves struggling for even the slightest bit of recognition. He became a has-been in the eyes of a lot of people in the industry". Despite the hit in sales and critical response, Moby promoted the album with a European tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden, and headlined the Big Top tour with other dance and electronic DJs. He returned to the genre after liking the house music that a friend and DJ had played at a party. In October 1997, Moby displayed his range of music styles with the release of I Like to Score, a compilation of his film soundtrack work with some re-recorded tracks. Among them are updated version of the "James Bond Theme" used for Tomorrow Never Dies, music used in Scream, and a cover of "New Dawn Fades" by Joy Division, an instrumental version of which appeared in Heat. Late 1997 saw Moby start his first US tour in two years.
In 1998, Elektra granted Moby's request to be released from his deal on the condition that he paid to leave, which amounted to "quite a lot". He felt Elektra did little to capitalise on the critical success of Everything Is Wrong, and that it was only interested in radio friendly hits. Left without an American distributor, his only deal remained with the UK-based Mute Records. Moby considered himself an artist that did not belong to a major label as his music did not fit with the genres that they promoted.
1999–2004: Play, worldwide success, and 18
Moby's fifth album, Play, was released by Mute and V2 Records, founded by Richard Branson three years prior, in May 1999. The project originated when a music journalist introduced Moby to the field recordings of Alan Lomax from the compilation album Sounds of the South: A Musical Journey From the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta. Moby took an interest in the songs and formed samples from various tracks which he used to base new tracks of his own. Upon release in May 1999, Play had moderate sales but eventually sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Moby toured worldwide in support of the album which lasted 22 months. Every track on Play was licensed to various films, advertisements, and television shows, as well as independent films and non-profit groups. The move was criticised and led to some to consider that Moby had become a sellout, but he later maintained that the licenses were granted mostly to independent films and non-profit projects, and agreed to them due to the difficulty of getting his music heard on the radio and television in the past. In 2007, The Washington Post published an article about a mathematical equation dubbed the "Moby quotient" that determined to what degree had a musical artist sold out. It was named in reference to his decision to license music from Play.
In 2000, Moby contributed "Flower" to Gone in 60 Seconds. He co-wrote "Is It Any Wonder" with Sophie Ellis-Bextor for her debut solo album, Read My Lips. Moby: Play - The DVD, released in 2001, features the music videos produced for the album, live performances, and other bonus features. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. In 2001, Moby founded the Area:One Festival which toured the US and Canada across 17 shows that summer with a range of artists. The set included Outkast, New Order, Incubus, Nelly Furtado, and Paul Oakenfold, with Moby headlining.
Moby started on the follow-up to Play in late 2000. Prior to working on tracks for 18, he got friends to search for records with vocals that he could use and make samples from and went on to write over 140 songs for the album. At the same time, Moby familiarised himself with the ProTools software and made 18 with it. Released in May 2002, 18 went to No. 1 in the UK and eleven other countries, and No. 4 in the US. It went on to sell over four million copies worldwide. Moby toured extensively for both Play and 18, playing over 500 shows in the next four years. The tour included the Area2 Festival in the summer of 2002, featuring a line-up of Moby, David Bowie, Blue Man Group, Busta Rhymes, and Carl Cox. In December 2002, during a tour stop at Paradise Rock Club in Boston, Moby was punched in the face and sprayed with mace by two or three assailants while signing autographs outside the venue. The incident left him with multiple bruises and cuts.
In February 2002, Moby performed at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. That month he hosted the half-hour MTV series Señor Moby's House of Music, presenting a selection of electronic and dance music videos. His song "Extreme Ways" was used in all five of the Bourne films, from 2002 to 2012. Moby said that after it was used for the first, the producers originally sought a different artist for the second but they had too little time to secure someone, leading them to pick "Extreme Ways" for the entire series. In 2002, rapper Eminem mocked Moby in his song "Without Me" and its music video, dressing up like him and calling him an "old baldheaded fag" and his techno music outdated. Eminem had also shot a mock figure of Moby on stage. Moby put the attack down to Eminem having "this unrequited crush on me."
In 2003, Moby headlined the Glastonbury Festival on the final day. He co-wrote and produced "Early Mornin'" for Britney Spears' album In the Zone released that year. Moby returned to his dance and rave roots with the release of Baby Monkey, the third album under his Voodoo Child moniker, in 2004. Later that year, he collaborated with Public Enemy on "Make Love Fuck War", a protest song against the Iraq War.
2004–2010: Hotel, Last Night, and Wait for Me
Moby's seventh album, Hotel, was released in March 2005. The album contains little use of samples, which Moby reasoned to using different audio recording software which had a sampling function that was too difficult to learn, "so it was me just being lazy". He nonetheless said that Hotel is a more satisfying album as a result. The instruments were recorded live by Moby except for the drums, for which he enlisted his longtime live drummer Scott Frassetto. The album features vocals from six other performers, including Laura Dawn and Shayna Steele. In 2013, Moby looked back on the album as his least favourite of his career, pointing out that it was the only one not recorded at his home studio. The singles "Lift Me Up" and "Slipping Away" became top-10 hits across Europe. Early copies of the album included a bonus CD of remixes and ambient music entitled Hotel: Ambient that was released on its own in 2014.
In 2006, he accepted an offer to score the soundtrack for Richard Kelly's 2007 movie Southland Tales, because he was a fan of Kelly's previous film, Donnie Darko. In 2007, Moby also started a rock band, The Little Death with his friends Laura Dawn, Daron Murphy, and Aaron A. Brooks. Following the dissolution of V2 Records in 2007, Moby signed a new deal with Mute Records to handle his American distribution. In 2007 Moby produced and performed on a remake of "The Bulrushes" by The Bongos that appeared on the special anniversary edition of the group's debut album Drums Along the Hudson, on Cooking Vinyl Records. From 2007 to 2008 he ran a series of New York club events titled "Degenerates".
In 2008, Moby released Last Night, an electronic dance album inspired by a night out in his New York City neighborhood. The album was recorded in Moby's home studio and features various guest vocalists, including Wendy Starland, MC Grandmaster Caz, Sylvia of Kudu, MC Aynzli, and the Nigerian 419 Squad. The singles from Last Night include "Alice" and "Disco Lies".
Moby wished for the follow-up to Last Night to be emotional, personal, and melodic. He felt creatively inspired by a David Lynch speech at the BAFTA Award ceremony in the UK which prompted him to write new material that he liked with little regard to its mainstream commercial success. He decided against recording in a professional studio as he wanted to record the entire album at home, and chose to have the album mixed using analogue equipment. Wait for Me was released on June 30, 2009. Moby and Lynch discussed the recording process of Wait for Me on Lynch's online channel, David Lynch Foundation Television Beta. The video to the first single, "Shot in the Back of the Head", offered as a free download, was directed by Lynch.
Moby held a user-generated content competition to have fans create a video for "Wait for Me", the last single from the album, which was to be used as the official video. The winning entry was written and directed by Nimrod Shapira of Israel, and portrays the story of a girl who decides to invite Moby into her life. She attempts to do so by using a book called How to Summon Moby, A Guide for Dummies, putting herself through bizarre and comical steps, each is a tribute to a different Moby video. The single was released in May 2010.
The Wait for Me tour featured a full band. Moby raised over $75,000 from three shows in California to help those affected by domestic violence after funding for the state's domestic violence program had been cut. The tour also saw Moby headline the Falls Festival in Australia and various Sunset Sounds festivals. An ambient version Wait for Me was released in late 2009 as Wait for Me: Ambient, which Moby did not produce.
In 2010, Moby enlisted vocalist Phil Costello as a songwriting partner for a new heavy metal band, Diamondsnake. After writing 13 songs, they recruited guitarist Dave Hill and a drummer named Tomato to complete the line-up. They recorded their self-titled debut album in one day and released it for free on their website. It was promoted with a series of gigs in New York City and Los Angeles. Moby contributed four songs to the soundtrack of The Next Three Days, including the single "Mistake".
2010–2015: Destroyed and Innocents
In January 2010, Moby announced that he had started work on a new album. He later summarised its style as: "Broken down melodic electronic music for empty cities at 2 a.m." The album was promoted with an EP containing three tracks from the album, given free to those who had signed up to Moby's mailing list, entitled Be the One, in February 2011. The album, Destroyed, was released in May 2011. A same-titled book of Moby's photography was released around the time of the album. Moby took to an online poll to decide the next single from Destroyed; the fans picked "Lie Down in Darkness". This was followed by "After" and "The Right Thing", both influenced as to what fans had picked. A limited edition remixed version of Destroyed was released in 2012 as Destroyed Remixed and includes new remixes by David Lynch, Holy Ghost! and System Divine, and a new 30-minute ambient track named "All Sides Gone".
Moby toured worldwide throughout 2013, completing acoustic and DJ sets at various concerts and festivals. His DJ set at Coachella was produced in collaboration with NASA with various images from space projected onto screens during the performance. On Record Store Day in 2013, Moby released a 7-inch record, The Lonely Night, featuring Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan. The track was subsequently released as a download with remixes by Moby, Photek, Gregor Tresher, and Freescha.
In October 2013, Moby released Innocents. He had worked on the album for the previous 18 months and hired Spike Stent to produce it. Moby used several guest vocalists on the album, and picked Neil Young and "Broken English" by Marianne Faithfull as the biggest influences to the musical style on the album. As with Destroyed, the photography used for the artwork were all shot by Moby. The first single from the album was "A Case for Shame", followed by "The Perfect Life", which featured Wayne Coyne. A casting call for its video asked "for obese Speedo-sporting bikers, nude rollerskating ghosts, and an S&M gimp proficient in rhythmic gymnastics". Moby promoted the album with three shows at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, following his decision to undergo little touring from 2014. He wrote: "Pretty much all I want to do in life is stay home and make music. So, thus: a 3 date world tour."
Six of Moby's songs are feature in Charlie Countryman (2013). His music set the tone to Cathedrals of Culture (2014), a 3D documentary film about the soul of buildings, directed by Wim Wenders. In December 2014, Moby performed three shows of ambient music at the Masonic Lodge in Hollywood Forever Cemetery to support the release of Hotel: Ambient. The performances were accompanied by visuals created by himself and with David Lynch.
2016–present: These Systems Are Failing and recent albums
After Innocents, Moby proceeded to make a new wave dance album with a choir, but realised the difficulty in recording a full choir in his home studio and resorted to multi-tracking vocals performed by himself and guests. He then decided against the new wave album and opted for one made by himself and seven guest vocalists he named the Void Pacific Choir. These Systems Are Failing was announced in September 2016 and coincided with the first single release, "Are You Lost In The World Like Me?". Its video, by animator Steve Cutts, addresses smartphone addiction which won a Webby Award. These Systems Are Failing was released on October 14, 2016. Moby's sole live performance of 2016 was at Circle V, a vegan food and music festival that he founded that took place on October 23 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. A second album with the Void Pacific Choir name followed in June 2017, entitled More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse, influenced by the results of the 2016 United States presidential election. Released for free online, it was marketed from a spoof website using elected President Donald Trump's alleged PR alter-ego, John Miller.
Moby announced his fifteenth studio album, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, in December 2017. The announcement coincided with the release of the first single, "Like a Motherless Child". In contrast to the politically inspired and punk nature of the two Void Pacific Choir records, the album explores themes of spirituality, individuality, and humanity. The album was released on March 2, 2018. The second single, "Mere Anarchy", was described by Moby as "post apocalypse, people are gone, and my friend Julie and I are time traveling aliens visiting the empty Earth." "This Wild Darkness" was the third single, released in February 2018. Moby described the song as "an existential dialog between me and the gospel choir: me talking about my confusion, the choir answering with longing and hope." Moby promoted the album with three live shows in March 2018 with a full band, one at The Echo in Los Angeles and two at Rough Trade in New York City. All profits from the album and gigs were donated to animal rights organizations.
In 2018, Moby was a guest performer on "A$AP Forever" by American rapper A$AP Rocky which samples "Porcelain". This resulted in Moby's second ever appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, having previously charted for "Southside", 17 years prior. Moby contributed several songs to the comedy Half Magic (2018) directed by Heather Graham.
In March 2019, Moby released a follow-up to his first long ambient album, Long Ambients 2.
In January 2020, Moby announced that his new studio album All Visible Objects will be released on May 15. The first single, "Power is Taken" featuring D. H. Peligro, was released on the same day as the announcement. All profits from the album will be given to charity.
In December 2020, Moby announced his new ambient music album, Live Ambients – Improvised Recordings Vol. 1. The album features tracks recorded under three conditions that he set himself: improvise with nothing written beforehand, no editing of the pieces after recording, and that every part of the process was to be "calming". The album will be released on December 24 on various digital streaming platforms, followed by videos of Moby performing each track on December 30 on his YouTube channel.
Moby has collaborated live with many of his heroes while on tour or at fundraisers. He has performed "Walk on the Wild Side" with Lou Reed, "Me and Bobby McGee" with Kris Kristofferson, "Heroes" and "Cactus" with David Bowie, "Helpless" with Bono and Michael Stipe, "New Dawn Fades" with New Order, "Make Love, Fuck War" with Public Enemy, "Whole Lotta Love" with Slash, and "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" with Mission of Burma.
He has performed two duets with the French singer Mylène Farmer ("Slipping Away (Crier la vie)" in 2006 and "Looking for My Name" in 2008) and produced seven songs on her eighth album, Bleu Noir, released on December 6, 2010.
In 2006, Moby released a Spanish version of his song "Slipping Away" called "Escapar", in which the Spanish group Amaral took part.
On September 24, 2016, Moby announced the release of an album titled These Systems Are Failing, released under the name Moby & Void Pacific Choir. The followed the release of two singles from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir in 2015, "Almost Loved" & "The Light Is Clear In My Eyes".
Starz aired a special episode of Blunt Talk, the Patrick Stewart comedy which involved Moby. He had been friends with Jonathan Ames for a long time, and "when we both lived in NY we did a lot of really strange, cabaret, vaudeville type shows together, and we just sort of stayed friends over the years. I guess when he and the other writers were writing Blunt Talk one of them thought it would be funny to include me as Patrick Stewart’s character's ex-wife’s current boyfriend."
Moby was one of the first musicians to have an episode on Netflix's new music documentary series titled Once In a Lifetime Sessions; where he records, discusses, and performs his music.
Starting in around 2001, Moby launched a series of co-owned business ventures, with the two most prominent being the Little Idiot Collective—a New York City, U.S. bricks-and-mortar clothing store, comics store, and animation studio that sold the work of an "illustrators collective". In May 2002, Moby launched a small raw and vegan restaurant and tea shop called TeaNY in New York City with his then girlfriend Kelly Tisdale. In 2006, Moby said he had removed himself from any previous business projects.
In November 2015, Moby opened the Vegan restaurant Little Pine in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The restaurant serves organic, vegan, Mediterranean-inspired dishes and has a retail section with art and books, curated by Moby himself. All profits are donated to animal welfare organizations; in May 2016, Moby estimated the year's donations at $250,000. In December 2019, Moby launched the Little Pine lifestyle range of products and merchandise, with all profits donated to six charities.
On August 23, 2016, Moby announced the inaugural Circle V Festival along with the official video for 'Don't Leave Me' by Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. The event took place at LA's Fonda Theatre and featured Blaqk Audio & Cold Cave on the bill amongst others in the evening and talks and vegan food stalls in the afternoon. Moby described Circle V as "the coming together of my life’s work, animal rights and music. I couldn’t be more excited about this event and am so proud to be head-lining."
The second Circle V event took place on November 18 this time at The Regent Theatre in Los Angeles. Moby headlined the event for the second year with artists Waka Flocka Flame, Dreamcar and Raury featuring on the bill.
Moby has posted updates on his blog via his official website since September 2000.
Moby lived in New York City for 21 years. From 1996 to 2010, he lived in a studio apartment on Mott Street where he also recorded his albums. He then relocated to the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, spending almost $4 million to purchase a castle known as Wolf's Lair (built in 1927 by developer L. Milton Wolf), spending an additional $3.5 million to restore it. He also owns an apartment in Little Italy, Manhattan. In 2014, Moby sold the castle and downsized to a smaller home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
In June 2013, Moby and numerous other celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning. In January 2018, he stated that he was approached by friends in the CIA and told to post and spread content on the Trump–Russian collusion allegations through social media.
Moby identifies himself as heterosexual and cisgender and had felt "disappointed" to be straight, he claimed in a book to have had a brief relationship with actress Natalie Portman, though she has denied this and pointed out that her age in the book is incorrect (in reality, she was just 18 at the time). He does date, but has stated that he feels more comfortable alone than in a relationship. In 2016, he was in an eight-month relationship, his first in ten years. He has no children.
Veganism and animal rights
In 1984, Moby was inspired to become a vegetarian by a cat named Tucker that he had found at a dump in Darien, Connecticut. "My mom and I, with the help of George the dachshund, took care of Tucker and he grew up to be the happiest, healthiest cat I'd ever known". In November 1987, while playing with Tucker, "I decided that just as I would never do anything to harm Tucker, or any of our rescued animals, I also would never do anything to harm any animal, anywhere", and became a vegan. He is a strong supporter of animal rights, and described it as his "day job" other than musical projects.
In 2019, Moby had "Vegan for life" tattooed on his neck by his friend, tattoo artist Kat Von D. That November, he had "Animal rights" tattooed on his arms to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of being a vegan. He also had "VX" tattooed next to his right eye, the "V" standing for vegan and the "X" for straight edge, referencing his sobriety.
From 1987 to 1995, Moby described his life as a "very clean" one and abstained from drugs, alcohol, and "for the most part", sex. After taking LSD once at nineteen, he started to suffer from panic attacks which he continued to experience but learned to deal with them more effectively. Shortly after his mother died from lung cancer in 1997, Moby recalled that he had "an epiphany" and experimented with alcohol, drugs, and sex which continued for four years after the commercial success of Play. He became a self-confessed "old-timey alcoholic". During his 18 tour in 2002 he found himself being argumentative and alienating close friends. At the end of the year he wished to make amends and live a healthier lifestyle and promised a girlfriend that he would quit alcohol for one month; he lasted two weeks. Moby continued to drink to excess and would ask audiences at concerts to give him drugs. Matters culminated shortly after he turned 43 when he attempted suicide; he had his last drink on October 18, 2008 and has since attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In 2016, he said of his sobriety: "Since I stopped and reoriented myself towards things that have meaning, everything has gotten a million times better".
Spirituality and faith
Moby has adopted different faiths throughout his life. He identified himself as an atheist when he was growing up, followed by agnostic, then "a good eight or ten years of being quite a serious Christian", during which time he taught Bible studies. Around 1985, he read the teachings of Christ, including the New Testament and the Gospels and "was instantly struck by the idea that Christ was somehow divine. When I say I love Christ and love the teachings of Christ, I mean that in the most simple and naïve and subjective way. I'm not saying I'm right, and I certainly wouldn't criticize anyone else's beliefs." In the liner notes of Animal Rights (1996), Moby wrote: "I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a Christian in the conventional sense of the word, where I go to church or believe in cultural Christianity, but I really do love Christ and recognize him in whatever capacity as I can understand it as God. One of my problems with the church and conventional Christianity is it seems like their focus doesn't have much to do with the teachings of Christ, but rather with their own social agenda". In 2014, Moby pointed out that if he needed to label himself, it would be as a "Taoist–Christian–agnostic quantum mechanic." In 2019, Moby said that he is not a Christian, "but my life is geared towards God [...] I have no idea who or what God might be."
Moby is an advocate for a variety of causes, working with MoveOn.org, The Humane Society and Farm Sanctuary, among others. He created MoveOn Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds contest along with singer and MoveOn Cultural Director Laura Dawn and MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser. The music video for the song "Disco Lies" from Last Night has heavy anti-meat industrial themes. He also actively engages in nonpartisan activism and serves on the Board of Directors of Amend.org, a nonprofit organization that implements injury prevention programs in Africa.
Moby is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing scientific inquiry on music and the brain and to developing clinical treatments to benefit people of all ages. He has also performed on various benefit concerts to help increase awareness for music therapy and raise funds for the institute. In 2004, he was honored with the IMNF's Music Has Power Award for his advocacy of music therapy and for his dedication and support to its recording studio program.
In 2007, Moby launched MobyGratis.com, a website of unlicensed music for filmmakers and film students for use in an independent, non-commercial, or non-profit film, video, or short. If a film is commercially successful, all revenue from commercial licence fees granted via Moby Gratis is donated to Humane Society of the United States.
In April 2009, Moby spoke about his personal experiences of Transcendental Meditation at the David Lynch Foundation benefit concert Change Begins Within benefit concert in New York City. In April 2015, Moby performed "Go" at The Evening of David Lynch tribute event at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, which highlighted the work of the David Lynch Foundation and raised funds to teach Transcendental Meditation to local youth.
In April 2018, Moby auctioned over 100 pieces of musical equipment via Reverb.com to raise funds for the non-profit organisation Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, thinking it was better to sell it for a good cause rather than in storage. Moby held a second sale for the organisation in June 2018 consisting of his personal record collection, including records that he used to use for DJ sets in his early career and his own personal copy of his albums. A third was held in October 2018 that included the sale of almost 200 analog drum machines, 100 instruments, and his entire vinyl collection.
In 2018, Moby participated in Al Gore's 24-hour broadcast on climate change and environmental issues.
Moby is an advocate for Best Friends; he was part of the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) launch celebration and directed a lyric video for his song “Almost Home" which features dogs and cats from the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Mission Hills, California.
Moby developed an interest in photography at age ten when his uncle, a photographer for The New York Times, gave him a Nikon F camera. He cites Edward Steichen as a major early influence. At 17 he set up a darkroom in his basement and pursued photography while at university. Moby kept his photography private until 2010, when he put some of his work on public display at the Clic Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. In May 2011, Moby released a photography book containing pictures that were taken during the Wait for Me tour in 2010 named Destroyed. It was released in conjunction with his same-titled album, and pictures from it were also put on display. From October to December 2014, Moby showcased his Innocents collection of large-scale photographs at the Fremin Gallery, featuring a post-apocalyptic theme and a cast of fictitious cult members wearing masks.
In March 2010, Moby and animal activist Miyun Park released Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat), a collection of ten essays by various people in the food industry that they edited to detail "unbiased, factual information about the consequences of animal production" and factory farming.
In 2014, Moby announced his decision to write an autobiography covering his life and career from his move to New York City in the late 1980s to the recording of Play in 1999. He enjoyed the experience, and wrote approximately 300,000 words before cutting it by half to reach a rough edit of the book. Porcelain: A Memoir was released on May 17, 2016, by Penguin Press. Moby put out the compilation album Music from Porcelain to coincide the book's release, featuring his own tracks and a mixtape of tracks by other artists.
In October 2018, Moby announced his second memoir, Then It Fell Apart. It was released on May 2, 2019, and covers his life and career from 1999 to 2009. To promote the book, Moby embarked upon a book tour which included book signings, interviews, and live performances. Moby has expressed a wish to write a third.
- Moby (1992)
- Ambient (1993)
- Everything Is Wrong (1995)
- Animal Rights (1996)
- Play (1999)
- 18 (2002)
- Hotel (2005)
- Last Night (2008)
- Wait for Me (2009)
- Destroyed (2011)
- Innocents (2013)
- Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep. (2016)
- These Systems Are Failing (2016)
- More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse (2017)
- Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt (2018)
- Long Ambients 2 (2019)
- All Visible Objects (2020)
- Live Ambients – Improvised Recordings Vol. 1 (2020)