What do marriage equality, veganism and Hillary Clinton have in common? They show that progress is clearly possible. Listen to an amazing conversation with Moby about his latest album “These Systems Are Failing” and why he thinks the moral arch of the universe bends towards reason and intelligence …

BM: „These systems are failing“ is your 13th studio album. Some critics describe it as your most furious album in twenty years, some even call it a “fiery eulogy for the future”. It is however – like your previous works – totally different from what you’ve done before. Are you not getting tired of changing musical styles all the time? 

Moby: We live in a world where most musicians sort of pick a genre or style. In a way I almost envy musicians like that, because it certainly makes their professional lives easier. Think of a band like Metallica, who have been a heavy metal band for forty years. As a result their fans always know what to expect. My love for music has very little to do with genre, but it has everything to do with how music affects me emotionally, so I guess my loyalty is not to anyone’s style or any genre. It’s just to how I respond emotionally to music. So when I’m making records I’m not trying to be strange and I’m not trying to be weird or make a point. I just get really excited about different styles of music.

“I don’t even know what that must have been like for all the people growing up for thousands of years pretending to be something they are not, being ashamed of who they were. It just feels like a crime against humanity to me”

BM: Listening to „These Systems are failing“ I find the songs are vibrant with rage and contempt and convey very little tenderness. Where does this new sound come from?

Moby: In the last couple of years I found myself listening to a lot of the punk and post punk that I grew up with like Killing Yoke, The Damn, Magazine or the Buzzcocks and I just really love energetic, passionate loud music. I also love quiet tender music, just this morning I was listening to Cat Steven’s Greatest Hits and listening to Debussy and Bach. I think for me at least there is room for these different kinds of music that can peacefully co-exist. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to Gershwin and sometimes it’s nice to listen to Black Sabbath.

BM: Now for the next question I need to share something personal with you, if that’s ok?

Moby: Sure.

BM: During the early to mid-nineties I was a pill and acid popping gay teenage mess with very little faith in the world as it was. And I remember coming home after a rave one morning, turning on MTV and seeing the video for Go, which is your famous breakthrough track. The song and the visuals just made sense to me and really made me calm down in a lot of ways, which I guess is odd given it’s a dance track. I have since followed your musical evolution, which actually helped me feeling less weird about the way I see the world, because this underground music crush that I had managed to become mainsteam, and so I figured I can’t be completely mad. So thank you for that! When you write songs, are you ever aware of the reaction you might get from them?

Moby: I used to think about the reaction let’s say 15 years ago when I had a much bigger audience, but now it’s 2016 and people don’t really buy albums. They don’t really listen to albums and I don’t go on tour, so when I make music I’m hoping that someone might listen to it, but I’m not expecting it. So honestly most of the satisfaction that I get from making music at this point is from the act of making music. If I make a record and it goes out to the world and someone listens to it is really nice, but I don’t expect it.

“Look at the way things were a hundred years ago in the United states. Women couldn’t vote, same sex couples couldn’t be together or were thrown into prison if they were, children worked in factories and black people and white people couldn’t attend the same schools or even drink from the same drinking fountains. So I think that clearly progress is possible”

 

BM: From very early on you have been an advocate for veganism, your passion for the subject coming from a place of love for animals. How do you explain that veganism has now become a mega trend?

Moby: There is a quote that I love from Martin Luther King jr. and he said that the moral arch of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. I think that it also bends towards reason and intelligence. There are so many rational reasons for people to consider relying less on animal agriculture that makes me think that maybe within fifty years animal agriculture will be just a very marginal part of human culture. In addition to destroying animals it also contributes to fifty percent of climate change, seventy-five percent of antibiotic resistance, fifty percent of most cancers, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, famine and rain forest deforestation. So I see the vegan movement as being a very evidence based rational way of dealing with the world we live in. It’s better for animals, it’s better for people, better for the environment and resources and it just makes so much more sense to me. I think humans get very addicted to old ways of doing things, but as we’ve seen, when given the chance human beings can make the right decisions. Look at the way things were a hundred years ago in the United states. Women couldn’t vote, same sex couples couldn’t be together or were thrown into prison if they were, children worked in factories and black people and white people couldn’t attend the same schools or even drink from the same drinking fountains. So I think that clearly progress is possible. And one amazing thing about the internet is that it speeds up progress. Look at marriage equality, in the US at least ten years ago this was a very fringe issue and now marriage equality is the law of the land, so wonderfully and quickly facilitated by social media. I think the same thing is happening for animal agriculture and veganism.

BM: This brings us back to the first question and to some of the statements that were made about  „These systems are Failing“. Would you agree that it is a „eulogy for the future“, is your outlook really that gloomy?

Moby: I think that my outlook is sort of paradoxical. I’m incredibly optimistic, but also incredibly pessimistic. My hope is, because I think that human beings ultimately will make the right decisions and we have so much potential, that we haven’t already screwed things up and not be allowed the opportunity to make things better. Like when someone who smokes cigarettes decides to stop, but what if they already have cancer. I look at our species like that and see that we’re about to make very smart choices, but what if we’ve already doomed ourselves. That doesn’t make for a eulogy, but it’s certainly a very rational justified concern for our ability to actually fix things. The climate is a system that is so huge that even if we want to fix it there is chance we might not be able to.

BM: You have been a public figure for over two decades now. You’ve worked with some of the greatest artists in the world and continue to produce great songs. What are the things that keep you going?

Moby: What keeps me going is my complete fascination with the human condition and my love for the very act of being alive. Not just for me, but for plants, for animals, spiders, I mean – life is such a bizarre magical phenomenon. Trying to understand that and trying to understand the mentality of a universe that created life to me is the most exciting interesting part of being alive. It also makes me not take many aspects of human culture very seriously. I would honestly rather spend time with my microscope than go to a celebrity party.

BM: Sure there’s a lot more to discover …

Moby: I’ve learned more looking at plant samples in my microscope than I have from hanging out with about any celebrity I’ve ever met.

BM: … and also from transcendental meditation, if I’m right?

Moby: I like transcendental meditation, but I almost see it as being like a musical genre. Transcendental meditation is great but there are other types of meditation like Zen meditation or Native American meditation. To me there are two goals of meditation. One is to calm people down and enable them to be healthy. The other is to change the way people respond to their feelings and their thoughts, so that people are less plagued by negative thoughts and negative feelings. We could have a very long conversation about how neural or the brain architecture responds to meditation, but I don’t know if we’ve enough time. I’m a fan of any type of mediation, because simply the data indicates that it’s really good for people. That’s why I think it’s a good idea and also if it makes people happier and calmer and less angry and less depressed and bitter then it’s a good thing.

“the fact that we got to the point where our right wing republican candidate for president is not talking about reversing marriage equality means progress”

BM: You’ve just released a wonderful video produced and directed by Steve Cutts for “Are You Lost In The World Like Me.” Are you already thinking about your next release?

Moby: One of the things I love about making and releasing records is it then becomes an opportunity to have conversations and it also enables me to release weird videos that might somehow either be interesting or artistic or adress issues that I care about. For instance if I was to write a little essay about human isolation I don’t know if that many people would read it, but if you make an adorable cartoon about human isolation, tens or millions of people are ready to watch it.

 

BM: Let’s talk a bit about politics if you like. What’s going on in the US right now? I mean, what the heck? How do you think the outcome of the US presidential election may affect issues such as gay rights or environmental protection?

Moby: It looks right now as if Hillary Clinton is going to win. I love Hillary and I’ve known her for a long time. I think she’s very smart and she may not be a perfect person, but she’s so much better than Donald Trump. I’m just looking forward to November 9th when we don’t have to look at Donald Tump anymore. One really interesting thing is that Trump is a racist and a misogynist and a terrible human being, but he hasn’t said a single negative thing about the LGBTQ-community. And I find that actually quite hopeful, because here you have this right wing conservative politician – and I’m sure you remember this as well that being gay in the 70s or 80s or even in the 90s carried such a stigma. In The United States that Stigma is really disappearing. Of course it still exists in many right wing parts of the US, but the fact that we got to the point where our right wing republican candidate for president is not talking about reversing marriage equality means progress. Of course there is still so much more progress to be made, but it really is – compared to how bad things were for the LGBTQ-community – a lot better. Similar to race relations and many other things it means that when things get better it doesn’t mean that people can become complacent or they should say it can’t be even made better, but I think it’s important to acknowledge how much better things are than they used to be.

“Animal rights activism is my life’s work and there is so much work to be done, but sometimes it’s important to recognize the progress that’s been made as opposed to just focus on the horrible things that are going on and how much work needs to be done”

BM: … and have some gratitude!

Moby: Yeah, and it’s similar to veganism. Animal rights activism is my life’s work and there is so much work to be done, but sometimes it’s important to recognize the progress that’s been made as opposed to just focus on the horrible things that are going on and how much work needs to be done. It’s also lovely that somethings happened, I don’t know when but now it’s just an accepted fact that most American politicians will march in gay pride parades when twenty or thirty years ago – unless you were the mayor of New York – no politician would ever march in a gay pride and now most of them do. What I love about that the thing – saying it as someone who grew up in the gay community, and I’m not explicitly gay – the thing that always broke my heart is that someone would feel shame for who they were. It is so heartbreaking and unnecessary, so every time there are advances in gay rights it just means that some teenage boy or teenage girl has a chance to be less ashamed. And that is a truly beautiful thing.

BM: I couldn’t agree more.

Moby: I mean I don’t even know what that must have been like for all the people growing up for thousands of years pretending to be something they are not, being ashamed of who they were. It just feels like a crime against humanity to me.

BM: It turns you into a different person than you could have been.

Moby: I have an older family member and he was only able to come out the closet in his sixties. So, the fact that he spent sixty years living a lie makes me sad to the core of my being. That someone wouldn’t be free to love who they want to love and to be who they want to be. When I see the progress made around that it makes me really happy.

BM: Thank you for the support.

Moby: Thanks, really a pleasure talking to you.

Moby’s “Suburban Punks Playlist” findet Ihr unter folgendem Link:

moby_artworkmvpc-low-res-copy

Interview: Torsten Schwick 

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