Talking to Moby

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Talking to Moby

The singer and musician talks to Graeme Green about fame, frustration and failing systems.


Have you become softer with age?

I don’t know about becoming softer, but I’m not worried anymore about what I was worried about 10 or 20 years ago: I wanted to be famous and wanted people I didn’t know to like me. The world is full of people who are bitter because they are no longer famous. I don’t mind that I’m not so famous now.

When I think about the past, I see the insecurity and the alcoholism and the feeling of pride. Now, when I meet professional musicians who feel they are important, I don’t like it. I want to tell them: ‘What you did is not that important: you wrote a song. You didn’t find how to take humanity to Mars, you didn’t run a needle exchange, or find a cure for Ebola. You wrote a song.’

Why did you make your new album, These Systems Are Failing, and the ‘manifesto’ that goes with it?

I was listening to a lot of punk and post-punk eg. The Damned, Killing Joke, Magazine, Theatre Of Hate, and I wanted to make a fast energetic post-punk record myself.

It’s great to make a record when I don’t think too many people will buy it or listen to it. But I also like the idea of trying to use a record to make people think about things I’m worried about.

The lyrics (words of the songs) sound angry...

I felt angry and frustrated. In 2016 it’s difficult to be a rational person and not feel frustrated at what’s going on in the world. When I look at humans, I feel frustrated because we’re all behaving like idiots. In the past, people did stupid things, but they didn’t know better. Our stupidity could lead to the end of humanity and affect life on this planet. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to find ways to be a bit more of an activist with the music I make.

Your ‘manifesto’ says that the ‘systems’ should serve us, but they’re killing us. What systems do you mean?

One out of date system is the way we feed ourselves, feeding grain to animals and creating meat that contributes to climate change, causes heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, antibiotic resistance, ocean acidification and rainforest deforestation.

The other big one is how mad it is that we rely on petroleum, when sustainable energy is such a great alternative.

And there are other more subjective systems, like how we entertain ourselves. I hope we can be more rational about this. We shouldn’t accept the systems because they exist, we could ask if they help us and other creatures on our planet – or if we’re just continuing with them because they’re convenient.

Do you think music and art can bring about change?

Everything is pushing society in one direction or another, so I don’t think music and art are different. But sometimes a song can change the world. ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon... I believe that changed the world; it moved things a little bit. I can’t say that any of my music would do that, but the goal is to wake up every day and try.

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir’s debut album, These Systems Are Failing, is out now. Moby’s ‘manifesto’ is here:

Graeme Green is a journalist, travel writer and photographer for international publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, National Geographic and Wanderlust. @greengraeme

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).