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Moby on Transforming Electronic Music, Elevating Consciousness & Saving The Planet

By May 8, 2016January 26th, 2024No Comments

“The stuff that really delivers happiness is available to almost everybody and most of it is free or not very expensive—it’s the meaning we bring to it.”


Most know Moby as the eclectic and introspective DJ / musician behind Play — an album that sold over 12 million copies and elevated dance electronica from the clubs of lower Manhattan into a full-blown mainstream phenomenon.

Far more interesting is the story of Moby himself.

Reared in suburban poverty by a single mom, Moby was an awkward, alienated kid who turned early and often to music for comfort. Classical guitar and music theory morphed into high school punk efforts like the Vatican Commandoes and post college dropout stints DJ’ing at local Connecticut nightclubs. But traction eluded him.

So in 1989, this poor, white, skinny, Christian, vegan teetotaler pilgrimaged south to lower Manhattan, thrusting his frail, wide-eyed self into the beautiful, hedonistic, harrowing life of art, music & impoverished squalor that defined the drug-fueled dance music scene of downtown New York City in the 1990’s.

Cribbing from the flap copy of Porcelain*, Moby’s arresting, magnificent new memoir hitting bookstores next week, “[h]e would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way. But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched, if in hindsight sometimes hilarious, excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play.”

Not only was Play a multi-platinum smash success, it would soon become the soundtrack to our lives — a record that would shift culture and cement Moby as one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time.

Wealth and fame arrived. Obsession followed. And Moby embraced it all. Mansions, lofts and country manors. Debauchery, blowouts and binges. Whatever, whenever. Anytime, all the time. It was always too much. It was never enough.

And this is where things get really interesting.

The story of Moby is one of fidelity to authenticity. It’s about a life defined by survival, perseverance and self-belief. It’s about losing one’s self to surrender to the higher self within. It’s about discovering what is most important in life. And the beautiful trudge towards clarity, purpose, satisfaction and service.

Today we explore the remarkable life of a most extraordinary artist — a man as introspective as he is self-deprecating; and as serious as he is deadpan droll.

I absolutely love this exchange. So press Play and enjoy.

Peace + Plants,


P.S. – If you find yourself in LA, Moby’s Little Pine is a must. It’s 100% vegan. 100% organic. And 100% of all profits are donated to animal welfare organizations. It just doesn’t get any better.

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Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People/Bands Discussed:

  • John Joseph: punk rock signer most famous for his work with the Cro-Mags
  • Robert Chambers: criminal nicknamed the “Preppie Killer”
  • Morrissey:  singer, songwriter and author who rose to prominence as the lyricist and vocalist of the indie rock band The Smiths
  • The Stooges: proto-punk band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, first active from 1967 to 1974
  • Pantera: heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas
  • Sepultura: heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte
  • The Bad Brains: hardcore punk band formed in 1977 in Washington, D.C.
  • Minor Threat: hardcore punk band formed in 1980 in Washington, D.C.
  • Lou Reed: musician, singer, and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground
  • Charlie Knoles: one of the world’s leading Vedic Meditation teachers
  • Light Watkins: teacher and expert on mindfulness and meditation
  • Salman Rushdie: Indian novelist and essayist
  • Dave Eggers: American writer, editor, and publisher known for the best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Thanks toJason Camiolo for production and audio engineering; Chris Swan for production assistance; Shawn Patterson for his graphic wizardry; Moby for this week’s interstitial music; and Ana Leimma for theme music.

Last week we offered 10 signed copies of my friend Mishka Shubaly’s newest book entitled I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You – A Life On The Low Road*

Thanks to all that subscribed to my YouTube channel and took the time to comment on Vlog 003.  Congratulations to this week’s lucky winners! Please e-mail me info@richroll with your shipping address.

  • Angela Murphy
  • Cathartist805
  • Janet Ouchterlony
  • jared goldman
  • Jory Howell
  • Lori Allen
  • Mans Breimer
  • Mary Rusnak
  • Omar Pinto
  • plantpowerpete

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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