Moby's new album not made for parties
Moby talks about his most personal album yet -- called 'Wait for Me,' it's a CD of deep textures, soulful ruminations and unexpected turns.
The following is not a full transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
In this interview from "Echoes," composer and musician Moby discusses blues and gospel, his search for authentic voices, and making an album that's designed for one listener.
Moby is sitting in a Philadelphia hotel room; bald, unshaven, wearing glasses and an untucked t-shirt, and holding his lunch -- a vegetarian beefsteak.
He's considered the most modern of composers, but Moby says he spends a lot of time listening to rustic American music, from the blues to gospel, "The way in which music was approached in the mid-20th Century and the early 20th century, music then was a product of a sort of ... social milieu or a culture. When you listen to a vocal recording from 1930 or 1940, it's a document of a voice that is a product of a very specific culture, as opposed to a professional musician. There's a degree of authenticity."
The results of that listening emerged on his 1999 CD, "Play."
He explains his search for authentic voices: "There's a song, 'Natural Blues, that has these wonderful vocals recorded by a woman named Vera Hall, and no one today sings like that. So if I want to have that earnest, slightly pained quality to a voice, sometimes I need to go back 50 or 60 years to try and find it."
You can also hear the impact of that music on Moby's latest album, "Wait for Me." It's a haunting, poignant song cycle that contemplates themes of loss, death and transcendence. The vocals often attain that quality of pain and yearning that Moby seems to favor.
"I just love loud, crazy punk rock, and I love exuberant dance music. But the music that means to most to me tends to be the music that's quieter and more introspective and more emotional and more personal. I just wanted to make a record that to me felt more emotional, and subjectively speaking, more personal."
Moby says his new album is really designed for one listener. It's not designed for a party, it's not designed for 20 people in a bar or night club to listen to. It's for someone lying in bed Sunday morning 9 o'clock when it's raining outside.
On most of Moby's albums, you'll find an acknowledgement thanking Jesus Christ. Often as boldly stated as you'd find on any Christian album. Moby doesn't consider himself a Christian, or member of any religion, but he embraced the concept of Jesus in the 1980s, and Christian imagery courses through his music. You can hear it in his pop songs, like 'We Are All Made of Stars.'
Moby says he never thought he would find the level of success that he has, "The truth is I never expected to have a record contract. I honestly thought that I would spend my entire life maybe teaching community college part-time. Maybe if I was lucky, working in a record store, and probably making music in my bedroom that no one, apart from my girlfriend, would listen to."
He was born Richard Melville Hall, and got his nickname from his parents, due to a distant relationship to "Moby Dick" author, Herman Melville.
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Hosted by John Diliberto, "Echoes" is a daily two-hour series of evocative, ground-breaking music seamlessly bridging new instrumental, world fusion, new acoustic, impressionistic jazz, and inventive vocal styles.