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clumsy journalist, music

My interview with Moby: Apart from music, making pancakes is my only skill


It was the summer of 2008 when I got to interview Moby. OK, sort-of “interview” because the questions were not put together by me. I was an intern at The Independent in London, and one of the things we, the “workies”, were supposed to do were the so-called 5-Minute Interviews with, well, mainly minor celebrities, where the questions are more or less set.

The first one I did was with Gregg Wallace, a celebrity chef I had never heard of before, but who I was told was from Peckham, which instantly made him a semi-god in my eyes, and probably in the eyes of anyone from the Balkans too – because of the Trotters and Only Fools and Horses, of course. I did one with Nell McAndrew, who was really sweet and with Samantha Morton, who insisted on one-word answers and got upset when I asked her to expand on them, even when I told her the interview had no chance of being published unless she gives me a few words more because it would be too short. Indeed, it was never published, but neither was the most exciting one I did – the one with Moby.

True, it was not a real talk, the line was bad and my attempts to tell him how exciting this was for me didn’t quite get through. That’s why I’m using this place to admit that even the mention of Moby fills me with warm, fuzzy feelings, while my mind flashes back to a shopping mall, somewhere around Atlanta I think, where I went to buy something, I can’t remember what anymore, but I’m pretty sure on my way there I was fiddling with Moby’s CD, ‘Play’. There. Mind works in mysterious ways, and sometimes the media do too. So here goes the long-forgotten interview…

One of the most legendary names in house and trance music, Richard Melville Hall, 42, also known as Moby, next week comes to Britain to DJ and play acoustic sets at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Stratford upon Avon. On his website fans can still vote for their favourite local pub, club or café in Glasgow and Manchester, where Moby will also play intimate acoustic shows.

If I weren’t talking to you right now I’d be
…probably, because it’s a beautiful day here in New York, sitting on my roof drinking a cup of tea and reading a book. Not very rock and roll.

A phrase I use far too often is…
Tautology. Because I tend to repeat myself needlessly and I tend to be very tautological. So, I catch myself doing it and I point to the people I’m being tautological.

I wish people would take more notice of…
I think it would be nice if people recognized that life tends to be short and difficult and for the brief period of time that we’re here, we should try and enjoy ourselves as much as possible and not make it more difficult. Life is hard enough already without us making it worse.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was…
Actually being able to make my living as a musician. I really thought that I would spend my entire life making music in my bedroom that no one would ever listen to. I never expected to have a record contract and I certainly never expected to have a career as a musician for 20 years. It was a combination of I-love-what-I-do and I-don’t-know-how-to-do-anything-else. There were lots of times when anybody who had other skills in my position would have just quit and said I’m going to do something else, but I love what I do and I have no other skills, so I’m sort of stuck doing this.

A common misperception of me is….
That I take myself too seriously. And I try not to.

I am not a politician but…
If I were a politician in the United States, I would do everything in my power to end our reliance on foreign oil. Because I think that American reliance on foreign oil has destroyed our environment, it’s destroyed our foreign policy, it’s destroyed our small town. I would do everything in my power to shift American energy to domestically produced sustainable energy.

I’m good at…
Making pancakes. And as a vegan, it’s tricky because I can’t use eggs. And in the summer, when blueberries are in season, I’m pretty good at making blueberry pancakes. And that’s pretty much, apart from music, my only skill.

I’m very bad at…
Relaxing and doing nothing. I need to hire someone to help me relax and do nothing because I’ve tried for years and I haven’t figured out how to do it.

The ideal night out is …
At dusk have dinner with friends somewhere in Manhattan where we could sit outside, watch the sunset and have some drinks. And then go to a party and drink some more and maybe go out and see a punk rock band, and then around midnight or one go out dancing, and at four or five in the morning go to someone’s apartment and sit on the roof, drink cheap beer and watch the sun come up.

In moments of weakness I…
I usually beat myself for having a moment of weakness. And then I watch the Family Guy, a really funny American cartoon. Even if I am terribly depressed, it will make me laugh.

You know me as a musician but in truer life I’d have been …
I really would love to have been a city planner. Even someone like Oscar Niemeyer, the man who built Brasilia, or Robert Moses. He’s a bad example because he was the man who built everything terrible in New York City, but, like, a benign Robert Moses. Because I love architecture and I love urban design and with this combination I could impact the people’s lives, hopefully in a positive way.

The best age to be is…
To be 40 years old and on you next birthday turn 25. Twenty-five preceded by 24 isn’t that good, but 25 preceded by 40 would great. Then you could actually enjoy yourself.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:
The universe is more complicated than we will ever understand, and our lives are shorter than we can actually imagine, so we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and should just enjoy ourselves and not worry too much. That’s not to say that I live by that philosophy, it’s just what I believe.

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