Moby Q&A: “My earliest memory is crying into a kazoo”

The musician talks George W Bush, 30 Rock and the collected poems of Kabir, the 15th-century Indian mystic.

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Richard Melville Hall was born in New York City in 1965 and raised in San Francisco. He began performing as Moby when he moved back to New York City in 1989, releasing his breakthrough dance single “Go” in 1991. He is known for the albums “Everything is Wrong” and “Play”. An outspoken vegan, He claims he is the great-great-great-nephew of Herman Melville, hence the name “Moby”.

What’s your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is crying into a kazoo when I was three years old. I was upset that my mom had cut me off from my favourite cereal (Kaboom), so I cried into my kazoo, while she laughed until she cried.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero was my grandfather. He was a smart, stable businessman who’d been in the marines, and he always seemed like a war hero senator to me. My adult hero is any person not crippled by narcissistic personality disorder, who humbly does what’s right.

What was the last book that changed your thinking?

The collected poems of Kabir, the 15th-century Indian mystic. I’m not a Sufi, but I love the gentle, humble, and even playful divinity in his poetry.

Which political figure do you look up to?

My old friend Cory Booker. We’ve known each other for a few decades, and I’m thrilled that a conscientious, vegan, principled senator is running for the presidency.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

30 Rock trivia! It’s my favourite TV show. I’ve seen every episode too many times to count.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

That time in the future after we realise that destroying the only home we have is profoundly stupid, and we no longer use petroleum products for energy and animals for food.

Who would paint your portrait?

George W Bush. Truly terrible president, truly endearing painter.

What’s your theme tune?

“Who are you and why am I here?” by Void.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

An old alcoholic once said to me: “Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t.” I try very hard to follow his advice.

What’s currently bugging you?

Our species.

What single thing would make your life better?

A world where people stop destroying the only home we have.

When were you happiest?

Yesterday, playing in the sun with a friend’s new puppy.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

A benign dictator.

Are we all doomed?

The big question. The short answer is: probably. The longer answer is: most likely. We’ve lived for a long time as if our actions don’t have lasting or cumulative consequences – but they do, as we’re all starting to see. And, tragically, we’ll probably realise the extent to which we’ve screwed things up just as we’re all about to go extinct. 

The second volume of Moby’s autobiography, “Then It Fell Apart”, is published by Faber & Faber

This article appears in the 14 June 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The closing of the conservative mind