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MOBY UNCHAINED: ‘There’s nothing in my life that’s more important to me than working on behalf of animal rights’

If the world takes issue with my desire to protect innocent beings and climate change, if people have an issue with that, that's their problem. Not mine.

RACHEL BRODSKY: Moby does not want to turn the Zoom camera on today. It’s not possible to see the loud tattoo shouting “VEGAN” on the side of his neck or the “ANIMAL RIGHTS” he’s recently had inked down his arms. Or the Griffith Park-adjacent estate where he’s been holed up for the pandemic. Or the baldpate that’s synonymous with chill-out electronica. You get the sense that, following two memoirs and now a biographical documentary, the only person Moby wants to judge him is himself.

“Basically, I don’t want to know what strangers think about me,” he says matter-of-factly. The musician, author and animal rights activist doesn’t read the negative press about him, at least he tries not to… And yet, the 55-year-old persists with the press cycle, which suggests either unwavering self-belief or elaborate self-sabotage. This time he’s promoting a “surrealist” documentary about his life (Moby Doc, dropping 28 May) and an accompanying album, Reprise, featuring orchestral and acoustic arrangements of songs spanning his 30-year career…

This contradiction seems to escape Moby, who cites his being an “absolutist” in regards to not reading bad press or comments. This also applies to drinking, which he says he hasn’t done in 13 years. “I have to 100 per cent say no to drinking and drugs largely because it’s easier. I don’t envy these people who aren’t sure. That ambiguity, you know, that would be so confusing to me. [I do] the same thing with veganism”…

If anything, Moby’s clarion call around veganism has only intensified over the years. He was an early adopter, for which he was routinely mocked – though, of course, veganism is now as common as gluten-free pizza. But Moby is rather like the straight-edge guy at punk shows, who really, really wants you to know he’s vegan. He always goes one step further, hence those alarmingly large new tattoos. “I’m fully aware of the fact that a guy in his fifties deciding to suddenly get facial and neck tattoos… it’s a little bit odd,” he admits. “But there’s nothing in my life that’s more important to me than working on behalf of animal rights. This is more important to me than dating. This is more important to me than a career. This is more important to me than health.

“If I’m being honest,” he continues, “There is a rejection aspect of it. By doing this, I’m rejecting caution. I’m rejecting conventional ideas of beauty. I’m rejecting being timid about my beliefs. I’m saying, ‘No, it’s the world that can’t handle it. If the world takes issue with my desire to protect innocent beings and climate change and protect human health and protect workers and reduce antibiotic resistance, if people have an issue with that, that’s their problem. Not mine.’”

It doesn’t exactly help his cause that Moby faced some issues with his own vegan venture, Little Pine, last year. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, the LA restaurant – which was originally founded as a philanthropic venture, with 100 per cent of its profits going to animal-related causes – went on a permanent hiatus, abruptly terminating the employment of its 50-member staff…

Given everything – the music that made him a household name, the business ventures, his amplified commitment to animal rights, the scorched-earth press – Moby still feels he has a lot left to give, creatively speaking. Animal rights might be his number one priority, as he reiterates repeatedly, but music ranks as a close second… And if audiences continue to distance themselves? “If my being a punching bag in any way compromises my ability to help animals, that’s when I start crying myself to sleep,” he says.

As our time runs out, Moby reminds me that if I ever take a walk in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, I should consider the black beetle, aka the animal he likens himself to the most. “A few years ago, I was at this event, and the question was, what’s your spirit animal? And my friends, understandably, picked cool animals. Like a wolf or a falcon or a dolphin. And I picked that little black beetle in Griffith Park. Every time you see them, they’re stumbling along. There’s nothing glamorous or attractive about them. If you put a giant piece of wood in front of them, they go over it or they go around it, they keep stumbling along. One of my only strengths is, no matter what happens, I stumble. I just keep stumbling along.” SOURCE…

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