When he hit the road in 2010, Moby assigned himself two projects -- "One to write music while on tour," he tells Billboard.com, "and project two was to bring my camera along and document the strangeness of touring." The result of both efforts come to light on May 17 when Moby releases a new album and photography book, both titled "Destroyed."
"They're related in that they're made by the same person and made at the same time in the same environment," Moby says. "I don't know if they necessarily have a specific narrative relationship... but in a very general sense, they're both looking at these anonymous, sort of empty spaces, whether it's an empty airport or an anonymous backstage area, invariably lit by fluorescent lights, sort of alien and anonymous. On the one hand it's off-putting, but there's something comforting about them as well."
Moby wrote initial song ideas for "Destroyed" using both digital plug-ins and vintage synthesizers he had on the road, drawing inspiration from "other people's music" including Kraftwerk, Suicide, Silver Apples, OMD, early Simple Minds and David Bowie's collaborations with Brian Eno.
"That's the music that made the most sense to me in hotel rooms at four in the morning -- late 70s/early 80s electronic music," he explains. "I was listening to that, realizing I wanted the album to have that kind of warm, broken-down synthesizer/drum machine sound to it."
Moby was joined on the album by vocalists Emily Zuzik, Inyang Bassey, Joy Malcolm and Anna Maria Friman. Several of the song titles, he adds, come from literary sources, "which is arguably one of the least cool things any musician has ever done in naming songs."
Moby has released a digital EP, "Be The One," featuring songs from the album for free download at www.moby.com. Meanwhile, the video for "Destroyed's" first single, "The Day" -- which he says was inspired by visiting his late mother in the hospital and by watching friends deal with drug addictions -- is being used by MoveOn as part of its campaign to raise awareness of how proposed budget cuts will hurt vulnerable Americans. "It's flattering and it's an honor," Moby says. "I love when music and images work well together, and in the case of this MoveOn (video), the images have a vulnerability and power to them that really conveys the message."
Moby, who moved from New York to Los Angeles late last year, will launch the "Destroyed" album and book projects with a series of events spotlighting both, starting with a National Geographic-sponsored "Music on...Photography" session in Washington, D.C. An exhibit launching the book opens May 11 at the Clic Gallery in New York City, while a "Discussion With Moby" takes place the following day at the Brooklyn Museum.
Moby begins touring to support "Destroyed" on May 24 in Paris and will spend most of the summer in Europe. He plans to perform some dates in the U.S. but notes that "for whatever reason, America's become one of my smallest markets. The last tour I did here was really fun. I was playing shows to, like, 1,000 people. I can't complain about that; it's a nice number. But the tour we're doing in Europe this summer I'll be playing festivals to 50,000 or 100,000 a night, so it does make more sense to spend my time over there. We'll do some U.S. touring but nothing is set yet."