Moby Opts For More Warmth, Less Attitude

Moby has decided that his new primary musical ambition is to create compositions that are warm and emotional -- the kind that listeners can "take home and embrace."

Moby has decided that his new primary musical ambition is to create compositions that are warm and emotional -- the kind that listeners can "take home and embrace."

"In the past, when I made records, there was always an element of being an old punk rocker," he says. "Culture had to be confrontational. When I made a record, I aspired for it to be beautiful and compelling, but something that was also confrontational. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but I have changed my mind. Most people, in their daily lives, experience enough confrontation; they don't need more from me."

The threads of that philosophy bind his latest effort, "18" (due May 14 via V2), into an eclectic, yet cohesive collection that strives to play equally well on crowded dancefloors and in more intimate, low-key settings.

Joined by guests Angie Stone, Sinead O'Connor, and MC Lyte, among others, the New York-rooted artist darts from the electro-funk grooves that fueled 1999's hugely successful "Play" into rugged hip-hop, earthy gospel, and atmospheric ambient-pop soundscapes. Moby says he wrote 150 tunes before settling on the 18 that made the final cut. Despite the fact that he was following what has been described by critics and industry observers as a career-defining recording, he said he felt little pressure in the studio.

"My only concern was in making people feel like this record wasn't a waste of their time. I always feel a sense of artistic responsibility and debt toward anyone who listens to my music. The interest and good grace of an audience can disappear in two seconds, if you don't make it worth their while."

Still, Moby has never compromised his songs in order to win listeners. He recalls sitting in a park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan shortly after completing "Play" and thinking, "I like this record, no one else will. And there's nothing I can really do about it because this is how these songs came out of me."

He adds, "That day, I had an earnest conversation with myself about what other careers I could do. I thought I was at the end of my musical career. I thought I could go back to school and study architecture, and make music in my spare time. I felt doomed to failure."

But the exact opposite would prove to be true. The set struck a chord with the public -- not to mention ad agencies and filmmakers, who licensed various cuts from "Play" for an assortment of commercials and movies. The set has also been actively heard during numerous sporting events.

Moby says he barely heard a note of his music within these various media forms. "I was too busy touring and working my butt off to hear anything anywhere. I missed the entire feeding frenzy. But it certainly was fun and exciting to be a part of. It's interesting to think of your music in so many different contexts and forms."

The opening track of "18" -- "We Are All Made of Stars" -- is an infectious, guitar-laden gem that is fondly reminiscent of David Bowie's "Heroes." The videoclip was directed by Joseph Kahn (Britney Spears, U2), and based on photographs by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia. It features appearances by actors Corey Feldman, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Thora Birch, Vern Troyer, and Ron Jeremy, and will be premiered shortly on his popular MTV program, "Senor Moby's House of Music."

The release of the single and "18" will be supplemented by a spree of activity that includes a series of personal appearances and a lengthy concert tour. As previously reported, Moby will launch his Area: Two tour, which will feature David Bowie and rapper Busta Rhymes, late this summer.

Excerpted from the April 13, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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