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Moby on New York vs. L.A, New Year's Eve and Whether DJs Are 'Real Musicians'

Posted: 12/28/2012 8:25 pm

After becoming a self-described New York City "townie," musician and DJ Moby moved west, becoming a strong Los Angeles evangelist. However, to mark the new year, the six-time Grammy award-nominated artist is planning a trip back to the Big Apple to DJ Unicorn Meat's New Year's Eve event, which he describes as a throwback to early 90s warehouse shows.

In preparation for the show Moby talked exclusively with The Huffington Post about his choice to leave New York for L.A., what you play as David Lynch's wedding DJ and the two sound effects that he feels sum up the policies of the Republican Party.

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On Leaving New York City for Los Angeles

The first time I got drunk on First Avenue was in 1979 so I really felt like, on one hand, it had become a little bit too familiar. Also, I don't want to be a complainer but, the Lower East Side that I grew up with is unfortunately quite a lot different from the Lower East Side as it exists now. I found myself, in the last few years I was living in New York, I would leave my apartment and instead of having to deal with drunk artists I was dealing with drunk hedge fund managers. And then I realized that everything in my neighborhood, it didn't exist for the people who lived in the neighborhood, it existed for tourists. In a strange way I felt like it was just time to go and then the choice really became move to Brooklyn, where at this point 99 percent of my friends in New York live, or move to L.A. For me L.A. won out simply because it's warm in the winter and I feel like real estate in L.A. is a lot cheaper so a lot of weird artists can afford to live here who can't afford to live in New York.

On Switching From Vinyl to Digital for DJing

Up until just a few years ago I still used to DJ with vinyl but then I had this terrifying experience, I went to Belgium and I was going to be DJing in Europe and I was waiting for my records to come off the luggage belt and they didn't come off. Eventually we found them but there was this moment I realized, if I was on tour and I lost a guitar we could just go buy a new guitar but if you're a DJ and you lose your records you just can't play, you might as well go home. So that's when I made the switch to basically just using a laptop... I have a bunch of the Pioneer CDJs... you can control the music with these weird old CD players that are almost like an instrument in their own right... anything you can do with a turntable you can do with them and you can also do really amazing things with them like create loops, play things backwards, speed things up remarkably fast, slow things down, do all these effects. So I guess I'm an accidental shill for Pioneer CDJs.

On Advice to People DJing Their Own New Year's Eve Parties

Basically pay attention to how people are responding. I think we've all been to those events where there's a DJ playing and no one is in anyway enjoying what they're doing and that's when it sort of becomes the DJ's job to be a little bit responsive to what people actually want to listen to... for example I went to David Lynch's wedding recently and my wedding gift to him was to be the DJ. People ask me "what do you play at a David Lynch wedding? Do you play records of Tuvan throat singers backwards?" And I was like, no, actually I was a cliché wedding DJ because that's what his family wanted to hear so I played Van Morrison and Beyonce and the sort of things you'd want to hear at a wedding.

On the Debate Over Whether DJs Are "Real Musicians"

When I was really young I grew up playing classical music and then I had a music teacher and we studied a lot of jazz fusion and a lot of jazz theory and then I started playing in a punk rock band when I was around 14 or 15 and it broke my guitar teacher's heart because he really had visions of me being a child prodigy, playing Bach on the classical guitar, and his criticism of punk at the time was that it wasn't "real music." And then when hip-hop started people said that it's not real music and then when house music started people said that it's not real music. So personally, all I care about is how the music effects me emotionally and how the music effects other people emotionally whether it's a virtuoso violinist playing Bach cantatas or it's a dubstep DJ playing someone else's records. To me, selfishly, personally, subjectively all I care about is my response to the music when it's being played. So I'm not too concerned about how the music is made, I'm much more concerned about how I respond to it emotionally.

On His Latest Projects

Right now I'm just trying to finish my next album and that's doing a bunch of different dance collaborations with a bunch of young DJs... and also I made this really long ambient album that's just purely to be played very quietly in the background and I'm trying to figure out if I can release it and how I should release it. I'm trying to figure out how does one release a three hour long album of incredibly minimal, quiet, ambient music.

On His 1996 Track "Republican Party"


It was basically just a sample of a baby crying and a sample of old white guys laughing and at the time I felt like it summed up Republican Party policy pretty well. [I think today it represents Republican policies] even more so, the problem is the Republican Party just keeps getting pushed further and further to the right. It's a problem for them, it's certainly not a problem for Democrats as evidenced by the last election... it seems like the Republican Party just gets older, crazier, whiter and angrier by the day.

 
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