By Dominika Gorecki
I first saw Moby on the Area 2 tour. I was a Bowie fan (Moby's co-headliner), who had yet to acquire a discerning palate for electronic music, but who had enjoyed the acid jazz programming which I would periodically catch on Detroit Public Radio.
I had, of course, heard of Moby; by this point in 2002 he was a force in the music industry and his popularity seemed to know no bounds. He was an icon; and his music was good. A complex mix of sounds and narratives, beats and voice, it melded into something that could move you, and yet was a refreshing departure from cookie-cutter pop.
I saw Moby again some years later. This time he was spinning at the after party for the MMVAs (the Canadian version of the MTV Video Music Awards). He was playing 90s rock and casually chatting with a line of celebs and pseudo-celebs who would filter in and out of his booth. I remember shuffling to Guns N' Roses on the dance floor while watching him smile and sip his drink -- everything about him was cool. Now, it somehow seems fitting -- after that after party -- to be delivered a memoir that documents Moby's life in the 90s, offering a candid look into the life of the man behind the booth.
His book Porcelain, is so titled "because we couldn't think of another title ... (because) it is white and fragile and I am white and fragile ... and because during that time, I spent a lot of time throwing up in it," explained Moby, born Richard Melville Hall, during his recent book talk in Toronto.
The musical pioneer, now entering his 50s, has chronicled his time in the gritty New York club scene of the 1990s. Beginning in 1989 and ending in 1999, the year in which he released his hit album, Play, the book maps his struggles with poverty, alcohol, drugs and success. His eloquently written accounts come with a mix of hesitant nostalgia, self-deprecation and a sense of sympathetic understanding for his younger self.
In his own words, Moby describes this time in his life as "celebratory in the face of squalor" and on many levels that sentiment chimes through each chapter. Providing a private glimpse into his sexual escapades, celebrity encounters, struggles with sobriety and downright shenanigans, the book candidly and often comically details the party before the storm. For rock biography aficionados, or those interested in an outrageously titillating foray into the private life of a public man, Porcelain: A Memoir is a must-read.
As I sat and listened to Moby speak, I couldn't help but be moved by his personal philosophy and refreshingly rational approach to life. His politics are left-leaning, but sensible -- he is a Hillary Clinton supporter. His approach to money is balanced and rooted in good reason. He has been vegan since the age of 22 and speaks about it with such passion that he has me seriously questioning my position as a foodie. He favours white organic tea to alcohol. He harbours a deep love of animals and considers the task of bringing attention to the issues they face his "real work." He enjoys yoga and meditation, and he hates touring. And like most of us, he likes to binge watch Game of Thrones.
Still, I somehow left feeling that he is cooler now than he ever was. This could be because there is this reassuring calm about him, something that is only present in those who have lived the furthest of extremes -- those who have left the party of their own volition.
Today Moby lives in L.A., where he owns the vegan restaurant, Little Pine, and dedicates much of his time to animal rights initiatives, rescue organizations and working to end animal agriculture. He is expected to release his next much-anticipated album in September of 2016.
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