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Trouble still comes easy for Moby

  • Story Highlights
  • On new album, "Last Night," Moby tries to re-create the feeling of clubbing
  • Electronic musician says working with lesser-known talents is "a lot more fun"
  • Moby has section of Web site devoted to free music for indie filmmakers
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By Shanon Cook
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Moby just wants you to dance. Shake your booty. Get jiggy with it. Throw your hands in the air like you just ... well, you get the idea.

Moby

Moby says he wanted to re-create a "crazy" night in the Lower East Side for his new album.

His new album, "Last Night" (Mute), pays homage to the DJ's 25-year love affair with the New York club scene. It marks a return to disco beats after 2005's laid-back outing, "Hotel," on which Moby swapped experimental samples for more mainstream melodies.

"Last Night's" single, "Disco Lies," also inspired a rather ... eccentric video, one featuring a person-sized chicken dressed like a pimp.

The techno titan invited CNN to his home studio in Lower Manhattan, where he records all his albums -- including "Play," the 1999 breakout disc that sold 9 million copies worldwide.

CNN: Your new album is kind of a concept album. What's the idea behind it?

MOBY: Well, it is a concept record, although there's a part of me that's wary of describing it as such because traditionally concept records tend to be a bit pretentious and self-involved.

The idea behind the record was to take a sort of crazy eight-hour night in my neighborhood in the Lower East Side and somehow condense it into 65 minutes on a CD. And so it's just me trying to re-create what it's like to go out in my neighborhood and stay out too late and get into trouble. Video Watch Moby in his element »

CNN: Do you still do that? Go out to clubs every night and crawl home as the sun's rising?

MOBY: I don't necessarily go out every night, but I'm 42 years old and at this point most of my friends are married and they have kids and they have quiet domestic lives, and I'm still going out like two or three nights a week until 5 or 6 in the morning. At some point I think in the interest of dignity I should probably stop, but I still find it really inspiring and it's still a lot of fun.

CNN: On your last album, "Hotel," you sang an awful lot. On this record we don't hear your voice quite so much. Why is that?

MOBY: Well, it's more of a dance record. And I think that my voice is quite limited. ... If I'm making disco songs and dance songs, I need real singers.

CNN: You have a lot of high-profile friends in the music business, yet you tend to use lesser-known vocalists on your albums.

MOBY: Part of it is because it makes the process more enjoyable. If I work with a really well-known, established musician, you have to deal with their lawyers, you have to deal with managers and agents, and you have to book flights and hotel rooms and studios. And if I have a friend come over to sing, they come over, we work in the studio for a couple of hours, we make spaghetti, we go see a movie. The whole process is just a lot more fun. And there are a lot of really talented singers [in New York] ... like unsigned, relatively unknown singers. Often times they're more talented than the signed, very well-known singers.

CNN: Your new song "Disco Lies" has a very interesting music video. What on earth is going on in that thing?

MOBY: I love it and I think it's fantastic. ... The director is an old friend of mine named Evan Bernard, and we were going back and forth trying to think of ideas for the video and we just couldn't come up with anything good. And then at the last minute he said, "OK, how about an early '70s pimp chicken attacks me looking sort of like the head of an international chicken [franchise]?" ... And the name of the company is MFC -- Moby Fried Chicken. So it's this 10-foot-tall pimp chicken chasing me through the streets of Mexico City and then butchering me at the end and eating me while he's surrounded by strippers.

CNN: Lovely. That's a typical Saturday night for you, isn't it?

MOBY: Exactly. What's funny is ... I'm a vegan and an animal-rights activist and I didn't even know that it's an animal-rights video. But friends of mine in the vegan/animal-rights community saw it and were like, "Wow, this is such a great pro-animal rights video." And I was like, "Oh, I just thought it was funny."

CNN: I was poking around on your Web site, and there was this section called "Moby Gratis." What is that all about?

MOBY: Well, when I went to university, I was a philosophy major, but because I'm not very bright I chose to study philosophy at a performing arts school, maybe because the philosophy program there wasn't too rigorous or challenging. And at school I made a lot of friends in the independent film world. They have always complained to me that the most difficult part of making a film is actually licensing the music because they have to deal with record companies and publishing companies who don't want to return their calls. It's also expensive and onerous and time-consuming.

So I started this Web site, mobygratis.com, which very simply gives away free music to indie filmmakers, nonprofit filmmakers and experimental filmmakers. Right now I've got about 70 pieces of music up, and any filmmaker can go there and download the music and use it in their film.

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CNN: And is this music that hit the cutting room floor when you were making albums? I take it it's all unreleased stuff.

MOBY: Yeah, about half of it is actually music I've written specifically for mobygratis.com. And then a lot of the other music is more atmospheric, experimental music that I've done that just hasn't found its way onto a record. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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