Moby, the unlikeliest of pop stars, is holed up in London’s swanky Trafalgar Hotel wearing the sort of casual clothes you’d see on anyone in the street, slurping on a strictly vegan yogurt-type dessert. He’s mellow, even though he must know he’s got his work cut out for him following the success of previous smash hit albums like 18 and Play.
SSO: So, first things first: why have you called the album Hotel?
MOBY: I’m really struck by the fact that hotels are such public places but also very private. If you walk down the corridor of a hotel you have all these closed doors and behind them people are having sex, they’re bathing, they’re starting or ending relationships, and I guess what struck me is that so much effort and energy goes into protecting that, but the truth is our private lives are all kind of the same. And it just seems to me that at some point, rather than pretend that’s not the case, we might all want to collectively admit that we all go to the bathroom, we all have sex, we all cry, we all want the same things. Perhaps that would engender more of a sense of solidarity.
Someone told me you were bisexual.
I’ve experimented a little bit. I had a long period, I guess it was 1984, where I became a conservative Christian, and I gave up drinking, and I gave up drugs, and I was celibate for a long time. And then at some point in the 90s, I just kind of relaxed and started drinking again, started taking drugs again, occasionally, and started being promiscuous. And part of that involved, you know, having multiple-partner experiences, sometimes with women, sometimes with men.
You mean like three in a bed?
So when was the last time you sucked cock?
I never have.
So what did you do with boys?
Made out with them. Rolling around naked, kissing.
Why did you draw back from sucking cock?
That’s quite a serious line to cross, and maybe at some point in my life I will, but I haven’t felt compelled to do so in the past.
Have boys sucked on yours?
Maybe a little, nothing too serious. There’s real sex, and then there’s like a little bit of sex.
But you’re happily single at the moment?
Yes. I’m not terribly promiscuous, but I love the idea that when you wake up every day you don’t know how the day is going to end. Also, I think that monogamy is a beautiful thing, and I think that getting to know someone in a supportive, loving, monogamous relationship over a long period of time can be wonderful. But I really love that sense of possibility and that sense of excitement.
Gay men juggle that quite well: they can have the steady relationship and still be open to possibilities.
Yeah, I can’t do that, I get too jealous. I’m envious of that, because I have a lot of gay friends in New York who do that: they have a boyfriend but they also go out and do all sorts of other things as well.
Why are straight people so rubbish?
We’re not all rubbish! Actually a woman I was dating a while ago, she was fairly comfortable with me going out and being promiscuous. Sadly, I was the one who had a problem with her going out and being promiscuous.
Did you have a problem with you going out and being promiscuous, and going back to her?
It depends on the circumstances. I mean I wouldn’t have sex with someone and then go and have sex with her without bathing in between. On an academic level, I’m all in favour of free love and promiscuity: I think it’s wonderful, I don’t think there’s any downside to it. On an emotional level, I get really jealous, and I don’t want to. Like, I’ll be in a relationship, and if the person I’m with has slept with someone else, I get so hurt, but I shouldn’t. If I was dating someone and they were to go off and have an intimate conversation with someone else for six hours, that wouldn’t bother me. There’s something about someone sharing their genitalia with someone else that really troubles me. But I wish there was a pill I could take to help me get over that, because I don’t see jealousy as being a constructive emotion in the slightest.
What sort of boys do you fancy?
Hmmm-¦ I think slightly more intellectual feminine boys. I prefer slightly more delicate, prettier boys, a little bit nerdy.
But they’ve got to be intellectual?
Actually, strangely enough with women, yes; with boys, not really.
Because they’re just fuck things?
Yeah, I mean it would be easier for me to objectify a man than it would be for me to objectify a woman. And partially that might be my upbringing, the fact that I was brought up by women.
You’re very anti-violence. What do you think of violence in a sexual context, when it’s consensual?
Oh, that’s terrific. Absolutely. Whatever people do consensually, more power to them.
Have you ever done that?
Oh yeah. I’ve experimented in lots and lots of ways.
When you’ve done S&M, which end of that have you been: the S or the M?
Both. I get a little bored of being on the M side of things, because most people aren’t very imaginative.
Do you get into trouble for talking about sex and drugs?
I don’t take drugs that often. I took drugs when I was very young, from the time I was 10 to the time I was 12. I used to smoke grass and had a friend whose sister was in the psychiatric hospital, he’d go visit her and she would give him pills and we would take them. They just looked nice, you know? And when I was 12 or 13 I got scared and I stopped taking drugs. And I experimented a little bit when I was like 19 and 20, I took acid and what have you, then I had that conservative Christian period where I didn’t do anything. And now I drink and occasionally take ecstasy. But the thing with ecstasy is I love it, it’s wonderful, but I really fear for my brain. If there was a conclusive scientific report that said there were no harmful side effects for ecstasy, I’d take it every day of my life. I’d have an IV drip of MDMA going into my bloodstream all the time.
You’re quite an enigma: born-again Christian, eco-warrior, drug taker, bisexual -¦
Really I think I’m just the most disturbingly normal guy. I’ve been making records now for 15 years and over those 15 years, the way I live my life and the things that I believe have changed. So who I was 15 years ago is in many ways quite different from who I am now. But you do an interview once in 1990 and you say something frivolous then and 15 years later, people are still talking about it. So when people get to know me I think maybe they’re a little bit disappointed that my life is really kind of mundane. It’s the hidden secret of the world of entertainment. If you scratch the surface there’s not a lot that’s glamorous. People think of going on tour as groupies and parties and champagne, and the truth is it’s buses, parking lots and cold backstage areas.
So this is the new clean-living Moby?
Well, I’ve not abandoned that side of things, but if you see degeneracy as being a sweet, you can’t live eating nothing but sweets. You have to save them for special occasions. It seems like a much more adult, responsible way to be degenerate. It’s potentially a lot more boring, but then so many people end up getting burned out before they’re 50, and I really hope I can avoid being one of those people who are 50 years old and unable to string sentences together.
Moby’s Hotel is released through EMI and is in shops now.