Moby on Teslas, electric blankets and a rave blackout
The musician, 55, on being shamed into buying a tesla by Elon Musk, electric blankets and a rave blackout.
When you’re in the studio making music, what’s the most useful tech for you?
When I was working on my album Reprise [a collection of hits re-recorded with a full orchestra], it was a great microphone. One of my favourites is the Shure SM57. It’s the least expensive, least fancy microphone I have but it’s remarkably good at certain things and I love the nostalgia of it.
The first time I yelled into an SM57 was in my hardcore punk rock band in high school. You have to be careful with some of the fancier microphones but with the SM57, you can throw it around and pour beer on it, and it still works fine.
What’s your most extravagant tech purchase?
I was having dinner at Elon Musk’s house and he ridiculed me for driving this old internal combustion car so the next day I got a Tesla and I messaged Elon, saying: ‘Your shame worked!’ That was seven or eight years ago.
I don’t know how much it cost because it was a lease, and there were all these rebates and tax benefits because it’s zero emission, but I barely drive. So it’s absurd that I have this unbelievably fast car just to go to the health food store to buy organic coffee.
If you could invent any gadget, what would it be?
An animal translator, to communicate with animals using human language. I think the instant animals could express themselves in a language we could understand, we would stop killing them.
Is there any tech people might be surprised to hear you’re a fan of?
A Sunbeam heating pad. It’s like a small electric blanket that you put on the sofa, behind your back. It goes back to my childhood, when I was living with my grandmother.
She loved her little electric blanket. One day, I sat in her seat and it was so nice. It gave me this strange love for electric blankets. I was like, ‘Now I understand. This isn’t an old person thing, this is a smart person thing’. Now I have almost the exact same heating pad as my grandmother, only hers was pink and mine is blue.
What tech would you uninvent?
The internal combustion engine because electric engines are faster and more reliable and don’t cause as much environmental harm.
What tech do you use when you listen to music at home?
I have a Yamaha RX-V390 tuner. It’s quite old and it cost less than $1,000. It’s nice but it’s not super fancy because when I’ve mixed music in my studio I need to listen to it on the same systems everyone else has. If I listen to it on a phenomenal stereo system, it’ll sound great, but that doesn’t mean it’ll sound good when someone’s listening to it with earbuds on the Tube.
What tech do you rely on?
An Apple Mac Pro and I have two of them because I have two recording studios. I bought them around 2018 and they’ve worked flawlessly but Apple is updating everything so I’m scared I won’t be able to use my reliable trash cans any more.
Have you ever had a tech fail?
I’ve had a bunch. In 2004, when I was playing in Ukraine, the power went in the middle of a rave anthem and suddenly it was pitch black – no light, no sound, nothing. We left the stage and stood outside for 20 minutes. The audience didn’t care. It turned out a photographer had tripped over a power cable. They plugged it back in and the power for an 8,000 capacity venue all came roaring back. I remember my tour manager being amazed the entire venue was running off one lead. Then, about ten years ago, I was doing a livestream autograph signing with Google and the technology froze. I was actually in the Google building in Santa Monica and no one knew how to fix it. There was also a TED Talk I did and at the start of my talk, it all froze. The T in TED stands for technology so that was vaguely ironic.
Reprise is out via DG/Decca today.