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Moby: On The Long, Lonesome Road

A self-portrait from Moby's new photo book <em>Destroyed</em>, released alongside a moody album of the same name.
Courtesy of the artist
A self-portrait from Moby's new photo book Destroyed, released alongside a moody album of the same name.

In the early '90s, Moby was a popular DJ in the U.K. club scene. He played techno, house and electronica — all genres that weren't really big in the U.S. at the time.

But with the rise of British groups like The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy in the mid-'90s, all of that changed. When Moby released his fifth album, Play, in 1999, the States were finally ready for him: The album would go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide, a feat that was unheard of for an electronic artist. Big singles like "Southside" and "Porcelain" were soon featured in everything from TV commercials to movie scores.

Moby's latest album, Destroyed, represents a departure from those pounding club hits. It's much quieter and more introspective, filled with electronic loops, lyrics and melodies that evoke feelings of sadness, solitude and loneliness. Moby tells Weekend All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin that the album's title was inspired by an experience at New York's LaGuardia Airport, where he passed a scrolling LED sign that read, "Unattended luggage will be destroyed."

"It was a little sign that only fit one word at a time," Moby says. "So I stood there, and every time the word 'destroyed' flashed, I took a picture of it. Somehow, for me, it just summed up the feeling of disconcertion and exhaustion that I have when I've been on tour for a long time."

That photo became the cover of the album — and of an entire book of Moby's photos, also titled Destroyed and released at the same time. Moby says he's been taking pictures for 35 years, just as long as he's been making music. It wasn't until Destroyed, however, that he'd created a photo project he wanted to share.

"I guess what I wanted to do with the photography in this book is show a very different side of touring and life on the road," he says. "There's no shortage of books showing the very glamorous and sexy side of rock 'n' roll touring — backstage parties and private planes and whatnot. Whereas for me, touring tends to be a very strange and isolating experience."

"I'm not complaining. I love going on tour and playing music for people," Moby adds. "But living in this endless series of anonymous, isolated spaces, whether it's hotel rooms or dressing rooms or cars or airports — after a while it does very strange things to your psyche."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Moby / Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Moby / Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist

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