Moby is making his Movement debut at this weekend’s Detroit Electronic Music Festival.
Here are a few of the highlights:
What goes into putting together a live show versus a DJ set?
When I DJ, it’s just me playing my favorite records by other people. One of the things I love about DJing is the impromptu spontaneity of it. Every time I DJ it’s quite different. You establish this symbiotic relationship with the audience, where they’re responding to you and you’re responding to them, and you never know what your next record is going to be. It could be this fantastic moment where everyone in the crowd throws hands in the air or it could be a trainwreck where everyone decides to go to the bar and ignore what you’re doing.
What do you spin?
It all depends. I mean, sometimes I’ll play brand new electro tracks, sometimes I’ll play old house and techno, sometimes I’ll break out some old hip-hop records, sometimes its Guns N’ Roses and Pulp. It depends on where I am, and what seems to be appropriate and/or inappropriate.
Do you DJ with vinyl?
I used to, but I stopped playing vinyl about a year ago because I was traveling too much, and traveling with vinyl — it’s just really heavy. If you have two big flight cases filled with vinyl it weighs about 75 pounds, so running through an airport with two big flight cases of vinyl logistically was just a pain in the (behind). So now, like most of the DJs I know, I’m DJing with CDs, and the great thing about that is they weigh nothing, you can carry all your music with you and if you lose something you can burn it again off your laptop.
This is your first appearance at Movement. Has this festival been on your radar?
Oh yeah, I’ve known about it for years. The first time I went to Detroit was in 1991 or 1992, and I believe the first time I came to Detroit I played at St. Andrews with the Prodigy and Richie Hawtin. So I’ve been coming to Detroit regularly for almost 18 years, and, it goes without saying that Detroit is definitely the American center for electronic music, so it makes perfect sense to have DEMF there. Also, without the originators — Juan Atkins and Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May — electronic music today would probably look very different. It’s very safe to say they’re the ones who started it.
Were they an influence on you?
Oh yeah, in the late ’80s I would basically buy any electronic record that had a 4/4 kick to it. So whether it was house music from Chicago or the early Transmat records, it was very inspiring. A lot of the music that came out of Detroit in the late ’80s and early ’90s was more thoughtful, intellectual dance music. Something like a record by the Suburban Knights, it was a great record to listen to, but it was not exactly a floor filler that you could play at 2 o’clock in the morning. Then there were the crossovers, like “Strings of Life” that ended up being such a huge dance hit, but such an unlikely dance hit, because it doesn’t even really become a dance song until about a minute and a half into it. So it was interesting when tracks like that would cross over.
Have you become friends with any of those Detroit originals?
I’ve known them for years. I’ve toured with all of them at this point. I toured with Richie Hawtin and the Plus 8 sound system, Dan Bell, Derrick May, and I remember DJing with Carl Craig in ’90 or ’91. Kevin Saunderson and I, we had the same manager for a long time in the early ’90s, and Juan Atkins, I toured with him in ’96. I haven’t actually seen or talked to any of them in probably a year or more, but I run into them all in the most random places. You’ll find yourself in Stuttgart at 5 o’ clock in the morning at a truck stop, and you’re buying a magazine and a coffee and there’s Derrick May.