Controversially Moby: From contentious relationship with Natalie Portman to accidentally inventing the iPhone
The artiste is known for making odd statements, and while many are throwaway ones that tend to fade into obscurity, some tend to remain long after they were uttered.
Moby's legacy as one of the most prolific DJs, producers and electronica artistes of modern times is set to come full circle with the release of his politically-charged electronica-ambient album, 'All Visible Objects', but as we continue to revel in the lush soundscapes that he creates, it's also important to acknowledge that Moby's journey has been punctuated by painful, bittersweet, and bizarre moments.
The world was introduced to Richard Melville Hall, an impoverished young musician who would go on to become the world famous Moby, in his memoir 'Porcelain'. The book drew its title from the melancholic track of the same name off his 1999 album 'Play'.
'Porcelain' opens with glimpses into the dreary world Moby grew up in, watching on as his mother washed and folded laundry for their neighbors so she could earn some extra money while he listened to Diana Ross' 'Love Hangover'. The book traces Moby's journey from a seemingly hopeless space to dealing with the loss of his mother to cancer and battling addiction to becoming a worldwide sensation.
But even as the memoir delved into a dark and painful past, it proved Moby had the ability to tell a story. 'Porcelain' was a reflective body of work that gave the world a detailed look into how such an influential artiste came to be, allowing us to enter his mind and see the world through his eyes. And that's a good thing too since outside of his memoirs, Moby is known to say and do some rather perplexing things.
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' Roll
While many know Moby now as one of the most influential electronica artistes of all time, not many are aware that he began his career as a punk rock musician. And even fewer might remember a time when the artiste was lost in a world of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
Addiction, as it turns out, was not a new facet of Moby's adult life and it stemmed from his musical escapades. His father died in a drunken car crash when Moby was just two, and his mother, who struggled to make ends meet, was forced to live in a squat with her son, in the company of several drug-addicted hippies. As they relied on food stamps and welfare to get by, Moby's mother taught him to play the guitar and piano and he eventually found his way into the hardcore punk scene of the '80s, forming the post-punk band AWOL around his eighteenth birthday and eventually segueing into electronica when rock music became too 'limiting' for him.
From there until his journey to sobriety in the late 2000s, Moby's drug and alcohol-addled state would keep him in a haze or see him passed out at the bar. Moby founded the 'Area: One' tour in 2001 featuring acts like Kelis, Incubus, Gwen Stefani, Outkast, Nelly Furtado and many others. And during this phase, his life was a blur of sex and drugs and buying an excessive amount of real estate on both coasts. So lost was the musician that when his mother passed away, he was too hungover to attend her funeral. Speaking in hindsight, Moby has stated, "The reality of touring and music is that every part of it is actually bad for your health."
Feuds and dalliances
There are two extremely notable instances of Moby feuding with a fellow celebrity that stands out amid his long and illustrious career.
The most recent one that many know about is Moby's claims in his 2019 memoir, 'Then It Fell Apart', that he was once in a relationship with then 20-year-old actress Natalie Portman, a claim she vehemently denies. Instead, she states, their meeting involved "a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school." Portman also clarified, "He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18."
After initially stating her apparent denial confused him, Moby issued an apology to Portman, stating, "...many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then It Fell Apart are very valid. It was truly inconsiderate of me to not let her know about her inclusion in the book beforehand, and equally inconsiderate for me to not fully respect her reaction," adding that he should have "acted more responsibly and respectfully" when he first met Portman, on account of their "almost 14 year age difference."
Before Portman, however, Moby was part of another infamous feud with none other than the lord of the 2000-era feuds, Eminem himself. Following the rapper's performance of 'Stan' at the 2001 Grammys, Moby stated, "He’s very good at what he does, but he’s also a misogynist and homophobe and racist and anti-Semite. I’m 33 and can see through it, but I can’t imagine that an 8-year-old in Idaho sees it as just a joke." Eminem would go on to diss Moby in his music, to no one's surprise, in addition to verbally attacking him at the VMAs, threatening to beat him up, and calling him a "p*ssy." Moby responded to the feud mostly with confusion and snark, reiterating that Eminem's music was good despite being problematic.
'Defeat the Trump Agenda'
Let's get this out of the way: Moby is not a fan of Trump.
While the artiste went mostly quiet and fell out of the tabloid gossip sections following a few minor oddities before 2011, he resurfaced in 2017 when, in response to being asked to DJ Donald Trump’s inaugural ball he stated, "I guess I’d DJ at an inaugural ball if as payment #trump released his tax returns." He would follow this up with another Instagram post featuring multiple unverified claims about Trump's collusion with Russia, later claiming that CIA agents were his source and stated they wanted him to use his influence to get this information out to the masses.
And if anyone thinks that may have been a passing phase in the stream of Moby's odd remarks, you'd be wrong. Because with his latest release, 'All Visible Objects', Moby makes it abundantly clear that "defeating the Trump agenda" is on top of his to-do list.
But when he's not criticizing the Trump administration, Moby spends his time fighting for the environment, animals, civil rights, women's rights, and beyond as he continues to push for sustainability and clean alternatives.
Inventing the iPhone
Of his many outlandish claims, one that definitely continues to fascinate is Moby's claims that he had a hand in inventing the iPhone.
The story goes that when Apple was initially gearing up to launch iTunes, Moby told one of the company's heads - Jimmy Dickson - that they needed an Apple MP3 player. They weren't too sure about the idea, however, because they were still recovering from the failure of their Newton device. But Moby insisted and a few years later he was handed the first iPod and told, "Steve wanted you to have this."
Moby responded half-jokingly, "You do know at some point this is going to have a camera and a phone attached to it?" And they all had a good laugh about it because surely such a thing would never happen.
And that, according to old lore, is how the genre-defining electronica artiste Moby accidentally invented the iPhone.