moby's guide to old new york

As he releases his new album These Systems Are Failing, Moby takes us back to NYC circa 1982 for nights out watching Minor Threat in the basement of Danceteria, and halcyon days eating ice cream sundaes and watching MTV at the back of his favourite...

by Frankie Dunn
10 October 2016, 5:15pm

Moby has been there, done that, released 16 studio albums and got the eco-friendly T-shirt. Having made some of the most iconic dance music of the past 40 years, we're pleased to see he shows no signs of stopping. With a brutally honest and entertaining memoir Porcelain out in the world, the artist is currently counting down the days (2) until he releases his new album as Moby & The Void Pacific Choir, These Systems Are Failing. Complete with actual manifesto about how we, the people of earth, continue to destroy nature and kill each other despite knowing better, the record is a furious post-human sounding call to arms. If, like us, his first single Are You Lost In The World Like Me? left you screaming YES! back at him then maybe you should just head back to New York circa 1982 where Moby, age 16, was having the time of his life...

"I would've been 16, and it's when I first started spending a lot of time in New York City and going out to clubs. It was a magical, magical time." The record that best represents his city of dreams is the title track from his 2007 album, Last Night, "a very obscure quiet song with these beautiful female vocals on it. Of all the songs I've made, even thought it's not a dance song, it's somehow the one that makes me feel like I'm in the New York that I grew up with." Press play and time travel back to early eighties in the big apple with Moby's guide to old New York...

To eat: DOJO
"It was a very inexpensive vegetarian Japanese restaurant on St Mark's Place. I was a broke 16-year-old and you could go in there and get a plate of food for $1.99. This was back before New York was remotely gentrified so you could see artists, punk rockers, drag queens, homeless people, and the most eclectic group of people hanging out in this restaurant."

To drink: The Pyramid
"It's still there. I walked past it the other day, it's on Avenue A, and I can't believe it's still there because everything else in New York has gone. It was back when the East Village was really dangerous but exciting, and if I remember rightly, all the waitresses at the Pyramid were drag queens. But they would have punk rock playing and hip hop DJs and reggae DJs and even though I was 16, nobody ever asked for ID. It just had this lawless environment and I remember getting very drunk there with my friends and just thinking it was so exciting."

For inspiration: Rocks In Your Head
"It was a magical record store on Prince Street; it was very small and they had a soda fountain at the back, and this was clearly before I became a vegan, because you could get an ice cream sundae and watch music videos. Keep in mind, this is before MTV existed, or if it existed we certainly didn't have it. So the only way you could see videos was in these record stores, so we would sit at this counter and watch Buzzcocks videos and Killing Joke videos and New Order videos and we just thought it was the most exciting place in the world."

For music: Danceteria
"So this was a few years before I started DJing. In 1982, my friends and I were just interested in seeing live music. Danceteria was six levels with different music on every level, and that was where I was exposed to a lot of music that I wasn't intending to hear. Meaning, I would go there to see The Bad Brains or Minor Threat in the basement. But then you'd walk up to the second floor and there'd be a hip hop DJ, and then on the floor above they'd be playing Bauhaus videos and then upstairs there'd be someone playing Frank Sinatra records. So I don't know who the DJs were, but there were some really special things going on there."

To escape: the bridges
"For me the best thing about New York then, and now, are the bridges. One of the things that has always made the city so remarkable is that it's completely surrounded by moving water. And even now when I go back, it's the most magical thing because you have these huge bridges and they were all built in the 19th or early 20th century, and to walk across the bridge and be able to see all of Manhattan and the water and the statue of Liberty in the distance and then look back at Brooklyn... just by taking a few steps you find this completely different perspective."

Related: Follow Moby's Guide To Life


Text Frankie Dunn

New York
City Guide
These Systems Are Failing
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