moby's guide to life

The iconic musician has been there, done that, and got the eco-friendly t-shirt. As he releases his outrageously entertaining memoir, 'Porcelain,' we ask the wise one for guidance.

by Francesca Dunn
23 June 2016, 5:03pm

Moby has been making brilliant records for a long time. With 16 studio albums, 72 singles, and 96 music videos to his name, he has just released his memoir, Porcelain, which traces the ups and downs of his incredibly eventful life so far. The book follows his move to New York in 1989 and the release of his game-changing sample-heavy fifth album, Play, in 1999, a record of euphoric dance tunes that — via radio, MTV, adverts, and The Beach — weaved their way into the everyday lives of, well, everybody.

The days of hedonistic parties spiraled into drug and alcohol addiction but he made it out the other side. "Even though I've made tons of mistakes and there are a lot of things that arguably I should regret, I don't," Moby explains. "One of the things I'm most grateful for is the weird perspective that I have." He has been there, done that, met everyone, and opened not only a vegan restaurant in LA but also the minds of people across generations and the world. "The tricky thing about giving advice is that sometimes people need to make mistakes," he muses. That said, he's full of words of wisdom. So, whether you choose to take it or not, this is Moby's life advice:

1. "Empiricism is an important word; looking at things based on evidence. But I think that sometimes people aren't willing to do that. I see musicians making the same mistake over and over again and I think at some point you need to empirically assess your life and look at the things with which you've filled it: the people, the jobs, the thoughts, the hobbies, look at these things and figure out if they are actually making you happy, if they're improving your quality of life. And if they're not, then why keep them around?"

2. "It's obvious, but health comes down to consequence. By the time you're in your mid 20s, you've probably done a lot of stupid things, largely without consequences. You've eaten terrible food, you've had sex with terrible people, you've taken terrible drugs, and usually you've emerged consequence-free. But then what starts to happen in your 30s is that the consequences start catching up with you and if you eat terrible food you get fat and sick; if you do terrible drugs, you become homeless and unable to string sentences together; if you have terrible relationships, you end up miserable. You just need to be aware that when consequences start happening, it's a really good idea to change the behavior that's leading to them. It should be the most self-evident thing ever but look at the world in which we live. How many people are smoking two packets of cigarettes a day even though they're sick and can't walk up a flight of stairs?"

3. "As much as you can, do what you love. That is everything. Because if you do what you love, two things happen; there's a chance you'll get really good at it and there's also a really good chance that you'll have success with it. But even if you don't, at least you spent your life doing something that you love. The worst-case scenario is to do something you don't like, and then not even have success with it. The reason that Steve Jobs was successful was that he loved what he did. And the reason Elon Musk is successful is that he loves what he's doing. The reason Paul McCartney is an icon is that he loves what he does. It's very important.

4. "Take care of yourself. Don't be willing to compromise your wellbeing for other people. You can be generous and charitable but don't compromise yourself. If you don't want to go to a party but your friends are demanding you go to a party, stay home. As I heard someone say recently, "no" is a complete sentence. So if someone wants you to go to Majorca to go clubbing and you really just wanna stay home and work, stay home and work! Learn how to say "no" and take care of yourself, because life is short and there's no point giving up your precious time for things that you don't care about."

5. "To live a good life you have to exercise. There's no way to live a long, happy, healthy life and not exercise. It's just not possible. I live in LA and I'm a complete LA cliché; I'm a vegan, I go hiking five days a week, I do yoga, I lift weights, I go swimming, I meditate. The whole reason I wrote my four hour sleep music is that I like other people's ambient music but sometimes it's too demanding. I wanted four hours of music that was completely undemanding; no drums, no vocals, no weird sounds, just peaceful background music."

6. "Find things outside of yourself that are very important to you, like causes. What I've found over time is that people who are the most self-involved end up the least happy. We'll use Donald Trump as the example. There's never been a more selfish narcissist than Donald Trump and he's probably very miserable. There's this whole new "science of happiness" by this guy Martin Seligman at Harvard who is the first "professor of happiness" and if you read interviews with him or the Dalai Lama, there's this recurring idea that if you're concerned with people or causes or animals outside of yourself, you almost paradoxically increase your happiness. By being selfish, you paradoxically decrease your wellbeing."

7. "Whenever possible, learn how to really relax. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a martial arts expert and he was saying that the biggest enemy of health and wellbeing is stress. So it's finding happiness and relaxation; whether through dancing or listening to your favorite music or getting into a warm bath. There are basically two systems happening in our bodies; the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system which is much slower and more associated with calm and wellbeing. And through relaxation and being calm, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and avoid stress and all the illness that comes with it."

8. "The biggest environmental concern for me is that we stop using animals for agriculture; not just for the animals, but because animal agriculture causes 51% of climate change, 90% or rainforest deforestation, 75% of antibiotic use, roughly 100% of famine, 50% of heart disease/diabetes/cancer/obesity, 25% of ocean acidification, 40% of water use… so our reliance on animal agriculture is destroying us. One hundred billion animals a year are killed by and for humans. And because of the widespread use of antibiotics, especially in animal agriculture, there are new superbugs that don't respond to any antibiotics. So we're about to see global epidemics that we have no way to fight. It's going to get very dark."

9. "Don't give away your time and energy to people that don't value you. There should be a simple rule with friendships; if someone doesn't ask you questions about how you're doing, don't be their friend. If you have a friend who only talks about themselves, they are a narcissist and no good will ever come from being their friend. We've all been there. Suddenly you recognize that you've been friends with that person for ten years and the only thing you are to them is an audience to them rambling on about themselves. Life is way too short and there are too many episodes of Game of Thrones to watch to give up time for people who don't care about us. The thing with Game of Thrones though, is that it doesn't make me happy. It makes me very stressed and the characters I care about keep on dying. It's full of rape and murder but I keep watching."

10. "I am a sober alcoholic who has had a lot to drink and a lot of drugs in my life. If you find yourself having a problem with alcohol or drugs, stay away from them. The best advice I've ever received was from this old alcoholic who told me, "Do more of what works, do less of what doesn't." I thought that pretty much summed it all up."


Text Francesca Dunn