Watch your head,” Moby says thoughtfully as he guides me up the ladder that leads from his living room to his roof. The smallish loft we’ve just left is Ikea-like in its design and decor; the walls are a stark white, and there are few decorations. It’s been his home for years—since before he sold 15 million records, before his 1999 smash “Play” was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and before he became one of the world’s most recognized electronic artists.
Richard Melville Hall—nicknamed Moby after family ancestor and Moby Dick author Herman Melville—hasn’t shaved for a while and is wearing an old T-shirt, faded jeans, and thick black glasses. It’s windy on the roof, which is decorated with plants. With a gorgeous view of the New York City skyline around us, and his Little Italy neighborhood directly below, the soft-spoken, courteous pop star settles down for an interview. Topic A? Jesus.
“When I was around 19 or 20, I read the New Testament, specifically the gospels, and I was just struck by their divinity—the feeling that humans could not have figured this out on our own. We’re just not bright enough,” he says. “I also was struck by how utterly difficult so many of the teachings were. I was expecting a pat on the head, like, you know, ‘Go be nice to people and be forgiving and friendly.’”
The gospel teachings were so overwhelming he didn’t think he could follow them. Then he came across Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” “That put it all into focus,” Moby said. “It’s not just arbitrary, harsh teachings; it’s harsh teachings with a purpose and motivated by divine love and compassion.”