Moby's "Night" celebrates New York dance music
By Kerri Mason
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Ask Moby that requisite question about career regrets, and he won't give you the requisite answer. He does, he says, have a few.
"There are things that I've done that I think I've done badly," the veteran dance-music artist says. "Some of the songs I've made, I'm really disappointed in how I mixed them. And some decisions I've made were more fueled by desperation than anything; some of the more gratuitous licensing things. But at the same time, I don't let myself regret things to the point that I'm paralyzed. You make mistakes and you learn from them."
It makes sense for Moby to be the one to introduce the era of licensing repentance -- regrets over deals with advertisers and filmmakers for the use of his music. Nearly 10 years ago, he was the poster boy for the industry's newest revenue stream. In addition to selling 2.7 million copies of his 1999 album "Play" (V2), according to Nielsen SoundScan, all 18 tracks landed in movies, TV shows and advertising spots for everything from American Express to Bailey's Irish Cream. The album's drowsy electronic blues was omnipresent to the point that the former rave DJ became known more for his deal-making than his music.
The follow-up, "18," continued in a similar vein, musically and otherwise; and 2005's "Hotel" was so guitar-driven that Moby seemed like a different animal altogether.
But his new album, "Last Night," out April 1, is neither too safe nor off-brand. His first effort for new label Mute is a shock of electronic energy, a combination of the pre-"Play" Moby's warehouse party beats and the polish of a multiplatinum artist. He's not trying to sell you a Toyota -- he's trying to make you dance.
Meant to condense an entire night out in New York -- and the whole arc of New York dance music, starting with disco and including hip-hop -- "Last Night" bops and grooves without apologies, herding today's dance-rock indie kids on the same dance floor as their finicky "we lived through it" elders.
"My big inspiration was going out and hearing DJs in their 20s playing records I grew up with," Moby says. "There are two ongoing trends in dance: being avant-garde and cutting edge and being gently nostalgic and fun. I wanted to worry less about the first."
Should the demand arise, Moby says he'll tour not with "a conventional live show," but a "DJ set with some live elements. I get really excited by other people's records."
He has also started a Web site, mobygratis.com, where noncommercial or nonprofit filmmakers can download his music for free use in their projects.
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