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I ditched booze to start new chapter; Singer-songwriter Moby on how stopping drinking helped him refocus and pen his autobiography, reminiscing about New York.. and Scotland.

Byline: JULES BOYLE

Legendary dance icon Moby has revealed he took time out to trace his Scots roots when he first played the UK in 1991.

The 50-year-old American musician, whose real name is Richard Hall, has played here on numerous occasions and has been heavily influenced by the Scottish rave scene.

But before he came here as a performer, he did so as a tourist - and his love of all things Scottish was cemented.

He said: "The first time I came to the UK, I took my only Scottish vacation. I had five days off so I took a train from London to Inverness and booked myself into a B&B. I walked around the place then went back to London.

"Half my family are Scottish, or of Scottish origin - they're the McBrides.

"Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I remember feeling a connection the moment the train crossed the border, I literally found myself breathing easier.

"When you start taking the train north of Edinburgh, there's such a sense of grandeur. That was when I first fell in love with Scotland."

He's had some incredible moments on stage and in DJ booths in Scotland since - despite a language barrier.

Moby said: "I've played so many raves, clubs, festivals and regular shows in Scotland. There's such a sense of joy and effusiveness you don't get anywhere else. I find it really inspiring - even if, at times, I didn't know what people were saying to me.

"I remember playing a small show in Glasgow and someone was yelling at me from the audience. I thought he was mad at me. I had to stop the show to figure out what he was saying. It turned out he was yelling, 'You're brilliant'. I thought he was an Eminem fan who wanted a fight."

Moby's life changed in 1990 when he released the classic dance track Go. Written and recorded as a club track, its success caught him off guard and it wasn't long before he was travelling the world off the back of it.

He said: "It was completely surprising. I never expected to have a career as a musician or make records that would get played on the radio.

"I grew up playing in punk-rock bands where huge success was making a seven-inch single that sold 100 copies.

"Go was a weird, obscure underground dance track. It was very confusing and unexpected when it became an actual well-known song.

"I never thought I was even going to leave Connecticut, where I grew up. Then all of a sudden, I'm going to the UK to play to 10,000 people at raves and being on Top of the Pops. It was very exciting but very baffling to me."

However, his success didn't last and after a few years, Moby was on the verge of calling it a day.

In 1999, he released what he thought would be his farewell album, Play. But it sold more than 12million copies and made him an international superstar.

Moby said: "By the end of the 90s, I'd become a bit of a has-been. I'd lost my record deal and had put out an album called Animal Rights that completely failed. "I thought Play was going to be my last album. It was going to be an obscure, electronic music record that nobody would pay attention to.

"The biggest hope my manager and I had was that it might sell 50,000 copies. I didn't expect anything."

Moby is grateful for MAN IN BLACK...

Moby in the 80s the life that Play and the albums that followed brought him - but success came at a price.

He said: "It was really exciting but ultimately very destructive and I had to stop drinking about eight years ago.

"When my albums Play, 18 and Hotel were doing well, I was touring and drinking constantly. I kind of went off the rails. I became a very narcissistic, entitled touring musician.

"I look back on that time with a lot of bewilderment and shame as there was a good couple of years when I was just a drunk."

It wasn't all darkness though, as his new-found celebrity brought him into the orbit of people he had grown up idolising, who suddenly saw him as their peer - people such as David Bowie and Lou Reed.

Moby said: "One of the strangest things about having a career as a public figure musician is that not only do you get to meet your heroes, you sometimes even get to play with them.

"For example, I went on tour with David Bowie. We were neighbours in New York and would have barbecues together or hang out at Christmas.

"With Lou Reed, he and I played together a bunch of times. About nine years ago, he was being honoured at the SXSW film festival and asked if I'd play Walk On The Wild Side with him.

"That's not how I saw my life going. I was going to stay in Connecticut, teach community college and make music in my spare time that nobody would ever hear. Every aspect of this has been a baffling surprise."

Moby explores that lesson in his new autobiography Porcelain, which was inspired by his life experiences in the 80s and 90s.

He said: "I was at a party in Brooklyn about five years ago and was talking to some people who had just moved to New York. I was telling them stories about what the city had been like in the 70s and 80s. They were hanging on my every word as it's such a different place now.

"At the end of it, one of them said, 'These stories are so interesting, you should write them down'.

"I wanted to write my own story but make sure New York was as important a character as I was.

"That period of the late 80s into the early 90s was such a strange time for New York politically and culturally.

"So much weird music and culture came out around that time. But one of the reasons it hasn't been documented as much is because New York was such a dangerous place then.

"The crack epidemic was like a forest fire - it destroyed everything in its path. While other drug epidemics had been bad and dangerous, they were not nearly as comprehensively destructive as crack was.

"As a result, a lot of people who would otherwise have chronicled that era either left or were so high they don't remember anything."

The book's release is accompanied by a double CD soundtrack. The first disc is full of classic Moby tracks while the second is a mix of the songs that inspired him over the years and features everyone from Joey Beltram to Big Daddy Kane.

It's an eclectic mix and one that Moby feels sums up what he was listening to and playing in the clubs of New York at that time.

He has an eye on a sequel, telling the story of what happened next, but will only proceed if he can find a way to do it in a way that hasn't been done before.

He said: "I've been trying to write Part 2 but it's kind of cliched.

"It begins with Play being successful, then I drink a lot, do a lot of drugs and by the end of the book, I'm a completely bottomed-out alcoholic. Then I get sober.

"It's an interesting story but so many people - from Robbie Williams to the guys in Guns N' Roses - have already told it."

CAPTION(S):

BITING INTO THE BIG APPLE... Photos of Moby in the 80s and 90s taken from his new book which describes life in New York at that time

MAN IN BLACK... Moby in the 80s

MUSIC IN HIS HEART ... Moby on stage in Las Vegas, above, in 2002. He has performed with Lou Reed, above right
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 10, 2016
Words:1319
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