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Bottom out: Moby opens up about developing a drug addiction while touring the world

Global stardom can greatly affect an artist's health

  • Words: Sydney Megan Jow | Image: Jennie Warren
  • 15 February 2017

The DJ lifestyle is a rollercoaster of excessive highs and defeating lows. Moby has emerged relatively unscathed after years of relentless touring, but not before trudging through spells of alcohol and drug abuse which have compromised his life.

Moby, known by his friends as Richard Hall, is easily one of the most famous figures in electronic music, yet his soft, thoughtful voice infers he's not jaded by it all. He's sat down to talk to Mixmag about experiences with his health and how the prevailing dream of world touring is at odds with the extravagant facade that fans see it as.

He first started touring in 1990, at 26 years of age. He discovered rather abruptly that the constant travel and exposure to toxins could overshadow the rush of performing. "Not to indulge in hyperbole, but the reality of touring and music is that every part of it is actually bad for your health. Over time, it became a little too repetitive. It stopped being exciting and I just noticed the health consequences".

"When you go on tour you invariably sleep less," he explains. "You’re exposed to all sorts of toxins (both intentionally and unintentionally): toxins in the form of being in an airport and being exposed to disinfectants and cleaners and really toxic chemicals. And then you find yourself drinking too much, doing too many drugs, eating much worse food than if you were at home. So while I was excited to be on tour, I was sleeping badly, eating badly and exposed to clubs filled with cigarette smoke, not to mention being hungover."

As the push and pull progressed, Moby fell into a vicious cycle of addiction which he refers to as an obsession with control. He's completely candid with his words, explaining an intriguing view on drug abuse that most would find surprising.

"The reason, and this is a generalization and very self evident, but the reason people drink and do drugs is because they want to change how they feel. And it gives people the ability to control their neurochemistry and control their physiology. But sometimes, the more control you give to someone the more entitled and narcissistic and controlling they become.

"Sometimes, being exposed to uncomfortable environments is much healthier than self medicating as a response to uncomfortable environments. And if you constantly rely on alcohol and drugs eventually you become addicted to controlling your environment, you become addicted to controlling your neurochemistry. Which is why so many addicts, towards the end, just stay in one room. It’s their way of controlling every single aspect of their environment."

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