The final word struck him and stuck for the album's title. Maybe that was because the music was mostly created while on tour during his nightly battle with insomnia. As anyone who battles the condition can attest, it can certainly leave a person feeling destroyed (even after a few cups of coffee).
Spinner recently caught up with Moby while he was renovating his new home -- a Hollywood Hills mansion built in the '20s -- to talk about his sleepless nights and how they affected the new album.
The new digs sound cool. Is it a classic old Hollywood house?
I like it. It's actually right below the Hollywood sign, so it is the quintessential old Hollywood house. It was built in the '20s and a lot of different people have either lived here or spent time here. Marlon Brando lived here for a little while, the Beatles stayed here for a little while. It's one of those weird old iconic L.A. houses. When I bought it, it was completely falling apart. It looked like total squalor, so I spent the last year doing all the basic stuff like putting on a new roof, sewer lines and electrics. Now it's looking much better. The construction isn't that stressful, you hire someone who hopefully knows what their doing. I finished the last tour about 10 months ago and the whole time I was on tour I was working on music.
There's so much downtime on tour, but you had an extra amount with your insomnia.
There are some people who are cut out for touring. I have some friends who go on the road and they sleep well in hotels and on tour buses. I am not one of those people. I've been touring for 20 years and I couldn't be more ill-suited to touring. I get terrible jet lag, I can't sleep on a tour bus and I can't sleep in hotels. The good side of all this is, I guess, I get a bit more done because I'm only sleeping three or four hours a night.
How do the album and the photo book relate to each other?
The album and the book were really made at the same time; thematically they work together. The album was primarily written late night in hotel rooms. The book is primarily photographed on tour while I was traveling. I don't know if anyone else will think they make sense together, but for me they do. To be honest, I was very hesitant to release a book of photographs because it does seem like in the era of digital photography, any jerk with a digital camera considers himself a photographer. I was very wary of being perceived as that jerk with the digital camera.
Some people say they only need a few hours of sleep, not the full eight.
Every now and again, I'll read an interview with someone who's a crazy Type A personality who say they only need four hours of sleep. I personally need eight hours of sleep, but I only get four. I'm not one of these crazy captains of industry who eat nails for breakfast and sleep for three hours. I am someone who is always tired.
Do you ever feel rested?
Every now and again, about three days of the year, I'm well-rested and it's such an unfamiliar feeling. It's nice. I wish I could do it more often. Not to self-involvedly talk about my sleep problems, but it's an insidious cycle: you sleep for four hours, so you drink coffee, then coffee keeps you awake so you can't sleep, so you get four hours sleep, so you drink coffee. The coffee and the tea exacerbate the problem but they help you get through the day.
Insomnia is something a lot of people will relate to. It can plays tricks, though, and impair your judgment. It seems you self-edit well.
I hope so. I just keep writing. My attitude to work has always been to keep writing and keep writing. I feel like if I do that it increases the chance that I might end up with something I like. As far as editing, I only start editing, as far as selecting pieces when I am going to play music for other people. I am perfectly happy to churn out crap -- I just don't want to play it for people. On the other hand, every now and then you write what you think is a throwaway loser and it ends up being something people like. I try to not put too much pressure on myself in that first stage of writing and just write and write and write. I don't feel a need to share anything with people until I think it might have some merit.
Insomnia or not, that's a good method for creating anyway: Just go with it.
I don't know. I have a lot of artist friends who are crippled because they feel that everything they create has to be fantastic. That's an awful lot of pressure to put on the creative process at the beginning. I'm perfectly happy to make bad music. I just hope that I never play it for anyone. You weed out the bad stuff, hopefully there's a good album at the end of it and the bad stuff sits on the shelf never to be heard.
Do you think that David Bowie had insomnia when he created 'The Laughing Gnome'?
I'm sure there's a part of him that wishes he'd left it on the shelf. But, in his case, a career like his where he's been making amazing records for 40 years and he's only put out one bad song, that's a pretty good track record. It's an entertaining song. At least it has entertainment value.