This week Moby put out Wait for Me, a beautiful ambient record partially inspired by David Lynch (check back next week for the story behind the album). And almost exactly 10 years ago, the New York-based musician released an album that grew into a global phenomenon: Play. Read Moby’s track-by-track breakdown of his 1999 smash here.
Before Play, Moby considered himself a “has-been” — albeit a has-been with fan mail from Axl Rose and Bono. And when the record first hit stores, critics and fans didn’t rush out in droves. But when people got a listen to his effortless blend of atmospheric swoops, block-rocking beats and bluesy a cappellas nicked from 40-year-old field recordings, the tide turned. Bigtime. Now the album is known not only for its hits, but for its omnipresence.
“There’s a little bit of confusion around the licensing. I’ll do interviews and almost everyone says, ‘So, you licensed every song off of Play for commercials,’ ” Moby tells RS. “I licensed some of the music to commercials, and to be honest with you, I regret having done that. Just because it’s become an odd cross to bear. Mick Jagger in 1965 got endorsed by Coke and got on stage and drank Coca-Cola. People have been selling out for a long time. The irony is that now I don’t license my songs to commercials and everybody else does. Once bitten, twice shy. I should have taken lessons from the cool indie-rockers who only license their music to countries where they don’t speak English. The hip artists revered by your contemporaries? They license their music, they just do it in South Korea.”
Dispelling the belief that his team simply rubber-stamped any and all requests to use songs from Play, Moby adds, “We said no to quite a lot of things. There was a Swedish commercial for Bernaise sauce and they wanted to use one of the songs. I was like, ‘Oh no, I can’t even stoop that low.’ “