From outcast to electronica icon, Moby visits home
Published 2:46 am, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
STAMFORD — He might have largely dwelled in the shadows of the dark side of Darien, but Richard Melville Hall, aka Moby, remains one of the town’s most successful sons.
Moby is a world-renowned DJ and electronica musician who has sold more than 20 million records worldwide, and a vegan animal rights activist. Among his compositions is “Extreme Ways,” the theme for the Jason Bourne spy movies. Moby made an appearance Saturday at the Factory Street Works, a nonprofit contemporary art space in Stamford, in partnership with Barrett Bookstore of Darien. There he read from his new memoir “Porcelain,” drew self-portraits as a signature in copies of the book for fans, and reminisced about growing up in Darien and later living in Stamford.
“There are some pretty nice pictures in there,” he said of the book, “and by nice, I mean pictures where I had hair.”
Moby had the large crowd laughing aloud recounting smoking pot at “the aptly named Weed Beach,” discovering his beloved kitten that had been left for dead at the town dump, and hanging out as a kid with another Darienite who would become well known, Robert Downey Jr.
“In hindsight, it was the perfect place in which to be sad,” he said of Darien High School, where he identified himself as one of the poorest kids in town at that time.
But Moby also spoke appreciatively of the town, in particular the education he received, including great memories of the high school library.
“We lived in this safe, cloistered environment with amazing public schools and New York City was 40 miles away,” he said.
“I like the fact that he was an outcast in Darien and has become so successful,” said Bob Lee of Westport. “You don’t have to be the popular kid to be successful.”
In his early 20s Moby spent a couple of years living in an abandoned factory on the south side of Stamford, trying to find success in New York.
“It’s very interesting and disconcerting,” he said of returning there, “especially because the old factory where I lived is now a $1 million designer loft ... It’s really odd. It’s nice, but it’s disconcerting.”
Moby read from the memoir in which he described that neighborhood in the late 1980s, where he had a 100-square-foot area for which he paid “squatter’s rent” of $50 a month to the security guards at the abandoned factory.
“I was happy,” he said. “I loved my crumbling brick walls. I loved the old factory smells,” as well as his southern exposure. “I loved everything about my life in the abandoned factory.”
Moby also spoke about working at the mall in Stamford, as well as a couple landmark Darien locations including Johnny’s Records.
“I guess when I was growing up music was like magical alchemy for me,” he said. “I remember the first time I heart the Clash on WNEW and it made my life change.”
“This is a wonderful collaboration with us and Barrett Bookstore, who brought Moby to us,” said Bonnie Wattles, executive director of the nonprofit contemporary art space. “We’re so happy to have him here.”