Most people would agree that Moby has lived a pretty badass life. He’s a Grammy-nominated artist, a critically-acclaimed electronic musician, a restaurateur and a successful businessman. In his new memoir Porcelain, we have the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of what it’s really like to be him. Well, at least the late 80s and 90s version of him. Hint: it includes threesomes, warehouse raves and lots of vomit.
But with every page of raucous debauchery, there is also a page recounting shocking and self-deprecating lows. An unfiltered look at “rock bottom” moments, consequences of drug-addled behavior and frail insecurities, these moments feel almost unnecessarily honest; like airing out dirty laundry that people didn’t have to know existed.
But Moby sees things a bit differently.
“Everyone’s looking for magic,” he says to me slowly over the phone. “Everyone’s looking for the thing that will somehow protect them from the human condition. And one of the things I love about sobriety and spirituality is it forces us to go deep within the human condition in a very honest way.”
And let’s face it. We all have our shit to deal with (literally or not).
Throughout our conversation, Moby uses the words “sobriety” and “spirituality” interchangeably. To him, they’re one and the same as they both sit squarely on the holy foundation of honesty. Ever since he got sober in 2008, he’s experienced almost a kind of rebirth—and honesty is the only way he can live productively.
He continues and draws a parallel to AA, which he’s been going to for 8 years now. “If someone actually shares and is honest, everyone benefits. But if someone shares and you can tell they’re being disingenuous or dishonest, it just feels like a waste of time.”
Not everyone shares the same kind of enlightenment though. In fact, as Moby sees far too regularly, some people will waste their whole lives searching for that magic. And it doesn’t even always have to revolve around drugs or alcohol.
Moby explains, “Everybody’s hoping to find the thing that’s going to enable them to trick existence. They’re all sort of looking to find the magic worm hole that will take them out of the human condition and put them into some magic realm where they’re protected. But that doesn’t exist and we’ve all done it with lots of things—whether it’s sex or drugs or alcohol or the pursuit of fame or money or what have you.”
It’s a tragic, insatiable search for fantasy in a far too realistic world. That’s why, to him, the beautiful thing about recovery is that “it asks us to deal with things as they actually are [and] to deal with ourselves as we actually are.”
So who are we, exactly? Though he does not consider himself a Buddhist, Moby addresses this soul-searching question with the Buddhist quote, “A troubled mind can’t exist in a contented body.” This means that Moby finds both physical and spiritual care of great importance in recovery. “I have friends who are in recovery and they drink seven cups of coffee a day, smoke cigarettes, eat terribly,” he says. “And they wonder why they feel like shit.”
So beyond exercising, eating healthy (vegan) and getting enough rest, Moby also meditates, reads AA or other types of spiritual literature and is constantly in a state of prayer. He admits, “I don’t know who I’m praying to but it’s just praying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’”
As far as how Porcelain’s honesty might affect his career, Moby says, “The only thing I worried about in writing this book and publishing it was how it would affect my family and how it might affect the relationship I’m in now or future relationships if they happen. Those are really my only concerns, but what I’ve learned overtime is worrying about career doesn’t always make things better and it certainly rarely improves the quality of the individual or the quality of the art that they make.”
If given the opportunity, we’d all probably write our memoir like the main arc of a superhero story. However, in Porcelain, Moby shatters any glorified image of himself on the ground and doesn’t bother picking up the pieces. He’s no hero, by any means—instead, he’s gloriously human.