Moby and his obsession with Drum Machines
Rick Moody: So when you say you obsessively collect drum machines, just how obsessively do you mean?
Moby: There are seven billion people on the planet, and I realize I will never ever be the best at anything. But I can potentially have the world’s largest collection of drum machines. So when I say obsessively, it’s obsession with a purpose. Ultimately, I want to have one of every drum machine made up until 1982. After 1982, they became more digital, and I sort of lose interest. But the old analog ones, I have always loved them.
Moody: What would the last one be, in 1982, the Roland 808?
Moby: The end point would be the very early digital drum machines, like the Linn Drum. So I collect the early digital ones like the DMX, which is an early hip-hop drum machine, and the 808 and the 909, but then, after that, the digital drum machines started to get a little too fancy, and a little too slick.
Moody: So when you collect all these things is it with the intention of actually using them in your own work or is this a collection just for the sake of a collection?
Moby: I love to use them in my own music. The great thing about a drum machine is that you just kind of turn it on, and it does quite a lot of the work for you. But the old drum machines were never that good. The drum machines post-1982, 1983, actually sort of tried to sound like drummers. But what I liked about the old drum machines is that they never sounded like a drummer, they sounded like a drum machine.
In the sixties and seventies, drum machines were just compared to other drum machines, they weren’t compared to real drummers. And they were never supposed to replace a real drummer. And then, in the eighties, with digital technology they could actually have drum programs that in a crummy sort of way tried to sound like a real drummer. That’s when I lost interest. I liked them when they sounded more synthetic and electronic. Also, nowadays, a lot of electronic music is produced exclusively on the computer, so there’s no physical sound production. So no one makes drum machines anymore.
I’m almost a custodian of these old drum machines that have been in church basements and lounges at Marriott hotels, somewhere in New Jersey. And a lot of them have notes written on them, like this one, I don’t know if it works or not, but someone at some point put masking tape on it, with a little note to himself. This one, down here, see, someone again, someone wrote their own little codes in pencil. Samba, here, they put a red X there, and wrote a note that says, “No.” Clearly, whoever it was hated the samba?