Moby is on a feral mission. In fact, he has been for more than 30 years. Now, the globally renowned DJ/musician/composer/activist’s message has taken center stage thanks to the first-ever Circle V music festival in Los Angeles at the Fonda Theatre. It’s here that the longtime spokesman for animal rights called upon his friends in that community to come together to raise awareness for the vegan lifestyle.
“I’ve been a vegan now for 29 years and I’ve been an animal rights activist for even longer than that,” Moby tell DJ Mag USA a week prior to the festival. “Honestly, at this point in my life, animal rights activism — that’s sort of my life’s work."
"I love making music, I love writing books, but personally there’s nothing more important to me than working on the cause of animal rights.”
Approached about 10 months ago by friend and fellow musician, Tony Kanal, from the band No Doubt, along with Nathan Runkle who runs Mercy For Animals, they pondered why there wasn’t an animal rights festival in the United States. “We couldn’t think of a good reason there shouldn’t be one, so we went to Goldenvoice and — much to our surprise — Goldenvoice very enthusiastically agreed to help us get it started and promote it,” he reveals.
The concept behind Circle V is threefold. First, they wanted to raise money for Mercy For Animals, an international non-profit organization with the goal of preventing animal cruelty to farm animals, as well as promoting alternative food choices and policies. Goal number two: Create a meeting place and galvanizing event for people who are already in the animal rights movement. Lastly, they aimed to promote the cause of animal rights and veganism to non-vegans and people new to the concept.
“For this first year, everybody involved is a vegan,” Moby points out. “Blaqk Audio, Cold Cave, DJ Valida, Jamie Kilstein — who’s an amazing comedian — all the vendors, all the speakers.” He says non-vegans and meat-eaters were completely welcome, but they thought for this first year that the line-up had to be pretty rigorously consistent.
“I’ve been in the vegan/animal rights world for a long time, [so] picking the speakers in a way was the hardest part,” he says, citing the plethora of authors, filmmakers and activists he’s interacted with over the years. “The fact that we had to narrow the list down, that was the difficult part. In terms of actually picking them, everybody who’s speaking is a friend of mine, so it was as simple as just sending personal emails to people asking if they’d be willing to speak.”
To say Moby has a lot of friends is an understatement. However, it doesn’t hurt that “generally, in the vegan/animal rights world, everybody’s really committed,” he says. “People will bend over backwards to try and accommodate any opportunity to talk about animal rights and animal welfare.”
No vegan event would be complete without highlighting alternative food options. “Not to be nepotistic, but my restaurant [Little Pine] will be there. The thing is, the logistics of serving food at a festival is quite challenging, so there were many people who were really enthusiastic about it, but not a lot of people were able to satisfy the logistical requirements of serving food at a festival.”
Circle V isn’t the only extension of Moby’s love for animals. He also teamed up for a new project called The Void Pacific Choir, with which he reaches a global audience for the cause via the video for their indie collab titled, ‘Don’t Leave Me’. Live band footage intermingles with footage highlighting the brutal cruelty bestowed upon farm animals, as well as other animal abuse.
“I’m 51 years old and I still make albums and there’s something patently absurd about that because it’s 2016 and people don’t really buy albums"
“People don’t really listen to albums, so it sort of begs the question, ‘why do I keep making albums’?”
On the one hand, he says, it’s because he loves the process, working in the studio and creating an interesting collection of songs. “But also I use albums as a way of drawing attention to issues that are important to me,” he says. “At this point in my life, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with escapism or frivolous culture, but it needs to be balanced with issue-oriented music and culture because the world in which we live is falling apart and I feel like it becomes incumbent upon each one of us to just act responsibly and use our voice to draw attention to issues that are important.”
It’s not just animal rights that has Moby’s attention. He also questions the quality of human life in a digital world, as exemplified by his ‘Are You Lost In The World Like Me?’ animated video. “The idea behind that is it’s not necessarily a criticism of technology, it’s just more looking at our collective loneliness and isolation and how we are sort of sadly living inauthentic lives through our phones and computers,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with phones and computers, but you /*-can’t have a real life lived virtually. He adds, “I love going online and I love Instagram and I love Snapchat, I love all these things, but you can’t replace real existence and you can’t replace direct encounters and direct experience with something that you have on the screen of your phone. So it’s sort of just looking at this isolation as the world is falling apart, people are almost turning their back on the world, playing Candy Crush and seeing how many likes they got on Facebook.”
If you want to get out back in the real world for a good cause, but missed out on all the festivities, the team aims to bring back Circle V in 2017. “We have some really committed, powerful people involved like Goldenvoice and Mercy For Animals, they’re two organizations that really know what they’re doing, so I don’t see why [Circle V] wouldn’t be an annual, recurring thing,” he assures. The giving and taking must have balance when it some to spreading cash earnings. Moby wouldn’t have it any other way. “It makes me uncomfortable to go out and try and convince people to give me money just for me. I’m not criticizing other people that do that, but at this point in my life I’m just uncomfortable doing that.”
As he signs off we are left with one lingering statement from the courageous multi-talent and — we’ll just say it — legend: “I almost feel like — moving forward — I want every aspect of my professional life to serve my charitable/philanthropic life.” And with that, everything comes full circle.
Words: DEANNA RILLING