By Paul Raushenbush

Article | Interview

Moby's music has such spiritual power of persuasion that it creates not just fans but followers. For a time, I was one of them.

This Connecticut native, a direct descendant of Herman Melville, has evolved from early-80s rocker, as a member of Flipper and Ultra Vivid Scene, into a versatile D.J., mixing the house, jungle and techno styles of dance music. His single "Go" was named one of the top 200 records of all time by Rolling Stone; and the breakbeat version of the James Bond theme (from his album "I Like to Score") reached the top ten in England.

Last summer, as the buzz built about his album, "Play," the press described him as a Christian, a vegan, and a spiritual D.J who urges concert goers to 'lift themselves to heaven'. I figured it was time for me to take a closer look at the artist I'd been vaguely aware of for a decade.

From the moment I put the album on, I fell in love with the music--just as Moby says he hopes for in the interview below. The album, now gold or platinum in 10 countries, offers an intense blend of Moby's previous styles, from dance to rock, to gospel-centered spirituals. My devotion peaked when I saw the video for "Natural Blues," whose sincere, spiritual portrait is unlike anything else in the cynically posturing MTV rotation. I became a convert, a disciple.

In the past, Moby has been ready to lead disciples like me in the attack on the enemies. He has been described as a rabid animal activist, proclaiming his album "Animal Rights," released in 1996, "an intentionally abrasive, misanthropic record." He was once a self-described Christian, who thought it was his responsibility to convert others to Christianity. He once considered himself a Marxist. He thought he had all the answers and was determined to convince and combat the world.

Today, Moby has given up labels. He still holds strong opinions (check out the album notes for "Play"), but he's no longer leading offensives against anyone. The world is "too old and too complicated," he told me, "for me to say what is right about it and what is wrong." He preaches a radical forgiveness of enemies. He prays. He attempts to understand the other side. By the end of our conversation I realized that Moby doesn't want followers, converts or disciples.

Loving the music is enough.

Article | Interview

How did you come to work with David LaChapelle on the video for "Natural Blues"?

Oh, my involvement was that I basically showed up. A few months ago, it was presented to me that David was interested. At first I was very hesitant, because, much as I love his work, most of his stuff is very bright and flashy. Obviously, the song wouldn't lend itself to a bright and flashy video. But he said he wanted to make something quite subdued and earnest. So I was thrilled to hear that, and really all the ideas on it are his.

What was the creative process like?
I showed up and sat in the make up chair for eight hours. The creative vision was completely him. It takes me a really long time to make a record and I work really hard on it, so when it comes down to making a video, I'm more than happy to entrust a song to someone that I have a great deal of respect for.

What is your spiritual evolution. Your reputation is "a Christian Vegan"
Which is a shame.

How did it come about?
When I was growing up--I came from a Presbyterian background which, in terms of dogma or ideology, meant nothing. When I was 19 or 20, I had a friend who was a youth minister who talked me into reading the New Testament. I read it, and fell in love with Christ and the teachings of Christ, which then left me in the position of, Well, how best to incorporate this into my life?

And my first reaction was to become a conventional conservative Christian. This was back in 1985-1986. So for three or four years I tried to be what I thought was a good contemporary, conventional Christian.