Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Jimmy Vallance, Bob Moses — ‘Play’ by Moby
I was 10 years old when I discovered Moby’s album Play. I vividly remember renting a VHS of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds and ‘Flower’ was the opening song to the film. I flipped out! I rewound the tape maybe five times just to listen to that song over and over again. I hadn’t really been exposed to electronic music yet and until that moment, was on a heavy diet of late 90’s alt rock. I had to have this song, but I didn’t know the title, and couldn’t figure out who had made it. The pre-internet days were rough, but in retrospect, the scavenger hunt of finding music you loved was so rewarding.
The soundtrack ended up being an electronic goldmine, stacked with artists like: The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method to name a few. But for the time being, I just kept replaying the beginning of the VHS tape to get my fix.
I went down to Virgin records with my dad a few days later and we did the most sensible thing, bought the soundtrack. We made the mistake of getting the original music for the film, which was composed by Trevor Rabin. So I popped this CD into my stereo and the song I was looking for was nowhere to be found. I combed through every second of that CD, I thought maybe there was a special edit made for the film hiding in there…no luck. So we went back to Virgin records and ended up finding the actual soundtrack. Sure enough, ‘Moby – Flower’ was the first song on the CD and my itch had finally been scratched. My father recognized the name and said his friend had just gifted him a CD by Moby. So he gave me the album to listen to.
Of course I fell in love with it, but my first reaction was one of pure confusion. I couldn’t understand how someone? something? people? made this music. My understanding of music production at that point was that you needed a band playing instruments in a room together. Moby’s album didn’t sound like it was made by a conventional band. There were multiple singers, different playing styles. I didn’t even know what sampling was yet. Even though the music was very cohesive, it sounded like it had been made by a collective. As fascinated as I was by the songs, it was the first time I remember wanting to know how music was made. It was like I had seen a magic show and I wanted to get a peak behind the curtain.
When I finally discovered it was made on a bunch of machines by one guy, my head exploded. I became obsessed with finding out how someone could make such good sounding music on their own. They didn’t need fancy studios or even other band members, just a couple machines and some good ideas.
I’m an only child and have always been into playing music. Finding other people, who were serious about playing music was tough at that age. Knowing that there was someone out there doing this on their own was very inspiring to me. I think sub consciously it set me off on trying to learn a little bit of every instrument, hoping that one day, when I figured out the magic trick, I’d be ready!
I loved how the album didn’t stick to conventional pop structures and had a calm, but carefully calculated flow to it. It’s one of the first albums I didn’t listen to “just for the hits”. I was into the record as a body of work more than just its parts. I would find this same feeling again when I was exposed to mix compilations later on, but at that time I wasn’t even aware of what a DJ really was yet. But Play first gave me the idea that you could have more than three minutes and thirty seconds to get your message across, and if you were good at you craft, people would listen to the whole thing.
Now that I know more of Moby’s history, that he himself was a punk rocker turned techno-head, it makes perfect sense why that record clicked with my 10 year old self. I still reference Play to this day. I fall in love with different songs, at different points, for different reasons. It is a guiding light for me during the hard times of music production. It reminds me that ideas don’t have to be overly complex and that as long as the vibe is good, you’re on the right path.