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EDM's "Dirty Little Secret" is Drugs, Moby Tells Larry King

The musician also considered why he never re-achieved the success of his seminal album 'Play'.
Photo via Larry King Now /

Celebrated electronic musician Moby, real name Richard Melville Hall, has a lot to talk about. His seminal album Play was released at the turn of the millennium at a moment when dance music was finding its way out of dirty underground New York warehouses and into the mainstream. He's recently jotted all of this down into a memoirPorcelain: A Memoir, named after his critically acclaimed track "Porcelain" (yup, the one from The Beach)—and he appeared on Larry King's talkshow today to promote it. Among the topics they touched upon were Hall's friendship with David Bowie, why he never re-achieved the success of his seminal electronica album Play, and electronic dance music, especially its affiliation with drug culture.


Explaining EDM's resurgence in popularity to the longtime TV and radio host, Hall cited the promoters of the Electric Daisy Carnival as helping to revive it after the genre waned at the turn of the millennium. "I first played there in 2007, or 2008," he told King, "and I thought I was going to an underground party. Instead I walked into a stadium…with 75,000 people in attendance for a production that was a cross between Cirque Du Soleil and the Olympics." He continued: "I immediately understood that if you're 18 and you're surrounded by 75,000 other 19 or 20 year olds, and you are surrounded by the best sound and the best visuals, it's hard not to take ecstasy and get caught up in that."

When King cut to the chase and asked: "so it's associated with drugs?" Hall briefly considered the question before replying: "the dirty secret of electronic dance music is that it's very associated with drugs. If you're at a rave, and there are 50,000 people there, the number of people who are not on drugs is a statistical anomaly."

King also grilled Hall on his failure to recapture the success of his 1999 album Play: "You've never top that since, why?" When Hall responds "That's a good question," King slaps him down: "You keep saying that. That's what I'm here to do." Taking the hit, Hall revealed that he had desperately wanted to recapture Play's success, which he said he made for himself when he was broke and on the verge of giving up his music career: "Play had a sort of innocence to it, because I didn't think anyone was going to listen to it." He contrasted Play with the comparable failure of his subsequent albums by citing Occam's Razor, the philosophy that the simplest way forward is always the best. "Maybe I just tried to hard."

Stream the full Larry King Now episode here.