Moby on the Techno-Fatalism of His New Music Video & Manifesto

He says that his picked poison is Instagram. "If I have five minutes of boredom or discomfort, it keeps the void at bay."
October 20, 2016, 12:35pm
Screencaps and GIFs by the author, via

These Systems Are FailingMoby's new record with The Void Pacific Choir, comes with both a music video and a video manifesto dedicated to the world that needs to see it. "We need to let these systems fail," Moby says in this call to action, because “We’re still acting as our ancestors acted, grasping for food, destroying nature, killing animals, killing each other, maintaining systems that haven’t worked in a long time."

For the music video, Moby enlisted animator Steve Cutts to visualize the ideas he's grappled with for over four decades of music-making and advocacy. The result of their collaboration is a Disney-meets-Alodus Huxley, vintage-looking but all too modern-feeling video made for the single, "Are You Lost in the World Like Me." The collection of easily GIF-able scenes (see below) makes for deeply effective anti-smartphone propaganda, weaving the modes of living at the heart of Moby's manifesto into a memorable narrative.

Cutts' monochrome protagonist is a boy seemingly immune to the allure of the black mirror. Everybody else in this world is ignoring harassment on the subway, abiding cyberbullying, and falling into manholes because they're facedown in their devices. "I'm just as guilty," confesses Moby to The Creators Project. His picked poison is Instagram. "If I have five minutes of boredom or discomfort, it keeps the void at bay."

In "Are You Lost in the World Like Me," everyone is scrolling, snapping, and swiping their way to an impersonal society eerily similar to the London of Huxley's Brave New World.

Cutts was previously best known for his short film Man, a satirical summary of humanity's dominion over nature. A technology wielding Man cuts down forests, clubs baby seals, and erects pollution factories and industrial farms to the quickening notes of "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Moby, an avid environmentalist and early public proponent of veganism, was among the 19.5 million YouTube viewers mesmerized by Cutts' work. A Moby fan since the age of 10, Cutts jumped at the chance.

The two worked together to build a story fleshing out the manifesto's cry: “These systems are killing us. These systems are killing everything. These systems are failing." Cutts' first-listen to the song immediately inspired in him the final video's dark, claustrophobic atmosphere. "The vibe I got from was about feeling disjointed and out of sync with the world, being overwhelmed by the things happening around us, feeling alone in the crowd, feeling disconnected from people," he told us.

The imagery in the video, which includes a dead-eyed crowd apathetically capturing video of a woman jumping from a tall building, is damning of the digital prosthetic. But both Moby and Cutts admit it's more complicated than their short film makes it seem. "The video is about loss of human connection—people together, yet living in seperate digital worlds," Cutts explains. "Technology can be a great thing. For me it's about moderation, the line between tech being an aid, serving way we choose to live or completely taking over and becoming our lives."

See more of Steve Cutts' work on his website. Follow Moby hereThese Systems Are Failing is out now on record labels Little Idiot and Mute.

Related:

An Interview With Moby: The Man With Two Facebook Accounts

Minimalist Optical Patterns Emerge in Max Cooper's New Music Video

Squarepusher's New Music Video is a 360º VR Adventure