It seems like Moby hasn't been out of the public eye for more than, say, three days since the success of his 1999 album, Play, and all the auxiliary mileage he got from licensing every song on it to a commercial endeavor. So maybe it's not such a bad thing that he's trying to retain some mystery about his forthcoming album, 18, even if it's just about the meaning behind the title.
"The most simple and, unfortunately, uninteresting reason why I chose 18 as the title for my record is because there are 18 songs on it. And also I like the idea of an album title that can translate to different languages quite easily. 18 is a universal word because it's a number and it exists in many different languages. And," he said coyly, "there are a bunch of really esoteric reasons why I also chose the name 18, but I'd feel kind of foolish getting into it now."
The closest Moby would get to an explanation was a reiteration of enigmatic clues he dropped on his Web site. He said anyone who has ever spent time in Israel or who is familiar with conspiracy theories about extra-terrestrials would get the significance.
Although he's not as tight-lipped about the sound of the record, he's still not very helpful. When a friend asked what the upcoming May 14 release sounded like, the only thing the usually voluble Moby could come up with was that it's "warm."
"I know that sounds so vague and ambiguous. What's that mean when applied to music? But it's a more soulful record than things I've done in the past. Most of the singers on it apart from me are women. It's a very warm, inviting, enveloping record."
Work on 18 began as soon as the Play tour ended and Moby returned to New York. He said he set out to write songs people could use in many different ways. Even though most of the tracks were written before September 11, Moby said the album took on a new resonance after the terrorist attacks because his home studio is near the former World Trade Center. He worries people might listen to the record and think it's overindulgent.
"Maybe people just want to party and listen to big, bombastic heavy metal songs, which is fine," he said. "More power to them. But I can say that my record is not exactly a big, bombastic heavy metal record and certainly not an over-the-top party record."
Okay, so what is on 18? Well, for starters, collaborations. There's one with Sinead O'Connor and one with Mic Geranimo, MC Lyte and Angie Stone called "Jam for the Ladies," which Moby affectionately refers to as his "light-hearted hip-hop track." Strangely, the only person on that list that he has met face-to-face is Stone. "In the spirit of contemporary collaborations, we've talked on the phone, but we've never been in the same studio together," he said of the others.
In the video for the first single, "We Are All Made of Stars," Moby will play a space alien who comes down to Los Angeles, "walking around and looking at things. It might sound very simple," he said, "but Joseph Kahn is an amazing director, so he's going to make it very stylized and interesting."
This weekend Moby will premiere his own half-hour video show on MTV titled "Señor Moby's House of Music" and will perform at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games (see "Moby To Introduce New Material At Winter Olympics").