BEVERLY HILLS, California — There must be something in all those books he owns about balancing superstar projects with street credibility.
After producing "Early Mornin' " for Britney Spears' In the Zone, Moby is dropping an underground techno record under an alias.
As Voodoo Child, a moniker he used during the mid-'90s, the dance-music maestro is releasing Baby Monkey on January 27. "It was fun making a record without having to worry about any commercial pressure," Moby said recently. "I don't expect it to sell anything. There aren't any singles, and we aren't going to make any videos. No promotion, just a nice dance record."
The idea to revive Voodoo Child came during the year and a half Moby was touring behind 2002's 18 (see "Moby Congratulates Eminem, Makes Aliens Drunk And Fat"), a more commercial follow-up to his break-out album, Play.
"We went to after-show parties almost every night, and it invariably involved listening to house music and techno until 5 in the morning," Moby explained. "So when I finished the tour, I decided to make a sort of anonymous underground dance record and put it out under a different name."
Moby enjoyed diving back into the kind of music he was making when he started in the business, although he felt a bit lost in a style that has expanded into dozens of subgenres over the last decade.
"I'm probably kind of stunted," he said. "Anyone who really knows dance music will probably listen to Voodoo Child and think how hopelessly out of date I am, but it was fun to make and hopefully people will like it."
As for the Britney record, Moby said it shouldn't have shocked fans who followed his career closely.
"I used to do a lot more production and remix work," he said. "I've worked with Metallica, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, the Beastie Boys, Prodigy and David Bowie. I've worked with a lot of people, so I thought it would be interesting to work with Britney and have another interesting name on the résumé."
Moby plans to keep producing, so long as the artists who approach him meet his qualifications.
"I like people who can sing really well," he said. "Working with someone like David Bowie was amazing because he has such a unique voice."
The producer will not, however, collaborate with any artists when he starts his next Moby album in the coming months. Past albums have featured Gwen Stefani, Sinéad O'Connor and MC Lyte.
"This whole trend of celebrity collaborations feels more marketing-driven than music-driven," he explained. "What do people love more, music or marketing? So for my next record I'm probably not going to have any celebrity collaborations. I'd rather just make music for the love of music and not worry about the marketing."
Though he's in no hurry, Moby hopes to release the proper follow-up to 18 in September.