When Moby Met His Gregory’s Girl
Everywhere I go recently I keep hearing Moby’s new album and it got me thinking. Of how, just as Moby was propelled into unfathomable fame, a Showbiz memoir was unfolding.
As anyone in TV will tell you, right before you meet a famous person, you wonder what they’ll be like. Will they be a diva-like James Corden, or closer to a darling-like Tom Hanks…ahem.
It’s a toss-up, so always best to prepare for the worst.
The assignment was to produce an entertainment segment with Moby at ‘Homelands’, a huge EDM music festival held in the U.K. I’d pitched the idea to my boss at the BBC, for our show, ‘Fully Booked’.
“You’ve triple A access!”, shrilled my boss, “lucky you, those tickets are like gold dust, everybody wants to go.”, thus giving me the green light.
“You’ll need enough for a good 7 - 10min VT”, he said, as he handed me three laminate passes.
The producer (me in this case), wears several hats, from directing the crew, to managing the logistics. And most importantly, getting as much good content out of the celebrity as possible.
At the festival, held in a huge field in the middle of nowhere, we’re escorted backstage to the artist area, where we wait patiently. A little while later we’re told we can start setting up the camera and lights in Moby’s trailer.
The trailer was a large porta-cabin, stark and empty apart from a sofa, some chairs and a table displaying Moby’s rider.
An average Hospitality Rider usually includes alcohol, soft drinks, water and snacks. The more famous the person, often the greater the demands…and ‘more better’ rider.
Take Usher’s rider, we provided for a one day shoot: organic everything, junk food and sweet drinks replaced with seaweed snacks and alkaline water. The room temperature set at 76 degrees with two artisan candles burning (I’ve been hooked on Le Labo’s ‘Santal’ ever since).
I walked over to Moby’s rider and scanned the table, surveying the goodies.
“Right, let’s see what’s in Moby’s Rider, shall we?”, and to my surprise I spot some chocolate treats. “Ha! isn’t Moby supposed to be Vegan?”
Suddenly I heard a male voice behind me say, “He is. Would you like some chocolate?”
I swung around and turned red faced when I see Moby, standing in the doorway, looking straight at me.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…”.
Unfazed Moby winked and smirked, “Promoters these days.”
Surprised at how non-starry he was, I introduced myself, apologized again, and hurried the crew, to finish setting up the camera.
Moby took great interest in everyone, asking questions about the show, curious to know more about the audience he’d be addressing.
I pulled out my notes, settled down and began with the standard first interview question. Without missing a beat, Moby gave a clear, one take answer.
“Hi, I’m Moby and I’m a music producer and DJ.”
As I was about to ask my next question, he turned to me and said, “What’s your name and what do you?”
Feeling a little cheeky, I replied, "I’m a TV producer and the one asking the questions”.
Oblivious of the camera, the time passing and the fact that we’d gone off topic, this began a bantering back and forth between us.
Moby even tried to do his best Scottish accent “Do you know Gregory’s Girl?” he said, “that’s my favorite movie”.
Being that I’m Scottish and Gregory’s Girl is a famous Scottish movie, I’m like “Duh”.
Both warm and funny, Moby had many attractive qualities, he was also intelligent and kind. I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be the usual sort of interview.
“I want to know more about you”, he said, “what are you doing after this?”
“This” being the sort of music event most would give up their Granny, in return for VIP access, however I was leaving immediately after the shoot. “I’m going to Paris”, I said, “I’m taking my son to Disneyland as soon as I finish this interview”.
“You have a son?”, said Moby, “what’s his name? tell me more about him?”.
And with that the crew rolled their eyes again as Moby and I went off on another tangent, digressing from the scripted questions. Instead, we talked about being raised by a single Mom and his great-great-great-great uncle Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick.
‘That’s why they call me Moby, “he said”, I’ve been called that since I was little.”
Moby then invited us onto his tour bus and I knew my boss would be happy that I’d utilized the ‘all access’ element. Of course, he’d be unaware it was thanks to us hitting it off, not the AAA pass.
“Well”, I said, “I go to all the music festivals, maybe I’ll see you at one this summer?”
“Come find me at Glastonbury”, said Moby, “or I’ll come find you.”
About a month later, driving through sunny Somerset, England, on the outskirts of the most famous music festival in the world, I’m with my friend CJ. We’re in bumper to bumper traffic, listening to the BBC’s live Glastonbury coverage on Radio 1, and slowly nudging closer towards the festival.
We pass the time watching the locals selling Wellington boots and sunscreen, to passing festival goers, on the side of the road.
Suddenly BBC’s ‘darling’ DJ, Jo Wylie announces Moby is about to drop in for a chat. I start fidgeting anxiously.
I listen as Moby talks about his record-breaking album and his Glastonbury performance being extra special.
“Come on people, hurry up!”, I shout out the window, to anyone and nobody in particular.
By the time we find parking, get through security and make the long walk backstage, Mobes has long finished his radio interview. I check the artist trailers, he’s not there.
I check the VIP area, he’s not there. I pop my head into the BBC trailer, “Sorry, Moby’s gone, I think they left the festival already”.
That’s that then…C’est La Vie. Gutted.
Two weeks later, at ‘T in the Park’ festival, in Scotland and I’m busy backstage producing the live BBC broadcast. It’s a hectic day with lots of moving parts. I’m up to my eyes dealing with the various bands (and their egos), the thought of seeing Moby again a distant memory.
Taking a little break, I decided to walk to the VIP area, the is sun shining, I couldn’t have wished for a ‘more better’ day.
I suddenly notice a drunk guy and I think to myself, “it’s early to be that smashed”. He’s young and he’s berating someone. I look over and realize this young, dumb, drunk guy is arguing with…Moby?!
I catch Moby's eye, just as this idiot is vocally bashing a “Dance DJ”, for representing Rap.
“What are you doing here?” I said, completely ignoring the shouting, drunk guy.
“I came to find you”, said Moby, “I said I would.”
This was at the time ‘Play’ exploded, going on to sell over 10million albums and propelling Moby into a global fame. His star was rising fast and everyone wanted to be around him.
Yet here he was, walking around a field in Fife, searching for a girl he’d met once, for a few short hours.
And just like that, we walked off towards the hospitality tent, leaving behind a bewildered drunken, rapper fan still offended that Moby should be regarded as any sort of rap expert.
“They have nice juice here”, said Moby, “Would you like a drink?”
Then he gestured for us to walk behind the bar, in full view of the gawping VIP crowd lined up on the other side.
The waitress, gushingly made two carrot and beet juices, then we walked towards the Artist Compound, supping on our straws, stunned faces all around.
That day began a close friendship lasting several years and only ended when I naively took some ‘friends’ to Moby’s birthday party and they crossed a line (but that’s another story).
We’d talk for hours on the phone, hang out at various events and we even saw in the New Year together at Edinburgh Castle on YK2.
Looking back, that day at ‘T in the Park’ is one of my favorite festival memories, hanging out with Moby, a bunch of my best friends, and a well-stocked rider.
Mobes being a generous host of course, made sure there was several options, including chocolate.
And the rest is Showbiz history…
The Fixer Diaries ‘part deux’, has been slightly delayed due to the good folks of California changing the laws on Marijuana. Let’s just say, we’ve been a bit distracted over here, sampling the world’s No.1, happy plant.