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TALK: Moby

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Today, New York City’s favorite bald-headed, vegan, club-hoppin’, multi-instrumentalist, dance producer, Moby, will release his brand new album, Last Night (Mute)–although I’m sure it won’t be available in many outlets until tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1.

Moby sits down with Jim Shearer and talks about his new “quasi-concept” album, as well as explaining his ultra-violent “Disco Lies” video, Rick Rubin destroying his amplifier, and the joys of being a wedding DJ at heart…

Jim Shearer: I want to talk about your new album Last Night. This is supposedly a concept album–your journey from club-to-club in New York City?

Moby: Sort of–it is supposed to be reflective of a night out in the Lower East Side.

Jim: Can you take us through the night? What clubs are we hitting?

Moby: I guess it would start by having dinner with some friends and then you have a few drinks–and maybe you go to a party in someone’s loft and you drink more and you dance. Then you go to another party, and the bars and clubs don’t really start for me until, like, around 2AM.

Jim: Sounds good so far.

Moby: And then around 2AM, you know, stumble over to the Lower East Side, and there is this one bar that I have been going to for the last 18 years called Max Fish. It is sort of like, [one of] the original, scummy, indie-dive bars on the Lower East Side–it is never closed. If it’s a Tuesday night at 3:30AM, everything else can be empty and Max Fish is always crowded with completely degenerate people.

Jim: So I’m assuming the evening starts off very chill?

Moby: It starts out very innocent–innocent and naïve–and then it gets a little bit darker and more dance oriented. By the end, it is very quiet and calm and that is supposed to be, like, when you are stumbling home as the sun is coming up. I’m always hesitant to use the word “concept” applied to a record, because there is sort of the shameful history of concept records, but it is a sort of quasi-concept record.

Jim: Would you call it a dance album?

Moby: It’s a very eclectic dance record, so it is not really a club record, you know, there aren’t too many songs that have, like, an oomph, oomph, oomph, oomph, four-four kick, but it is a dance record for home listening.

Jim: Your “Disco Lies” video is pretty violent. I was wondering if any human rights groups protested this video?

Moby: Human rights groups? Or animal groups?

Jim: Human rights–a human being is murdered by a chicken.

Moby: You know what, the human rights people haven’t come, but my friends in the animal rights community all really like the video. I wish I could take more credit for the video, but I had almost nothing to do with it. My friend Evan Bernard, who I have known forever, we were trying to think of an idea for the video and we just couldn’t think of anything good. At the last minute, he said, “Okay, how about a blaxploitation of Colonel Sanders being chased through the streets of Mexico by a 10-foot-tall pimp-chicken, who then kills him and eats him?” I was, like, “Well that sounds great.”

Jim: I didn’t think you were going to take it as far as you did. The Colonel Sanders-figure really gets it at the end?

Moby: See, that is one of the fantastic things about the digital present. In the old days when you made videos you had to worry about MTV standards and practices. So now, the main outlet for videos is youtube and online, so you can kind of do whatever you want. That is what I liked about this video, because it looks like it’s heading in a violent direction. People are always kind of stunned at just how graphic it is with the Sam Peckinpah-ending.

Jim: You recently hosted a charity show in NYC where the Beastie Boys performed live. You requested “Egg Raid Mojo”, one of their earlier punk numbers?

Moby: Yes, well I grew up in the hardcore community in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I used to have a band called the Vatican Commandos and I was obsessed with Black Flag and I have got a scar here and a scar here (points to scars on his face) from Black Flag shows. The Beastie Boys started out as a hardcore band.

Jim: Did you ever see them play live in their Pollywog Stew-days?

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Moby: No, but I must have been in a 100 clubs with them. The first time I met [the Beastie Boys] was, like, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years ago. Rick Rubin on the other hand, he used to be in a band called Hose, who were this sort of Flipper-inspired noise metal band. I played a show with Hose when I was 16 and they borrowed my amp and Rick destroyed it because he played so loud. I mentioned that to him recently and he was apologetic even 20 years later.

(left: Rick Rubin’s former band, Hose. They’re the ones that destroyed Moby’s amplifier.)

Jim: When you hit the road to support Last Night, will you be touring with a full band?

Moby: At times maybe. What I’m doing now is just DJing and it is so much fun, because you show up with records, play [music], and you get to down a few drinks and meet people. This is so much more civilized and organic than going on tour, living on a bus, and waking up in a parking lot with 20 or 30 crew members with you at all times.

I might put together some live show, like, maybe DJing with percussion. I don’t know? But the idea of going on a conventional rock-n-roll tour again, where you are living on a bus and waking up in a parking lot, I don’t really ever want to do that again. I don’t know? Maybe I could figure out some way of making it fun, but I stopped enjoying that a long time ago.

Jim: When you’re spinning, do you just play your stuff? Or other people’s stuff?

Moby: I mainly play other people’s records, because one of the greatest things about DJing is you get to take credit for other people’s work.

Jim: Yes, but the DJ also has to have a good shot selection.

Moby: I guess so, but as much as I enjoy DJing I always feel like a fraud, you know, because you are playing other people’s records for the most part. Even if I’m playing my own records, I tend to play remixes of my own records that someone else has done.

Jim: Are you a knob twister? Taking out the bass at certain parts of the song?

Moby: Oh yes. I have these new mixers that just do everything–they have all these effects and filters. You can almost play the mixer like a musical instrument. I get a little carried away to the point where I’m sure that the people in the crowd are getting kind of annoyed. They are just like, “Play the fucking record.”

Jim: What do you think about the iPod and computer setups? Is it a sad day for DJ’s? Or a happy one, since they don’t have to lug around crates of records anymore?

Moby: Most of the DJs I know will bring their laptop, plug it into a mixer, and just go from there. I DJ with CDs, because I’m basically a wedding DJ at heart. I used to DJ with vinyl, but I was traveling a lot, and when you are running through airports with, like, two metal flight cases full of records–whoa.

Jim: I hear you.

Moby: If you are a guitar player and you are flying to play a show in Belgium and you get off the plane and your luggage has gone to Singapore, you rent a new guitar. If you are a DJ and your records have gone to Singapore, you are just screwed. There is nothing you can do, so that is why DJing with CDs [is more convenient]. They are always with me when I travel, so that way there is no danger of losing them.

Jim: Do you have all of your music backed up on an iPod?

Moby: I have all the music backed up on a hard drive conveniently located in my studio in New York.

Jim: Because you record your albums at home, do your neighbors ever yell at you for making too much noise?

Moby: No, in fact, my neighbors are much loader than I am. There was one time I woke up on a Saturday morning and I guess my neighbors had been up all night. They were listening to banging house music at 7AM and I was so annoyed. I got up and I was going to go bang on their door and ask them to turn it down, but I realized they were listening to one of my records. And so it was like, “What are the karmic rules for this? Am I allowed to yell at my neighbors for playing my record loud?

Jim: Did you?

Moby: No. I just tried to go back to sleep.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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