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INTERVIEW: Moby & Mark Lanegan
Max Evans , April 19th, 2013 05:37

A most curious pairing: Moby and Mark Lanegan have teamed up to record a collaborative single, released for Record Store Day tomorrow, 20th April. Max Evans caught up with the duo to find out more

Electronic musican Moby and alt-rocker Mark Lanegan are about to release a limited edition 7" 'The Lonely Night' through Moby's label, Little Idiot – one of the rather unexpected collaborations to mark Record Store Day, which takes place tomorrow, April 20. The single also comes with a more ambient remix of the exclusive track, courtesy of UK dance music pioneer Photek. To investigate this on the surface of things rather unlikely pairing, the Quietus caught up with the duo to find out more.

Moby, what was it like to finally collaborate with Mark?

Moby: It was great. I'll be honest, before meeting him I was kind of terrified, as he seems like he could be terrifying. But then we met and I realised that he's actually very warm and friendly and not nearly as terrifying as I'd anticipated.

What did you feel you could bring to each other's music?

Mark Lanegan: I've been a fan of Moby for many years and was thrilled when he asked me to collaborate with him. I felt like the words and vocal melody really wrote itself – I just did what the music told me to.

M: Well, Mark has done a lot of different types of music over the years, so I didn't think of him as an artist coming from one very specific genre or style. I've known of him from the SST days, and I've just always loved his voice. And I guess in writing the music I wanted to provide a very respectful, atmospheric and emotional background for his amazing voice.

Moby & Mark Lanegan 'The Lonely Night' from Moby on Vimeo.

'The Lonely Night' video, by Colin Rich

Why is Record Store Day important to you?

M: My first job after university was working in a small record store called 'Johnny's' in Darien, CT. Originally, it had started out as a drug paraphernalia/head shop, but eventually came to sell records and singles and T-shirts and posters. And it still stands as probably the best job I've ever had. Also, when I was growing up in and around NYC, I lived in record stores, and record stores (and college radio) were where I discovered music. And, finally, I've always loved vinyl, even if it's not the most eco-friendly format. But i still maintain that it's a lot more eco-friendly than a CD, and a lot more fun to own and hold.

ML: What happens in a record store has the power to change a person's life in a profound way, and I think anything that puts the focus on that is an important thing.

What do you enjoy about collaboration compared to solo work?

M: Collaboration is nerve wracking – to an extent – as you never know what you'll get from the other singer/musician, but it's remarkable when it works out, as it invariably yields music that I wouldn't have been able to come up with on my own. I've been doing a lot of odd and interesting collaborations lately, and hopefully I'll be able to start releasing them as they come to fruition.

How was the recording process?

M: It was easy and great. He came into my studio. We had tea. I set up the microphone. He sang. We had more tea. The recording of his vocal took, all totaled, about 15 minutes, as he had everything really well prepared and worked out in advance.

What do you think that unusual production techniques added to the track?

M: Well, the original track was a bit more electronic and conventional. But then in producing/mixing 'The Lonely Night', Spike Stent and I decided to 'degrade' the track to make it sound more vulnerable and apocalyptic. To that end, we ran all of the instruments through a distortion pedal and a guitar amp. So in the end there's: left and right music through a distortion pedal and guitar amp, Mark's vocal, Mark's vocal run through a guitar amp, and that's it.

It's one of the wonderful things about making music in a world wherein people don't buy music – you can experiment and do anything and not really spend too much time worrying about any negative commercial consequences.

Would you like to collaborate together again?

ML: I would love to do something together again.

M: Yes, I've let Mark know that I'll happily work on anything with him. He's one of my favourite people, and he clearly has one of the best and most remarkable voices I've ever heard.