The Beholder: Inside the Mind of Moby, Architectural Connoisseur


On his blog, this electro-pop musician exposes the unappreciated architecture hidden within the vast Los Angeles sprawl. Here, the west coast transplant muses about the beautiful strangeness of his adopted home and the inner-workings of his creative philosophies. 

How do you connect music to architecture?

With most art forms—photography, sculpture, painting, literature—if you close your eyes, the art disappears. But with music and architecture, you close your eyes and you’re still aware of it. That’s literally the only thing I can think of that they would have in common.

What’s to love about the LA sprawl?

In my blog, I explore the city’s lack of cohesion. You can be driving down a weird, tiny street and all of a sudden be confronted with truly surprising urban architecture. Next to a midcentury house you might find a fantasy home that looks like an old castle, and across the way there’ll be an Art Deco dwelling—very random and byzantine.

Why is the city’s architectural hodgepodge so appealing to you?

I grew up very poor in a wealthy Connecticut town. I was the only child of a painter in a town populated by stockbrokers. My friends have always been artists, writers or just weirdos. Convention has always seemed really boring to me; I’ve never understood why people adhere to it so religiously. After all, human beings are weird. And the human condition is strange. I’d like to think art, music, literature and architecture represent the idiosyncrasies of being human.

How does your own Hollywood Hills abode fit into the patchwork?

My house is unique and complicated. The main house looks like a Normandy castle with turrets—a very tiny version of a château in the Loire Valley. I don’t mean that pretentiously. The guesthouse was designed in 1962 by John Lautner to fit in with the original castle motif, but inside, it’s a perfect little midcentury house.

Compared with that of other metropolises, LA’s architectural heritage is relatively young. Does this diminish its credibility?

The architecture in, say, New York, Rome, Saint Petersburg or London was built hundreds or even thousands of years ago. The architecture in LA was built more recently by people who, on some level, we can relate to. I am a musician, and I live in a house that was built 86 years ago by L. Milton Wolf, an artist and set director. I can relate to that. The footprints of the architectural forefathers of Rome, Istanbul or London were petrified centuries ago, but the footprints of the people who came before us in LA are still fresh.

This was originally published in California Home + Design’s Winter 2013 issue. Click here to subscribe.


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