how we met; Damian Loeb ; Moby

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
The artist Damian Loeb, 29, grew up in Connecticut. At 17, he moved to New York, where he taught himself about art by visiting

clubs and museums. His multi-layered digital landscapes can be seen at his first solo London exhibition, currently at the White Cube Gallery until November 20

The musician Moby, 34, was born Richard Melville Hall in Harlem and is a descendant of the author Herman Melville. As a child he studied classical guitar; in his teens he became a DJ and record producer. His music is influenced by house, techno-punk, thrash metal and soundtracking, and he had a recent top 10 hit with 'Go'

MOBY: We met in High School. I was DJ-ing at an alcohol-free youth club in Greenwich. Damian and his friends were into industrial music at the time, and they'd always request that. I had a wide representation of demographics to cater to, ranging from house music to new wave and disco. Through shared musical and cultural interests, we became friends. Growing up in the suburbs, a lot of our friends are smart and well-adjusted, but not very ambitious - whereas Damian and I are motivated, but we're not nice, decent people.

When I moved to New York, Damian would visit. It was 10 years ago and New York was still inexpensive. We wouldn't be able to move into New York now, because it's becoming increasingly conservative and boring. Only people with money can live there.

Damian's extremely bright. When he's not being pathologically insecure, he's one of the funniest people I know. One time I was over at his house when he was painting, and it suddenly dawned on me that I had been friends with this person for 12 years and he defines himself as a painter, and I never until this point had seen him paint.

Suddenly, the amount of work that goes into his paintings was revealed to me. We're talking about huge canvases, not like some lazy abstract artist who just buys the paint and throws it at the canvas. Although we work in completely different fields, the way we work and our ethos are quite similar. We both work extremely hard and in a very solipsistic way. We each work exclusively by ourselves, which is rare.

We both understand that three-o'clock-in-the-morning phenomenon - you're desperately lonely and avoiding your work, thinking it's terrible, and how you want to go find a long piece of rope and hang yourself from the sprinkler system. Or it's three o'clock in the morning, and you feel like you're the greatest artist or musician in the world and you dance around your studio jumping up and down. Most of the people with regular nine- to-five button-down jobs wouldn't understand that phenomenon.

My worklife is the most important thing in my life. And the emotional life that I have through my work - and I'm sure Damian has - is in many ways richer than our personal lives, which makes it difficult for us to have girlfriends. If I call up Damian and I'm extremely depressed and frustrated with my work, and he's extremely depressed and frustrated with his work, either we counteract each other and we gain a little perspective - or it just pushes us deeper into the abyss.

The one thing that really links us, the commonality, is the fact that we both do work that's sort of experimental but has a really strong populous depth to it. Damian's not painting seascapes for people to hang over their mantelpieces.

Damian's like a brother to me. I don't really have family. We've been friends for 13 years now. One interesting test of our friendship or rapport is we'll be out in a social situation and Damian will say something or make some cultural reference that I'll understand in an instant and it makes me cry with laughter. Most people see the world and describe the world in a very conventional way, so you go to see The Prince of Tides and people say, "Oh boy that was really sad." What I want is people who see the world in idiosyncratic, unique ways, and certainly Damian does that.

DAMIAN LOEB: We met in 1986 in Greenwich, Connecticut, in this alcohol- free, new-age, new-wave club that Moby DJ-ed at. It was one of the only places that I could go and listen to music I liked and meet pretty girls. Moby stood out as this person who was not of any particular genre. He seemed to be playing the music, but he would do a lot of really interesting mixing and DJ-ing.

He's one of the few interesting thinkers that I know. We counterbalance each other. When one of us gets fanatical about something, the other one is cynical, and vice versa. There's no one whose opinion I value more because of that. We've been best friends for 13 years now. I don't think I talk to anybody the same way I talk to Moby. He's always kicked me when I was too into something. No matter how good I thought something was, if I had any doubt or needed to have any doubt he always supplied it. It also made the littlest compliments worth that much more.

During the Eighties, when everyone was out night-clubbing and having fun, he was the only person I knew besides myself who fanatically wanted to be one thing, and he was focused and driven and more motivated than I was. Because we had similar taste, I enjoyed what he did and actually liked his work. I didn't have to feign enthusiasm for a friend's work because he was a friend.

He makes fun of me for the amount of money I spend on CDs and stereos. I can't work without music. He was a great influence on my White Cube show and the mood of it. If it weren't for how esoteric the art world likes to be, I would love actually to play the music in the shows, painting the music that influences me most.

There have been a few cases where we've both had a crush on the same woman. But because we both have such a disastrous history with women, the one that doesn't get her says,"You've saved me from heartache and pain." Romance (and lack of romance) inspires our work tremendously - it doesn't hurt it, and it certainly isn't going to hurt our relationship. We're like brothers: though I like my brother, I want to kill him sometimes, and I've never felt that with Moby except for the time when he threw my teddy bear out of the window of a bus. He knew how attached I was and constantly through the whole tour kept hiding it and threatening to throw it out of the window. When it comes down to it, though, I seriously doubt I could find someone else who could put up with the amount of crap and self-indulgence and arrogance that I have.

JP/-PA

Comments