How We Met: Moby & Lucy Walker

'He sat next to me on the subway and asked for my number. I didn't give it to him'

Moby

An American DJ and singer-songwriter, Moby is best known for his hugely influential contribution to the electronica scene; his acclaimed album 'Play' sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. He lives in LA

When I first met Lucy, in the mid-1990s, I had a huge crush on her, but I thought she was out of my league: she was bright, beautiful and had that sophisticated British pedigree that Americans are so obsessed with. I knew her casually through mutual friends who were also living in New York and I was always intimidated by how sophisticated she seemed. She lived in this loft on the Lower East Side and it wasn't till I went there for a dinner party and saw just how crumbling her apartment was that I realised she was like me – a crusty weirdo.

We started going to weird experiential music performances and on to bars. I was a total garbagehead then; my first drink might be respectable, but as I progressed I'd drink anything that came along – a half-warm bottle of Heineken someone else might have been drinking and left a cigarette butt in, say. But Lucy always held things together better and that's why I've had to stop drinking and she still goes out and has fun.

Over time, the crush I had on her morphed into really good friendship. I'd watch her go through lots of relationships and all the turmoil that brought. If you listen enough to a person's problems, eventually you think of them as a friend.

It took me five years of knowing her to realise she was an aspiring film-maker. When I saw Devil's Playground [2002], I was amazed. She's often racked with self-doubt and I feel my role is to remind her she is a kind, creative person.

I'm grateful for the way she used my music [in 2010's Oscar-nominated Waste Land]. I'm excited that it's a way for people to listen to some of my more melodic ambient stuff.

All her movies are arduous to make and involve personal hardship, like living on a garbage dump for a month in Brazil [for Waste Land]. She possesses this combination of masochism and a 19th-century spirit of exploration. You can even see that in the way she goes swimming in the ocean every day off Venice Beach, even in the middle of winter when the water's freezing; it's a strength of character I don't have.

Lucy Walker

An award-winning English documentary film-maker, Walker's body of work has included mountain-climbing documentary 'Blindsight' and the Oscar-nominated 'Waste Land'. She lives in LA

We were in the same music scene in the mid-1990s in New York, passing each other in the same bars, and I was a huge fan. I remember once seeing him on the subway on the way to Times Square. I was reading a book on ambient electronic music and he came and sat next to me and looked himself up in the index as he was chatting to me. He asked for my number and I said, "We'll run into each other again, I don't want to give you my number." He was a wild star in those days and came across as a hedonist.

We ran into each other again when some mutual friends of ours started dating. We all ended up at a party at [US Vogue supremo] Anna Wintour's house and I wound up on the same table as David Bowie, Iman and Moby. I felt shocked to be on the same table as them, and when I shared that thought with Moby, he said the same. I recognised a kindred spirit in him.

When my parents died in quick succession, our friendship deepened. He had lost his parents too, so he of all my friends knew what to say and talked with such kindness when so many of my friends couldn't help me.

When I was making Countdown to Zero about nuclear weapons [which came out last year] I had just broken up with my boyfriend and Moby was like, "Don't stay in a hotel, have my guest room." I stayed there for months. For a private guy, it was so kind. So by the time I was working on Waste Land, I felt I could ask him anything, so I asked to use his music for free. He's as generous as he is genius.

These days he's become very spiritually aligned and does amazing work for the environment, animal rights and domestic violence. I think there's a path to enlightenment through hedonism and that's the path he took; since he's sobered up he seems happier.

Part of his charm is that he's very candid about his neuroses, especially when it comes to relationships. He's a better friend than boyfriend – but it was great to have him as my Oscars "date". I was having a real stress fit, as I didn't like my dress; he held my hand and was wonderfully calming. I just felt bad that he wasn't drinking; it's a difficult night not to drink and at one point he and Russell Brand had a sobriety meeting.

Moby's new album, 'Destroyed', is out on 16 May. An accompanying photography exhibition is at Idea Generation Gallery, London E2, from 18 May. moby.com, ideageneration.co.uk

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