Those hoping for Moby to launch into the lyrics from “Extreme Ways” in this video might have been surprised to see him riffing on L.A.'s “baffling, Byzantine” built environment instead, as part of a campaign promoting the Getty's upcoming Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., a slightly scaled-down version of Pacific Standard Time exclusively focused on the city's post-war architecture.
But this isn't the first time Moby's been trotted out to talk buildings. In the last year, he's been featured in no less than three videos where he waxes poetic about L.A.'s perplexingly complex landscape. Plus, he's got a Tumblr, Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog, where he documents the weird and wonderful structures of Los Angeles — with nice original photography to boot. And he's become a fixture at architecture events of late, making him a darling of the local design scene.
Dare we say Moby is L.A.'s new architectural mascot?
Here's Moby appearing in the full video he made for the Getty, his musings paired with sumptuous historical shots of midcentury modern gems.
Here's Moby talking about his indoctrination to L.A. architecture for 1883 Magazine: “I came to L.A. and I was just baffled by the strangeness and the randomness of the architecture here.”
Here's Moby being interviewed by Tumblr about his architecture blog: “It's kind of my obsession as an architectural or urban photographer: documenting things that are not what they seem, or that are hidden in plain sight.”
And in perhaps the penultimate event cementing his mascot status, here's Moby introducing the annual awards show for the L.A. chapter of the American Institute of Architects: “If I weren't a musician, I would want to be an architect.”
Up next: the beginnings of Moby's love of L.A. architecture
Moby first talked about his architecture obsession almost a year ago on the KCRW show “DnA: Design and Architecture,” where he's interviewed by host Frances Anderton at an event at the A+D (that's Architecture + Design) Museum. (Disclosure: I'm a production assistant for the radio show.) He's always been fascinated by buildings, but when he moved to L.A. two years ago, he bought Wolf's Lair, a literal castle just below the Hollywood sign (which has an guest house designed by John Lautner, one of the architects featured in the Pacific Standard Time Presents show). While walking the streets of his Beachwood Canyon neighborhood, he began to document the unassuming and unappreciated addresses of his new home.
The new Getty video lacks the lyrical punch of Ice Cube celebrating the Eames for Pacific Standard Time (I will forever call the 405 the “bougie” freeway), but Moby does surface some salient statements about the banal vs. beautiful battle that plays out on L.A.'s streets. The best quote: “L.A. does have some of the best architecture on the planet and also some of the worst architecture on the planet. Sometimes 10 inches away from each other.”
And Moby makes another point that will certainly endear him to all local designers. In L.A., instead of looking at buildings designed 300 years ago, he says, “You're looking at buildings that our friends made.” That sound you hear is the fluttering heartbeat of every architect in the city. (Although as more than one person mentioned at the press conference where the video was unveiled: What the hell is he doing talking L.A. architecture while wearing a Muir Woods sweatshirt? Somebody get this guy a SCI-Arc t-shirt.)
If you'd like to see the next episode in Moby's Ongoing Architecture Talk Show unfold live, head to Palm Springs. As part of the city's Modernism Week, which kicks off this Thursday, he'll be appearing on a panel at the Ace Hotel on Saturday, February 23 talking — what else? — modern architecture.