According to Hall, his middle name and the nickname "Moby" were given to him by his parents because of an ancestral relationship to Moby Dick author Herman Melville: "The basis for Richard Melville Hall—and for Moby—is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-grand uncle." Moby's first live solo performance was witnessed by future longtime manager Eric Härle, who later described the occasion to Hit Quarters by saying: "The music was amazing, but the show was riddled with technical mishaps.It left me very intrigued and impressed in a strange way." Moby released his first singles for Instinct under several different names, such as Barracuda, Brainstorm, and UHF.
In 2002 Moby released the follow-up to Play, 18, which earned gold and platinum awards in over 30 countries, and sold more than four million copies.
It was notable for its very aggressive look and sound.
Ironically, just as Moby decided to change direction, the electronic music he had moved away from started to gain recognition and popularity through artists like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy.
His first single was a commercial failure—a rap record with vocalist Jimmy Mack, titled Time's Up, featuring several remixes and stems for remixing. His first single under the pseudonym 'Moby' was "Mobility", but it was his remix of Mobility's b-side, "Go," that proved to be his first breakthrough.
Go (Woodtick Mix), a progressive house track using the string line from "Laura Palmer's Theme" from the TV drama Twin Peaks, reached the UK top ten in October 1991 and earned him his first appearance on Top of the Pops.