As he entered the room so dark, intriguing and mystifyingly handsome, his deep brown eyes seemed to see straight through my very soul. I could swear that he evoked a compelling admiration from the entire venue. He owned a hint of what might be misconstrued as a sort of sexy arrogance, almost as if he were consciously aware the world was watching him, but I later discovered it was merely pure intelligence instead. As if all of that wasn’t enough, he spoke with an arousing accent, one I couldn’t place, that just added depth of his sensuality. He checked in as a presenter for the Get Out! Awards as Moses Universe, and immediately I thought with a name like that and his erotic presence, he most definitely was a porn star. After speaking with him briefly, I was captured by his warmth and animation, and “My Prediction,” which incidentally just happens to be the name of his new album, was that I saw an interview in our future.
Moses Universe is no stranger to “Get Out! Magazine,” nor is he a porn star, but instead an amazing recording artist. His songs and videos are filled with passion and artistry. If you can just get past his attractiveness and the sound of his soothing, sexy, melodic tones, the lyrics of his songs are riveting and meaningful. He combines an electric pop-rock genre with a sense of the ‘80s, an irresistible mix that dictates the sounds of today.
You’re not conventional, are you?
I’m not conventional with my art, but you know, I am from Israel, so I’m not gonna lie to you, I was raised very conventional and old fashioned. But obviously when I came to New York I exposed myself to the nightlife and stuff. I was in awe with what’s going on in the nightlife, and I triggered a lot of inhibitions and fears that I had, both superficially and internally. So I became unconventional, if you get my drift.
How old were you when you came to New York?
I was here when I was 17 for the first time. I was modeling for Wilhelmina. I felt like something’s missing; modeling, it’s not enough. I wanted more than that. So I was always a musician, but I was never pushed to do that. I was never encouraged because my family wanted me to be an architect or a lawyer or a doctor, like a typically Jewish family.
Yeah, tell me about it!
When I was asked what do you want to do for a living, I always said that I wanted to be an artist or a singer. My mom used to say, “OK, but what do you wanna do for a ‘living’?” I never understood that. So I’m an architectural school drop out. I went for two years, I dropped out. When I came out I was actually so ashamed of being gay because my family didn’t really accept me. In hindsight, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was pushed to leave Israel and come to New York, and this is where I had my “rebirth” at 17. I was modeling all the time. I did a lot of work with Valentino, Versace and a lot of high-end stuff. I felt that something was missing. I didn’t mind the superficiality of it, but I need to be more of a creator. I felt there was a lot of demons in my head that need to come out. You know what I mean?
I do. Do you write your own songs?
I do, but I think I introduced you to him at the awards – Zach Adam – he’s my co-writer and producer. He handles me and Xelle, the girl band.
I loved them.
They are featured on my first single. Did you watch the videos I sent you?
I obviously did. I was mesmerized by those videos.
They are in it. We co-wrote it together. He’s basically my writing partner. We already did like three songs. We are working on 11 tracks. The album is called “My Prediction,” which is due out middle of next year. “My Prediction” is also my next single. My third single, it’s out on iTunes.
You know, I didn’t know a lot about you when you first came in the other night. Honestly, with your name, I thought you were a porn star!
Oh, I’ll take that as a compliment!
It is a compliment.
It’s not the first time people asked me if I was a porn star, so it’s fine.
I don’t know why you aren’t #1 on all the charts and internationally famous, but you will be. That’s “my prediction”!
I’m working on it. I’m a late bloomer. I was working for a publishing company. I knew the in and outs of the business side of it. I think I was kind of too comfortable. When the business changed and the record companies changed, I decided to basically start on my own. I wrote for other people with my partner, and then my partner said, “Why don’t you sing?” That led to a demo for one single, which was “I’m Your Man,” and we got about 200,000 YouTube views, so we said let’s do another one. Then we decided to do 11 tracks, call it “My Prediction,” let’s play off the fact that your name is Moses, the 10 commandments. Our songs are always representative of some sort of dance floor, but always in the windows of some biblical terms. “My Prediction,” if you listen to the lyrics – “My prediction, you’re going to be addicted to me tonight” – that’s my prediction. It’s a fun, sexual song. I don’t think of myself very sexual; I think of myself as kind of “nerdy” in many ways, but we like to play with that.
You know, you can’t please everybody. My sound is definitely electronic pop. Not everybody’s into it, but I’m having fun doing it. I personally love any kind of genre. I listen to anywhere from country to Metallica. I really enjoy R&B, top 40 pop, anything. I really love music.
What were your influences growing up?
I’m definitely a child of the ‘80s, and give me Depeche Mode any time of the day. If you would hear my style and my vocal range, people always say I remind them of George Michael. I don’t wanna be a self proclaimed George Michaels, but I’ll take that.
I think you sound better than him.
Oh, thank you. Those were big influences with me, and I like the dark pop that Depeche Mode represents. Anybody of that era: Erasure, even the Cure, which was a little bit more alternative punk. I love all those avant garde artists of the ‘80s. I love the ‘80s, and I kind of infused that with a hard beat and made it more current. There’s definitely an ‘80s sound to my style. So that’s basically my story in a nutshell.
Well, your work and style is unique and astounding; that is why I had to interview you. I would have anyway even if you were a porn star.
Well my porn star days are documented on my iPhone. Hopefully one day, if necessary, I’ll release them to help my career.
Hey, listen, Grindr got myself and my DJ through London.
Listen, I’m not knocking any of those apps. Actually, the founder of Grindr, Joel – I don’t know if you know him, he’s an Israeli Jew – he’s a good friend of mine, and he was telling me about Grindr six, seven years ago. I was like, “What the hell are you talking about? You really need to create another dating site?” He said it was gonna be really big and I should download it on my phone. I’m like, “I’m not downloading it.” I said, “Give me a break, you’re never gonna make it.”
So how’s the gay life in Israel?
Honestly, Israel has changed a lot in the past 10 years. Tel Aviv is where the gay scene is really popular and open. But if you go outside of Tel Aviv, it’s still kind of behind. Tel Aviv is very gay friendly with straight people. Sometimes I feel that they are more gay than me, their lingo, the way they talk. Like, “Hey, sista!” I’m like, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” It’s kind of weird when a straight person kind of talks like that. My family is definitely much more open minded. Israel has much more awareness to gays – thank God for Barack Obama. By today, we got four or five more states that recognize gay marriage, which is another reason to celebrate. The world is waking up and realizing we are a force to be reckoned with. I do infuse that in my songs. My first song, “I’m Your Man,” has a lot of drag queens in it, because I wanted to touch and play with gender bending. My second song, “I Always Say Goodbye,” I’m making out with a girl, then another girl and another girl. It’s kind of like, “Why are you making out with all of these girls?” Whoever talks to me about it, I say, “Well, I’m never happy, and that way I always say goodbye.” If you really wanna know, it’s me struggling with my sexuality as I was growing up, doing things to please other people, when I didn’t really know what was going on in my own brain. If you listen to the lyrics, I was dealing with a lot of issues and mental struggles, sexual orientation. I like to underline that. “My Prediction” is for everybody. I just have fun, let’s dance, and my prediction is you’re going to be addicted to me by the end of the song. So December 12 I’m performing at BPM. That will be my premier and my release party for that CD, so hopefully you’re going to be there.
I am, for Get Out!’s Holiday Party!