A conversation with The Soft Moon
Luis Vasquez, the man behind dark wave electronic project The Soft Moon, will visit Miami for the first time this Saturday, January 16th. He and his band will play a show at Gramps in support of his new album, Deeper .
Deeper is his most revealing and introspective record so far, it explores the corners of dance, ebm, rock and industrial, mixed with very pure and anxious atmospheres through his vocals, tape recordings and guttural sounds.
I had a chance to talk to Luis while he was in Berlin. After the conversation I was able to understand better where his music comes from, what lies behind the sounds and concepts of his songs, the evolution that he experienced through his records and what he wants to express with The Soft Moon.
I hope you feel the same…
Your sound explores everything from EBM, krautrock, electropunk, psychedelia, world music, dark wave… but I wonder how did everything start? What was the first instrument you owned and what kind of music you started playing in the beginning?
When I was 11 or 12 years old I got my first guitar, my uncle bought it for me from prison actually. He gave money to my grandfather so he would buy it for me for Christmas. At that time I didn’t have much to do because I was leaving in the desert and I didn’t have many friends there because we moved from L.A. So I stayed in my room playing the guitar every day all day.
At that time, when I got my guitar I was into punk rock, before that I was into pop music… Michael Jackson, Madonna.
Your shows are not only about the music but also about visual elements. What’s the importance of those visuals and lights in your live performances?
I feel that The Soft Moon is more than a music project, for me it’s an art project. So for me it is important to have more than one element to stimulate the listener and the viewer as deep as possible. So for me is important to create a world that people can be a part of.
You have been making music for many years now but there was a time you stopped making music. What happened then? Why did you make that decision and what made you come back?
At the time when I stopped making music in a way I have lost hope in becoming successful as a musician. At that time I kind of wanted to explore the world and I actually moved to Bueno Aires, I was living in Abasto and then I moved to San Francisco for the first time. I took a break because I was just exploring, I was searching for something different. I took my focus back to art and I was a graphic designer when I moved to San Francisco and I got a job doing graphic design for a corporate company. I was very involved with that, there wasn’t enough time to thinking about music or even making music. After a while I started getting burned out with the job and I needed to return to me again so I started writing and that’s when all the shit happened.
In your bio you state that your music is about self actualization. What do you think is the main difference between “Deeper” and your previous releases. How do you think that self actualization was achieved in this album?
So with the first record it was more about curiosity and finding my sound. It was the first time as a songwriter that I let go and I just left whatever came out happen naturally. It seemed like that the music that I was writing for that first album was more about my childhood. I was kind of returning back to nostalgia, that record was mostly about that. Then with Zeros I wrote it when I was touring for the first time around the world and my life was kind of strange, I was going through some difficult times and Zeros was more about frustration so it’s probably a more angrier record. At the time I didn’t have too much confidence on myself because there is also that pressure … people wait for that second record to see whether the band will last or not so I had that pressure that was always in the back of my mind so a lot of confusion and frustration and feeling lost for Zeros. And then with Deeper, a couple of years had passed and I had traveled more and more and more and I grown older. I feel that in this record there is a lot more of confidence, I have a lot more confidence in myself and I feel I gotten a better understanding of who I am. So for this record I was willing to dive even deeper in myself and express more of myself to the world, I had the confidence and I think I accomplished it with this record.
“Deeper” and many of your other releases as well have strong darkwave, industrial and 80’s obscure influences. Do you think that nowadays there is a comeback to those sounds and musical styles?
Yes definitely, I noticed it when I came up with my first record that a lot of other people kind of surfaced and since then it’s still growing so I do think that there is a kind of comeback with this kind of music but what was strange for me is that I wasn’t really listening to that kind of music growing up it’s just the music that I create, it comes out naturally so maybe these bands existed before … it’s something that I’m not sure but to me it seems like all these bands emerged and there is some sort of come back even though I don’t really pay attention to it too much, I’m focusing on my own music.
You are currently on a world tour in support of Deeper. What’s the thing that you miss the most while being away from home?
My bed (laughs), I miss my room, friends… There is this bar that I like to hang out downstairs and my good friend is the owner and it’s nice to come back and these people don’t know much about my life and that’s what I like about it so when I come back from a tour it’s like I’m around people that we are all just the same. When I’m on tour I get treated a little bit different you know, there is a little bit of fame that I experience and I’m not used to it, I’m not super comfortable with it so it’s nice to come back and hang out with people that don’t really know what I’m doing when I’m not at the bar.
Are you playing by yourself or are you touring with your live band?
I ‘ll have the live band for sure. I think it would be boring if it was just me. Even in the very beginning I knew when I got signed and the record label wanted me to tour … because I wasn’t ready at the time, I didn’t even think that this project was going to get to the point where it is now, but when I knew I was going to start playing shows I knew right away that I was going to play with band members. I really like a good show myself so I want to also give a good show in return and having more members and being powerful is important to me.
You will be playing on January 16th at Gramps, what’s your main intention when playing live? What do you want to transmit to the audience?
The main thing for me is that I always need to get inside the music. To transform because I can’t perform unless I get inside the music so that’s my personal thing which I do accomplish most of the time and I get frustrated when, for some reason, I can’t get inside the music and express the emotions of the actual songs. What I want people to see is this, I want them to see the truth honesty and how real the music is and how powerful it can be.
How do you feel about playing in Miami for the first time?
You know what’s crazy … That I’ve never been to Miami and, you know, my family is from Cuba and it’s so crazy that after all these years I have never been there. My mom used to leave there, my grandfather, my family obviously lived there after leaving in Cuba so I’m very excited about that .