THE SOFT MOON has always been described by its creator and curator as a cathartic project, a process of release. With recently released third record Deeper, Luis Vasquez does just that – burrows into his chest and wraps his fingers around the most visceral objects he finds there. He’s always spoken of it as an intensely personal project, a vessel for life capture and emotional release. The music that emerges from this chrysalis is dark, brooding and intense; the rawness and fragility of organs open to the outside air parallels the heavy, industrial quality that pushes the sound to a disorienting, punk-infused climax.
While gaining considerable traction for the power and energy of their live performances, the written and recorded output of THE SOFT MOON is composed and created entirely by California-born Vasquez. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION spoke to the electronic mastermind from his current hometown of Berlin to discuss cartharsis, change and the creation of Deeper.
First of all, where are you at this moment? What are a few of the closest tangible things to your hands, other than the keyboard? Can you see out any windows?
I’m Berlin at the moment sitting at my desk, which is cluttered with music equipment. There are two windows in front of me, side by side, with views of cafes, bars, and restaurants. It’s not as cold today as it has been so my street is quite active, many people with a beer in their hands as it’s legal here to drink on the streets.
How would you describe the conception story of your new record, ‘Deeper’?
Going into Deeper I wanted to make my most honest and analytical record to date. Moving abroad and living in solitude allowed me to focus completely on myself in order to discover who and what I am. Deeper is somewhat of an autobiographical piece, but I guess in a way that’s what THE SOFT MOON is generally.
Your live performances aim to be all-absorbing, including various visual elements. When did you first become interested in, or start experimenting with the possibilities of live performance in this way? How has this metamorphosed as more equipment becomes available to you?
I’ve always considered THE SOFT MOON to be more of an art project than just a music project. Because of this it came naturally to want to incorporate a visual element. It’s all about creating an experience for anyone interested in what I do. Even if the physical visual element never existed, I still like to believe that I create music you can see. As I’ve evolved and have had more access to push the vision further I’ve started to tell more of a story in relation to the themes of my music. An extension or continuation of each song. In the past, I would place my music over other artist’s work because it seemed to fit but now I have more control and ability to create something unique and more relatable to THE SOFT MOON.
You also speak of the catharsis contained within your live performances. What do you think it is about performing that allows this to occur? Does the presence of an audience alter the sensation in any way?
It’s the physical release that happens when performing live. It’s when I get to let everything out. I don’t look at the audience so much but when I close my eyes I can feel them and it definitely helps in creating catharsis for members of the audience and myself. The live performances are so important in keeping me sane.
You write and create all of THE SOFT MOON yourself. How, then, do you go about selecting others to join you on stage?
When selecting a person to join me I rely on my intuition. Sometimes I can see the future of that band member from the very beginning. How things will pan out, how our relationship will grow, good things, and bad things. But in the end I choose a person based on their heart and character and not necessarily on skill level.
Writing and recording, then, must be quite an interior or isolated experience. Is that the case? Do you usually spend a lot of time alone (outside of writing and recording)?
I usually only spend time alone during the writing process. Outside of the writing process my life is quite similar to anyone else’s. I choose to be alone when writing because it’s important for me to feel uninhibited.
Where would you say some of your most significant sources of passion or inspiration are, outside of music? Do you read, paint, learn a language or study something that we might not expect?
The ultimate source of inspiration for me is being alive and observing our existence. I’m full of questions, as I’m sure most of us are, and these questions are what drives my passion to create music. I guess since music is a universal language perhaps I’m using it as a tool to ask the entire world for answers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is I’m doing and for some reason I can’t stop.
You’re living in Berlin at the moment, is that right? Why did you decide to move there?
I attempted living in Berlin before and felt defeated by the city. I was at a very low point in my life at that time and Berlin didn’t help. Part of it due to it being the middle of winter and having no friends out here. I was in search of change in my life but the timing was off. Two years later I returned and everything just seemed to connect. I think the fact that I was defeated by Berlin in the past made me think about the city more and that made it more intriguing to me. Maybe I’m used to nothing in my life being easy, and without struggle it’s pointless for my growth.
What are three things you hope to see to fruition before the year is out? These can be big things or tiny ones…
Reaching inner-peace, achieving happiness, becoming selfless.