Analogue Music | The Soft Moon

The Soft Moon

By Matt Conner

There's no such thing as "too personal" for Luis Vasquez.

As the man behind the music of The Soft Moon, Vasquez has spent the last decade or so mining and searching for what moves him as much as possible—the direction really doesn't matter. As long as it shifts something on the inside, it's an internal signal that he can trust the music he's crafting, that it belongs in some permanent form.

The Soft Moon's latest set of songs, Exister, is Vasquez's most expansive work to date—both in terms of the emotional spectrum involved and the musical styles exhibited. The palette, however, is all Vasquez and it's thrilling for him to be able to share so many sides with the band's listeners.

We recently sat down with Vasquez to hear more about the personal nature of this set of songs and why he can never get too personal.

Analogue: You’ve said Exister is all about expressing the full spectrum of your emotions and who you are, but I also know that’s true for most artists in that their work is the outcome of wrestling with their emotions and experiences. What makes this album even more so than your other work?

Luis Vasquez: Well, let’s talk about the second record. That one was very conceptual. It was basically something I wanted to create that lived inside of a post-apocalyptic world. Other records have been pretty much post-punk, industrial, darkwave and I stuck with that, like bass guitar on everything. But on this one, literally almost each song is almost a different genre. There’s a techno track on the album. It opens with a ballad. There’s a thrash punk song. So in terms of expressing myself through emotions, I would say this is the most blatant in that regard.

Analogue: Is that part of the thrill of releasing this is exposing these new sides of yourself?

Luis: You nailed it. I think this is true with any artist—and I think of actors here—where you don’t want to get typecast. You can be a comedic actor who all of a sudden wants to do a thriller. So I guess I’ve been doing this for 11 or 12 years, and I thought it’s time to show more of who I am, express more of my interests, and also express more of my talent. I wanted people to know that I’m multi-faceted in terms of music. I just really want people to know who I am more so than ever.

Analogue: How much of that is related to you learning who you are as much as ever?

Luis: Oh, 100 percent. That’s the first thing. I’ve been doing that since the beginning of this project. I do feel like with this record here, I’ve reached it. I’ve come to more of a sense of peace, more of an understanding of who I am in relationship with the world and with my family. I’ve definitely reached the end of a chapter here.

Analogue: So you feel that internally, that it’s the end of a stage?

Luis: Yeah. I’ll continue with The Soft Moon but I’ll be approaching it a little bit differently, probably a little bit more confidently, a little less emotional. I can’t help that part, but the whole self-discovery thing going forward—instead of me soul-searching and then saying, ‘Okay, this is who I am’, it will be more of me expressing who I am.

Analogue: What did that journey include to find yourself?

Luis: Well, there’s a lot of self-sabotage that’s involved. I guess you could say I had a bit of a drinking problem. It was like I was drowning in my sorrows, but at the same time, if I drink, I noticed that I get a little bit more emotional. I guess that’s what I was searching for. In order for me to heal myself, I think I had to hit rock bottom—or at least that’s the way I was doing it and have done it.

The process is pretty torturous, I would say. Since the beginning of the first album, it’s been like that through Exister. It’s been a torturous process for self-discovery.

"Since the beginning of the first album, it’s been like that through Exister. It’s been a torturous process for self-discovery."

Analogue: In order for the music to come out?

Luis: Yeah, basically. Also in order for me to take risks. It gives me a sense of courage even if it’s a false one. But I tend to feel pretty numb in normal life. That’s how I’ve always felt. I know that if I drink alcohol a little bit or whatever, I start to feel things in order to get out of my misery that I’ve been in for a little while.

Analogue: Are you looking at this in past tense? Is that also coming to an end with this chapter?

Luis: Oh, yeah, 100 percent. I definitely feel I concluded that chapter with this record, so like I was saying, going forward will be more of a confident approach. Now I feel like I understand who I am more so than ever, instead of wondering who I am, which is what it has been since the first record up to this.

Analogue: I want to go back to what you said about this album having all these new angles to it. Does that change how a record release actually feels?

Luis: I kind of sometimes lose sleep about it. Sometimes I think I maybe gave too much because it can lend to some vulnerability in my life. But at the same time, I’m happy that I did it, too. I think the biggest thing is that when I release something so intimate, the feedback is pretty incredible. I end up with a lot of people relating to me and vice versa. Ultimately it’s a way to talk to people who are similar. That kind of makes me feel like I’m not just making music to be some sort of rock star. There’s a purpose to this. It’s not selfish, it’s actually selfless.

Analogue: When you include so much that’s new, is there anything you’re still leaving out?

Luis: Well it’s funny, but for me, the more personal, the better. If there’s something very, very personal, then I feel like I’ve got it. If something is not personal or emotional enough, it doesn’t make the record. Sometimes I get a little lost or maybe get inspired by a band from the ‘80s or something and try to write a song like that, but it never works. That’s me trying to be cool. [Laughs]

Whatever I put out, I have to really, really feel it. Either I have to cry or I have to dance to it. That’s when I know it makes the cut.

Analogue: Sorrow and joy as the pillars.

Luis: Yeah, I love that combo.

VISIT: The Soft Moon