Interview: The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez On The Creation, Freedom, And Self-Discovery Behind ‘Exister’

GID: Kind of like how with streaming services we think we want everything accessible, yet it’s overwhelming.

LV: Exactly. With Netflix and things like that, I spend more time looking for the movie. Same thing with ordering food online. It takes forever! Then you have Instagram. I’m rarely on TikTok but I imagine it’s the same thing. There’s a lot in front of our faces.

GID: And now it’s just made us all really indecisive (laughs). One thing I love about the album is the wide range of sonic styles it covers. You have songs like the title track and “Monster” which are softer and calmer while songs like “Unforgiven” and “Face is Gone” are brutal, dark, and even menacing. Then you have a song like “Become the Lies” which is bouncy and catchy. You also have a bigger vocal range here, playing around with your singing style. What was the impetus for capturing such a wide range of sounds on this record?

LV: Well, my initial direction for the record was I wanted to make something really cold. I wanted to make something very minimal. I was thinking like ok let me make something more current. I really tried, and I couldn’t. The Soft Moon is me being myself. Again, I’m not making music because I’m trying to be something or because I bought a drum machine and now, I want to make darkwave. I’m a slave to it. So, I try to write one thing, but then I end up writing another thing. I let myself go completely, which is why you have so many different emotions throughout the record. Basically, each song is a different feeling or a different perspective on existence. That’s ultimately what the concept is in the end. Existence. Being a human being, living in a body, and experiencing different thoughts and emotions on the daily rather than one darkwave album.

The singing thing – it’s funny if you listen to the evolution, I’m whispering on the first album. Then the second album I’m kind of singing but I’m not really making too much sense. And I carry it on through that. Now, I’m like full blast singing. At one point I realized I’m a really good singer. In my live shows, I sing my heart out. I always have. I sing a lot differently live than I do on the albums. But with this one, I’m singing the way I would live. I feel like I’m always trying to separate myself. The genres I’m usually clumped up with are baritone vocals, things like that and I’m trying to prove that I’m in another world. I can actually sing. I can play every instrument and I can produce and create every single genre. That’s just what I do. Hopefully, people will see that. When I die, I want people to see that. That’s what I was. Everything.

GID: That’s what I loved about the record that’s it’s going through all these different styles, yet it never sounds disjointed. Nothing sounds out of place. It’s all distinctly The Soft Moon, but it’s not all hitting the same note.

LV: Exactly. Cause it’s natural. Also, within the darker realm of music, there’s only so many notes you can play that keep things sounding dark. For instance, using my voice and singing falsetto, that’s another way of maintaining the darkness but spreading out in other ways. Not just in the notes, but with the music style, the singing, the drumming, the percussion.

GID: The album also features some awesome collaborations with Ali Logout and fish narc. How did they come to be a part of the project?

LV: Just being a fan basically. Wanting to collab for the first time which is something I’ve never done. I’ve always kept everything pretty, not secret but you know intimate. Even when I’m working on a record, I don’t share my music with my manager, which is kind of unheard of (laughs). You’re supposed to share along the way. So, because I was being so transparent and I was experimenting and showing all my angles, I felt like collaborating would be an addition to that. I’m doing new things on the record ultimately, so collaborations are a new thing for me. I thought fish narc would be something different. He’s in a completely different world genre-wise and I thought that would be cool. Basically, what I’m trying to do is spread my music to larger fanbases. Not larger to get big but so more people outside of the genre I’m used to playing in can hear it. I feel like my music is for more than just the underground scene. And that’s pretty much why I did that.

GID: One song that stands out is the closer “Exister.” This one’s interesting because it starts off kind of noisy and moody and as the song builds, the music starts to swell and let in these little glimpses of brightness and even a sense of calm before the track ends. It almost feels like taking a deep breath. What’s the origin behind this track?

LV: It is the exhale. It’s the relief. It’s also the calmness of reaching the end of the chapter or reaching the top of the mountain. It’s also a sense of to be continued. There’s a little bit more left in me in terms of The Soft Moon. I just wanted to leave it kind of open and I didn’t want to leave the listener in a dark space. I didn’t want to close with the song “The Pit.” It’s got a good place in the record, but I didn’t want to leave the listener at that. I don’t feel like that would’ve closed the album right. It’s almost like an open-ended hey everyone I’m all right. To be continued. And breathe (laughs).

GID: You’ve described The Soft Moon as a chronology of your life. So, with that in mind, how have you changed and grown over the years since you first started the project?

LV: It’s been a roller coaster. At first, I wasn’t understanding what I was doing or how it was going to connect with people. I was kind of numb. I’ve always been a little numb, but I was more numb back then. Then there was the phase of okay I get signed and go on my first world tour. I go holy shit this is really happening. Always still humble though. Then after a while, I get a little used to it. I moved to Berlin and things were going well and I got used to it, so I kind of became reckless. Harming my body. I was in Berlin; a lot of people harm their bodies in Berlin (laughs). Then I wrote an angry record which is Criminal. It’s just been personal growth. It’s been a roller coaster to get there which would be normal for people who wouldn’t be writing or having musical projects or writing albums; it’s just mine that happened through music and in the public’s eyes. Now I’m here.

GID: Since Exister allowed you to reach that conclusion, to know who you are, would you say you’re in a better place now?

LV: No, I still struggle on the daily. I’m not sure what it is. I do feel like social media has a lot to do with it. I know the singer from Metallica [James Hetfield] did an interview about something similar. And this guy’s massive. To me, he has nothing to worry about. He’s made it threefold. But he mentioned how he’ll delete his account and start it up and then delete it again. Goes in and out of alcoholism. So, I dunno there’s something about social media in that it’s not really that good. Sometimes I feel like I’m not as relevant as I should be but then sometimes, I forget all the things I’ve already done. I’ve done crazy shit like tour with Depeche Mode and played with Nine Inch Nails. Been to Brazil. I’ve done a lot of things, but there’s something about social media these days. Now it’s more exposed. Everyone knows all your accomplishments and sometimes I feel forgotten. I think it kind of bothers me. But my main spot is on the stage and that could be another reason. Three years have gone by and I haven’t really been doing what I truly love which is performing.

GID: Speaking of playing on stage, in a few weeks you’ll head out on a European tour followed by the North American tour in November. What are you most looking forward to about hitting the road again?

LV: Just feeling the connection on stage. Performing. I’m a little lost when I’m not on stage. I haven’t had that for a while. So, I think every day I’ve been struggling with finding my purpose, but I know it’s eight days away and my purpose is on stage. I feel like I’m gonna feel worthy or whatever. I’m gonna be very happy being on schedule, performing every night. I’m not so interested in talking to people, which is really funny because there’s always a group of people waiting for me at the merch booth. If my manager or sound engineer is at the show, they’re like you gotta get out there! I’ll have to take a shot of tequila or something! No one knows this about me, but I’ve got to get a bit of that liquid courage, and then I’m social. That’s the hardest part, but I’m like that in everyday life. I appreciate my fans. I just happen to be like that every day.

The Soft Moon’s new album Exister is out now. Stream/purchase a copy here. Vasquez is currently on his European/UK tour and will embark on the North American leg in November. Check out all his dates here.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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