The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez discusses the influences behind new LP ‘Exister’
Exister is Luis Vasquez's first Soft Moon album in four years, and while he's still working under the gothy dance music umbrella, this is a different record than he's ever made before. Having moved back to California after living in Berlin, Vasquez wrote and recorded the album in Joshua Tree during the pandemic. “I always complained that I never had enough freedom to do everything I wanted,” he says. “This time I literally had everything at my disposal. The whole point of this record was to share every emotion that I feel. No two songs are the same. It’s about existing in the world as a human being and experiencing many emotions and experiences throughout life.” Where previous Soft Moon albums fell into a very rigid style -- driving motorik rhythms, vocals that were like shouted whispers, ghostly effects -- Exister is much bigger sounding, more melodic and, most notably, finds him full-on singing. You can listen to the album below.
We asked Luis to tell us more about the inspirations behind Exister, and his list includes music (Swans, Einstürzende Neubauten, more), Joshua Tree, books, films and more. Read his annotated list below.
THE SOFT MOON - 10 INSPIRATIONS BEHIND 'EXISTER'
Joshua Tree was just as inspiring for me as it was challenging. Being able to go out and explore nature, be active (especially during lockdown) was a major source of inspiration for me. Whenever I’d feel stuck I would drive out into the desert to recharge. Although after a while, feelings of isolation started settling in and I found myself craving city life again. Still, that experience played a major role in the writing of Exister.
Burn your sins in the desert
I was waiting in line somewhere and the back of someone's t-shirt read “Burn Your Sins In The Desert”. It made an impact on me. It was in the early stages of Exister when I was seeking a direction and purpose. Something about the desert brings you back to the center of yourself. There’s no escape, no distractions. You just have to face the truth of who you are, and it is both intoxicating and terrifying.
He was released after forty years in prison when I was halfway through writing the album. Reuniting with him outside of prison was really special because he was the one who bought me my first guitar with drug money when I was twelve years old. He was the first person to notice that I had a talent in music and was the one person who always believed in me. He’s going to see me on stage for the first time in November.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
I’m someone who cares a little too much, and it’s a problem. I’m sure any artist is prone to self-doubt, but I have a pretty bad case of it. It constantly disrupts my creative flow to the point of paralysis. So I picked up this book as a means to change my mind frame but caring what others think too much is still an ongoing battle.
I got this tattoo in the desert. I remember that day: I was stuck (again) and drove out to the tattoo shop in the next town and got it. It’s a Charles Bukowski quote, and ties in with what I was describing above: an excess of self-doubt quickly becomes toxic. I had to learn to let go of expectations, stop caring so much and just do my thing.
Oxygen is this stunning French sci-fi thriller by Alexandre Aja. It’s super tense and claustrophobic. I have a thing for outer space movies and survival movies in general, but this one really stuck with me. And the soundtrack by Rob was inspiring to me. Most of my inspiration for sounds comes from film scores and sound design.
I always find myself listening to Neubauten's entire discography before the creation of my albums. I’m a percussionist by heart but what naturally wants to come out of me in terms of rhythms is derived from my latin heritage. Studying Neubauten’s approach to rhythms and the use of industrial drums breaks me out of convention and inspires me creatively to push boundaries.
Swans - Filth
I love the overall production of this particular album by Swans. I was inspired by the rawness and aggressive sound of the drums. I did a lot of experimenting at home with different mics, different mic placements, unconventional drum tuning, using broken drum heads and experimenting with lots of unusual drum production techniques within my recording software to achieve something inspired by “Filth” but also something different and new.
This kind of ties in with what I mentioned above in terms of the search for new drum sounds. A lot of times I get frustrated with everyday instruments. For instance, when I bought my first synthesizer I always found myself trying to create sounds that a synth wouldn’t normally make and to have the listener question what instrument is making which sound. With Exister I attempted the same thing, only this time with percussion. I ended up seeking out weird and unusual percussion instruments from around the world and also had a few percussion instruments custom made specifically for this album.
Believe it or not, what really helps inspire creativity is to get my head out of it completely. My thoughts are like a never-ending nightmare and even worse during the writing process for a new album. With Exister in particular, I needed a break every so often as to not get eaten alive. Cooking is the only time I feel a sense of calmness and the only time I’m able to focus on one thing. When I’m writing an album it’s the only thing I think about day and night, so the separation helps.
The Soft Moon - 2022 Tour Dates
Sep 26 Hamburg, DE - U&G *
Sep 27 Berlin, DE - So36 *
Sep 28 Leipzig, DE - UT Connewitz *
Sep 29 Cologne, DE - Gebaude9 *
Sep 30 Poznan, PL - Próżność *
Oct 01 Warsaw, PL - Praga Centrum *
Oct 02 Krakow, PL - Klub Muzyczny Poczta Główna *
Oct 03 Prague, CZ - Futurum *
Oct 04 Munich, DE - Hansa 39 *
Oct 05 Pordenone, IT - Capitol *
Oct 06 Rome, IT - Monk *
Oct 07 Milan, IT - Santeria *
Oct 08 Bologna, IT - Covo *
Oct 10 Toulouse, FR - Le Connexion *
Oct 11 Vigo, ES - Master Club *
Oct 12 Lisbon, PT - LAV room 2 *
Oct 13 Madrid, ES - La Casa Encendida *
Oct 14 Zaragoza, ES - Jardín de Invierno
Oct 15 Barcelona, ES - Nitsa Club (La (2) de Apolo )
Oct 17 Lyon, FR - Epicerie Moderne #
Oct 18 Zurich, CH - Mascotte Club #
Oct 19 Gent, BE - Handelsbeurs #
Oct 20 Lille, FR - Le Grand Mix #
Oct 21 Luxembourg, LU - Kulturfabrik #
Oct 22 Brussels, BE - Beursschouwburg #
Oct 24 Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Noord #
Oct 25 Nijmegen, NL - Doornroosje #
Oct 26 Groningen, NL - VERA #
Oct 27 London, UK - The Garage #
Oct 28 Amiens, FR - La Lune des Pirates #
Oct 29 Paris, FR - Trabendo #
Nov 09 Philadelphia, PA - Underground Arts %
Nov 10 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg √
Nov 11 Washington, DC - The Howard Theatre %
Nov 12 Richmond, VA - The Broadberry %
Nov 13 Asheville, NC - The Grey Eagle %
Nov 14 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade (Hell Stage) %
Nov 16 New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jack’s ¥
Nov 17 Houston, TX - Numbers ¥
Nov 18 Dallas, TX - Deep Ellum Art Co ¥
Nov 19 Austin, TX - Mohawk ¥
Nov 21 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom ¥
Nov 25 Los Angeles, CA - The Regent Theater †
Nov 26 San Francisco, CA - The Independent †
Nov 29 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom †
Nov 30 Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theatre †
Dec 01 Seattle, WA - Neumos †
Dec 02 Boise, ID - The Olympic †
Dec 03 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge †
Dec 04 Denver, CO - The Oriental Theatre †
Dec 06 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line †
Dec 07 Chicago, IL - Metro †
Dec 08 Detroit, MI - El Club †
Dec 09 Toronto, ON - The Opera House †
Dec 10 Montreal, QC - S.A.T. †
Dec 11 Boston, MA - The Sinclair †
* w/ Fata Morgana
# w/ Pyrit
√ w / L.O.T.I.O.N, Trace Amount
% w / Model/ Actriz
¥ w / MSPAINT
† w / Nuovo Testamento