How a Ghost Inspired The Soft Moon’s New Album “Deeper”
Posted by Isabelle 8 months ago in Interviews
I fucking love The Soft Moon.
But then again, I have a penchant for music that sounds like frantically sucking blood at an origiastic vampire rave.
Earlier last year, The Soft Moon (also known as Luis Vasquez to his mama) released his third full-length album, Deeper, an intensely psychological moment in music which sounds pretty much like the description above. It’s no wonder his dark, tortured synths and stabbing percussion have earned him a reputation as today’s overlord of minimalist post-punk anguish music; his formula for bleak humming of future goth is too much to resist for anyone whose feels transcend the binary happy/sad spectrum of emotion. And now, on the heels of that release, he’s getting ready to drop two remix EPs, Deeper Remixed VOL.1 and Vol.2, which will be out February 5th and 19th.
Sigh. I fucking love The Soft Moon.
I called him while he was driving in bumfuck nowhere Texas to talk about Deeper, the remixes and to ask him what it was like to be a worshiped gothic sex symbol. He pretended to be astounded about that last thing, which was charming.
Don’t ask how the conversation drifted to ghosts and aliens, but it did, and it turns out a bad case of the living dead had a lot to do with how Deeper turned out. Read on.
… Do you ever just listen to soft jazz or dad rock?
You know, yeah actually. Sometimes. I can do some like John Coltrane and things like Duke Ellington. Sometimes I have guilty pleasures, you know? Like old Madonna. Even some George Micheal. Stuff like that. I listen to everything actually. It’s just the music that I make that comes out the way it does.
Deeper is very psychological and has a lot to do with your own internal struggles … but pretend that you worked through all of that through your songwriting. What would you write music about if you were magically cured of all of your inner angst and paranoia?
It’s funny, but I think I probably wouldn’t even write music at that point. It’s the only tool that I have that allows me to do what I need to do in this life. I’ve actually tried other ways. I was an artist when I was younger. I wanted to be a painter. I guess it wasn’t until I discovered music that I realized that was the only way.
How did you go about selecting the artists for your remix volumes that are coming out?
That was kind of like a collaborative thing between myself and my manager and a couple mutual friends. A few of the people on the remix album were friends of mine. Like Blush Response, Phase Fatale, Dave Clarke, and Trentemoller. And the rest were like people that were kind of brought to my attention by my manager or by friends that were like in the business.
Since Deeper was such a psychological album for you, what was it like to see other people reinterpret your emotions and personal revelations?
I kind of just let them do whatever they wanted. That’s kind of how it is even for just the listeners. People can interpret my music how they want. That’s one of the reasons I gave each title one word title. You know because, certain words can have different meanings for each person. The music is about my own kind of self exploration and my questions about my own existence and things like that. I also, I don’t want it to be so selfish, therefore, I kind of leave it open for others to kind of take it in the way they need to take it in.
It really seems like for you, music is about confronting your own inner demons and going through a process of self-psychoanalysis.
That’s exactly it. It’s definitely a form of self therapy. By creating music and using my own hands, it gives me the information that I’m looking for, or just information about myself. Even sometimes I’ll listen to a song that I have written and it’ll just click like, “Oh yeah.” I just, it reminds me of a certain part of my childhood, or something traumatic that happened in my life or it’ll even sometimes bring back a memory that I have forgotten and things like that. I’m gaining all this information I’m seeing. It’s opening windows.
In a way then, do you have a motivation to not self-therapize? If you worked everything out through music, you wouldn’t really have anything left to write about. Is there a reason for you to stay semi-tormented?
Yeah, there’s also this masochism that’s involved I guess, I just realized maybe a year ago. I think in a way, I always live in chaos internally, and it’s just something that I’m used to and without this chaos I don’t feel alive. I feel dead in a way. It’s also a way for me to, yeah, just feel comfortable in my existence, which is ironic.
I think it’s interesting that you recorded Deeper in Venice, Italy where are there are hundreds of years of history … it’s almost haunted with its own internal energy. To me, that comes out on Deeper, because the album has this simultaneous vibe of being both haunted and holy. Did being in Venice around that kind of energy influence your sound on the record at all?
At the moment I think that there is no influence from Venice into my music, but everything’s subconscious. Maybe once the time passes by, and I have a chance to look back I can see the connections, but I feel like there isn’t really any influence. I was pretty much just in my apartment sitting inside my music equipment and just still living in my own little bubble. I think that because I could have written this same exact album anywhere. I just needed a place to be away from my comfort zone. I just needed solitude, so it could have been anywhere but it happened to be Venice.
Did you experience any hauntings in Venice?
Actually, that’s funny you say that because there was definitely something in my apartment.
Yeah, for sure. I was seeing silhouettes and things like that of a figure on the wall at night. I would see this in my room. It was completely, pretty much pitch black, but then I would sense some sort of presence in the room. I would open my eyes and then above me would be this form floating right under the ceiling that was blacker than black. It was very scary. Then this went on for awhile, and to a point where even friends of mine didn’t want to stay over.
Oh, fuck …
My drummer was staying with me for a while and he was hearing voices at night. He was having crazy nightmares, and I was having nightmares. It started with nightmares. They were just very terrifying. Then I went to the States to visit my mom, and I was gone for about a month or so. Then when I came back, a neighbor told me that they had drained the lake that was across the street from where I lived. It was a big lake. They found a skeleton … It turned out to be some woman who I guess was murdered or raped and thrown into the lake, and was there for over a hundred years. Once they removed the skeleton I never experienced that ghost anymore.
That could have some sort of influence on the record for sure.
Had you ever had any experiences like that before? You grew up in Death Valley, which is one of the more supernatural places …
I think so. I would see things at night in the sky when I was younger, I’ve had a couple experiences, but I never really thought too much about it. I think I’ve seen a UFO before. Actually there were three, flying together, and then they split apart at rapid speed. It was very strange.
How much did growing up in such an extreme environment affect your musical direction? The desert is the epitome of harsh and minimal, which is also how I’d describe your music.
That was something that I realized a few years later after I had written the first record. I was listening to my first album and driving to the desert to visit my mom there. She doesn’t live there anymore, but I purposely put the CD into the car and took it in. I started making the connections. I realized my music has a form. Sometimes it has a sense of infinity, like the desert, and can go on forever. Very heavy winds when it was windy, super heavy winds. I would always throw white noise textures throughout my songs. I guess that mimics those winds, and then off in the distance you’d see these ragged mountains. I think that represents the anxiety and the claustrophobia. Yeah, I think, I would say that the desert had a huge impact on creating my formula.
You guys have been on the road for most of last year, and a lot of this year. Are there any particular places that you felt really understood you, or really didn’t get you guys?
It seems as if the places that have had some sort of struggle with their economy or have a pretty dark past, a dark history, really connect with our live shows. Poland, Russia, Transylvania, even Berlin. Those places really get the music, and they really connect with it. For some reason Paris is a huge market for us. We’re quite big over there. As far as places that don’t get us, it’s funny. I haven’t really gotten that yet. There’s been times I remember, I think last year on our tour in the states there was some cities that felt a little strange. There was a disconnection. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but they were normally smaller cities in the Midwest.
How does it feel to be a Gothic sex symbol?
Oh man, I didn’t know I was. That’s funny.
You’re quite adored.
That’s cool. No, I like it. Now I know how that feels. Yeah, I’m now hearing this for the first time. I have to kind of have things to marinate in my mind.
Was that ever an intention of yours when you got into music?
My intention was to become more of a mysterious figure, not really giving too much image or I’m not looking for that kind of attention as a front man. Just more of a mysterious figure that comes out at night and performs.
If you missed his L.A. show last week because you’re shackled to a furnace like Christina Ricci in Black Snake Moan, don’t worry because he’ll also be in the following cities:
2/03 — Seattle @ Barboza
2/06 – Denver @ Marquis
2/08 — Minneapolis @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall
2/09 — Chicago @ Thalia Hall
2/10 — Columbus @ Rumba Café
2/11 — Toronto @ Lee’s Palace
2/12 — Montreal @ La Sala Rosa
2/13 — Brooklyn @ Market Hotel
2/14 — Brooklyn @ Saint Vitus
2/16 — Philadelphia @ Boot & Saddle
2/17 — New Haven @ BAR
2/19 — Pittsburgh @ Cattivo
2/20 — Baltimore @ Ottobar
2/21 — Norfolk @ Work Release
2/22 — Chapel Hill @ Cat’s Cradle