The Soft Moon's Music a Cry for Help for Luis Vasquez

The Soft Moon
The Soft Moon
Dennis Shoenberg

Darkness surrounds the Soft Moon. So does a sense of struggle, hopelessness, and want, the sound of a mind searching for searching for sanity and peace in a confusing world. The Soft Moon is the musical voice of Luis Vasquez, a man battling inner demons and willing to go to remote places -- internally and externally -- to confront them. Loss, anger, alienation, and frustration are constant themes. There's a speck of light, but the tunnel is a long, dark one.

A mixture of no wave, industrial, and shoegaze, something of a hybrid Joy Division meets Nine Inch Nails meets My Bloody Valentine, the product of Vasquez's synthesizers and programming (plus some sparse live instrumentation) conjures a ghostly world that could serve as the soundtrack for Metropolis, the brooding, futuristic 1927 German silent film.

Battling a lingering cold, a demanding tour schedule, and life in general, Vasquez agreed to an e-mail interview to discuss his latest album, Deeper, relocating from California to Italy, and music as a release.

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New Times: There's an unsettling nature to the music with songs about alienation, depression, and loss. Are these your personal demons slipping out?

Luis Vasquez: I'm definitely battling my inner demons. Deeper is a sort of cry for help. It's as if I'm looking for people who feel the same way in order to find answers and also not to feel alone in the world.

Many artists grapple with the same things in their music and have different ways of release. What led you down this musical path?

This is something I'm still trying to figure out. When I write music this is the way, it comes out. Part of the process is to find out why so much darkness comes out of me when I express myself musically. It's a bit troubling to me, and I need to find out why in order to achieve inner peace.

What is it about the no wave and industrial sounds that told you this was your best musical outlet to unleash your feelings?

I'm not sure. I guess in terms of industrial music, for me banging on metal pipes, trash cans, and any metal objects I can find gives me a sense of cathartic release. It's also a very primal approach to music. Maybe I have a lot of pent-up aggression and anger inside me that has to come out in order to feel sane.

You relocated from Oakland, California, to Venice, Italy. How did that location change influence the sounds and images on this album?

It made me feel completely alone in the world, and that's what I wanted. I basically secluded myself in the country just outside Venice island. I felt a sense of struggle to survive and make things work. I had to depend on myself to retain hope. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster living alone in an unfamiliar place. I wanted to give up many times and return to the comforts I was previously used to, but in the end, the struggle is what guided my creative process.

You once said that your music was never intended to be released to the public. Now that people are hearing it and talking about it, is this a good thing?

It's good and bad. It's good because everyone who connects with the music is a sign that we're all similar in some way. When fans come up to me, it's as if we already knew each other or we were already friends somehow. The bad part is that expressing so much of myself makes me feel a bit vulnerable.

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