To exist is the first of Luis Vasquez sweet moon album in four years, and while he’s still working under the umbrella of gothic dance music, it’s a different record than he’s ever done before. Returning 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 whatever I wanted,” he says. “This time, I literally had everything at my disposal. The whole point of this record was to share all the emotions 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 motorized beats, vocals that sounded like screamed whispers, ghostly effects — To exist has a much fatter, more melodic sound and, above all, finds it on full vocals. You can listen to the album below.
We asked Luis to tell us more about the inspirations behind To exist, and its list includes music (Swans, Einstürzende Neubauten, more), Joshua Tree, books, movies and more. Read his annotated list below.
The Soft Moon will also be touring this fall, including a show in Brooklyn at Williamsburg Music Hall on November 10 with LOTION and Tracking amount. All dates are listed below.
THE SOFT MOON – 10 INSPIRATIONS BEHIND ‘EXIST’
Joshua Tree was as inspiring to me as it was challenging. Being able to go out and explore nature, being active (especially during confinement) has been a major source of inspiration for me. Whenever I felt stuck, I drove into the desert to recharge my batteries. Although after a while a feeling of isolation started to set in and I found myself craving the city life. Yet this experience played a major role in the writing of To exist.
Burn your sins in the desert
I was standing in line somewhere and the back of someone’s t-shirt said “Burn your sins in the desert”. It had an impact on me. It was at the very beginning of To exist when I was looking for direction and purpose. Something in the desert brings you back to the center of yourself. There is no escape, no distractions. You just have to face the truth about who you are, and it’s both exhilarating and terrifying.
He was released after forty years in prison when I was halfway through writing the album. Finding 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. He was the first person to notice that I had a talent for music and he was the only person who always believed in me. He will see me on stage for the first time in November.
The subtle art of not giving a damn by Mark Manson
I’m someone who cares a bit too much, and that’s a problem. I’m sure any artist is prone to self-doubt, but I have a really bad case of it. It constantly disrupts my creative flow to paralysis. So I chose this book as a way to change my mindset, but caring too much about what other people think is still an ongoing battle.
I got this tattoo in the desert. I remember that day: I was (still) stuck and went to the tattoo shop in the next town and got it. It’s a quote from Charles Bukowski, and goes back to what I described above: excessive self-doubt quickly becomes toxic. I had to learn to let go of expectations, stop caring so much, and do my thing.
Oxygen is this superb French sci-fi thriller from 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 Rob’s soundtrack inspired me. Most of my sound inspiration comes from film scores and sound design.
I always find myself listening to the entire Neubauten discography before the creation of my albums. I am a percussionist at heart but what naturally wants to come out of me in terms of rhythms comes from my Latin heritage. Studying Neubauten’s rhythmic approach and use of industrial drums takes me out of convention and creatively inspires me to push the boundaries.
Swans – Dirt
I love the overall production of this particular Swans album. I was inspired by the raw, 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 many unusual drum production techniques in my drum software. recording to get something inspired by “Filth” but also something different and New.
It kind of ties in with what I mentioned above in terms of finding new drum sounds. Often I get frustrated with everyday instruments. For example, when I bought my first synthesizer, I always found myself trying to create sounds that a synth wouldn’t normally produce and asking the listener which instrument produces which sound. With To exist I tried the same thing, but this time with percussion. I ended up looking for weird and unusual percussion instruments from all over the world and also had a few percussion instruments made especially for this album.
Believe it or not, what really helps inspire creativity is getting completely out of my mind. My thoughts are like an endless nightmare and even worse during the process of writing a new album. With To exist in particular, I needed a break from time to time so as not to be eaten alive. Cooking is the only time I feel a sense of calm and the only time I can 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 Sweet Moon – 2022 Tour Dates
September 26 Hamburg, DE – U&G*
September 27 Berlin, DE – So36*
September 28 Leipzig, DE – UT Connewitz*
Sep 29 Cologne, DE – Gebaude9*
September 30 Poznan, PL – Próżność*
October 01 Warsaw, PL – Praga Centrum *
October 02 Krakow, PL – Klub Muzyczny Poczta Główna*
October 03 Prague, CZ – Futurum *
October 04 Munich, DE – Hansa 39*
October 05 Pordenone, IT – Capitol *
Oct 06 Rome, IT – Monk*
October 07 Milan, IT – Santeria *
October 8 Bologna, IT – Covo *
October 10 Toulouse, FR – The Connection *
October 11 Vigo, ES – Master Club*
October 12 Lisbon, PT – LAV 2* Room
October 13 Madrid, ES – La Casa Encendida*
October 14 Zaragoza, ES – Jardín de Invierno
October 15 Barcelona, ES – Nitsa Club (Apolo’s (2))
October 17 Lyon, FR – Modern Epicerie #
October 18 Zurich, CH – Mascot Club #
October 19 Ghent, BE – Handelsbeurs #
October 20 Lille, FR – Le Grand Mix #
October 21 Luxembourg, LU – Kulturfabrik #
October 22 Brussels, BE – Beursschouwburg #
October 24 Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso Noord #
October 25 Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje #
October 26 Groningen, NL – VERA#
October 27 London, UK – The Garage#
October 28 Amiens, FR – The Pirates’ Moon #
October 29 Paris, FR – Trabendo #
November 9 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Underground Arts %
November 10 Brooklyn, NY – Williamsburg Music Hall √
November 11 Washington, DC – The Howard Theater %
November 12 Richmond, Virginia – The Broadberry %
November 13 Asheville, NC – The Gray Eagle %
November 14 Atlanta, Georgia – Masquerade (Hell Stage) %
November 16 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s ¥
November 17 Houston, TX – ¥ Figures
November 18 Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co¥
November 19 Austin, TX – Mohawk ¥
November 21 Phoenix, Arizona – Crescent Ballroom ¥
November 25 Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater †
November 26 San Francisco, CA – The Independent †
November 29 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom †
November 30 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater †
December 01 Seattle, WA – Neumos †
December 02 Boise, ID – The Olympic †
December 3 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Fair †
December 04 Denver, CO – The Oriental Theater †
December 6 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line †
December 07 Chicago, IL – Subway †
December 08 Detroit, MI – El Club †
December 09 Toronto, ON – The Opera House †
December 10 Montreal, QC – SAT †
December 11 Boston, MA – The Sinclair †
* with Fata Morgana
# with Pyrite
√ w/ LOTION, trace amount
% w/ Model/ Actriz
† with New Testament