the soft moon is coming to mojos soon. repeat three times, nice assonance. here's the interview we did with luis vasquez, phone from fremantle to berlin, getting cut off a lot, but tips of gold still winging their way through.
AF: hello is that luis
yeah that's me
it's amber from cool perth nights
hey how you doing (small talk etc.)
where abouts are you?
i'm in berlin
in where sorry?
in berlin, germany
oh i've heard of it
ha ha i'm sure you have
what is it like living there compared with - you're usually in california, right?
yeah. it's different and the same at the same time. the night life is quite similar to los angeles. it's a little bit more extreme i would say. as berlin's known for its party culture.
but it's cool, i like it. i'm enjoying it.
there's so many australian artists that go over there, is that the same for americans?
yeah i meet so many australians out here.
are there not that many people from the US going there as a destination for pursuing music and art?
yeah, usually the americans that i meet here are just here for tourism purposes. but i do meet many musicians: italians, french, spanish.
did you choose berlin at all because of its closer connections to industrial music - and what you're making - than LA would be?
initially i decided to come out here for business reasons. the majority of touring i do is in europe so berlin is quite central as a starting point. i wanted to be in europe so i could be readily available for anything that comes up.
in the beginning it was kind of a pain in the ass because i was flying from Oakland. i couldn't really take up on the offers of some of these festivals that would happen last minute. i'd get these really great offers but because i'm so far away…
also my manager lives here, my drummer lives here, but then of course on top of that i would say yeah, definitely the culture and the industrial music, the history, that all definitely plays a part too. and it's a very artistic city. it's quite inspiring, it helps creative types survive.
are there any artists there you've found particularly inspiring?
ah not so much, noone in particular, i would say that --- (much talking, but none gets through the phoneline)
hey, that sounds better
don't know what happened
yeah me neither
(we continue) yeah no-one in particular just the music culture itself is inspiring on its own, you know places like tresor, all those techno clubs i don't quite frequent anymore.
you know, a lot of people come out here and the first thing they want to do is explore and experience these clubs. but you can only do it for so long unless like you're, a super techno head. i have friends that do that, going two or three years, they still go quite often but i gained enough from that experience and i kind of harnessed it in a way. i don't know, perhaps it will come out in my future projects.
it seems to me sometimes people that are actually making music have a little bit less voracious appetite to go and see music all the time.
exactly. yeah, you know you'll rarely see me at a show these days. i don't really listen to music that often, and if i do it's usually something nostalgic for me, something from my childhood, something from the past. but yeah as far as friend musicians that i know, we're all similar -we'd prefer to kind of work.
(phone dies, we reconnect)
i have musician friends who are also the same, people who like to work here, not really participate in all the activities.
are you writing at the moment?
yeah. started a few months ago. at the moment there's no hard deadlines or timeframe i've just kind of been writing as inspiration hits me and we'll see.
i don't know if this is a hard question but where is the music that you're making coming from at the moment?
um. that's an interesting one. i've been going through a lot. kind of a rollercoaster of life and personal struggles. i'm always learning about myself, i think everyone learns about themselves as they evolve. but yeah dealing with a lot of personal issues - and that's kind of what's making its way into my music.
life is pretty interesting at the moment. i guess i'll learn more about that as i continue to write. that's how i find out what my problems are or what my emotions are, it's through the music. when i just let go i'll be able to answer that question more later, or the music will answer those questions.
~ phone death ~
hey i don't know what's going on, they've given us a dodgy line
yeah it's weird
i forgot what we were talking about
oh yeah, you were asking where were the songs coming from. and i was explaining how i'm going through some personal struggles - some confusion - that's left me feeling at a loss. i won't know what i'm going through or where the music's coming from until i'm actually writing. my music shows me what's going on with me.
yeah that's a very magical thing that can happen that when you're making things - you understand it afterwards, or it sort of teaches you.
yeah. exactly. ha.
have you had that happen with other albums that you've done?
yeah, every single one. music for me, it's therapy, it's like my therapist, you know my instruments are my therapist. a lot of times i can write a song and not know what it's about. then a couple years later i'll go 'oh ok that's what i was going through'. that's what happens with pretty much all the tracks that i write.
when listen to your music and watch your clips it kind of reminds me of my dad telling me about being in korea, and he went to some sort of festival and got put in a coffin by some monks and they put the lid on
and it's this thing that you go through to i guess have some sort of experience of, or confrontation with, um, death and darker things. so i just wanted to ask you, do you see your music as dark but not in a negative and hopeless way, but kind of positive way?
exactly. yeah, it's definitely dark, especially the sonic aspect of it. you know i'm always using darker synth sounds, so even the tones are dark, it's quite dark but it's also very optimistic. everything is like a war against myself, but there's always that hope and there's always that sense of defeat, so
it's just like the struggle. it's all about struggle. and suffering, but being able to conquer. to conquer these things; and that's the whole point of this, is to get through. the music represents how i feel, everything is, is ---------------
and we go into the blackness. luis promised to answer my last email questions, but they haven't come back yet. you can ask him your own questions though, when you go to his show - soft moon coming soon etc.
here's the titles of his tracks for the last album, deeper, so you'll know why it all made me think of the coffin:
[addendum - just got the extra answers]
Have you already got any sense of what Australia is going to be like? I think it's your first time here…?
Yes, it will be my first time in Australia. As far as what i've been told, read in books, and seen in documentaries i guess i'm expecting to see many different wildlife? Perhaps that may sound a bit adolescent on my part, but as of right now i can only depend on my imagination as of what Australia is like. From what i can tell about all the Aussies i've met here in Berlin i can say that everyone seems to have great attitudes.
I wanted to ask you too whether you're very concerned about gear - if you have synths you love above others at the moment for example.
I'm not much of a gear head myself. I have preferences on certain synthesizers for how they might sound of course, but i'm far away from the type of person who goes nuts collecting everything on the market, or even knowing about everything. I've always found a big difference between know-it-all gear heads and actual musicians. I feel that their brains have different wirings. To be honest, my favorite instrument in my collection is an old beat up trashcan i found in a parking lot that i use for live shows and on some of my recordings.
And also, I was in Oakland last year, the morning after some of the streets had been lit up with cars, shops looted, and lots of deep political passions mixed in with a sense of mayhem. I know you're not there at the moment, but how do you feel about how your country is going right now? Optimism, darkness… ?
It makes me sad and angry. It seems unthinkable that it could've gotten worse, but it has and there doesn't seem to be any optimism in my opinion. I've actually made plans to finally return to the states after four years living in Europe to buy a home and settle but at the looks of how things are going down i just don't know anymore. The elections will also be a big deciding factor for me wether or not i return. Only time will tell.