Interview: Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Polina Belehhova
The marvel of The Soft Moon lies within the juxtaposition of a sense of torment, which we are all secretly drawn to, and the sensation of life in all its totality. It’s an energy manifestation that radiates a melancholic charm that speaks to you in barely perceptible measures, yet strikes you right to the core. It shatters the abyss of your agonizing being and you become the energy manifestation in itself. You surrender to your demons in order to overcome the necessary feeling of hostility towards the self, and all at once, pain becomes beauty.
Such is the beguiling wonder of The Soft Moon.
Check out the new album ‘Criminal’ here.
What do you sacrifice for your calling?
At the moment I’m sacrificing being with my family, with my friends, my hometown, and I guess myself in a way too. This whole project is a lot of torture, it’s a very tormenting journey. I’m taking myself into really dark places and I’m hurting myself a lot, I guess.
What do you like the most about yourself?
Nothing, I’m full of self-hate and self-sabotage. Though I know how to write music, I can confidently say that. With everything else I wouldn’t say so, so I think it’s my only quality.
In one of your interviews you say that your goal is to become a happy person. What is your personal perception of happiness?
Just inner peace: for all my crazy thoughts that are eating me alive, the anxiety, and all of that to stop. That’s happiness for me.
What was the closest you’ve reached it?
Yesterday, actually. I’ve mentioned that I haven’t had a drink for 7 days when I walked in, and I’ve noticed that without drinking things are kind of euphoric. After a few days of not drinking I’ve started feeling happy just by being myself and that’s the closest I’ve been to happiness in a very long while, so it’s funny that you’ve asked that.
You talk a lot about a certain darkness that resides within you, but you’ve also said that there are pros and cons in everything, so what is the beauty of your darkness?
I think to live in reality. I’m able to see the reality of life and of my emotions. I guess, I’m feeling more human than most, because I’m feeling the rawness of emotion. That’s the pro for sure – feeling alive.
Let’s talk about the demons you often mention. Do you distinguish any of them? What are they or who are they?
No. I don’t know. I think I know where they come from. They come from my childhood, which you probably already know about. I’m realising that not having a father when growing up has affected me. I never thought about it before. He was never there, so it was never a concern to me, I never cared about meeting him or anything like that. But now that years have passed and I’ve been writing music to learn about myself, I’m realising ‘ok, one of my direct problems is definitely the lack of having a father.’ That affected me, and my mom wasn’t around as much because she was a single parent, so I was with babysitters most of the time. My upbringing wasn’t balanced.
So your demon is just a single indistinguishable entity?
I guess so. I’ve witnessed a lot of things growing up, I’ve seen a lot of violence in the family. So yeah, it’s a combination of so many things and there is a demon for all those things but I haven’t met them all.
What is the enemy of creativity?
Is that something you deal with a lot?
I’m such a procrastinator. I procrastinate a lot with The Soft Moon because, like I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s torture for me to sit down and write. It’s like sitting down and talking to a therapist – they ask you questions and you don’t want to go into it.
Only in this case you are your own therapist.
Yeah, for sure.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or experienced in your life?
I don’t know why but I thought of the death of my uncle. That’s so weird though. Usually I could’ve come up with something else but that was the first thing that hit my head. I remember being a little boy and going to the funeral, crying to my grandmother, looking at my uncle’s dead body. I think in a way I got a glimpse of reality, and that was what made it a beautiful moment for me.
You’ve also mentioned your dreams a lot, the ones where you see the world ending in various ways. If the world would actually end and you would have to pick the way it would end, then what scenario would you go for?
Alien invasion. I also imagined a lot of times, and that’s a recurring dream I’ve had, gravity disappearing and then the entire Earth just falling down forever. That would be a cool scenario.
You are ‘mainly influenced by existence itself’. What is your favorite part about existing?
I guess playing with existence, fucking around with existence, purposely taking it for granted and seeing how far you can go with it, how far before you can break existence.
How big of a control freak are you?
Not too much, but when it comes to my expression – I’m a perfectionist. It’s part of the reason why my project is still a solo project for so long. I have a vision when it comes to The Soft Moon and I have to control it, but over the years I’m getting a little more loose with that. Ultimately the final decision is always mine and I need to make sure that what I’m saying is exactly what I wanted to say, because I’m the one who has to live with it.
Is it a tedious experience?
I’m used to it now.
Why do people hate what is not them?
Everyone is into what they don’t have or what they aren’t. I’m not sure I can answer this question.
Do you hate anything?
I’m not a hater. I’m really understanding of life. Of course, I’m disappointed in society and humankind, or some types of music, or whatever… like trap music. I mean, there’s some good stuff for sure. I hate things that are dumb. I hate things that are ignorant.
What’s fucked up about the world of today?
Stupidity and ignorance. I notice it when I’m travelling around – people don’t realise what they are or what we’re living in, this galaxy, this universe. That stuff bothers me. I wish people would realise what they are and what this world is.
What do you think we’re meant to do as humans then?
I think what we’re doing is what we’re meant to do – to destroy. We’re a virus in a way. For me, it’s obvious that we’re not from here.
What do you mean by saying that we’re not from here?
We’re from somewhere else, we just inhabited this Earth. I feel like we came here from somewhere else, from different galaxies, different planets. And when I say it’s obvious, just look at our food, how we mix all these flavours together to create something that we want to eat, we take photos of things, scientists exist because we’re trying to study the planet that we live on, we’re inventing cars, we’re playing god, and all this shit. I think we came from somewhere else and we’re recreating the environment that we came from.
That’s an interesting viewpoint. How do you find the best within yourself?
Through music, especially through performing. Performing on stage is when I feel my most confident, my most at peace. I feel strong, I feel opinionated, I feel important.
Is it a way for you to escape life or to empower it?
It’s a part of my reality completely. It’s just a way for me to express myself, because I’ve had a hard time expressing myself or communicating my entire life and that one hour on stage each night is that one chance for me to finally say what I have to say. And I also say it dramatically, because I’m saying it to a lot of people at the same time. I’m not just talking to a friend over a period of time. I wait, and then I tour, and then I speak to thousands and thousands of people in the duration of months, and simply get it all out.
You are trying to find answers to a lot of questions through your art and as far as I can tell, the more you evolve as an artist, the more questions emerge. Is there one ultimate question you would like to know the answer to?
I don’t think there is one that is specific. It’s too fucked up in my head, there are a million questions all at once.
Do you think you will ever find the answers?
I don’t think so, but I can try, right?
Tell me about a day or a moment you had that you will never forget.
There was this time when I felt that I was going to die on an airplane during take off. I was flying from Venice to Berlin, and I’ve been flying for so long now, I live in an airplane basically. This one was pretty fucked up. It’s funny because I was in Venice that day and I was on my way to the airport and I looked up at the sky, I saw the clouds and I could tell that those clouds didn’t look right, so I wasn’t very excited to fly, of course. But it was just one instant, one moment that I will probably never forget – almost dying in an airplane.
Are you the type who finds any sort of comfort in the wait of airports?
No, not at all. I’ve found a way to deal with it, I guess. I’m a very patient person so it doesn’t bother me that much. It’s only shitty when I’m hungover from the night before or if I didn’t sleep at all and I have to go straight to the airport. Then it gets a little worrisome, because sometimes I can get panic attacks, especially if I party too much. And the last thing I want is a panic attack on an airplane.
What question do you hate answering the most?
‘What are your favorite bands?’ or ‘What are your top 10 albums?’. I hate that shit. The thing is, I don’t have a favorite. I have a lot of stuff I like or don’t like.
Could you share any cool stories or meanings behind some of your tattoos?
I have this burning church, it’s supposed to be a house really, but it looks like a church. I think it’s my most recent.
Do you keep count?
I don’t have that many actually. But yes, this one is about new beginnings in a way – burning down a house and reaching an epitome in my life where I felt change and I felt I’m ready to put away the past. The barbed wire tattoo is just for fun, it’s the only ‘just for fun’ tattoo I have, everything else has a meaning, I might have been drunk when I got it. Then I have a knife with a cross and that one was for my mom, because she always had a knife in her hand: that’s my memory of her as a child, she always had a kitchen knife in her hand and she was very violent with it in all those fights with my stepfather. I made it into a cross, which means forgiveness.
You say that you use music as therapy to stay sane, but is it really a bad thing to be insane from time to time?
I’ve realised that I’m not doing it to be sane, I’m doing it because I’m used to turmoil. I’m going into all this darkness, making myself remember certain things of the past that I’ve blocked out, because, yeah, I’m used to it, I’m used to that kind of feeling. Perhaps it’s not about reaching a goal of happiness anymore, maybe it’s about simply feeling normal. And that’s just my normal.
What do you realise as you get older?
So many things. Physical appearance – that’s a fucked up one I’m realising. Because my mom is all about physical appearance and I remember growing up she would always tell me to stand up straight, to put chopstick on, to put cream on your face, she would always tell me to take care of myself. And I didn’t care. Now that I’m getting older I think ‘ok, that makes sense’ haha. It’s so stupid and so superficial to say but physical appearance is one aspect you think about as you get older, for sure.
What’s the best part about getting older then?
Knowledge and getting wiser, understanding more, and getting better at whatever it is you are passionate about. I feel like I’m getting a lot better at writing music and improving skills. You also relax a bit more as you get older, you just chill out more, things don’t matter as much. For me, it’s a lot of weight off the shoulders. Not caring as much makes you a little more peaceful.
Is there a new skill you would like to acquire?
I love to cook and I would like to get better at that. I cook because it’s therapeutic for me as well. And it’s interesting because I’ve been studying how to create film scores, so I signed up for Masterclass with Hans Zimmer. I was on a little break and thought I should do something productive instead of watching Netflix all day, so I’ve started doing that. In the lesson that I’ve watched today, he mentioned how creating film score or composing is very similar to cooking food. So the example was that when you invite people for 8PM and you go out to get ingredients – you don’t really know what you’re looking for. With composing, you just have to have a story, then you’re playing around with different instruments. Same thing as when you go out shopping for food. Maybe you’ll think ‘oh, the carrots look fresh today’, or whatever else, and then you just chop it all up, put it together in different ratios, serve it on a plate and that’s it. And I thought that was really cool because I’ve always felt kind of stupid for saying that I would like to be a chef if I wasn’t making music. I felt that I had to want to be an astronaut or a political figure, but once Hans Zimmer confirmed that he felt the same way, I thought to myself ‘ok, cool’.
What film would you like to write a score to?
I would love to do horror films and sci-fi, like ‘Blade Runner’. Or post-apocalyptic films, like ‘Mad Max’. So let’s see what happens. But that’s the goal I want to go to.
What’s a meal that you can ace and you are most proud of?
I make a really good eggplant parmigiana. I lived in Italy for a while so I’ve learned some italian cooking. I perfected that one. I also make a really good seafood paella.
You’re driven by the word ‘can’t’. Tell me a recent story where a ‘can’t’ transformed into a ‘can’ for you.
You know, I don’t hear the word ‘can’t’ as much anymore, because I’ve gotten so much respect over the years with The Soft Moon. So now no one really challenges me with that word anymore, which I kind of miss, actually. I thrive on that. But before that, my entire life was all about can’t – you can’t do this, you can’t do that. My biggest driving factor was my mom telling me to stop playing guitar because I would never make money with it, and things like that. So recently it’s been really easy: going on tour with my crew, we’re all working together, they’re really concerned with making it comfortable for me. But I need challenges.
Do you challenge yourself?
I think I do that by trying to destroy myself and then trying to still be creative. Like the whole deal of taking myself to the limits, as I’ve mentioned earlier. And with the film score thing as well, I think that’s my next challenge. I’ve never done it before so it’s going to be something new. And it’s not like anyone has told me I couldn’t do it, but I myself feel like I’m unworthy of doing it, so it’s going to be a personal ‘can’t’.
Every person has a void deep inside. What does your look like?
I don’t know. Maybe that’s another thing that I’m trying to do – to figure out that void.
Did you try meditating?
I can’t do it. I’ve tried it since I was a teenager but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m sure it works for a lot of people, but maybe I’m just not trying so hard.
Give an example you have witnessed of the strongest influence music had on someone or on yourself.
The strongest musical influence that happened to me is the first time I ever discovered MTV. I remember getting ready for school one morning and I think Guns N’Roses were on, or something like that, and I was obsessed with Slash with the guitar. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to play guitar. I liked the sounds that he was making with the guitar. I didn’t know anything about guitars and then, eventually, years later, I got a guitar that my uncle bought me from prison. I got a guitar, but no amplifier, so when I was playing it I was so frustrated because I couldn’t make the sounds that Slash was making. Then I ended up getting a little cheap amplifier and I still couldn’t achieve it, but it drove me to figure out how to play guitar.
Do you think we are witnessing the loneliest generation this world has ever seen?
I think so. I think the whole social network thing has a lot to do with that. We base everything on likes and followers, depending on that, it kind of drives your day. Instant gratification. And if you only get a certain amount of likes it makes you feel like shit. Isn’t that crazy? It’s ridiculous. It’s all about selfies. The fact that the word ‘selfie’ exists means that we’re living in quite a lonely time.
How far do you want technology to evolve?
I’m obsessed with space so I think space travel beyond what we’re doing now would be cool. It would be cool to be able to travel between different planets. I’d like to see it all.
What was the best question you were asked at an interview?
There’s been so many interviews. But I just had an interview with a guy who is a singer from this band called the The Membranes, it’s a post-punk band from the 80s and they’re still current and I just did a symposium, where I did an interview with a live audience. It wasn’t necessarily about any specific question, but it was about how this guy was able to draw me in and turn everything into a conversation, and I was revealing so much about myself to strangers. I came out of there thinking ‘wow’. He brought so much out of me, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to do that.
Kiev still awaits your debut, but tell us about your experience in Odessa from a few years back.
The airplane to Odessa was very small, the airport was really tiny, it was fucking cold. It was memorable because it felt like I was in a different world, and then all of a sudden we end up at this venue, we end up drinking champagne and eating caviar, so I thought ‘what’s going on here, I thought this place is super poor’. That night was pretty crazy, the promoter ended up taking his shirt off and making out with the singer of the band that opened up for us, while they were performing. It was definitely an interesting night. Lots of nice cheese. There was this weird contrast, it was a mindwarp.
What question would you want to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
I like stupid questions, ones that are like ‘if you were on a deserted island what would be the one album you would listen to, or what three fruits would you take?’ Kiwi haha. And lime for sure! I use lime in my cooking a lot. The third would be clementines. But it changes everyday.