How A Stranger Is Made is the second studio album by Luis Mojica. The record was recorded at The Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY as well as at Split Rock Studios in New Paltz, NY by Jason Sarubbi. It features 11 piano-based songs that incorporate the wurlitzer, celesta, harpsichord, organ, saxophone, percussion and a rich texture of backing vocals that display Luis' wide 3+ octave vocal range.
The record was arranged, performed, written, and produced by Luis. He is joined on this album by Mercury Prize nominated producers David Baron & Simone Felice who have worked with artists like Bat For Lashes, Peter Murphy, & The Lumineers. The record was mixed by Grammy Award winner Justin Guip (Levon Helm) & award winning vocalist/composer Fredo Viola. Photography for the record was shot by Kelly Merchant and the album design was created by Fredo Viola.
This record follows Luis' journey into the deep parts of his mind and heart, as he faces and transforms unresolved pain into bliss and freedom. Sexuality, male identity, betrayal, love, and spirituality, particularly shamanism, are consistent themes on the record. The songs are very personal, as if taken from the artist's personal journals.
In Moon Men, a haunting song about an ambiguous intimate relationship with another man, he ends the song with the line "two boys with falsettos and dirty clothes, kissing like brothers, we fell for the same woman, but she was already my lover". While City Friends finds him mourning an old friendship in the line "When your friends turn into ghosts and then they haunt you". Queen Song is an epic piece that plays out like a 4 minute opera, a full monk-like choir chanting in the background toward the eventual demise of a woman who's mother sabotages her relationships. He softly sings "your love for me, divorces she, and sets you free, don't tell that Queen" and it ends with and abrupt "I don't know what the Queen has said, but I'd prefer you alive - not dead".
As heavy as some of the songs are, there are just as many on the record that are light, very catchy, and full of joy. Witch Love is a glorious, sexy 5 minute track that is driven by silky electric pianos, shamanic drums, bells, a drum machine, and a myriad of vocals that serenade and celebrate the holiness of sexuality, the bravery in vulnerability, and the gift of childbirth. He sings "Recreation through rose quartz inebriation, this is what witch love is like - this is what witch love sounds like". De La Saint is a particularly unique baroque-pop track with an infectious melody that incorporates programmed drums, harpsichord, synth basses, saxophones, flutes, piano, an organ, celesta and a choir of vocals that celebrate the integration of mind and body after years of sadness.
The album ends with an emotional cover of Leonard Cohen's Stranger Song. Using nothing but a piano and a choir made from his own diverse voices and ranges, the six and a half minute performance is a real journey into the heart of men who remain strangers to protect their own vulnerability. The record closes with "I told you when I came I was a stranger" and as the piano rings out you feel like you've known this person your whole life.