There are few times a song comes across our desk that has an instant visceral reaction. Moda Spira’s “Bang” is one.
The song has is a painful narrative wrapped in a soulful package. The pain and process is the focus of Moda Spira, real name Latifah Alattas, sophomore album Divorce. The album and podcast focus on her end of nearly a decade long marriage. The album has a richness in the arrangements including layered vocals that add a majestic property to tracks like “Four Letter Word.” The album begins with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” that morphs the song into a wonderfully different creature. It ends with a song named “Forgive.” The 11 tracks resonate with emotional power. Divorce will be out on October 26, 2018. For info visit http://www.modaspira.com/
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Bang.” How did that song come about & evolve?
LA: “Bang”, is the second track on my album. I was up late one night, restless, staring at the walls of my quiet and still home grieving. I was oscillating between shock, anger and sadness. As I was staring the imagery of a gun shot came to mind as I was recounting the moment my ex and laid it all out there. It was after 11pm and I walked to my piano and the lyric “It went off like a bang…” popped into my mind and verse one and two came right out. I captured that moment in my Instagram if you scroll back and watch the videos. It wasn’t until February that I finished the last section of the song. I waited ‘til I had its lyric and melody mates because I didn’t want to force it, I know it would reveal itself if I was patient and it did.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Divorce?
LA: Living the experience to be honest. Writing about it was cathartic, healing, hard and helpful.
FEMMUSIC: How did you approach Divorce differently than your self-titled debut? What did you learn from making your first album that helped on the 2nd?
LA: Divorce was a true outpouring from beginning to end. I didn’t write anything unless it felt like it had to flow out of me, like a caged bird I had to set free. The first album had a lot of that, but I was also exploring a lot of sonic guilty pleasures as I was making the first one. This album was only about writing and then producing a record that married the sounds to the sentiment of the lyrics. Nothing else mattered. The main question was, “Does it communicate clearly what is being said?” Whether it was a guitar tone or a drum beat. I also almost solely used all analog sounds as compared to the first record which relies heavily on synths and sounds in the box.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me how making Divorce affected you? The breakup of a relationship is always difficult but you were processing one that had gone on for nearly a decade.
LA: Making this album was a true capturing of my process in real time. It was helpful to articulate the deep well of emotions as I was having them. Emotions are energy in our bodies that need to be moved. The actually act of singing painful lyrics helped to move that grieving energy out of my lungs into another space and so on. When things get stuck it’s easy to feel trapped and hopeless. Any movement, even the smallest can create kinetic energy which then creates more and more movement. This album was a grace to make for the grieving process of the first year of loss. If I tried to make it today it would be a totally different album and I felt convinced to capture the real time process of the initial year of grief. I am glad I did it.
FEMMUSIC: How do you think you are the most changed by making the album?
LA: I feel more free. I feel more at peace. I feel grateful.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LA: I believe in the craft of songwriting, but in the last few years I only write if I am first inspired. If a song isn’t finishing out instead of forcing it, I table it and wait for inspiration for the other part later on. Trusting it will come.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
LA: In the last year in particular it’s been “Solitude” by Billie Holiday. The honesty of her despair. The sense of it in the tone and quality of her vocal. The simplicity. It feels comforting and sad and like a sonic hug.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
LA: Sometimes for sure. Not all the time. I have been championed by wonderful people as well. But yes. The general reality is when I walk into a space the baseline assumption is that I do not understand engineering, signal flow, sonics etc. So I have to come up from behind my male counterparts who don’t function under that same assumption.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
LA: Imogen Heap. I think she is a genius. She inspired me to originally learn about engineering.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
LA: I would like to continue to be able to find better formats of listening to music that truly support artists getting the financial benefit of who listens to their music and how much. This would grant more freedom for indie artists to keep dedicating more time to their artistry.