Zahira Guiterrez and Cody Swann are the songwriting duo that make the core of Wild Moccasins. Their newest album Look Together is a departure from everything before. The album deals with a break-up, specifically Guiterrez & Swann’s. After a decade together their relationship dissolved. Where most bands would break up at this, Wild Moccasins made a new album with producer Ben H Allen.
Seeing Wild Moccasins live there is no hint of the maelstrom that ensued and how the band stays grounded. They are an electric force live. If every break-up made such great music, we would wish for a lot of single musicians. For info visit https://www.wildmoccasins.net/
FEMMUSIC: I’m sure your hearing this 100 times already. Most bands don’t survive a breakup after a decade. What made you decide to? Why make an album about it?
ZG: We knew that the music we made throughout the process would be worth it. Not only was it therapeutic, but it is some of the most honest songs we have ever written. It was quite painful at times, but I’m grateful that we got through it.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Look Together?
ZG: In the beginning, there was a lot of tension between Cody and I. And because there were a lot of emotions going around, the songwriting process became harder. We knew we had to stay 100% honest with each other but you never knew how the other would react to a lyric. It was always difficult getting over the initial blow of telling each other how we felt, but it helped us heal a lot faster.
FEMMUSIC: How was it working with Ben H Allen? How did you find him? What made you decide to work with on the album?
ZG: Working with Ben was an incredible experience. We kept seeing his name pop up on records we loved by Deerhunter, Belle and Sebastian, Cut Copy and many others so we thought: “What the hell? Let’s ask him if he’d be interested!” To be honest, I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but after meeting him things clicked. We worked with him on writing for over a year and he took us out of our comfort zone. It was an amazing learning experience and it changed the way we wrote music.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “No Muse” the song. There is the classic myth of the woman muse. What did you seek to change with the song?
ZG: A lot of women have had the experience of being taken advantage of or had men in power try to take control of what they do, so this song encourages women to be their own muses.
FEMMUSIC: Let’s talk about “No Muse” – the video. I understand you sought out Rachel Bays to be the cinematographer for the video. How was she to work with? Are you looking at working with her again?
ZG: It was very important for me that the cinematographer for the “No Muse” video was a woman. I had known Rachel for a while, and she was super easy to work it. She, like many other women, could relate to the song. We actually worked with her on our latest video “Longtime Listener” and plan to continue working with her and her crew.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
ZG: Cody and I have very different songwriting methods. I usually begin with a lyric and a melody and then write the chords around it. I also like to keep all of my lyrics in case Cody has the music to a song so that I never run out of material. For a song like “Waterless Cup” I wrote the lyrics, then melody, then chords. For a song like “Longtime Listener,” Cody wrote the music and I came in with the words and melody and helped with the song structure.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
ZG: It seems like every other week I find a new song that influences me deeply. A song like Prince’s “Purple Rain” or Bjork’s “Hyperballad” inspires me to be more vulnerable while Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” or Annie’s “Heartbeat” makes me want to write a perfect pop son.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
ZG: Absolutely. Especially when I was younger. I used to have to prove I was in the band to get into some venues. One time, after arguing with someone at a venue that I was in the band, he proceeded to tell the rest of the band that their “girlfriends” weren’t allowed in the green room. Things have changed a lot since then. I definitely see a lot more women in bands, and I hope more people think twice before making sexist assumptions.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
ZG: There are so many wonderful women in music at the moment I’d love to collaborate with or tour with. I’d been listening to a lot of Empress Of, Japanese Breakfast, and Nedelle Torrisi. I love how honest their music is.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
ZG: There are a million problems with the music industry. I deal with a lot of sexism, ageism, and racism, but every artist has their own struggle. The only way to change things is by continuing to make music on your own terms.