Moda Spira is Latifah Alattas, and although the songstress may bear an alternate moniker, the project itself does nothing to elude its deeply personal theme.
Chronicling the painful process of coming to terms with the end her marriage, Alattas openly bares her soul to anyone who will listen in her latest single, “Bang,” which not only speaks to the turmoils of divorce in brilliant lyricism, but musically portrays the profound loss in an elegant, yet refreshingly raw fashion.
Emotional melodies float softly above an undeniably jazz-influenced, bass-led composition, coming to a head with the introspective and intimate lyric “Well you pulled the trigger / I didn’t know that you would ever.” The song leaves you with no true closure, “How do you explain?” hauntingly repeated to end the heartfelt serenade to the finality of something once held so dearly.
Below, the enchantress herself answers some questions regarding the single, upcoming album, and what else is to come:
How did you get into music? Were you raised in a musical household?
My mom is an incredible pianist. She started teaching [me] by ear when I was two. She would play something and I would echo it. She taught me to read music. At three, I wanted to be like [my] big sister, so I joined the same Suzuki program and started playing cello. I played cello competitively until I was fifteen, but I am afraid I am not that good anymore! I picked up guitar in high school like every teenager that wanted to play “Crash” by Dave Matthews. I learned by grabbing his Under the Table and Dreaming guitar tab book and taught myself every song. I was also that kid that went everywhere with headphones and my Sony cassette tape player so I could listen to tapes or the radio nonstop. When I played Mario, I would put the TV on mute and play the radio. I loved listening to music.
What do you believe makes a “good song” a “good song”?
For me, it’s when something in my gut moves, and I can feel my mind, body, and soul responding to whatever is happening. But mostly I think it’s when the music, melody, and lyrics are all pointing at the same north, serving each other in communicating whatever the intention is.
Do you tend to focus on melody or lyrics first when writing a song?
It changes all the time. For this record, Divorce, it was like they would both happen very closely to each other, like there was a short tether on the lyrics and melody, so if one was ahead, it would pull the other one along quickly after.
It’s easy to tell from listening that “Bang” comes from a very emotional place and a painful experience. Was it difficult to really dig in and write about something you’re so personally in touch with and to open yourself up so freely to the general public?
Not really. For me, being honest and sharing my process is helpful. It helps me articulate to myself what is happening and what I am feeling. My desire is that it will help others feel less alone in the same process. I think the difficulty is more in wanting to remain respectful to all parties involved [and] keeping the humanity close at all times: communicating what really happened without being salacious.
As explained in your bio, Moda Spira translates to “the continual act of breathing” in Latin, such a simple notion that at times get overlooked in the grand scheme of things. How has the reminder to focus on the smaller aspects impacted the way you approach music and your career?
I have been going to yoga a lot in this season. It has been a huge gift to have this practice; it has slowed me down and allowed me to take time to have perspective. The record and the songs are taking a microscope to feelings and events, which is helpful for the work of grieving, but if I didn’t zoom out each day and gain the perspective that this will not be the story forever and I will not always be grieving, I could see how easy it would be to get stuck in a loop. Honestly I have moved forward a lot since the making of the album already. Ignoring pain doesn’t accomplish anything for me, neither does staying stuck on it. It’s a balance. The act of breathing in and out is a good practice to remind us we are alive, we are going to be okay and we just need to take it one step at a time.
You’ve played part in many different projects surrounding the music industry- various genres of bands, writing, and production- do you feel like all of these experiences have helped shape your latest single in terms of style, or is it just completely out on it’s own as something you have never really taken on before?
Moda Spira is my avenue to express whatever I want in whatever way I want about my personal story. I love that I have this artistic avenue. I honestly think that all of our experiences shape our next ones, so, yes to that. But honestly, I have been listening to Billie Holiday every morning for the last couple of years, and I think her soul greatly influenced this track more than anything.
How does your experience as a producer impact the way that you write music? Do you tend to write to the theme of an entire cohesive project or just take the inspiration as it comes and see where it goes?
It depends on the project. For Divorce, I candidly wrote in the moment of inspiration; nothing was forced. That alone gave me a cohesive theme for the album, because it is about a very specific time in my life: the year of processing the end of my marriage. [For] other records, I have come up with themes and ideas and written from there, but this one was more in the moment for each song and it naturally became cohesive.
What were some of your musical inspirations for the latest project?
Billie Holiday, Al Green, Jonsi, David Bazan, and Andy Schauf.
The full length album, Divorce, comes out on October 26th. What should we expect from the content that differs from the single?
The content walks through the emotional journey of the year after [the divorce]. It has its ups and downs as you would expect; the sonics even ebb and flow. Not every song feels as old-soul based as “Bang” does, but there is a lot of emotion packed into every lyrics and sound all the way through.
You’ve created a podcast as a track by track companion to the upcoming album- who or what inspired you to do this?
My podcast producer, Luke Brawner, called me and asked. I trust him and if anyone could help tell the story, it would be him. It felt like a great chance to unpack the process of the songs as well as the emotions. My hope is that it will help others in a similar situation feel less alone to hear someone else articulating their experience.
Do you have plans for an upcoming tour? What else should we be looking forward to from you?
I am hitting the West Coast with the wonderful Liz Vice a the end of October! And I have two music videos coming out for “Ring of Fire” and “Bang” that are stunning!