“This is what my heart sounds like”: Birthh Bares Her Soul on Third Album ‘Moonlanded’

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh’s Alice Bisi discusses her new life in Brooklyn, embracing her Italian roots, being a sensitive person, and pouring her heart into songs in a candid interview about ‘Moonlanded,’ her beautifully intimate, soulful, and dreamy new album: “This is what my heart sounds like, and we’re talking about it.”
Stream: ‘Moonlanded’ – Birthh

What’s more romantic than an Italian having a crush?

The name of her album may be Moonlanded, but Birthh’s Alice Bisi is basking on cloud nine.

“The way that I see music for me is just somewhat like the soundtrack to my feelings,” the Italian singer/songwriter smiles. “This is what this feeling sounds like to me. The shape that the feeling has in sound form, this is what it is! And ultimately, what I’m left with is ten very high fidelity versions of what three years of my life have been like, with all the ups and downs, and it’s a lot to process.”

Released September 1 via Carosello Records, Moonlanded is a daydream – or really, a series of daydreams – manifest in song: Bisi, originally from Florence but based in Brooklyn for the past three years now, holds her heart in one hand and her soul in the other as she shares her rawest self with all who are willing to listen. These are her stories, brought to life in a stirring, sun-kissed alt-pop sound that aches from the inside out: It’s full of light, but heavy nonetheless – at once brimming with tenderness and turbulence, heartache and love.

Moonlanded - Birthh
Moonlanded – Birthh
In every cloud there’s a shape to be found
And beyond the weather there’s peace all around
Swinging through the stars
Sunbeam on my palms feels so warm
Close my eyes, open heart.
I feel the Blue surround me
My chest expanding
I’ll understand it all someday
I don’t know who I am but I know what I feel
The force of the spinning thrusts under my feet
I wonder if you know
Do you feel it too?
On and on, do you dance like I do?
All of my dreams and racing
The stubborn chasing
I’ll understand it all someday

“This is my journey into what it feels like to be a sensitive human in their 20s in the 2020s, through all the pressure coming from within and from the world we were left with,” Bisi says. “Landing is finding a way to stay present and to love the process; it’s about creating space for ourselves and realizing that each of us is the protagonist in our own story.”

Birthh released her last album, the coming-of-age WHOA, in March 2020. No sooner had that record come out, than did the world shut down. Stranded in New York City, Bisi was forced to, in many ways, start over and figure everything out on the fly.

WHOA is me dipping my toes into adulthood in many ways and having so many questions about it, and it doesn’t resolve because I didn’t have the time to resolve it,” she says. “I think that Moonlanded answers a lot of those questions.”

“I couldn’t hide from choices in the past three years of my life,” she adds. “I really had to just make them and own up to them.”

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

Bisi recorded and produced Moonlanded almost entirely in her Brooklyn home studio, nicknamed the Moonbase – hence the album’s title.

“It’s kind of like a metaphorical journey in a spacecraft, which is like the journey through my feelings and life in general for me, and really looking for a place to land,” Bisi explains.

“We’re not looking for a place to land, but looking for ways to land safely… For the landing to feel right and to feel like a true release, there needs to be intensity. The intensity of truly how much tension the past years of my life have been in so many ways.”

That vision comes to life in a set of sonically compelling, emotionally charged songs rife with charm and churn – there’s tension and turbulence aplenty in Birthh’s enchanting music and poetic lyrics as she delves into her innermost depths, trying to figure out why she is who she is and where she fits in the world.

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

The journey from “Supercharged” to “Blue” is nonlinear, and can’t be fit neatly into any one box, and yet the listening experience feels naturally cohesive. The songs range from funk-fueled psychedelia (“Jello”) to hyperpop (“Hyperdrive”) and beyond, but Birthh always finds her way back to that smoldering, soul-tinged singer/songwriter sound that so effortlessly sends shivers down the spine. This is especially the case for tracks like “Puppy,” “Friends in the Energy,” “Ship Integrity II,” and “Lightyears”: Each song is a distinct world unto itself, and yet despite having their own different sonic contours and instrumental flavors, they all highlight the remarkable depth of Birthh’s singing voice.

Working with her life partner and collaborator Storm and co-producer London O’Connor, Birthh crafted a record that stays undeniably true to herself and true to her artistic identity, all the while exploring universally relatable themes of self-discovery, belonging, human connection, and existential longing.

“When you’re on an airplane, the closer you get to landing, the more turbulence you feel,” Bisi muses.

“I’ve realized that ‘landing’ is just accepting that there’s no landing. You just have to keep going, there’s no end to it. You can’t escape yourself; you shouldn’t escape yourself. Landing is just being like, ‘I have no control and I’m okay with that.’ That takes a lot.”

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

I really need to be with people I admire and who inspire me… I just really don’t have time to not be in love with my friends.

Atwood Magazine caught up with Alice Bisi to dive not just into the soul-stirring depths of Moonlanded, but also into the human at the core of this beautiful, breathtaking music.

“Each song is, I hope, more than a glimpse into how I experience life,” she shares. “Each line and each sound, each chord and each melody… I’m proud that I was able to get these feelings out of myself and into something. It’s just crazy, like this is what my heart sounds like, and we’re talking about it. It’s all the songs, all of them, all of the lines, all the melodies.”

Get to know Birthh in our intimate interview below, and discover why, no matter where you are in your life’s journey – whether you’ve landed safely, or you’re still flying by the seat of your pants – this album is, and will always be, for you.

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:: stream/purchase Moonlanded here ::
:: connect with Birthh here ::
Stream: “Jello” – Birthh


Moonlanded - Birthh

Atwood Magazine: Alice, we are just away from the release of your new album, Moonlanded! How do you feel?

Birthh: How do I feel? I feel a lot of things, honestly. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions, about why I do what I do. This album was three years of nonstop care and nonstop working, and I definitely feel the weight of that a little bit. And there are still so many more things that I want to do with this album that aren’t materialized yet, and I feel the pressure of that. It’s exciting to get it out in the world, it really is. It’s hard for me to fight with my perfectionism sometimes, and it’s, genuinely, I’m really proud of this record. There’s a lot of work that went into it and just like, it really… The way that I see music for me is just somewhat like the soundtrack to my feelings.

And both like the music that I listen to from other people and then when it comes to songwriting is like, this is what this feeling sounds like to me. This is, the shape that the feeling has in sound form, this is what it is. And ultimately, what I’m left with is ten very high fidelity versions of what three years of my life have been like, with all the ups and downs, and it’s a lot to process. But I’m just so grateful that I get to do this and I’m grateful that I get to really… That I have the opportunity to express myself in such a free way and that I get to do this with my life every day. So yeah, it’s definitely a lot of contrasting feelings, but I think that’s kind of like part of the game.

Your last album, WHOA, released in March 2020. What is your relationship with it now, three years out? What does that record mean to you today?

Birthh: It’s interesting because it connects to what I was saying before. Like, because there’s such a personal connection to the songs and the way that I make the songs and because every song is like a memory in many ways of something that I felt, something that I lived and I’ve been through, once I process the feelings through making the songs, and then you have to listen to the songs so many times for them to be done and there’s a moment where it just, for me at least, it just becomes a lot more methodical. And there’s a certain sensitivity that you lose that comes with a fresh listen and that comes from also living something as you’re making the song. So with WHOA I had, I would say, and WHOA came out on March 6th, 2020, which is basically when everything went down, it was a bit of like an unlucky album in that sense, and there are a lot of things that I associated with that period of my life as well.

So I really didn’t listen to it for like three years after it came out. I just couldn’t even think about it. I was just so saturated with it. And then recently, actually after finishing Moonlanded, I would say maybe like a couple months ago, I listened to it again and it, I was like, “Wow, I actually really love this, I really love this. This is like, I was living all these things.” And I think WHOA is an album that has a lot of questions, it asks a lot of questions. And in many ways maybe it also feels a little incomplete. This is something that I’ve heard both the music industry say about it, just like it’s got some incomplete ideas, and I’m just like, “Yeah, this makes so much sense to me.” Because, I mean, I’m still incomplete. I don’t think that… Everything is a work in progress in life. But WHOA is just like such a seriously me dipping my toes in adulthood in many ways and having so many questions about it, and it doesn’t resolve because I didn’t have the time to resolve it, I didn’t have the… And I think that Moonlanded answers a lot of those questions.

And that was something that got me really excited, listening to the album back and being like, a song like “Human Stuff” that’s just so much… There’s so much uncertainty about what am I going to do with my life? What is it going to be? I should work at a store and just take care of my sisters and call it a day. Why am I even doing this? And Moonlanded is such a, there’s just so much drive in it and so much conviction because of maybe even the times I had to make some choices. I couldn’t hide from choices in the past three years of my life. I really had to just make them and own up to them. And yeah, it’s just kind of cool that I get these two albums that just pretty much describe my 20s, at least until now. Yeah, at least my 20s to my mid 20s.

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

What are some of the ways in which you hear Moonlanded concluding what you started in WHOA?

Birthh: I think it’s just kind of like, I mean, maybe it’s easier for me to know and pinpoint because I see the progression of the way that my thought… I’m a very brainy, analytical person, and I definitely, I’m always seeking out answers in every step of the way, even right now I don’t think I have anything figured out necessarily. I think mostly it’s just like, I’m kind of like going mentally through WHOA because I did talk about “Human Stuff.” That was the one where I think it really hit me because that song there’s just like, I just remember writing that song and just being like, “This is so hard. Life is just so difficult. I don’t really know on being a human and staying sensitive. It’s just so much, I don’t even know if I want to do it.” And what I was talking about, it’s really a lot. And then Moonlanded in reality there is me being like, “No, I’m actually doing it. I am going to like… ” Starting from, literally I think “Supercharged” which sets the intentions for the album, and it’s the first song in the album, answers some of those questions and goes deeper into my childhood as well.

I would have to listen to it again to pinpoint the details ’cause it was just like, it’s been a couple months and these have been very intense months for me. But yeah, it’s just kind of like the overall overarching, even just leaving alone the lyrics for a second and leaving alone the themes that are more lyrical, the song forms themselves, the ideas, the production, the fact that it’s really, really hard in WHOA to find a song that has a chorus and a verse, it’s just kind of like A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H kind of songs. And it’s like I love that and that’s how my brain works. But I definitely have a lot more appreciation for song form. And I think meeting London, the co producer of the album, London O’Connor was fundamental for me to figure out, I’m just not a fan of rules in general. I’m not a fan of structures that are set in place because that’s how you do things.

And I need to know why we’re doing something for it to make sense in my head and for me to actually implement certain things. And meeting London really opened my eyes on the importance of song form and the importance of structure in songs and how much more clarity you can get. And in general, that’s something that also reflects into my life because I have a lot more structure in my life now. I have a studio where I make music, I am creative. I also signed a lease, I’m in a very committed relationship, and I have a cat, and it’s just like… So it’s really beautiful and interesting how life informs art and art informs life in all these different ways. And then it’s just kind of like all compact and like, wow, this is, yeah. And a simple phrase is like, WHOA was asking questions and Moonlanded is answering those questions in all ways, production, song form, lyrics, and yeah, the use of the bass. So many things.

Three years ago you were a visitor; now you call New York your home. What's that transition been like for you; has it been a comfortable fit?

Birthh: I genuinely did not plan to be here for two and a half years. I came here to celebrate the album release, and I had to adapt a lot, to a lot of different things that were happening, ’cause there was just so much uncertainty that I guess one more thing that was just so weird and out of the blue like moving continents away really didn’t feel as big as it actually was. Since the very first time that I came here, I was like, “This is the place I want to be.” The first time I came here I think it was July 2018, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with New York. I fell in love with Brooklyn. I’ve never been in a place with an energy like this before. There’s just so much creative energy around, it permeates everything and everyone. Having lived here now for three years, it’s got its pros and cons obviously. Like there is a lot of gentrification, there’s a lot of messed up stuff in New York, because there’s so many people and you really see so much joy and so much beauty and also so much suffering, and rent is crazy. Just the whole housing situation is insane, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

When I came back to Italy last year for the first time since I moved here, going to the grocery store, seeing how fresh the products are, seeing how good the food is, that really hit me because it’s just so unfair how inaccessible good quality food is here. That’s the cheapest stuff in Italy… Everybody has access to it, regardless of financial situation. And it’s just not like that here. Food deserts are something that really hit me coming here, just being like, what? There are like five Popeyes in a block, but there is no good grocery store with good food, good fruit, and good vegetables? That is not right. And I’m not even trying to complain about New York, it’s just like you come here and you see, I think the US has been good in the past at really selling the American dream through movies and music, and it’s definitely not all shiny.

So what started as getting trapped here turned into something a little bit more beautiful over the years.

Birthh: I think meeting Storm and just being with them was definitely a very good way to stay, I think; I don’t know if I would’ve stayed just to make music, to be honest with you, but everything just turned out to be fine. There were a lot of feelings and thoughts involved though, for sure.

Do you hear Brooklyn's influence in these songs? Do you hear New York City when you listen to this album?

Birthh: Yeah, I do. I do. I hear it in “Hyperdrive,” I hear Brooklyn in “Hyperdrive.” I hear it in, I mean, and we also put Brooklyn in the album ourselves, like the intro to “Supercharged” was just me running to get the train, and it’s like the L train and there’s the voice of the speaker, and we had a lot of fun. We just kinda like recorded a bunch of like field recordings around Brooklyn as well. And so there literally is New York inside this album, but there also is in the energy I think in like, I think, or I hope, but I mean, I feel like there’s a good balance of Italy and New York, and obviously working with London, who he lived in New York, he’s from California, but he lived in New York for I think 11 years, 12 years, before moving back. And then working with LB who mixed the album, who’s a, just a legend in this area. I think it’s also kind of enhanced the, like I can hear the influence not just coming from me, but coming from all the other collaborators who worked on the album and have made it what it is.

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

You open this album singing, “One day I'm gonna be someone, I'm gonna buy a house for my mama. She'll be proud. 5K run for all my life.” Tell me about “Supercharged” and your decision to start the album with this song.

Birthh: For the longest time I was gonna have “Blue” start the album. The first day that I met up with London to start working on the album, we did something that I’d never seen done ever before. We listened to the demos and we made the track list before we touched any of the songs. And we made the track list with, I had maybe like 12, 13 demos. And the things that we paid attention to were the narrative arc of the story that the album was gonna tell and try and not have any doubles in it. So each song just kinda like moving it forward. And there were some songs that we just didn’t have also, like songs that were written, we had a placeholder there, this is what this should feel like, but we didn’t have it yet and we wrote it together during the album process.

And “Supercharged” is a song that I already had. And we chose to put it there because it, we made different iterations of the track list and what it would sound like and what it would feel like if it was like this, what it would feel like. There’s so many different… There’s a different equilibrium and “Supercharged” just has, for me is like an introduction. It’s like a hero story in a way. It kind of puts me in New York, puts me straight into the action. And it just also really, like we were talking about before, answers or kind of sets the intention that WHOA was kind of like trying to figure out like, what do I want from life, “Supercharged” says, “One day I’m gonna be someone, I’m going to buy a house for my mom.”

And I want to make music to support my loved ones and to like, because for me, this is who I am. I am a sensitive, creative person. This is what I wanna do with my life. I get so much joy. It just, because the only way also for me to stay present is to make music. It’s hard for me to stay present sometimes. I’m really projected into like future and other things. And so like my ultimate goal is to be able to be myself and create and do these things and build these worlds and be able to make my mom and my loved ones proud doing that, doing so, just being myself, just really just like no hiding, just being myself. And so it’s just like in “Supercharged” there’s life that gets nurtured through music. And then through the field recordings and all the little things that in the instrumental part, the field recordings take shape and become a beat.

And that was also a way for me to just be like, I’m a producer and as much as music can support life, life supports music and life is music. And, yeah, this is it, it’s just kind of like, it was just kind of an introduction to me to kind of show what the goal is, which is ultimately to find my place in the world. When I say I’m gonna be someone, I don’t really mean to be someone famous and I say it again to somebody as well, I say I wanna be somebody. And it’s never about being somebody famous or somebody who’s like made it for whatever capitalistic way of making it, big numbers or whatever else. I just really wanna find my space in the world and be able to keep doing it; to have a roof on top of my head and have good food in my belly.

I think ultimately the only thing that I can say that is certain is that you gain so much from doing things with care and intention, and you gain so much from staying present and being like water as you stay present, in the sense that you’re just kind of like always fluid. You can go to the grocery store and look at all the fruit and vegetables and all the, like, they look beautiful, the beauty of all the colors and just have a beautiful experience with that. You really don’t have to do crazy stuff to live a fulfilling life. You can just go outside and smell a flower. And that’s kind of like the conclusion I guess that I got from the album through like “Straight Up” and then through “Blue.” That’s just kind of like, “Straight Up” for me is kind of like, the landing is like the way that it is kind of like the conclusion of the album is being like life is weird and we don’t know what we’re gonna get. But however it may be, that’s how it’s meant to be. Like gravity is gonna do what it’s gonna do, but it’s okay. Like wherever I am in my journey is the right place to be. There’s no time limit, there’s no… Or not time limit, there’s time limit, obviously there’s a time limit, but it’s a non-linear process as well, I think, life, and that’s why every time the answer is differently.

You gain so much from doing things with care and intention, and you gain so much from staying present and being like water as you stay present, in the sense that you’re just kind of like always fluid.

You introduced this album earlier in the year with, “Jello” as the first single. It's a no-holds-barred love song, and one of your most vulnerable tracks to date. It's gorgeous, it's glistening, it's got a great bounce to it, and it's kind of the musical manifestation of a daydream. What inspired you to introduce this very special album with this song?

Birthh: There were a couple of reasons. That song actually, it is a song that I made for this little… I was just kinda like bored one day. And I am very famous for having a lot of crushes in my friend group. I’m just kinda like, always just like tomcatting around, like from Tom and Jerry, just like, and I just kind of like was having a crush and I wanted to make a little snippet to post on Instagram just in a day with like make a little song in a day, little video in the same day, post it. Nah, I think I was working through letting go of like overproducing things and overworking on things. And so I tried to keep it as simple as possible, and I didn’t. It got like, honestly, it was like December, 2018. It was like a long time ago, and it got like tens of thousands of views on Instagram, which back in the day it was like a lot.

It was a different time. TikTok wasn’t even a thing. And I got a lot of people, a lot of followers just from that. And people, years later, people kept asking me about that song. I ended up taking out the snippet from Instagram as soon as like, we recorded it. The song obviously like evolved, got a new, like, it was only like the first verse and the first chorus. And there are multiple reasons. I think one of the reasons what was that I really wanted to release it in a way that people had been waiting for it were gonna finally get it. And I also think it’s, some people might argue with me with that, but I think it’s a simple song, I think is a song that just kind of like goes straight into the heart of things.

I think for me it was a good representation of the album and where I’m at, where I was, where I’m at right now, because it’s got the bounce, it’s got the catchy chorus and it’s simple, but also like the end is just strings and I’m singing in Italian for the first time as well. And it was really important for me to establish that as kind of my identity right now. It was just like, we really worked on like making the beats really simple and really, and you’ve heard my previous album, there was nothing simple about the beats in the previous album. And so yeah, it was a bunch of things. I think it was just kind of like it just felt right, I think, to have “Jello” as the first song coming out.

Can you imagine somebody not knowing that you're Italian listening to your music for the first time? How wild. It's weird to think that music can be so detached from its creator, so we have to do these things in order to retain part of our identity within that art.

Birthh: It was a process for me, because when I was like promoting WHOA, and even before that, I was working with people and just kind of going to meetings, meeting people, like all kinds of people in industry. And there was this almost like consensus that I shouldn’t say that I’m Italian because I don’t sound Italian… There was this idea that people in the music industry see music from Italian sung in English, and they just automatically don’t even listen to it because they don’t think it’s good or whatever. And so for the longest time, I almost felt compelled to hide it. And if you think about it, I mean, apart from Måneskin now, who got really big, and voices like Bocelli, etcetera, there aren’t a lot of Italian artists that are famous outside of Italy, that are listened to outside of Italy.

It’s like really rare, especially artists that are songwriters that sing it in English. Like that’s kinda like the thing, and it took me a while. I think it took me moving here to realize that there is a big, there’s a space that needs to be filled because there’s a warmth that Italy has that I think it’s not just Italy, it’s kinda like the Romance languages in general, but I think Italian music culture is really rich. There’s some beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful music coming from like the ’60s and ’70s especially like Mina Gino Paoli. And it was crazy to hear like Storm, to hear London be like, “This music is incredible.”

Even if they don’t understand the lyrics, even if they don’t know what I’m talking about, this means something and it’s missing. And so this time it was important for me to be like, “No, I’m Italian. This is my journey. This is, I’m here.” The reason why I’m here in the first place, is because I’m not from here! And it’s because there’s the way that I grew up, the way that I think, the way that I approach music, everything is so informed, everything is so connected to my roots, truly. And the way that I experience crushes, I mean, like what’s more romantic than an Italian having a crush?

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

One of my favorite tracks is “Friends in the Energy,” which is such a very fun anthem. Can you share a little bit more about that track?

Birthh: “Friends in the Energy” was the first song that London and I worked on together before we’d even met. I mean, we met online but, we met through Instagram, London and I met through Instagram. It was like I’d been following them for so long and really resonated with everything that they wrote. They’re somebody with so much intention and care and so good with words, and so good with really bringing a lot of clarity to some very, very complex concepts and big questions, and finding some very beautiful and inspiring answers to those questions. And they just happened to, I reposted something that they did. They happened to listen to my album after that and we just kind of connected in that way. And then at some point, I don’t remember exactly when, we just kinda like started talking a lot and I was just like, “I would really love for you to produce with me this album.”

And we were still, obviously they lived in California and it was still COVID, it was like 2021. And we, once they were kind of like, we were set that we were gonna do it, we confirmed it, they bought some gear for this album specifically. And they were testing out some of the gear. I think it was an Elektron, the Analog Four, which is like a synth, it’s like an analog synth with like some very cool sequencing and some very warm sounds that we were gonna use for the beats and stuff. And the very first thing that they did with the Analog Four was this kind of like the beat of “Friends in the Energy.” And then they played the piano on top of that, and they were just like, “We gotta convert that energy to energy, to energy, to energy. Alice, we gotta convert that energy.” And I listened to that and I was like, “Hold on, let me just… ” And they already had written the verse… “Sometimes I feel stretched out, sometimes I feel stressed.” They just freestyle. They’re just like a master of freestyle and an amazing rapper. And so they had that, and I was just like, “You know what, let me just listen to this and do something that I’ve never done before. Let me just freestyle a melody on it.” And I did. And I was just like, “All I wanna be in this lifetime is your friend.” And it was just kinda like, and then I also like freestyled the melody, basically like all the melodies for the song came out in the span of three minutes. We set… On the voice memo, I still have the voice memos on my phone. I need to like export them at some point ’cause you never know, it’s so easy to lose those things. And that’s kind of how it started truly. And they were just like, “This is… ” They were like, “I love this melody.” And I was like “Okay, well… ” I wasn’t even sure about saying like, it was so weird for me to say, “All I wanna be in this lifetime is your friend.” Honestly all that came out of me in that moment. And then it just like ended up meaning so much because “Friends in the Energy” is the only song truly that touches on the theme of the isolation from the pandemic and the need for human connection and to dance together as well. And for a long time, I really didn’t like it. I really didn’t like that song. I felt like it was just too far from what I’d done and had a lot of doubts and I made it sound small. After we were done, London obviously left and it was still kind of like, we still had some work to do on, but not a lot. But we did the strings, we did a bunch of stuff and I was like, “Friends in the Energy is too long. I wanna skip it every time.” And this is after two and a half months of intense work on the album, I was really, really tired and saturated at that point.

I was like, “I’m gonna change the songs.” And I just made it sound so small and it was so short and it didn’t match what it was trying to do. And then we did a mix of that and I played it for London when they came back here one day and we listened to the album all the way through. And I looked at them and I was like, “I made a terrible mistake.” We listened to the version that he left me with and I was like, “This is so open. This is exactly what this song is supposed to feel like.” And I called LB who mixed the album and I was like, “Look, I need you to redo the, with new stems. I need you to just redo the whole mix of Friends in the Energy.”

You've been a big fan of putting in little audio snippets and transitions. Moonlanded has “Ship Integrity I” and “Ship Integrity II.” What does Ship Integrity mean? What are these little snippets to you?

Birthh: Thank you for the question! I think “Ship Integrity” as kind of like a concept in the album is the reason why the album works. It’s the intensity of thinking of it as kind of like a metaphorical journey in a spacecraft and which is like the journey through my feelings and life in general for me, and kind of like really looking for a place to land. And we’re not looking for a place to land, but looking for ways to land safely and we talked about landing before and what that means, and for the landing to feel, for “Straight Up” which is a very, almost like pastel colored song. It’s so simple, it’s so smooth, for the landing to feel right and to feel like a true release, there needs to be intensity. The intensity of truly how much tension the past years of my life have been in so many ways. And that tension, I think… when you’re on an airplane, the closer you get to landing, the more turbulence you feel.

And “Ship Integrity” is put in the second part of the album for this reason. And it’s the song right before “Straight Up” and the reason why those parts are called “Ship Integrity” is just like, “Will I survive this? Will I break before I’m able to have a good time on Earth? Will I break, will the ship that I’m in break before it reaches land?” That’s why it’s called “Ship Integrity.” Will it stay together? Will I stay together? And yeah, “Ship Integrity I” what it is just like a argument with Storm and “Ship Integrity II” is what I could only define as tension, a crunch of tension, just compressed, feeling so compressed that you’re really like, “I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to make it through this time.” And my hope with that part was that there would be a question for the listener to be like, “Wait, is she actually gonna make it? Is this how it’s gonna go?”

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

You sing, “Why do we do the things we do? Why do we say the things we say?” as sounds start to come over your voice and you start to shadow your voice with all these other caustic sonics.

Birthh: That was something that we added afterwards. At first it was just piano and strings. And then after the mixes, London was like, “There’s just something that I wanted, that I think is important.” And the first time I heard it, those are all beats from the rest of the album, all samples from the rest of the album. And there’s also a little part that’s just kinda like the pitched down voice that says, “I need you to know that I need you.” Which is from “Puppy,” it’s like the sample from “Puppy.” And those are all passed through a compressor at the, with cranked all the way up. It’s like super saturated, super like dirty. And I think it needed, the album needed that, I think it needed that because there was not enough intensity in the landing. And I’m grateful that he was like, “Yeah, here.” And it was a pain in the ass to add it after the mixes, but we made it happen. [laughs]

You've spoken a lot about the last two songs “Straight Up” and “Blue.” You mentioned earlier that you thought “Blue” would be the first song on the album, but instead it ended up being the last. Clearly these two songs mean a lot to youCan you share a bit about why they mean so much, and why you end the album with them?

Birthh: To me, “Straight Up” is the Landing. It’s kind of like the resolution to a lot of tension that is happening throughout the album. It’s a song that is intentionally very vanilla and doing vanilla well in music is really hard. I was not expecting that. And “Blue” means a lot to me because “Blue” is the first song that I wrote after the pandemic hit. And it was, I was very depressed for many months between WHOA, kind of like all the tours getting canceled and so much stuff happening and feeling so saturated from the work on WHOA and not being able to actually do the stuff that I wanted to do with it. And I had to really find love and appreciation for music again.

It was really hard for me to write songs for a very long time. And I have the period of time after I worked so intensely on an album where I kind of need to like live a little bit. And I, after… When the pandemic hit, I was on a farm in Jersey with some friends for nine months and friends, now friends, they were strangers before we, it was an insane story. I’m not even gonna go into it ’cause it’s so long. I don’t wanna take too much of your time but we basically lived with what were strangers at the beginning for nine months on this farm in Jersey. And my friend Jason, who is one of my closest friends right now and a very good collaborator of mine, we were, was there too, and he was the reason why we were there.

And it was like May of 2020, maybe like June of 2020 and we could be outside again for real and just like, kinda like bask in the sun. And I put a blanket down on the grass and I was looking up at the sky and I was just so frustrated with music. Nothing that I was making made me feel anything at all. And I was like, “This is what I want. This is what I want. I want to be able to make something that sounds like what this feels like to me. The way that looking at the sky from, while laying down on the grass feels like to me and how comforting that is for me.” And two days later I wrote “Blue” all in one sitting. And things just kind of happen like that. Sometimes you really just kind of need to… Sometimes it’s not that you… Sometimes I feel like I’m not that good of a music person because I don’t just write, write or write or write and everything feels right. It’s just like I take my time with things. But sometimes it’s just because I haven’t had time to process things that I feel. And once I do, then I’m able to do that. So to me, that song was just such a relief and it was the beginning of the album because I think it’s like, it was the beginning of my pandemic journey and like the other songs. Like in many ways, it’s one of the first songs that I wrote but it just makes so much sense as a celebration of life in all its forms.

I love that it’s in the end because it’s like you need that breather and yeah, I love the strings there. It’s really, it’s a song that’s so special to me. It’s probably my favorite song that I’ve ever made, to be honest with you. It just feels so warm, just feels like Italy feels, but it just feels like what it feels like in my mind when I’m having a good time.

It's a very nice send off at the end of the record to feel like you're coming out of the woods, literally and figuratively. Thank you for taking me through the album, I really appreciate it. Have we missed any songs that you particularly love? What are your favorites on this record?

Birthh: I truly love all of them. Don’t ask me to choose between my children. That’s just rude, that’s just mean. I think “Somebody” is really special to me, and so is “Ship Integrity II,” or what we originally had called “Ship Integrity.” Each song is, I hope, more than a glimpse into how I experience life. And each line and each sound, each chord and each melody is really moving things forward in a way that you can’t take anything out of it without losing pieces of the journey, you know? And we did it with that intention, but it’s also really hard for me to say which my favorite is. I really love them all and I’m very proud of it. I’m proud that I was able to get these feelings out of myself into something. We’re talking about this big piece of my life and it’s crazy to me to think about it. It’s just crazy, like this is what my heart sounds like and we’re talking about it. It’s all the songs, all of them, all of the lines, all the melodies.

It’s just crazy, like this is what my heart sounds like and we’re talking about it. It’s all the songs, all of them, all of the lines, all the melodies.

Birthh © Allegra Toran
Birthh © Allegra Toran

I appreciate you taking this journey with me. In closing, what do you hope listeners take away from Moonlanded and what have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Birthh: I think one of the biggest things for me was having a confirmation of what staying sensitive and really like not hiding from your feelings, not running away from my feelings, not escape from the present, what that can do. It was a confirmation that that is how I wanna live life. And being in touch with my feelings in such an open and honest way was truly so therapeutic for me. And I guess the things that I would like to take away, I really hope that the people feel how real this album is and I hope that they see themselves in it. I hope that it gives them also like a reason to stay present and move through life with care and intention. And I also hope that it empowers people to just like be creative in life, whatever that means.

This is not an album that only people who’ve already landed should listen to. I hope that it’s an album for wherever you are in your journey: It’s okay – there’s space for you. And this is also why I think that I have so much, such a hard time finding a favorite song, because it doesn’t really matter if you’re feeling like super manic or if you’re feeling more like in “Hyperdrive” or if you’re feeling driven, like in “Supercharged” or if you’re feeling like childhood trauma like in the second verse of “Supercharged” and like that urgency that’s there, I’ve never sung that way before. That’s not how I usually sing, it’s like I’m screaming, it’s not perfect. It sucks. It was so bad.

I was, my voice was like out for like a week just from doing that verse. And yeah, I just really hope that people see themselves in it, resonate with it, take something, whatever that is from it. This is just what I’ve realized through life, through processing my feelings. And it’s happened to me so many times listening to a song and me like, “Oh, that’s a good way to say it. That’s a good way to express this feeling.” Or it sounds like, and when you’re able to give a name to something, when you’re able to like express it in some way, when you see it outside of yourself, it’s so much easier to process it. So yeah, I hope it happens. I really do. Even if it happens with one person, I genuinely like, I’m super okay with that.

Do you feel like you've landed?

Birthh: I think, yeah. Not every day. Some days I forget. I would say that I’ve realized that landing is just accepting that there’s no landing. You just have to keep going, there’s no end to it. You can’t escape yourself, you shouldn’t escape yourself. Landing is just being like, I have no control and I’m okay with that. That takes a lot.

Who are you listening to right now that you'd recommend to our readers?

Birthh: As far as albums that are already out, I’ve listened to the album that came out from Smino last year. I think it’s really, really good. I think it’s Luv 4 Rent, I think it’s called. And I’ve also been listening to Masego’s album, it’s really good. It’s called, Masego. But I will say that the album that I’m the most excited to be out that I’ve listened to a lot, and it’s given me a lot of purpose and a lot of drive and a lot of just beautiful reflections is London’s Album, actually. It’s called I Love You and it’s coming out at some point, maybe this year. I’m not sure. They’re so secretive about it, but it’s unreal. It’s just pure feeling. And I’m really excited for it to be out in the world.

It sounds like the people that you surrounded yourself with inspire you a lot.

Birthh: Yeah. I mean, I seek, I don’t know if this is like selfish, but I think we have to be selfish to kind of like protect ourselves sometimes or nurture ourselves. I really need to be around people I can grow with, that’s kind of like… I found out this is kind of a big non-negotiable for me as far as human relationships go, friendships or anything else. I really need to be with people I admire and who inspire me and I can have deep conversations with them. I was just so tired of shallow stuff. It’s really like, I don’t have time for that. I just really don’t have time to not be in love with my friends.

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Stream: ‘Moonlanded’ – Birthh

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