Melody for Rebellion: Interview With ALBA
Not only can musicians touch our hearts and make us dance, they can also use their melodies to launch a rebellion. That is exactly what London-based singer, guitarist, and songwriter ALBA is doing. Her latest single “Mass Extinction” was released under ‘Sixth Mass Extinction Recordings’, a newly created record label by Extinction Rebellion and Music Declares Emergency. A talented musician, ALBA is using her guitar and vocals as weapons to fight for social equality and ecology. Even more, proceeds from her potent environmentalist anthem will generously go towards combating climate change.
Rising star ALBA is here to answer a few of Impakter’s questions about her background, inspiration for her new single, and her message to the world.
What is your musical background and how did you get involved with Extinction Rebellion and Music Declares Emergency?
ALBA: My musical background goes back to growing up in a home where the record player was constantly on. My parents love music and they passed on that love to me. They took me to concerts as memorable as BB King or Eric Clapton when I was only 10 years old, and got me into piano lessons before I found my ultimate partner in crime: the electric guitar.
I’ve been speaking up about climate change and our self-destructive ways long before it became the worldwide movement that we know today. I was really excited when I saw the world finally open their eyes and take to the streets to demand systemic action. It was just a matter of time. I naturally became involved with Music Declares Emergency as soon as I heard the music industry was joining forces with Extinction Rebellion to find ways to become greener and to achieve zero net emissions by 2030.
What does joining forces with such prominent environmentalist movements mean to you? And to your career?
ALBA: I’m really happy to be part of this. There are a lot of incredibly talented people from all the spectrums of art, who are devoting all their time and energy to the environmental cause. It’s lovely to collaborate with passionate, inspiring people! And for many of us suffering from climate anxiety, taking action and helping out in any ways possible seems like the way to go.
I’m pleased that my music is not only able to entertain but also to convey a message, which is something that I think is lacking in mainstream music nowadays.
In your new single Mass Extinction, wah pedal grooves and brisk beats establish an alarming mood, and your profound vocals sing the voice of reason, “No one is gonna save us from ourselves.” How would you describe the creative process of writing this song? How do you want your song to impact listeners?
ALBA: I wrote this song last summer on a writing retreat in France. I wanted to write a song that would stress the emergency of the situation and the fact that we are responsible for our future, whatever that future is. The song has a positive note, as my idea is to empower listeners to take action, showing that change is possible if we have all hands on deck.
Throughout the music video for Mass Extinction, fire and trash emblematically ravage the globe while you portray mother nature suffocating in a veil. How does paring this poignant imagery with your music develop the overall message of this song?
ALBA: My friend Harry Oliver, who is the director and creative mind behind the video, came up with the perfect visuals to go with the song. The brainstorming and shooting sessions were really fun. We shot the Earth spinning and getting progressively wrecked in stop motion, one frame at a time! It required a good deal of craftsmanship. The shots where I play Mother Nature help to create a feeling of urgency and anxiety, with the planet collapsing before our eyes. The ending is quite powerful; it shows how Mother Nature reacts to the stress we are putting “her” under. She can survive without us, but it’s pretty clear we cannot survive without her.
To your fans, you embody female empowerment because you are using your voice and talents to stand up against injustice. Speaking as a lifelong feminist, how do you think that human rights and gender equality tie into the message you’re hoping to convey?
ALBA: As a feminist, and someone who has a “public” voice, I feel it’s important to raise awareness about the matter. We’re still a long way from gender equality, and although we are making progress thanks to brave women and men, there is still much work to be done and glass ceilings to be shattered.
I can speak for my own experience as a female guitarist and frontwoman in the male-dominated world of electric guitar and rock music, always competing for listening-time on your good bookshelf speakers. When I was learning how to play my instrument, I was surprised there were almost no female guitarists in any of the top guitarist rankings and guitar magazines I was reading. It was like they didn’t exist, which I later found not to be true after doing my own research. I don’t know if they were deliberately ignored or just forgotten, but I believe names like Sister Rosetta Tharpe should be as relevant as Chuck Berry in the history of electric guitar. I also remember receiving my share of nasty comments as a teenager leading her own rock band, as I often was the only girl in a tour/festival full of male bands.
Although diversity has significantly improved and most people are respectful now, I believe visibility is key to addressing the issue. I’m happy to see more prominent female musicians, music directors, producers, record label directors and engineers all across the music industry.
Girls need role models to look up to.
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What was it like preforming at the Extinction Underground festival on Feb. 22, 2020? How does it feel to not only perform artistically but also for the greater good?
ALBA: It was a wonderful experience to be part of something bigger than a music/arts festival. I loved the creativity and good vibes around it. People from all backgrounds and ages coming together to make a better world, and why not, also have some fun in the process! In a way, it reminds me of what the 60/70s pacifist and environmentalist movement must have felt like.
I loved getting involved in this historic event, and I hope to be in many more to come.
Which environmentalists have inspired you most?
ALBA: Carl Sagan is one of my inspirations. He was an excellent science communicator, mainly known for his TV series “Cosmos”, where he touched upon anything from the origins of the universe, metaphysics to art and history. As one of the early scientific voices warning of the potential devastating effects of climate change back in the 80s, I couldn’t recommend his series enough.
I’m also inspired by the work of the late Polly Higgins, co-founder of “Stop Ecocide”, a UK-based charity whose purpose is to make Ecocide a crime under International Criminal Law. Sadly she passed away last year, but the work of the charity continues and I was happy to support them through a crowdfunding I recently held.
Which performers have influenced your music most? If you could choose one legendary musician/band to tour with, who would it be?
ALBA: There are too many to cite here, but I’d say Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Alicia Keys, just to name a few.
Choosing one legendary band is tough but… opening for The Rolling Stones would be so much fun!
What are some sustainable habits that you practice outside of your life as a musician?
ALBA: I consider sustainability in everything I purchase. I try to go for biodegradable/recycled products whenever available, and choose companies that I know are environmentally friendly. There are many ways to check this info online. You can easily find the best-in-class companies that are committed to decarbonisation, have good ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) scores and so on. There’s always a choice, and we should definitely use our power as consumers. If you need some inspiration, check out the Earth Day Switch initiative: www.earthdayswitch.org
On the other hand, I use public transport or walk for all my needs, but I guess that is easy to do in London!
What is next for you?
ALBA: I’m focusing on writing and releasing music online at the moment. I am also streaming concerts from my Instagram page (@albasmusic).
To hear more of ALBA’s music, be notified of upcoming events, and enjoy live streams, follow her on Spotify and her social media accounts:
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Guitarist, Singer, ans Songwriter ALBA —Featured Photo Credit: ALBA