Alanis Morissette was so happy for a while. And there was no new music.
Then early last year, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter split with her actor fiance Ryan Reynolds after a 4 1/2-year relationship. And lo, the product of that broken relationship lands on store shelves this week in the form of “Flavors of Entanglement.”
Like her Grammy-winning 1995 major label debut “Jagged Little Pill,” the new album is at once biting and vulnerable, optimistic and angry. In person, Morissette laughs easily at the creative rush that came as things fell apart with Reynolds, who is now engaged to Scarlett Johansson.
She had us laughing when, seemingly out of the blue, she put a tongue-in-cheek cover of Fergie’s “My Humps” up on YouTube in April 2007. It’s since been viewed over 13.5 million times.
Morissette sat down with The Associated Press to talk about writing as therapy, Fergie’s lyrical gems and Reynolds.
AP: Tell me about the process of recording this album.
Morissette: In the middle of my breakup, I went to London for 12 days, wrote 12 songs. It was all very immediate and visceral. Then I came back to L.A. and wrote 12 more songs with a gentleman named Guy Sigsworth, whom I adore. So the writing itself was very immediate. Versus my having written in the past retrospectively. It was very in the moment. It was like a little life raft for me. The structure of going in the studio every day was very helpful for me.
AP: It seems like half the album is looking back at your relationship with Ryan and half is these moving-forward songs. Was that intentional?
Morissette: One of the main themes of this record is this recovery, rising up from the ashes so to speak. So it’s sort of an unraveling of my own personal life, hitting my own rock bottom and rising up. ... I didn’t even realize it while I was writing the record, but it definitely goes through all the stages of grief.
AP: Are you into celebrity gossip?
Morissette: I’m definitely not online or reading those magazines anymore. I used to read them all the time but I think once the tables were turned on me, I stopped reading it. I started to see the nature of it, and I started to see in my case anyway a lot of it was inaccurate. So I stopped reading it, because I thought well if it’s that inaccurate about me, it can’t be accurate about other people. But every once in a while they nail it on the head. (Laughs.)
AP: Why the “My Humps” video?
Morissette: Guy Sigsworth and I were in the studio, and I was writing the 20th song. The running joke with him was I would come into the studio and he’d say ‘What horse from the Apocalypse is coming in today, Alanis?’ So that particular day I was like ‘God, I wish I could write something really simple.’ I said, ‘A song like ’My Humps’ would be great.’ So I with him interpreted it on the piano. And then within a week we were recording the video for it with my friends in my garage at my house. ... Whenever a song is slowed down and balladized, as I call it, the lyrics have more of the light shown on it. So I did learn a few things about having to make your man work work, make you work, make you work work work. It’s very profound. And true! It works!
AP: Ryan has now moved on. Is that difficult for you? What’s your message for him?
Morissette: I have enough distance, so to be perfectly honest I’m not really that focused on it. I wish anyone whom I love, whether I hang out with them or not, great success and love in their life. So — Godspeed.