Let’s get real: Moira Dela Torre is the antithesis of your typical pop star.

She evades the constant need to present perfection both on record and on stage. And when it all boils down to theatricality, sass, and edginess, or any key descriptors that define the current crop of idol trailblazers, Moira simply doesn’t fit the mold. Instead of attending industry parties and learning a TikTok-ready choreography routine, she’d rather sit at the back of the class with her headphones on, unbothered and swimming in a pool of quiet introspection.

As someone who has built an enterprise out of “sad girl anthems,” Moira chose the path less traveled. She penned and co-wrote her own songs and interpreted them in a way that’s soothing, soulful, and irreparably broken — lacking in histrionic flair and energy but holding so much weight just by being its raw, authentic self. Think of Taylor Swift minus the main character vibes or Lana Del Rey without the passive stance over past lovers. Setting one’s bias aside, Moira’s work is unmistakably hers in a field of soundalikes. She inspired contemporary Filipino singer-songwriters to wring meaning out of brokenness and express it wholeheartedly in a three-minute pop song.

For seven years, the biggest hits of the streaming generation felt indebted to Moira’s brand of hugot. There’s no denying the impact of her singing and songwriting style. It has become a force that you can neither escape nor ignore.

“To this day, I just feel really blessed to even have gotten here,” a clueless but nonetheless humble Moira tells Billboard Philippines. “Whether it’s music I create or consume, it has brought me so much healing. So, it will always be an honor and a privilege knowing that the words I wrote down in my notebook during days I needed an outlet have brought comfort to people’s lives.”

The hitmaker behind the modern classics “Paubaya” (Let It Go), “Babalik Sa’yo” (Return To You), “Ikaw At Ako” (You And I), and “Tagpuan” (Meeting Place) doesn’t shy away from several controversies, which have been a subject of gossip fodder for years. Despite the constant tirades about her relationships and allegedly questionable behavior off-cam, she would rather let her music speak and address these issues in a platform where it belongs. Take, for instance, the new songs that she debuted during her Araneta Coliseum concert last year: “Red Flags;” “Eme,” “Under The Bathroom Sink,” and “Rewritten Vows.” Here, she takes a swipe at an ex, but never hides her hands after throwing a rock. 

Even as these tracks fail to conceal the less flattering bits of her former married life, Moira succeeds in transforming stories about pain, anxiety, and betrayal into compelling pieces of music with considerably clever and interesting songwriting. Regardless if it’s your cup of tea or not, her material demands a second or third look in the OPM/pop canon, especially with her recent efforts of documenting every aspect of healing and recovery in her own work — at the expense of the public’s prying eyes. 

According to Moira, these new songs, which are rumored to be part of her upcoming new album, might see the light of day sometime this year. She considers the still-untitled fourth studio release as her “Spring” record, emphasizing new beginnings and transformations in life.

The most-streamed Filipina soloist of all time shares, “When you think of spring, you think Central Park, ‘gardens,’ and ‘bloom.’ I almost changed direction until I realized spring means growth, and growth is often uncomfortable. A good friend told me that it’s during seasons like these that we feel like we’re being buried, but we’re actually being planted. So even if it took longer than expected, I went with spring anyway. I often have to remind myself that it’s also bad for overwatering plants. What was supposedly a seven-track album is now eighteen [tracks long] and counting. I don’t know what the final track list will be yet. I don’t know if I’ll divide them or if I’ll take some out. Or if I’ll just put them all in there. But it’s almost sprouting. And I can’t wait for you to hear them all.”

There’s pretty much nothing Moira Dela Torre can’t do at this point, and if the new songs are any indication of what to expect from her forthcoming body of work, then it might just be a matter of time before we witness her evolve into a supreme force. Outside of her star power lies newfound independence and artistry that deserve to be harnessed. We’re all rooting for her to win this time around.

This story originally appeared in Billboard Philippines’ special Women in Music issue dated March 22, 2024.