While most steer away from labels and categorising their sound, MUNA take pride in calling themselves the queer dark-pop band from Los Angeles. Rewind to May 2016 and the trio were preparing for the release of their debut EP The Loudspeaker, everything since has seemed sort of a blur. After touring across the U.S and beyond, people took to MUNA instantly, and now the band’s debut record About U is now on the horizon, carrying with it an abundance of anticipation from their hard-core fans.
We caught up with Katie Gavin, Naomi McPherson, and Josette Maskin to discuss the process for creating their debut album and the group’s heartwarming relationship with the LGBTQ community.
You’re just about to put out your debut record About U, how long has the creation process been for this album?
Naomi McPherson: Kind of the entire time we’ve been a band, or at least since 2014, around the summer.
Quite a while then…
Naomi: Yeah, well they always say with your first album it takes you your whole life to write and by the next one you write it all in about six months; so that’ll probably be the case with the following one! The songs that weren’t So Special, Promise and Winterbreak all kind of happened within the past year and a half, and the albums been done since last summer.
What’s the main message you want listeners to take away from the record?
Katie Gavin: I don’t think there is a main message, I hope they take whatever they need and find what they’re looking for within it.
The band’s recent material is more synth orientated and upbeat in comparison to past tracks that appear quite mellow – was the change in sound a conscious decision?
Naomi: I don’t know if the albums actually going to reflect that, we love synth but I don’t know if the album is going to be as synth-pop as I think one would expect, there’s a wide array of everything. Crying On The Bathroom Floor and I Know a Place are some of the synthiest songs on the record.
You’ve played headline shows and bagged yourselves a support slot for Grouplove all in the past year – does the reception of the crowd differ between the cities?
Josette Maskin: It took us a little bit by surprise; there are people in small towns that when you’re the headline act coming to their town is so exciting to them, whereas in bigger cities there’s always just so much to do, not that the crowds are bad in metropolis cities – they’re great! We’re just taken by complete surprise when you’re somewhere like Kansas City and you just play one of the most fun shows you’ve ever played and the crowd are so hyped.
Katie: Every time I get surprised because even if I feel like I’m getting nothing from the audience when we’re actually playing, afterwards we’ll be selling merch and people will come up to us and be like “I didn’t know you guys before this, but your music really spoke to me” and stuff like that; you get something new in every city and it really might not be what you expected it to be.
Which city owns the title of being the best crowd so far?
Naomi: Maybe Salt Lake City, that was crazy! Something was going on in Salt Lake City when we played with Grouplove, everyone was going insane it was so much fun, it felt like an arena headline show.
Your recent release I Know A Place has become a safe place for the younger youth, especially LGBTQ+ community – did you ever expect your music to be received like this?
Katie: I think that we hoped that people would take it and use it, that’s what we want as a band, it’s probably gone beyond my expectations but at the same time I kinda knew it was a good song and before it was coming out I was like “I know people are gonna like this.”
What does having such a strong LGBTQ+ fan base mean to you as a band?
Katie: It makes things more fun.
Josette: Yeah it makes everything way more fun, as per. I think because we’re part of the community we’re really happy to have been so fully embraced and supported by the community… it warms our little hearts. LGBTQ+ folks and young people are kind of the best and most dedicated fans that I think you could have as a band, so we’re stoked.
With the recent events occurring in the U.S. right now, how important do you think it is to be political in music today?
Katie: I think for some people expressing themselves politically is a natural part of them and for us we’re interested in seeing how much of our full selves we can bring into this project and bring into pop music, it’s apart of the universe to us, it’s just important. At the same time, I think every individual is different and it’s important for all of us to be doing what we feel comfortable doing. With that being said there’s a girl in Fifth Harmony who is extremely political on the Internet and it gives me so much joy.
Would that be Lauren Jauregui?
Katie & Josette: YES! We love her.
You’re not afraid to speak up on social media, how do you feel about artists staying silent in times like this despite their huge following?
Katie: To me it speaks to the fact that some artists when you get big enough you just become like a corporation; I don’t want to say I know exactly what’s going on but the way I read it is that you help made getting money more important than standing up for human rights. I get that a lot of these pop stars are corporations that are supporting a lot of people underneath them so it’s a bigger risk to put your company on the line by speaking up. It’s a complicated issue but I see it as someone making money their top priority.
2017 has had a rough start – what do you want to see more of this year that you think will turn the year around?
Josette: Honestly, even though things have been so crazy politically I am really impressed with how people have been coming together; voicing their opinions and protesting, I would like that to continue personally and I would like people to just be open to loving each other more and seeing that we are all human and we all the same.
Who are you listening to at the moment that you think we should start paying attention to?
Katie: We love Kehlani, you probably already know this. We also have this friend named Eric who released a record that we all fell in love with, his artist name is Okudaxij.
Josette: His album is amazing. He’s not very big but he’s someone that I think the world needs.
If I were to speak to you three in a year’s time what would you have hoped to have achieved by then?
Josette: World peace… [laughs]
Katie: My goals for the band have always been a little bit different, I try not to be externally oriented so I would say that I hope we all love each other as much as we do right now, and that everyone feels us and is excited by the music that we’re making.
MUNA’s debut record About U is out now.