It was a brisk October night in Midtown Manhattan as people gathered around the entryway of 1650 Broadway, The Iridium. All around, people of different gender identities, ethnicities, and ages danced in their seat, not the least bit concerned with whether or not they looked foolish — but then that’s the beauty of MUNA, whose members all identify as queer — their music is a safespace, resonating with those who have yet to find themselves in the lyrics of most mainstream bands.
Formed in Los Angeles as the musical side project of classmates Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson, MUNA is a self described “dark pop” band. Songs of love, loss, heartbreak, and self acceptance carry through the entirety of their debut album, “About U,” with lyrics that poetically depict the aching heartbreak of unrequited love, all wrapped up in a head boppingly catchy tune.
Although lyrically speaking, one of the album’s stand out tracks “Everything” takes a more melodic, slower approach with lines like “Would you wish we'd made love again?/Would you want to revisit the marks on my skin?/'Cause the world could be burning/And all I'd be thinking is/’How are you doing, baby?’”
“[Our creative process] depends on the song, but the process definitely takes different forms for each track,” McPherson, who plays rhythm guitar and synth, explains. “Typically Katie writes all of the lyrics and will come in with a demo of a track and we build it up from there, but there have been many times where the process is a bit more organic and stems from jams.” Citing an eclectic mix of pop/punk artists from the ‘80s and ‘90s, like Cocteau Twins, Robyn, and Tears for Fears, as their main sources of inspiration, “About U” is unapologetic pop whose lyrics are derived from that beautifully somber place in between grief and acceptance of a love story gone amiss.
Despite their passion for their art, none of them ever really anticipated this level of success. “I think we never really considered the whole label aspect as a goal to aspire to, but more as a consequence of doing what we are doing, which is trying to make the best music possible,” she explains. “We are happy that people have enough faith in us to help us make the best record that we can, but we've always had that faith in ourselves as a band first.”
While they’ve only been a band for a few short years, MUNA has already amassed a cult like following, although it does still surprise them when a fan shows off their new MUNA ink. “A few people have gotten MUNA tattoos, they're typically lyrics. It's super cool for us that people feel strongly enough to get something that we've written or our name tattooed on their bodies.”
Currently on their first ever headlining tour, MUNA has announced tour dates all throughout the U.S., as well as a slot at the upcoming Governor’s Ball in New York this June. Last night, February 22nd, the girls played to a sold out Bowery Ballroom and there was not a single still soul amongst the crowd. Adding an unexpected line to their hit single “I Know A Place” McGavin sang, “Even if our skin or our goals look different/ I believe all human life is significant/ I throw my arms open wide in resistance/ He’s not my leader even if he’s my president.” Cheers of, “we love you,” could be heard round the room, as McGavin thanked the crowd, assuring them that it was the fans that had sold out the Bowery, not MUNA.
The debut album “About U” is out now, and whether you’re a queer person searching for a little bit of themselves within the music community, incapable of turning a deaf ear to a solid pop hook, or maybe a little bit of both, there’s genuinely something for everyone on this beautifully and brutally honest record.