So Special: MUNA Interviewed

Shining a light on the group's inspirational dark pop...

It’s the afternoon of MUNA’s second sold-out show at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. Vocalist Katie Gavin and keyboardist/guitarist Naomi McPherson are resting on a bed inside Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel. Perched in the window, guitarist Josette Maskin plucks away at acoustic strings as Naomi leans over to read aloud the words etched onto the wooden instrument.

“That’s funny, ‘Your left hand is what you know, your right hand is who you are.’ That’s very real.”

The trio’s debut LP, ‘About U’, was released at the beginning of this year and has been crafted by the band seemingly with both hands, combining an outpouring of both honest storytelling and ethereal, self-confessed (and self-produced) dark pop. “Despite how different, in theory, some of the songs we make might be, I think ‘dark pop’ is what ties them all together,” offers Naomi.

“I feel like there are a lot of things that are almost like it,” says Katie of their innovative pop-meets-electro sound that escapes direct comparisons. We’re tangential to a lot of things but I’m glad we don’t sound exactly like something else.”

The singer studied at NYU, before meeting the rest of MUNA at USC, an institution home to the only library in the United Sates to extensively archive the Riot Grrrl collection. The movement has been a major inspiration to the band, and in particular the track ‘Loudspeaker’.

“NYU was my entry point into it and then I learnt about Queercore and the queer bands that were the predecessors of the Riot Grrrl movement,” Katie reveals. “That mentality is hugely important to the foundation of this band, specifically writing ‘Loudspeaker’. The source of that song was the same: it’s an ode to those women and that mentality. But instead of picking up a bass and playing it on stage we open our computers and go. A lot of people don’t even know that we do the whole thing ourselves.”

Is that underestimation frustrating?

“If they have a preconceived idea of us that’s fine, we don’t hate you; you’re still invited. We’re going somewhere hopefully higher than that type of pettiness,” Katie reasons.

“There’s something nice about proving someone wrong though, especially being a girl and being a musician,” Josette adds mischievously.

Inclusivity runs through MUNA’s veins alongside a passionate ethos rooted in support of the LGBTQ community, which extends to the use of genderless pronouns in their lyricism, adding poignancy to songs such as the empowering ‘I Know A Place’.

It’s powerful pop on more than just a sonic level.

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Words: Shannon Cotton
Photography: Aleksandra Podburtnaja

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