positive thinking with muna, your new best band friends
We play catch up with the LA threesome making queer-inclusive pop the norm.
It was almost a year ago that we introduced you to MUNA, pop's bright new loudspeakers. Since then, Katie, Josette, and Naomi — who all identify as queer — have gone above and beyond our expectations; making brilliant music with the kind of songwriting that we're certain will be bagged by a major popstar very soon, but also spreading a much needed positivity and message of inclusivity.
When things are looking bad, these guys will be there to pick you back up again. To encourage you to dance around your bedroom and realize that everything's actually going to be okay, even in these tumultuous times. The self-proclaimed outsiders recently released their debut album About U, a record full of uplifting vulnerability and honesty, the sort of stuff that they hope will encourage bravery in their listeners. They have an audible love of Imogen Heap and Robyn too, and we dare you to listen to their LP and not fall for them.
Performing live on Jimmy Kimmel two weeks after Trump's inauguration, Katie changed lyrics in "I Know A Place" to echo the mood with "even if our skin or our gods 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." The lyrical protest was met with cheers and still gives us butterflies. In town for a couple of shows, we headed straight to the girls' East London hotel room to catch up. Slouched about the hotel sleepover style, we discuss their mixed feelings about karaoke, their deep love of Lorde, and speculate who would win in a fight between MUNA-favourites Imogen Heap, Kate Bush and Robyn.
Hey MUNA! How has your life changed since we spoke last?
Naomi: Well, we put an album out in February, so we've been on the road a lot more.
Josette: It feels a lot more tired.
Katie: I think the biggest thing is that last time we talked, we were still not sure if this was really happening — if we were really a band. And now, this is just what our lives are. We're a band.
Katie: It became really obvious because last year when we played SX it was the beginning of our touring life as a band and we were so scared and so stressed out the entire time. But this year it was just like, 'Oh! Of course. This is what we do'.
You made lyric videos for every song on your album. Is that because you love karaoke?
Naomi: I actually have a phobia of karaoke. I love watching people, but I cannot do it myself.
Josette: I don't trust musicians who love karaoke, there's just something about it. It's like a musician that sings happy birthday really well, I fucking hate that. It should sound like shit, I don't wanna hear your fucking harmony.
Naomi: A bunch of musicians singing Happy Birthday is the worst thing ever.
Josette: Karaoke is fun, karaoke is cool. You can only really like karaoke as a musician if you're drunk.
Naomi: That's like a haiku! I think it's been good to have the right lyrics out in the world, because people do get a lot of them wrong and they're good and Katie's very good and smart at lyrics.
She is. If I got you drunk and took you to Lucky Voice right now, what would you sing?
Katie: Sinead O'Connor or something.
Josette: That's the thing, I don't like serious karaoke. It's gotta be fun.
Naomi: I did Blink182 recently.
Classic. Katie, would you consider writing for other people?
Katie: Yeah, totally. I think that so many young women artists — their talent, intelligence and insight — don't get used in sessions because guys project their ideas on them. I would love to get to know them and find out together what they want to do and say. I kind of see it as a duty, because a lot of people are doing it in ways that I don't agree with.
Josette: I feel like you can teach people how to do it.
Katie: I just feel so lucky. It's almost like survivor's guilt that we've had time to mature. We finished college before this all began unfolding as a band and we're best friends and we're in it together. We're not alone and surrounded by men. We got really lucky.
How much do you all love the new stuff Lorde's putting out?
Katie: It's all amazing.
Naomi: I love her dance moves!
Katie: I love Green Light, but honestly, when I heard Liability, I was like, this girl's like Bowie. There's something about her. I love the way those lyrics were written, it really surpasses gender.
Naomi: The key change is so cool in Green Light.
What fictional crew do you think you're most like?
Josette: I don't know if I'd consider our comedic vibe to be Daria, but our aesthetic is very Daria. Comedic vibe could be… Friends maybe? We're just a bunch of fools, what's a show about a bunch of fools?
Naomi: Arrested Development?
Josette: We're not that calculated though.
Naomi: Yeah, we're not quite sociopaths.
Good to hear. So how do you stay positive in today's world of social and political gloom?
Naomi: That's an amazing question and something we're still trying to figure out ourselves. Currently, I think we're doing it by eating sweets and chocolate and trying to take care of ourselves. It's hard to say, but I think that you can take negative things and try to spin them. In the sense that it provides us with opportunities to step up and rise up to a challenge and overcome whatever shit is happening. I think we're all hoping to affect change in small ways in our lives and those around us by trying.
Katie: Trying is huge. I saw something recently that said, 'The opposite of love is laziness'. I've been doing it recently by praying and contemplating and trying to see the sun either come up or go down whenever I can.
Naomi: I've been having a lot of scientific thoughts and thinking about bigger things, because when you widen the scope, it is crazy that we're even sustaining life. It's mind blowing. I guess that's stressful and helpful at the same time. It's humbling to not just make everything about us, even though we are ruining the planet.
It was so cool when you changed the lyrics to "I Know A Place" on Jimmy Kimmel.
Katie: Thank you. We knew a long time in advance that we'd be playing on the show around album release, so we decided that we couldn't not do something. We asked if we could bring this message to the show with the understanding that if they said no, we'd just do it anyway. But they said yes and what it showed us is that there are a lot of people who want to do something but just don't know what to do. And if you bring them an opportunity that they can simply say yes to, then honestly, it's really easy.
Josette: We did Fallon earlier in the year, which was our first tv appearance and it was so much more nerve-wracking and felt so centered. This felt different because we were sharing this message and it was bigger than us. Conveying something more meaningful made it easy to lose your nerves.
Who do you think would win in a fight: Imogen Heap, Kate Bush or Robyn?
Naomi: Oh shit!
Josette: Maybe Imogen, she's very tall.
Naomi: I feel like Robyn, but dude, you never know.
Josette: Robyn's so buff.
Naomi: Super buff. She does a lot of punching in her music videos. I think she's the smallest one but she'd kick some ass.
Katie: Kate must be athletic though, she was good dancer.
Naomi: This would be a good fight. I don't want them to fight, but it would be interesting because they're all very skilled in different ways.
Text Frankie Dunn