MUNA

MUNA

MUNA

For any band, signing to a major label at the beginning of your career is a dream come true. For LGBTQ+ Los Angeles power pop-rock trio MUNA (musicians Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson all identify as queer), it was merely their first milestone. Great freedom and success came later, when they were dropped by their label after releasing two albums and just as quickly picked up by Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records. Now an independent band on their self-titled third full-length, they never sounded more confident. “[MUNA] has a lot to do with identity and agency and self-definition, the ideas that we project onto other people,” Maskin tells Apple Music. “It’s an interrogation of interpersonal relationships, and sexuality, and desire, and just trying to be a person in the world and present in your life.” Those complicated ideas are articulated with an eclectic musical nuance, from the country-folk of “Kind of Girl” and the Peter Gabriel-indebted “Solid” to the jagged, Robyn-esque synth-pop of “What I Want” and the playful pop of “Silk Chiffon.” “Music helps us feel less alone in our human experience, and I think we want people to feel that,” Gavin says. “There’s a hope that these songs can foster moments of connection and joy for people, like for our queer community—we want these songs to be a soundtrack to new experiences that aren't full of torment.” Below, MUNA walks Apple Music through their new album, track by track. “Silk Chiffon” feat. Phoebe Bridgers Naomi McPherson: “The song has been kicking about since the end of 2019. Katie wrote it, and at the time it was just the pre-chorus. The bridge lyrics were in the place of the chorus. It was synth-ier, but Jo and I had the instinct to make it feel like opening credits of a late-'90s, early-aughts rom-com. We had been kicking around the idea of having someone feature on the second verse, and Phoebe came to mind—this was prior to us signing to her label. She loved the song and was so stoked to hop on it, which made us feel so, so good.” “What I Want” Katie Gavin: “This was a song that started as actually a Zoom co-write. I did it with Leland, who is an amazing songwriter and artist in his own right, and who has also done a lot of work on songs in the universe of RuPaul's Drag Race. I had a couple beats from Naomi, and I took them into the session and we both liked that one. After the session, I sent a demo to Naomi and Jo, and I remember Naomi freaking out and knowing that it was going to be a banger and wanting to work on it. I was a little bit scared of the song initially because of how much of a banger it is. There are strings in the chorus that were very inspired by 'Toxic,' the classic Britney song.” “Runner’s High” NM: “MUNA’s anti-running song. The funny thing about this track is, I think, that the beat came about in the most peculiar way. During 2020, a friend of ours was letting us use her studio for very cheap, and we were trying to take making music very seriously. We wanted to do something where it's like, we had no songs that we were currently working on, so we came up with a game called 'the five-minute game,' where each of us had to make a part in a five-minute period, and then someone else adds a part on top. The start of this song came from that game. And I don't think I've ever heard a song that has this specific metaphor; obviously, it is one of a kind and the song slaps. So, you can run to it. We won't, but we hope that people do.” “Home by Now” Josette Maskin: “This came about in a pretty classic MUNA way. All the songs have different trajectories and paths, but this one was something that Katie wrote when we were on tour with Phoebe in the fall of 2021. We sometimes find that being on the road can be pretty inspiring. When you're away from your stuff and you don't have the obligation to work on an album that has a pending deadline, it can take you out of your element and inspire you in a way.” “Kind of Girl” KG: “For songs that I start on my own, there's two categories: I did it on Ableton, which was 'Home by Now,' or I did it on an acoustic guitar, which is 'Kind of Girl.' 'Kind of Girl' I wrote in a bathtub. I wrote it from start to finish, chronologically, first the pre-chorus, then the chorus. I was thinking about the power that the words we choose to identify with have on the way that our story unfolds. How those affect what we think is possible and not possible and what we think is fixed or unfixed. We recorded just a bunch of layers of acoustic guitar and Josette's slide through a toy amp and built this world out.” “Handle Me” JM: “Katie wrote this song in January 2020. When we first did this song, Naomi and I were thinking a lot about, funny enough, 311—there’s a guitar part based on those early-2000s songs, something that would be on The O.C. Naomi felt really inspired about changing the drums and then I played the guitar part slightly differently and we tried to make it more of a lo-fi sexy track. I really fought for the song to be on the record, because I was like, ‘Oh, we don't really have a song in our discography that is sexy in this specific way.' It shows a different side of MUNA.” “No Idea” NM: “‘No Idea’ started at the top of 2020. At the time we were toying with the idea of the third record being an alternative reimagining of the past wherein we were the biggest boy band in the late '90s and early 2000s. But we are ourselves, and gay, we cast ourselves into that canon. I think of 'No Idea' as our '90s Max Martin moment meets a little bit of LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk. Katie had written the song, it was pretty finished, but there wasn't a second verse. We had a session with Mitski; she came over to me and Jo’s apartment at the time, and we talked about disco. She thought the song was hot and fun to work on; she gave us a kick into the direction that the song found itself in.” “Solid” NM: “‘Solid’ has been around since 2018, 2017, I think. It just didn't have a place on the second record. It was in the archive for a bit and then it reappeared. It is one of my favorites. We’re always super inspired by '80s music. I mean, who doesn't, that makes pop music nowadays? That artistic innovation, computerized sound, and synthesized sound. It was just fun to work on after all these years. It bops.” “Anything But Me” KG: “I wrote this song in my car. I had my laptop, and I was eating a burrito, and I came up with the first lines of the song and I was just like, ‘That's so stupid, but it's stupid in a way that's almost brilliant.’ This song is in 12/8, a really specific groove, and it has a buoyant energy. I had written the verse and the pre-chorus and had the basic groove down, and I sent it to Naomi and Jo. Naomi was like, 'There needs to be a section after the pre-chorus where you're doing something very like Shania [Twain] with the word “me,” holding it out and having a moment with it.' We fleshed it out from there. When Jo and Naomi were working on it, they had some influence from Mariah Carey.” “Loose Garment” NM: “‘Loose Garment’ started because I was looking at furniture and I made a beat and called it ‘Teak Wood Nine.’ I sent Katie a bunch of beats that had wood and furniture names. We all love Imogen Heap and her collaboration with Guy Sigsworth. The band Frou Frou, they're a touchstone for us, both her solo project and that band; it felt like maybe [the song] could live in that universe. We switched the beat up and gave it a pulsating feel that motivated the song. It’s definitely a sad one. Cynthia Tolson killed it. She played strings on it and just went off.” “Shooting Star” KG: “This song was written literal weeks before we turned in the album. That's very MUNA. I always write until it is pencils down. I had written this on acoustic guitar, and it was this folky bassline guitar part that really turned Josette off, and I remember I wanted it. We always intended for this to be a 10-song record. There's a certain kind of guitar that we got obsessed with using, and I feel like we associate it a lot with the sound of music in LA: It's a rubber-bridge, vintage acoustic guitar, and Jo reworked the guitar part into something that was better. It was Naomi's idea to have kind of this Coldplay moment at the end where the song explodes into this more cathartic beat and arrangement, and that was really, I think, a big moment for that song as well.”

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11