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MUNA on Following Their Biggest Hit with a Genreless Record and Co-Writing with Mitski

The trio discuss going indie with Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory label

MUNA, photo by Ben Kaye
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    “Life’s so fun/ Life’s so fun.” MUNA indeed seem to be rollerskating through life right now. On a road paved by their hit single “Silk Chiffon” (featuring their new label boss, Phoebe Bridgers), the indie pop trio have glided right to a new height in their career.

    Just two years ago, Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson didn’t even have a label. RCA, which had released their first two albums, dropped them during the pandemic. Though the split wasn’t what you’d call amicable, it wasn’t acrimonious either; during Consequence’s interview with MUNA, Gavin notes their single “Anything But Me” — a breakup song with “a lot of joy” in it — reflects how she sees the “uncoupling.”

    “I think with a major label, there are a certain set of guidelines that they would normally prescribe to in marketing a band,” adds Maskin. “And especially when we were first coming up, it was I think a little bit harder to be a queer band. It was in 2014, 2015, and being queer was a much harder decision to make, and I don’t know if they knew exactly what to do with us.”

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    Bridger’s indie startup Saddest Factory gave them “a lot more leeway,” and one that proved instantly successful. Gavin says it was a “blessing” to have “Silk Chiffon” “snatched up by the queer community in the way that it was.” MUNA were still writing what would become their self-titled LP (out Friday, June 24th) when the single arrived. The trick then became following up their highest-charting smash with an album not just worthy of the renewed acclaim, but of themselves.

    “It’s a delicate dance because to enjoy it, you want to be able to receive the love when you’re getting it,” Gavin says. “But I also don’t want to have that dark side of now I have to do the same thing so that they still like me. That’s actually kind of the name of the fucking game: Not making this about our own validation.”

    To that end, MUNA — entirely produced and co-engineered by the group — finds them slipping more comfortably than ever into their own tastes. The result is a “genreless” record that, while very much a “classic” MUNA effort, expands on the dark pop sounds of their earlier work to include country bops (“Anything But Me”), electro-pop balladry (“Loose Garment”), and ’90s radio pop via Daft Punk (“No Idea”).

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    That latter track features a co-writing credit from Mitski. In fact, there are multiple co-writers on the album (and even horns contributed by Joy Oladokun) who are called out in the credits for “achieving the rare feat of co-writing with Katie.” Gavin laughs at the description, readily accepting that she struggles to “construct a lyric and melody in the presence of other people.” With Mitski, though, it was an honor.

    I remember when I first played the verse and chorus on acoustic guitar, I think the first thing she said was like, ‘That’s hot,'” Gavin recalls, noting that Mitski is one of her all-time favorite songwriters. “To me, she’s also like one of the sexiest songwriters of all time. There’s such a raw sexuality that she [writes with]. So it was cool when we were spitballing about the second verse to be able to see her as this North Star of like, ‘That’s cheesy,’ or, ‘No, that’s hot and that works for me.’ Like that’s… I just wanted to turn Mitski on.”

    See what else MUNA have to say about the new record by watching the full interview above. Then make sure to snag tickets to the band’s upcoming summer and fall tour dates via Ticketmaster.

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    Trouble viewing the video above? Watch on YouTube.

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