The electric threesome known as MUNA have engulfed me in what could only be described as a giggly witch’s circle. The infectious girl group and I are sitting under a tree at The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City, and I’m totally entranced. We’re a girl-gang, I think. I’m the fourth member of MUNA they’ve been looking for.
The band is on a high from their rock star performance just a mere hour earlier. “I chipped my tooth during our set and now I can’t stop playing with it,” lead vocalist and lyricist Katie Gavin announces. “Super casual. I wasn’t sure if it was a huge deal or not when it happened but I just kept going.”
The indie-pop trio hails from Los Angeles and has just released their debut album About U. After their emotive anthems “I Know a Place” and “Loudspeaker” defined the band as an inspirational and accepting outlet for listeners, their fans were hooked.
“The first fan I ever met was at the first show we played with Miike Snow,” guitarist Josette Maskin explains. “This guy came up to me and said he didn’t even know we were going to be there. He was engaged and his fiancé broke up with him and he said that our song “Winterbreak” literally saved his life. We both just started weeping.” These types of interactions are not uncommon for MUNA. The band’s lyrics are notoriously engaging and personal, to say the least. They’ve chosen to keep all gender-based pronouns out of their lyrics, allowing listeners to interpret how they choose.
“We want people to get some kind of release from our music. A little bit of human connection,” guitarist Naomi McPherson says. At that moment someone gently interrupts our pow-wow to tell the girls how amazing their set was. McPherson turns back to me and reacts perfectly saying, “Something like that. People feeling a feeling; whatever that might be.”
From their anthematic single “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” to the inclusive “I Know a Place,” lyricist Gavin is known for crafting experiential music for listeners. “Part of the reason why we started making pop music is because we want people to dance and move,” she says. “I love seeing people working on themselves and using our music to do that.” Gavin continues to describe how the band as a whole hopes that people will connect with their creative impulses through music. “We hope people feel empowered and capable of expressing themselves in new ways,” she says. “Maybe gain some language about what they’re going through with our lyrics. I love when people tell me how they didn’t have the words for what they were feeling but our songs delivered them.”
When I ask about any guilty-pleasures, the girls respond all at once in an almost indecipherable mess of words about how no music is guilty and that’s why they love it. Out of the chaos, Gavin’s voice cuts through. “This is the real answer: the guiltiest pleasure is listening to ourselves.” Cue the laughter and screams of agreement. “I mean, I wrote these songs about my life, I obviously relate to them!” Gavin adds.
As the rain starts to come down, my time with MUNA comes to an end. But, not before Gavin turns to me and asks, “Did you know that the name of your magazine is the name of the boy band in Josie and The Pussycats?” With that, the girls escape into their trailer.