LOS ANGELES TRIO MIXING SYNTH-POP AND POLITICS.
For Fans Of: Christine And The Queens, Chvrches, Tegan And Sara Get This Track: I Know A Place
It says something about LA trio MUNA’s current importance that before they had even released their debut album, frontwoman Katie Gavin was asked to write an opinion piece for Time magazine about their song I Know A Place. Outwardly, a pop dancefloor anthem that’s all stabbing synths and a chorus that’s as catchy as ’ 80s power balladeer Pat Benatar singing The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, the track carries a message about the importance of clubs and bars as safe havens for the LGBTQ community. Just days before its release, however, the fatal shooting of 49 people in an Orlando LGBTQ nightclub last June gave lines such as, “If you want to go out dancing… I know a place we can go, where everyone’s gonna lay down their weapons,” a tragic poignancy. “I Know A Place was never supposed to be a funeral hymn,” wrote Gavin. “We wrote our song to be the voice in your head that tells you to celebrate peace during wartime, because our battle is only just beginning, and one day our war really will be over.” MUNA have a sharp gauge on how to chime with the current climate while delivering sparkling synthpop. The shimmering tunes on debut About U may recall genreblurring acts such as Chvrches (Crying On The Bathroom Floor), Haim (Loudspeaker) and The 1975 (Outro), but lyrical topics ranging from sexual assault, selfloathing and unhealthy depictions of love render them more purposeful than your usual mainstream band. During a TV appearance on Jimmy Kimmel they performed in front of the quote on the Statue Of Liberty – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” – and unveiled a new verse for I Know A Place, adding the line: “He’s not my leader, even if he’s my President.” Sat in an LA coffee shop on a Monday morning looking like the cast of ’90s high school witch flick The Craft, Gavin, producerguitarist Naomi McPherson and guitarist Josette Maskin assert that their music itself isn’t overtly socially political, just their actions. “Everything’s being sold through a political lens,” says McPherson. “We come from
“WE COME FROM THIRD-WAVE FEMINISM, THE IDEA OF THE PERSONAL BEING POLITICAL.” KATIE GAVIN
third-wave feminism, the idea of the personal being political,” adds Gavin. “Music is our channel for connecting with people on a deep level and helping them heal. It’s a true feat when musicians talk about politics while also getting right in your reptilian brain [ taps back of head] via great pop.” Having initially bonded over a love of emo and the celestial charms of Cocteau Twins and The Blue Nile’s sophisticated art-pop at LA’s USC four years ago, MUNA practise what they preach. On their first headline tour in the US they encouraged venues to employ gender-neutral bathrooms. “Some dudes were like, ‘What if I have my penis out?!’” says Gavin. “Everyone has a gender-neutral bathroom in their own home and we should all relax about it.” Although About U has only been out a few weeks, the band are already working on the follow-up. “We’re writing more happy songs now,” notes Gavin with a laugh. Although it might not always feel like it from the current vantage point, MUNA know there’s light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“The battle is only just beginning”: MUNA (from left) Josette Maskin, Katie Gavin and Naomi McPherson. New to Q