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On The Verge: MUNA

Emily Zemler | June 16, 2017
Los Angeles
Dynamic Indie-Pop

There’s a sense of motion embedded in MUNA’s music—a soaring, upward feeling brought on by the Los Angeles trio’s dynamic indie-pop numbers. The sensation comes from both the group’s synth-laced melodies and their introspective lyrics. The project—formed by Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson while they were studying music at USC—first unveiled its sound on 2014’s More Perfect, the band’s first EP, but the group has since become more skilled and more focused. Their debut album, About U, released in February, reveals that sonic evolution.

“We mostly have dedicated ourselves to bettering our production skills and taking the time to make sure the songs are as strong as we possibly can make them,” McPherson notes. “At the beginning, we did a bit more experimenting. We just want to paint relatively clear pictures of the human experience with which others can identify.”

The members of MUNA self-produced the album, which has been accompanied by a series of lyric videos for each song. About U’s 12 tracks, surging numbers akin to Purity Ring’s or Poliça’s music, center on a thematic idea the musicians didn’t realize was present while they were in the early stages of writing the music and lyrics. It’s one that lingers throughout the entire album. “Many of the songs deal with trying to fill ‘the void,’ or the general struggle of being stuck in various cycles pertaining to the ego,” Gavin says. “I don’t think we realized it at the time, in the same way that you often only identify patterns in your life retroactively.”

The band’s live performances augment the feelings brought on by the recordings; the musicians aim to generate a sense of togetherness onstage and offer as much energy as possible in both small and larger venues.

“We try to create a safe and energetic space during our live show,” Gavin explains. “Many people say that our shows feel like rock or punk shows, which makes us very happy. We also  want to create an environment where people can feel comfortable openly connecting with each other, expressing themselves and, hopefully, making new friends.”

MUNA has rather grandiose goals going forward. When asked about her hopes for the band this year, Gavin simply says, “Peace, fulfillment and gratitude.” She pauses and adds genuinely, “Sorry for sounding so pretentious.”