The queer pop trio have no qualms calling out injustice and celebrating the LGBTQ community with their catchy dancefloor anthems
Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson of queer pop trio MUNA are elbowing their way into the mainstream with their debut album About U, which favours lyrics with ungendered pronouns and runs the full messy gamut of love.
Artfully blending Stevie Nicks power-balladry with Robyn-esque dancefloor anthems, the record was written, performed, and produced completely by the LA trio, subverting the male-dominated producer narrative.
They sing unapologetically about rape and LGBTQ safe spaces. They wore ‘Fuck Trump’ shirts that ruffled conservative feathers at Lollapalooza in 2016. And a quick scroll through the band’s Twitter feed would tell you they aren’t afraid to use their platform for advocacy. “Stop staring at young women of colour. Start seeing them. Start looking for them,” the band tweeted in March 2017, speaking out on a spate of disappearances of black teenage girls in Washington DC.
During a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! of their track “I Know a Place,” – an anthem about the healing power of the dancefloor, inextricably tied to the Orlando Pulse shooting – Gavin added a few new lines to the chorus: “Even if our skin or our gods look different, I believe all human life is significant. I throw my arms open wide in resistance. He's not my leader even if he's my president.”
MUNA’s music is often called defiant and, in our slow-to-adapt society, it probably is. But in truth, it’s really just inclusive. This especially applies to their lyrical use of gendered pronouns, or, more specifically, the lack of them. “Everyone has a ‘you,’ not everyone has a ‘him’ or a ‘her.’ Also, gender isn’t a binary, it’s a spectrum and ultimately a social construction. We feel like it just doesn’t matter.”
Making pop with purpose, MUNA aren’t afraid to load their lyrical gun. “We take pride in challenging ourselves to make a statement, both musically and lyrically, as well as politically, while still working within the framework of the pop format,” says Gavin. “Pop music can effect social change – even if it’s on a small, quotidian scale.”
Ian David Monroe