MUNA

Biography

The best bands are the ones that operate like gangs, the ones who formed to kick back at the world and act as a kind of orphanage for similarly displaced youths. Said bands don't care about anything as much as they care about being that band. Music becomes the unifier, a language that can be joyful and sorrowful at once, and always cathartic. The pure authenticity of the band is in their refusal to pander to rules and expectations. It's their way or the highway. MUNA are that band. They finish each other's sentences, they are one another's biggest cheerleaders, they have a language between them that defies American English, and in conversation they can't wait to get onto the subject of their shared queerness as fast as possible. MUNA came together like a ride-or-die clique would form in a cult classic teen movie. If three's a crowd, MUNA are the one you wanna hang with. Imagine the opening scene. It takes place at USC in LA, sophomore year. Katie Gavin, a newly arrived transfer student from NYU, is walking out of an African Diaspora class where she's just met a cute girl with a twice-pierced nose called Naomi McPherson who she wants all her friends to meet... Naomi explains, "We were walking out of class and I asked Katie what she studied and she tells me she's a music major, and I say, 'That's cool, I play guitar.' And she says, 'Oh you play guitar? you can be in my band.'" Katie, the mastermind and captain of MUNA, laughs, rubbing her hands. "I was scheming. We became friends organically." Josette Maskin, the third wheel of this initial meet-cute came across Katie separately in a music class. "Did we really meet in class, dog? I don't remember," asks Josette. Katie: "Dude, we met in class, remember? I was trying to reinvent myself by pretending I was straight. When I met you I thought, 'Oh my god, great. A gay!" When Katie eventually introduced Naomi to Josette, Josette told her she was going to follow Naomi home, take all of her skin off and wear it... "Dude, Josette terrified me," recalls Naomi. "You're such a weirdo, I love it. Now I realise you were saying that stuff in a friendly way." Josette draws a blank, admitting she can't remember a second of this. "Dude. You were blasted," says Naomi. They howl together. In their hook-laden songs, MUNA may come across as broodily as the soundtrack to 'Donnie Darko,' all Joy Division lyrical moroseness and Tears For Fears chiming melodies, but IRL they possess the college humour of 'Beavis & Butthead' and the bitching aloofness of 'The Craft' via the charm of pretty much every great '90s girl band. Understandably their fun hangs meant it took them a minute to actually start making music together, which they did one night round Naomi's dorm room, drinking wine. As they recall how all the parts came about, like three super smart stoners trying to put a jigsaw together, all signs point to Katie as the master of ceremonies, the glue who can do everything from leading their songwriting sessions, to producing it all alone in her bedroom via the magic of Ableton. Naomi and Josette were left to jam out guitar parts using their mutual sixth sense. "I was just intimidated by how talented Naomi was," admits Katie. It was the unexpected poppy results of Katie's overnight production from this session that left everyone else floored. "It made me shit my pants," says Josette. "I even remember what you were wearing. It was when you were into wearing those things on top of your head?" Katie looks confused: "Like a bun?" "No man, you wore it every single... The tie thing!" Katie, still perplexed. "A scarf? I don't know, it's been a process with the short hair. Was I wearing those blue pants with the beads?" Josette gets back to the point. "It was shocking to me. You wrote an '80s pop song and you showed me it, and just said, 'I write pop, bitch,' then walked away." For a group of instrument nerds who weren't traditionally versed in pop, the synth-y, beat-driven basis of Katie's project was positively radical. "Dude, it was just so fucking real," says Josette. Katie, for one, began life as a violinist, who then became an Andrew Bird fan, realised she wanted to play her violin sideways, and taught herself guitar, production, beat-making and songwriting after numerous bad experiences with older male producers. Naomi has the strongest musical pedigree, born into a family of professional musicians, and beginning life on classical guitar, then moving to electric via a love for hip-hop and Joni Mitchell. Josette, on the other hand, has tried it all, from learning to play metal at the age of 11 to starting a ska band called Great Ape ("because we thought it was cool to name a band after a type of weed") to finally forming a prog rock band called Blue Thunder. "Damn son!" she laughs. "I was such an asshole dipshit my whole life. I wanted a guitar when I was seven because I knew I wanted to be a rockstar. I had a collection of leather jackets as a kid." In other words, Josette was