When it comes to the new music they’re putting out, indie-pop trio Muna wants to make it clear that they are doing what they’ve always done: “All the songs are catchy, because we’re Muna,” says guitarist Josette Maskin with a smile. “We don’t like to stick to one thing, and this record goes a lot farther than our last two.”
The band sat down with Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz at SXSW 2022 as a part of the Samsung | Billboard Galaxy House interview series. Chatting about their new song “Anything But Me” as well as their upcoming self-titled third album, lead vocalist Katie Gavin says that she was happy to see fans responding well to the more positive, upbeat vibe they were going for.
“I think it’s still sinking in, to be honest with you — we’re just getting a lot of love, so you just try to receive it and believe it,” she says. “It was really great to put out a song about something that is a hard thing in life to go through, but moving through it with a lot of trust in yourself and celebrating that, ‘I’m gonna do what’s right for me, and I believe that’s going to be good’ … This record, there’s a little bit more joy and self-assuredness, so I think that song is a good representation of that.”
As for whose idea it was to release “Anything But Me” as the announcement single? “I gotta give it up, that was Phoebe’s call,” says guitarist Naomi McPherson, referring to their label owner and collaborator Phoebe Bridgers. “We were waffling between a few different songs, and then she felt super strongly about that one. So we were like, ‘We’re gonna trust you,’ and people seem to really f—ing like it … so shoutout!”
The three all agree that it’s still surreal to be on Saddest Factory Records, and add that Bridgers’ aptitude for the business is what interested them in working with her from the start. “We just respect her a lot,” Maskin says. “One of the reasons we signed to Saddest is because we really think that Phoebe is a marketing genius … every bit of her aesthetic is so her, and she’s so relatable. She is a king, and we’re just really happy to work with her.”
Their self-titled album, which is due out June 24 via Saddest Factory, has been a work in progress since early 2020, when, shortly after the pandemic took hold, the band was dropped by their former label, RCA Records. Feeling “a little lost,” the trio began coming together to write and record new music while stuck in the pandemic. “We had a friend in L.A. who was willing to rent us her studio for way cheaper than she should have been renting us her studio, and we just worked there like we had a 9-to-5 for a couple of months,” Gavin says. “Now that we’re coming out of it, there was this huge benefit to questioning why we still had to do it.”
The news of their third studio album comes after Muna released their debut single on Saddest Factory, “Silk Chiffon,” featuring Bridgers as a guest. Since its release, “Chiffon” has gone on to garner acclaim across the alternative pop genre, with critics and fans alike applauding the group’s instantly infectious love song.
“We just did a run opening up for Kacey Musgraves, where we were opening up for her in an arena,” Maskin recalls. “Seeing people actually know the words to ‘Silk,’ and making it feel like we were a headline show is very humbling. It’s a song that, to us, is a queer anthem, and so every time a fan is singing it back to us, we feel seen.”
The band agrees that they enjoy having released a new set of singles that are uplifting and joyful to their queer fans, as opposed to the “sad” and “a little bit tortured” music they put out before. “It’s been nice, because in the past we would hear from a lot of queer people being like, ‘Your album really helped me get over a toxic relationship I was in,’” Gavin says. “And it’s like, ‘I can relate,’ but it’s also so nice to have messages like, ‘This is a song that I had a makeout session with a cute girl to.’”
As for why their third studio album is self-titled? “”Every hot artist self-titles their third album,” Gavin explains. “Charli XCX did it … she’s the only one I can think of, but she’s hot.”
Check Muna’s new music video for “Anything But Me” below: