Upon first hearing MUNA, something takes over you. You’re overcome with empowerment, anger, release, infinite sadness, all of the above. Essentially, you start drowning in all of the ~feelz~. The next phase is repetition. Not that MUNA requires repeated listening (their message is crystal clear from the moment you hit play) but rather you have no other choice but to listen to them this way. Next thing you know you’ve been on the same song for the last two hours and you’re not even bothered. You could probably go on for an additional two. In a world where male producers, both stellar and mediocre, get recognition, MUNA is entirely self-sufficient on their own. On their latest EP, The Loudspeaker, the credits are very simple:
ALL SONGS WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY MUNA
Before the release, I spoke with Katie, Naomi, and Josette as they reflected on the writing process on what would become their EP.
Katie: Let’s do this chronologically. We were in the apartment where we started the band, which was at USC 2 years ago.
Naomi: It’s so weird to think about because it turned out so differently but I was listening to this song by Active Child called “Calling In The Name Of Love” and I was like, “Aw fuck I want to make a song like that. I want to make a song that makes me feel the way this song makes me feel.” Then we went outside of the apartment to this grassy area, I remember it so vividly, it was like one in the morning.
Katie: I remember sitting on the bed with you. I had written another song that kind of merged with what we were writing at the moment. Then we went to New York for the summer and that song was in demo stages. I feel like “So Special” and “Promise” were very long processes because we were trying to figure out what our sound was going to be like. We didn’t want to release any new music unless it was emblematic of what we wanted to sound like. At the end of the semester and beginning of the summer was when Naomi was learning how to produce and “Promise” was born that summer.
Naomi: It was within the first two of weeks of learning Ableton and I had made so many garbage beats that were so terrible. Then one night before we were going out to a party, literally an hour before, I finished a beat. It was ok, I closed it, and opened a new session and immediately started doing “Promise.”
Katie: I loved that song immediately too. We were all living together and I still have the voice demo of us sitting on the bed working on “Promise.” I think it was a rare moment of us being in the flow. It was all very stream of consciousness.
Naomi: That summer was interesting. We maybe got two emails from people who were somewhat legit that were interested in us and even that was exciting for us. It was a lot of adrenaline rushes that I don’t get anymore when people tell us we’re cool. I think that it was a rare moment and that other people didn’t know we were a real band yet but we knew we were one.
Katie: Josette was always the cheerleader for this and we had to convince Naomi of the fact that it needed to get made. We all do bring something to the table and lyrically everything was there but it wasn’t quite there yet with production, which is what Naomi was concerned about because she didn’t know where to take it in terms of polishing the track. So we took a break from it and I wrote “Winterbreak” during winter break.
Katie: At the time, Naomi was becoming such a good producer and I was being self-conscious about it so I was making a bunch of beats on my own at home as practice. I wasn’t planning on writing that much but I had made a beat that was reminiscent of industrial sounds. It was around Christmas and driving home I had a moment that happens so rarely but you’re happy when it does, and lyrics and chords and bass lines came out so naturally. So I sent that demo to Naomi and she nailed it terms of developing it. I don’t know when we wrote guitar parts for it.
Josette: You weren’t there! Naomi and I wrote them in like 10-20 minutes. It was one of those that just happened on its own.
Naomi: Yeah, Katie, you were in class for an hour and Josette came over to the pink house to see if we could write something without you [laughs].
Katie: It’s awesome you wrote that when I wasn’t there because I can’t shut my mouth when it comes to writing parts. We wanted to have things done before we started releasing because we didn’t want to wait with a lot of time in between.
Josette: We really grew with these songs and these songs kind of grew together. It’s hard not to picture them as not a group. They’ve always just been together.
Naomi: They represent a good deal of what we’re capable of in terms of production. It’s us flexing a little bit.
Katie: There’s not a throwaway track on the EP and we don’t want one on our album either. There’s a tonality that runs through it both sonically and lyrically. We’ve talked in the past about both spellings of “alters” and “altars” and how each song represents one alter of a person. Different people and experiences will bring out different sides of you but they’re still a part of who you are. It’s almost like this EP is an alter. You want to give honor to the time in your life when it was created. It’s really important to take moments you’ve made and look at what you’ve done and look at what you’ve risked. I think these songs do that for different parts of life.
Photos courtesy of MUNA