Ask any music or style aficionado: Between low-rise denims, thundering nü-metal bass strains and the renaissance of Britney Spears, Y2K nostalgia is taking off.
But not all Y2K throwbacks want reviving, say the members of Los Angeles indie-pop trio Muna. Between the ubiquity of rape jokes in well-liked films and TV, to not point out the unceremonious outings of then-closeted celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Lance Bass of ‘N Sync, “we had been being offered again this [harmful] thought of ourselves,” says Katie Gavin, 29, lead vocalist of Muna.
Launched on June 24 on indie-rock star Phoebe Bridgers‘ report label, Saddest Manufacturing unit, the band’s self-titled third album is an beautiful act of musical justice for individuals who suffered the indignities of rising up queer within the Y2K period.
Comprising Gavin, lead guitarist Josette Maskin, 28, and multi-instrumentalist Naomi McPherson, 29, the group mines the cultural touchstones that impressed its members’ personal queer awakenings — from the bombastic romanticism of youth idols just like the Backstreet Boys to the country-pop sparkle of Shania Twain — and cultivates an inclusive pop future.
The trio, who first grew to become acquainted at USC, didn’t intend for the band to be a automobile for queer liberation. But they appeared to coalesce round one factor that wasn’t music: “It was undoubtedly the homosexual [factor],” says Maskin. “It’s the one factor all of us have in widespread.”
“There was a deeper journey we had been meant to go on,” says Gavin.
Gavin, who grew up singing alongside to nation songs within the suburbs of Chicago, and Maskin, a local Angeleno who got here up within the punk rock scene, studied on the USC Thornton College of Music. McPherson arrived to USC from San Diego to main in American and ethnicity research.
A classically educated pianist and guitarist, McPherson, whose pronouns are they and them, initially resisted music as a profession path. Now, they lead the manufacturing of each Muna launch. “I grew up pondering I needed to do classical or conventional music,” says McPherson. “I didn’t know what Ableton was till Katie confirmed me the way to make beats. I began making chopped-and-screwed remixes of songs, like Slim Okay and DJ Screw. I fell in love with producing.”
By 2016, Muna — a play on “luna,” the Spanish phrase for moon — landed a significant label report take care of RCA, occurring to launch two albums for the label: 2017’s “About U” and 2019’s “Saves the World.” The band would quickly embark on excursions with Harry Types and Kacey Musgraves. But communication started to interrupt down between Gavin and McPherson, who had been courting for 2 years earlier than the band was signed. Maskin urged them to strive remedy, even becoming a member of in at occasions, in service of the band’s survival — to not point out their friendship.
“We broke up shortly after we signed,” says McPherson of their relationship with Gavin. “Me and Katie, we’re each Capricorns. We’re headstrong, we’ve this intense work ethic. However no matter we didn’t see eye to eye on was simply not as essential because the music or our friendship.”
Intra-band romantic turmoil wasn’t the one impediment Muna needed to overcome: In spring of 2020, amid the pandemic, RCA launched Muna from their contract.
The silver lining, says Gavin, is that “it helped [us] determine our personal path and forge a means for ourselves.”
In true Muna style, friendship would finally save the day. The band had been in touch with Bridgers, who noticed them carry out an acoustic set in LA’s Bootleg Theater. In 2021, she signed them to Saddest Manufacturing unit.
“Their songwriting [and] lyrics are bulletproof,” Bridgers advised The Occasions in March.
Muna playfully refers to Bridgers as “Large Papa” — “Large Papa in essence, little papa in actuality,” says Maskin, referring to each Bridgers’ charisma and stature. Along with Bridgers, they recorded what would grow to be their standout hit, a sanguine guitar-pop single titled “Silk Chiffon, The lyrics had been the brainchild of Gavin, who workshopped the tune with Musgraves collaborators Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian in Nashville.
An appreciation of affection between ladies, the tune is a piece of Americana-pop reverie, anchored firmly by a drum machine and verses so supple they catch the breeze. “Watch her silk costume dancing within the wind / Watch it brush towards her pores and skin,” sings Gavin, “Makes me wanna strive her on.”
In making the video, “Silk Chiffon” director Ally Pankiw took inspiration from the campy 1999 rom-com “…However I’m a Cheerleader,” which takes place in a Christian conversion middle for homosexual teenagers. Within the music video, Gavin performs the titular cheerleader who’s smitten with a woman in this system; In the meantime, Bridgers performs the pink-haired schoolmarm in cost, whereas well-liked homosexual comic Caleb Hearon performs a conflicted homosexual coach.
“The film was launched the identical yr as ‘American Pie,’” says Pankiw, citing the raunchy teen intercourse romp starring Jason Biggs. “’American Pie,’ which was [steeped] in rape tradition, bought an R score. ‘Cheerleader’ was rated NC-17 as a result of it included a queer love story. Whose lives might need been drastically modified had they seen [‘Cheerleader’] earlier than ‘American Pie’?”
“It was a conservative time,” says McPherson of the 2000s. “The media was a lot extra homophobic and misogynistic. Somebody like Lindsay Lohan being in an overtly queer relationship [with Samantha Ronson] again then meant the world to me. The aim of being this band lies in [trying to be] for different folks what we didn’t have. How superb would it not have been to not really feel like [being nonbinary] needed to be a secret?”
The group has performed a task in integrating queer popular culture into American popular culture at giant, alongside the arrival of TV juggernaut “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and a rising variety of out LGBTQ musicians, actors and lawmakers now not compelled to cover who they love. After showing on soundtracks for queer movies like “The Carmilla Film” and Netflix’s 2018 providing “Alex Strangelove,” Muna was tapped to contribute to the soundtrack for Hulu’s buzzy homosexual rom-com, “Fireplace Island,” for which they recorded a clubby spin on Spears’ 1999 ballad “Generally,
,I believe it’s a therapeutic train, like therapeutic your interior baby,” continues McPherson. “We’re not romanticizing that point, we’re rewriting it for a brand new era.”
And but, because the demand for LGBTQ media grows, so do its adversaries: Based on the ACLU, state legislators throughout the US have launched a report 162 payments looking for to restrict or remove LGBTQ rights.
Within the custom of the numerous queer artists who got here earlier than, Muna seems to be to pop and dance music as its locus for resistance. “We owe that custom to trans [people] of colour,” says Gavin, in reference to disco legend Sylvester and the New York ballroom neighborhood that famously captivated Madonna.
“Our album was actually launched on the day that Roe v. Wade was overturned,” says Gavin. “We stay in a significant metropolis [where] we’re very fortunate to really feel secure and affirmed. However in touring this nation and different nations, we interface with folks for whom that’s not their lived expertise. In some areas, being out and being ourselves is contentious. We’ve got an obligation to place that in our music.”