Courtesy of Catie Laffoon. From left: MUNA’s Naomi McPherson, Josette Maskin, and Katie Gavin
It’s hard to imagine a song about domestic violence leaving the listener feeling upbeat. But that’s exactly what the title track from MUNA’s The Loudspeaker EP does.
In the emotional track, lead singer Katie Gavin illuminates the gaslighting that’s common in abusive relationships, in which the victim is made to believe the abuse they’re enduring is deserved. When Gavin bellows, “But every time I don’t shut up, it’s revolution,” it feels like a shot of defiant self-worth directed squarely at the heart of anyone who’s been beaten down.
“Loudspeaker” is personal for Gavin. The 23-year-old says it took her years to be able to open up to friends about what she calls an instance of “non-consensual sex.” But when she did, she was met with derision and disbelief, largely because she didn’t talk about the incident in its immediate aftermath.
“The world doesn’t work like that,” Gavin says, a hint of anger breaking through in her voice. “We’re really actively silenced, on a daily basis. Especially if you’re from a marginalized population — like as a woman or as a queer person.”
But MUNA refuses to be silent — and serves as living proof that welcoming, affirming space can exist for LGBT people who have struggled for acceptance and to find a place in an often hostile world.
Finding that place is the subject of the band’s forthcoming single, which MUNA says is a love letter to the LGBT community. Slated for release this fall, “I Know a Place” was originally written more than a year ago for a Pride Month campaign, but it sat dormant until this summer, when its lyrics took on a heavy new significance in the wake of the Pulse massacre in Orlando.
The confessional nature of MUNA’s music could seem at odds with the band’s radio-friendly, synth-poppy delivery, but that dissonant space is where the artists feel most at home. MUNA looks to speak the language of its fans and to use music that begs listeners to dance along as a way to foster community and healing.
“We want to see it as a service to people,” explains 23-year-old producer and synth-master Naomi McPherson. “I believe that there are people that listen to us and connect with our messages that will then go and create something even more important than what we’ve created.”
What MUNA has created is not only a family of three queer women — Gavin also identifies as bisexual — but also a new level of visible success for those hungry to see themselves reflected in pop culture.
“We want to create a community where people don’t feel afraid to be themselves, and we want our music to make people want to do that for each other,” says guitarist Josette Maskin, 22.
The trio met while enrolled at the University of Southern California and started recording songs back in 2013. The four-track Loudspeaker EP caught the attention of RCA Records, which signed MUNA this year. Fresh off a closing-night performance at Lollapalooza, MUNA will tour two dozen venues across North America, opening for Grouplove, beginning October 5 in Las Vegas.
Watch the official music video for Loudspeaker below.