‘Life’s so fun’

Indie-pop trio MUNA take their queer love anthems from Mission Ballroom to Mile High with Taylor Swift

Credit: Isaac Schneider

When MUNA’s “Silk Chiffon” entered the world in late summer 2021, life was, in general, definitively not fun. But as society was preparing to enter its second pandemic-burdened winter, a pop anthem whose acoustic guitar-backed melodies float on air like the song’s namesake fabric was just what we needed.

And so, songwriter Katie Gavin’s luminous vocals were suddenly everywhere — the lyrical refrain “life’s so fun” was so inescapable that it almost made you believe it. Today, there are more than 34,000 videos on Tiktok posted to the song.

“It was really surreal, given the circumstances of the time,” McPherson says. “It was just nice that people liked the song — it felt out of our hands. It was a nice re-entering into the world of music.”

At the time, the trio’s effervescent return felt more like standing on a cliff at the precipice of an uncertain future. After the release of their 2019 LP Saves the World, MUNA was dropped by RCA Records. Without an outlet for new projects or live shows to fall back on, they were nearly ready to fall apart. However, saving grace came in the form of a record deal from indie powerhouse Phoebe Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory.

“​​The situation that we fell into with Phoebe and Saddest [Factory] made us feel quite creatively free,” says guitarist Josette Maskin. “It did feel like we were standing on the edge of a cliff, but at the same time, we were really confident in the songs we had. I don’t know, we were just excited about putting music out again.”

MUNA found a new self-assuredness in their partnership with Bridgers, who’s featured on “Silk Chiffon” and stars in the accompanying But I’m a Cheerleader-inspired music video. The carefree strength in the song’s windswept lyrics is a common touchpoint on the band’s third self-titled album. Take the indignant “Anything But Me,” which finds Gavin bickering with an ex-lover: “You’re gonna say that I’m on a high horse,” they sing. “I think that my horse is regular-sized.”

“From the beginning, I was struggling with bigger questions of how to have a sense of self-love; I was into that in the first record, and it’s dealt with a lot in the second record,” Gavin says. “The third record feels like more of an arrival.”

The self-titled third LP from MUNA is out now via Saddest Factory Records.

‘Our fans are our people’

Gavin’s discovery of this new lyrical confidence came in tandem with a renewed drive to hear their own desires reflected in popular music. MUNA’s ethos is unapologetically queer — McPherson calls the band’s aforementioned 2021 comeback single “a song for kids to have their first gay kiss to” — exploring the turbulent joy of sapphic romance.

“It’s always been interesting to me to try to sing about my experiences of love and intimacy in new ways I haven’t heard reflected as much in popular song as a medium,” Gavin says. “Part of that is just writing about queer love.”

In many ways, this faithful representation of queer love is the link between the band and its cult following. From concerts to Instagram comment sections, MUNA creates space for a reciprocal authenticity between themselves and listeners, where all parties can be the truest versions of themselves.

“I think it’s even beyond just sexuality or identity, I really feel like our fans are our people,” Gavin says. “We can be ourselves with them. I think it’s taken us a long time to understand that we really can.”

To that end, MUNA and their passionate fans will have plenty of opportunities for an authentic connection this summer. The band is coming straight off Coachella, where they debuted their new single “One That Got Away,” and are heading right into a months-long headline tour that comes to Denver’s Mission Ballroom on May 19.

“We’re working on reviving some older songs to add to the set, and that’s been fun to do in rehearsal,” Maskin says. “We very much consider ourselves [to be] a good live band in that the arrangements sometimes differ from the record. We like to keep it fresh and interesting.”

While they’re traversing the country for their own tour, they’ll also be making a few stops on one of the most highly anticipated music events in recent memory, supporting one of the biggest, most powerful acts in the industry: Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour. MUNA joins Bridgers, girl in red and other predominantly queer artists in Swift’s rotating opening lineup. Gavin has faith the audience at Mile High Stadium will connect with the band’s message.

“I self-identify [as a Swiftie]; I feel like they’re really sensitive humans who have big feelings and maybe a propensity for overthinking,” Gavin says. “So they’ll probably vibe with the MUNA songs.”

MUNA’s nearing their 10th anniversary as a band, and they’re just getting started; surely, nine opening dates in sold-out stadiums will introduce swaths of Swifties to MUNA’s already robust discography. But they’re approaching The Eras Tour the same way they would any other show — with their signature openness and charisma, knowing that those who are meant to fall into their orbit will do so.

“We’re not going to do things any differently than we do if we’re playing for 10 people,” Gavin says. “I mean, it’s gonna feel insane to be in a stadium, but I’m hoping that if there are people there who need to hear our message, then they take it with them.”

ON THE BILL: MUNA with Nova Twins. 8 p.m. Friday, May 19, Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St., Denver (ages 16+). Tickets here.

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