Muna: ‘When the queer community comes together, it feels like a world I want to live in’


Without probably realising it, Naomi McPherson from queer Los Angeles band Muna has just absolutely nailed the experience of being LGBTQ+ in 2023.

“I feel like everything is just so s**t, and people are so ignorant,” they tell PinkNews.

They’re right – so it’s just as well we’ve got bands like Muna bringing a sense of joy and escapism to the queer community in such dark times.

Formed in LA in 2013, Muna have been dropping uplifting bops and tales of heartbreak since the release of their debut album, About U, in 2017. Their breakthrough single, “I Know A Place”, which championed the power and importance of gay clubs, remains a pop classic to this day.

Their new single, “The One That Got Away”, has all the hallmarks fans – LGBTQ+ and otherwise – have come to love the band for: a tale of a tragic heartbreak set to a backdrop of perfect pop hooks that sends a sly goodbye to an uncaring ex.

“I would say the breakup thing is probably the most common thing that we write about,” singer Katie Gavin told PinkNews. “It’s breaking up or coming out.”

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“They are the two heavy hitters in terms of what people use our songs for and that makes me happy.

“I always say – I’m sorry that you went through that hard breakup, but I also think that it can be like a really transformative, beautiful experience, if you make it that way.”

But during their career, the band, their fans and the LGBTQ+ community at large have experienced the erosion of their rights, amid growing homophobic – and transphobic – rhetoric and legislation in both the US, and the UK.

“I feel like this is pretty heavy stuff that we’re living through,” says Naomi.

“Not to say that it’s the heaviest time for queer people in all of history, it certainly isn’t, but it’s pretty f**king dark.

“That can be a sad thing to carry, while you’re also carrying around gratitude for doing well, and people liking our music and people seeing us as queer representatives. And that obviously feels humbling and good.”

Muna are playing a string of dates this summer with boygenius. (Credit: Muna)

Naomi describes Brexit and Donald Trump‘s time as US president as a “mirror” on either side of the Atlantic which has sparked the rise in transphobia in both places.

“The bubbling transphobic punditry happened in the UK first, then made it over here and then got 150,000 times worse,” they add.

The UK government is currently considering whether to force school teachers to out trans children to their parents, while in the US, hundreds of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been passed, denying healthcare to trans people across the country and even permitting businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.

“I think that what we’re kind of dealing with in the United States is a move towards fascism and authoritarianism,” adds Katie.

“One of the ways that the population can be controlled is if they’re using different types of bigotry to convince the population that they basically need to be their own cops.

“When it comes to transphobia, I think of it like fossil fuels. It’s like they discover like a new fuel for fascism. They’re like: ‘Oh, cool, we can like mine transphobia and breed lies about how how people’s kids are in danger’, when actually it’s much more dangerous for kids to not have access to being who they are, that makes them not want to kill themselves.”

‘A Muna show is a place where people feel safe’

But with such a huge, and growing, LGBTQ+ fanbase, the band say they take support from – and see hope for the future in – the people they play to across the world.

“Our fans make the best out of the situation that we are living currently, you know,” says Katie.

“I think a Muna show is a place where people feel safe, and that is because of the fan culture that our fans have created.

“I don’t know what everyone’s daily life is like, but I do know, that when the people of the queer community or our fans come together they create a euphoric space that feels like a world in which I want to live in.

“One of the things that gives me hope is that we are alike. All we want as queer people is for others to be able to be themselves and to experience the joy that comes with taking responsibility for your own freedom in life, and making of your life what you will.”

Muna are on tour throughout August 2023. Full dates below.

13 August – Copenhagen, DK – KB Hallen (with boygenius)
15 August – Berlin, DE – Verti Music Hall (with boygenius)
16 August – Cologne, DE – Palladium (with boygenius)
18 August – Biddinghuizen, NL Lowlands
19 August – Kiewit-Hasselt – Pukkelpop 
20 August – London, UK – Gunnersbury Park (with boygenius)
25 August – Leeds, UK – Leeds Festival
26 August – Edinburgh, UK – Connect Festival
27 August – Reading, UK – Reading Festival
28 August – Dublin, IE – Royal Hospital Kilmainham (with boygenius)