Partway through MUNA’s live show at The Garage in May, just as the “country section” of the set had been announced, a trio of homemade Stetsons are tossed on stage from the crowd. It’s an absurdly perfect pop culture moment, like something from the closing scenes of a romcom where the bunch of ragtag misfits finally win the hearts of their schoolmates. “I know that some people thought that we had choreographed the cowboy hat moment, that those were our props,” guitarist Naomi McPherson tells GQ. “It was not. They were made for us, and it was so sweet.”
Then again, the LA trio’s career really is starting to look triumphant lately. For “Silk Chiffon” – last year’s invincible, Phoebe Bridgers-featuring ode to queer joy, and the first single from their new self-titled album – the band even cast a cinematic nod to cult classic But I’m A Cheerleader for the music video, another moment of bliss cast in hot pinks and baby blues.
I’m standing in an undetermined liminal zone with a floating rainbow icon in front of me. Way beneath me is the Milky Way, a spectacular astral vista that renders our home galaxy an incidental detail in an ocean of stars. For once, this is not the result of a heroic dose of acid at a Pride afterparty, but the lobby of the world’s first virtual reality LGBTQ+ museum.
When Abby Roberts was nine years old she made the executive decision to kick-start her career, shaving her head, recording a La Roux cover and posting the results on Facebook. It didn’t quite go to plan; in Roberts’ own words, everyone at school “just shit on it”. Confidence knocked, her singing took a back seat for a while. “It wasn’t until years later that my parents were like ‘You should really do something with this,’” she says.
Today we’re speaking across a table at Rough Trade in Bristol, where the 20-year-old Leeds-born musician is hours away from walking on stage to a sea of fans ready to sing the words of her early singles back to her. It’s an impressive achievement for an artist who, on the day of our conversation, can count her live shows on both hands. It’s also something of an underplay: June will see Roberts support Halsey on their US tour, including a stop at LA’s Hollywood Bowl.