Since bursting onto the scene with her debut single 'Sassaparilla' last year, MUKI continues to prove she's got big plans for pop music. As well as pushing her unique brat pop agenda into Australia and beyond, the Sydney artist still has a reverence for her pop predecessors with her sassy attitude reminiscent of the raucous energy of every SPICE GIRL combined. Over hyperactive, neon beats she's carved a reputation for high energy tunes and equally powerful live shows, grabbing the attention of big names like CLIENT LIASON, TIGERILLA and BASENJI for collaboration and support slots.
MUKI already has a few stellar singles under her belt, all loaded with her cheeky lyricism and straight up delivery. Her debut EP, It Won't Hurt, bundles them all together delivering a one-two punch of bitey lyricism and glossy instrumentals that'll have your head spinning. Leading up to the official release of her EP (out June 8th) and her upcoming national tour, we got a chance to talk to the rising star about her biggest influences, songwriting and the future of pop.
You recently went to Seoul, South Korea recently for a K-Pop writing camp? How was that?
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It honestly was wild, I can’t even. It felt like I wasn’t in Korea because I was going straight from the hotel to the studio every day. But it was actually such a cool experience, I was working with the craziest producers. It was so great just being able to smash out a song every day, we’d be in the studio till about 4am.
Pop music over there is so different, just in the way they approach composition and melody.
There’s a lot going on, yeah. I feel like with “western” pop music - if you will - you just have a verse, a chorus, another verse, another chorus, maybe two, a bridge, and another chorus whereas in K-Pop music, the structures are insane. There’s crazy harmony and melody and most of the time I was writing for a girl or boy band with like 18 different members, so you have to come up with heaps of different parts. Lots of harmony, lots of adlibs, crazy Mariah vibes, it was crazy
After seeing the different approach to pop over there, what do you wish you could bring from their scene over to the Aus pop scene?
As I was writing, the lyrics didn’t matter 'cause they were going to change them to suit their language and cadence. Melody was the top priority while we were writing, I think that care for melody is something that’s missing from Australian pop music. Of course I care about lyrics, but I think taking time to really think of the best melodies that you possibly can, the catchiest earworms, that’s what I’d bring back.
In saying that of course the Australian Pop scene is really thriving at the moment.
I think the Australian pop scene is honestly on something new, like we’re on a different level right now. I can’t even describe it, it’s so exciting for me to be a part of it
Who are some big local names that you’re eyeing like they’re going to be the next big thing here?
I reckon CHLXE is going to blow up, I really hope does as well Kira Puru, I reckon her stuff is really cool too. Kota Banks is already blowing up. Maribelle is another person who’s bound to blow up, I love her new song! I honestly feel like Australia has such a cool little pop scene happening, I really hope our radio catches up with us soon because it’s a struggle.
Why did you want to make sassiness your brand?
I think it’s because I am quite sassy. I feel like when I was writing stuff, everything I was writing, particularly for this first EP, is really tongue in cheek. Everything is super sarcastic, even ‘Sassaparilla’ is a great example of that, like half of it is totally not serious. It just made sense to make sassiness my brand 'cause it’s just a really authentic thing.
Is there anything extra sassy on this new release you can’t wait for people to hear?
This next song I’m really excited about because it’s actually a track about fuck boys, this is probably the sassiest track on the whole EP. Who knew she could get sassier!? It’s possible.
What were your biggest influences as you were making the EP?
Oh man, we were referencing so many random things as we were making this EP. Obviously you can hear the SOPHIE influence in the sound design, a few Spice Girls references are in there too. Charli XCX’s 'Vroom Vroom' era and a little bit of M.I.A too are in there too. I remember we even referenced Whitney Houston somewhere, honestly anything super pop we’ve put a little nod into one of the tracks. There’s a little bit of everything in there, so many different types of pop.
Yeah pop isn’t even really one thing anymore really.
Genres aren’t even a thing anymore; don’t label it, just let it be what is is. I had a big argument with someone once after they told me they just didn’t like pop music and I could not understand that.
It’s “popular” music!
I know! I was like, “What do you listen to?” and he was like, “You know, lots of rap,” but he didn't get that rap music kinda is pop right now. It’s over half the market share in the States right now. But that’s such a good question, what even IS pop music.
We could be here all day honestly. The production in your tracks is always so incredible, how did you find that sound?
So I owe that to Phoebe Castle aka Phebe Starr, who was trying to find a producer for me in the states. We’ve been working together for a while now and were trying to find a producer that was a little bit different for the Muki project. She found my amazing producer Aaron Reyes in the States.
We just took a real big risk and decided to buy his flights to Australia, he stayed with us and we wrote. He was in Aus for 3 months, we worked together for 3 weeks. The first song we actually made together was ‘Sassaparilla’ and it was kind of a relief because it just worked. We had spent so much money on bringing him out and it was just so good. He’s got a really interesting perspective on how to write music, like it really opened my eyes. Prior to working with him I never really thought about the sound design aspect of production. I just thought in more of a musical sense, but he really opened my eyes to the types of sounds you can use in production that I’m totally addicted to now.
Let’s talk about Client Liason, you just came off a national support for their Aus Tour. How was that, heading around the country with the boys?
First of all, they are the nicest people so that was really great. It was actually my first national tour so it was a really big learning experience for me playing those kinds of venues, like The Enmore and The Forum, big spaces. In my head, I didn’t feel like I was going to be playing to those kinds of venues for a long time, so that was crazy. Being able to perform with them was insane as well, I remember after our Sydney show one of the Farriss Brothers from INXS came up to me and told me that I did well and “gave Tina Arena a run for her money”.
W O W
I know! I died! That was probably one of the most special moments, just playing at The Enmore, it’s been a dream really. It was the most special moment of the whole tour.
You’re just about to set off on your own national tour for the EP release, what can people expect when they come to see you?
I think they can expect me to be really sassy! Honestly, they can expect to have a really good time, and to dance! If they don’t dance, then I’m going to be really sassy. You can’t give unwarranted sass to people, that’s not really fair. But if I’m up there dancing and no one’s dancing with me, there’s a problem [laughs]. It’s going to be a lot of fun though, I’m really excited to tour with Teischa, and Essie Holt, and Eliza Hull I believe is joining for a few shows. Previously I’ve toured with a lot of guys so it’s really nice and super exciting to have an all girl tour, we’re going to have slumber parties, pillow fights…
...paint each others nails…
Exactly! I mean I haven’t met these girls yet or even really know them so we’ll see [laughs]. I’m so excited to have an all girl tour, it’s going to be like the Spice Girls but better.
To finish it all off, describe your new EP in 3 words. Other than “It Won’t Hurt”, obviously.
Sass in your face, that’s 4 words but I do what I want.
MUKI “IT WON'T HURT” TOUR
June 8 – Mr Wolf – Canberra, ACT
June 15 – Black Bear Lodge – Brisbane, QLD
June 16 – Night Quarter - Gold Coast, QLD
June 22 – The Penny Black – Melbourne, VIC
June 23 – OAF Gallery – Sydney, NSW
June 30 – Proud Mary’s – Erina, NSW
WORDS BY HOLLY O’NEILL