MuMu – From “The Brothel” to Bowery Electric, & Beyond

As indie pop artist MuMu prepared backstage for her show at Bowery Electric on a drizzly June evening she knew it might be one of the last times she’d see her New York friends, and family for a while.

The NYC native has made a name for herself on the city’s music venue stages, and at Pride events around the country, but after a recent overseas tour that included shows in Germany, and France, she’s about to get a whole lot more international.

“I have decided to mix it up,” she says, “I’m packing up, and heading to Europe for at least six months starting in July.”

Calling the experience of her previous overseas tour, “Incredible,” she explained her desire to return, saying, “Part of the reason I’m an artist – well, the main reason is it’s the only thing I kinda know how to do – the other benefit is that I get to see the world, and my life gets to be chaotic, and unpredictable, and that’s really the only way I like to live, so I’m happy to go to Europe, and try it all out, and figure out what my new sound is if I’m recording a lot out there.”

MuMu’s had a number of offers on the table to work with overseas artists that she respects, and while she’s played with the idea of extended travel for a little while, she says, “(I) didn’t take it seriously, honestly, until (the overturning of) Roe v. Wade happened,” adding, “I’m a little heartbroken by this country, and I want to sing for the people here, and I know that there’s so many other people who feel the same, and are hurt by this country, and don’t have the opportunity to leave, so I will always be back, and always sing for these people, my people here, but I need a breather, I’m hurt.”

Emphasizing that the relocation is temporary, and more of a tour, and writing and recording trip, MuMu says she won’t hesitate to jump on a plane back to the States to perform during this time, and she’s still booking shows in the U.S. with the intent to return home full time once she completes the music she’ll be working on overseas.

I caught up with MuMu before her show at Bowery Electric, and we touched on a number of topics about life, including growing up in what she lovingly refers to as “The Brothel,” and caring for an aging loved one. She also discussed missing out on being Little Miss Starfish, the areas where she most loves performing at Pride events, and her sexuality being limitless.

In a recent Instagram post you talked about packing up your mother’s apartment so that you can get her the care she needs. This is something that’s actually very close to my heart, as I’ve been caring for aging parents, as well. What are you comfortable telling people about this experience? 

I write about my life, and my own experiences, so I have no problem speaking about them, as well. Actually, a lot of the material on the album I’m working on for 2024 is about the hard times my family’s been through.

My mom is this absolute queen, and everybody knows that. Everybody who knows her loves her, and thinks that she’s the most generous, bubbly, childlike person they’ve ever met. She’s also a doctor, and she has always struggled with mental health, but in the last year and a half she really went downhill, as far as mental health goes.

I think about mental health just like any other illness, and I don’t feel the need to sweep it under the rug. I think that can only do harm.

Yeah, we ignore it far too often. 

Yes. My mom grew up in a time when they were doing that even more, they were ignoring it.

She worked through the pandemic as a doctor. She was sleeping on a cot at a hospital for a year and a half, and I think it pushed her over the edge. I think this is like a casualty of the pandemic.

So we have to sell her apartment. Her apartment that we call The Brothel. {laughs}

I’ve got five sisters. My dad didn’t live there when I was growing up, and so we called it The Brothel. The tagline – all whores, no Johns.

That’s a very ineffective brothel if there’s no Johns. 

Yeah, there’s no Johns, just us empowering each other, and having slumber parties, and screaming, and crying, and laughing.

Has going through this process with your mom changed your perspective about anything in life, or has it simply reinforced perspectives that you already had? 

I just came back from visiting my mom, she’s in Atlanta right now with her oldest sister, and I’m more hopeful now.

She’s got a long road ahead of her, and I don’t think her life is ever gonna look like the way it did a few years ago, but when she was really at her hardest time, and was suffering the most, it was really interesting how much I felt my own mortality. There was something … if this can happen to her, and she’s young, then I’m next.

I started getting really paranoid that I have underlying issues, or that I could just die one day, which is true. I knew that, logically, but I felt that on a visceral level in a way that I hadn’t felt it before. First it put me in a really dark place, and now it sort of gives me a new perspective on life that I’m grateful for, just to make the most of it.

Do you think that maybe influenced you to say hey, I’m gonna do this Europe thing for six months? 

Yeah, I think so.

Wow, I just had a breakthrough. I hope I’m not having to pay you for this therapy session. {laughs}

I’m part journalist, part therapist. It happens sometimes. 

{laughs} OK.

Your unique upbringing helped shape who you are today. How do you think those qualities have shaped your music? 

Big time.

I grew up in New York City, but I grew up in this world, The Brothel, where the male gaze was a concept that had never occurred to me at all, or the patriarchy, or to look a certain way because I’m a woman, or to speak a certain way because I’m a woman. It really never crossed my mind because nobody introduced it to me until I was older, until I was a teenager, and it really baffled me. When it all came into clear focus, how the world is structured, I was baffled.

I write music, and I write for everyone, but I write on a lot of feminist subject matter, and it’s not because I want to exclude anyone, it’s just because they tell you to write what you know, and this is what I know, I live in a woman’s world.

Going deeper into your history, what’s the first song you remember performing, either at a school talent show, or even in your living room as a kid? 

“Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.

My family was on a vacation in Jamaica, which is pretty fancy, and there was a talent show. Well, there was a Little Miss Starfish, that’s what we were competing for. There were different categories. There was like a bathing suit category, which is really fucked up with ten year olds.

That’s creepy as hell. 

Yeah, but I did win the talent category. I sang “Colors of the Wind” in front of my family, and they didn’t know that I love to sing.

That was the first time they heard you? 


That’s pretty cool, but you weren’t Little Miss Starfish? 

I wasn’t.

Does it eat at any part of your heart? 

No, because who got it, it was fair. She deserved that. I didn’t put my effort into the bathing suit contest like she did, so that’s fair.

Do we know where she is today? 

No. Probably swallowed whole by the patriarchy.

What would grown up MuMu like to tell that youngster singing a Pocahontas song at age ten? 

I would like to tell little me that I’m doing great. That I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be, and where I’m supposed to be, and I would tell little me to fuck the haters, because I had a lot of mean little boy bullies in middle school, and it was rough.

I would tell little me that I’m gonna live a life that I didn’t necessarily hope for myself, but I’m gonna live a life beyond my wildest dreams.

And I would tell little me to not do as many drugs.

Moving back to the present, in your Instagram bio you say that you are openly confused about your sexuality. Do you find this frustrating, or freeing? 

Freeing, but frustrating for a long time.

We are definitely moving in the right direction, socially, as far as sexuality goes, in my opinion, but I think we still have a long way to go.

We made these labels, and we’re working on accepting people for the labels that they choose, but the people that don’t really have a clear label – they’re not straight, they’re not gay, they don’t really want to say bi because it’s not like I kissed a girl drunkenly, Katy Perry, and I liked it because her cherry Chapstick was delicious – I’m talking about the spectrum, which is what it is, where queer people can feel at home when they’re with a man, versus a woman, versus a non-binary person.

I’m openly confused about my sexuality, and it’s freeing because I’ve recently decided that I don’t want to choose a label, and I don’t want to put myself in a box, because my sexuality is limitless.

You’re limitless in sexuality, you’re limitless musically, you’re traveling all over the world, so you’re limitless in distance – you’re pretty much just limitless, right? 

I can’t fly. That’s a bummer.

Finally, since you oftentimes sing about issues that touch a lot of people, what kind of fan interactions have you had that have touched your heart, or made you realize you’re doing something that’s important? 

I love playing Pride. I love playing Pride anywhere, but I really love playing Pride in conservative states around the U.S., in any town anywhere that doesn’t have enough Pride going on.

New York City – and I would love to play Pride in New York City, just a plug for that – but in the West Village it’s Pride everyday.

It’s almost easy at that point, right? 

Yeah. I just played West Virginia two weeks ago, and it was incredible. It was incredible to see people out there celebrating in a way that they never get to do other days of the year. It really fills me up.

And then as far as, of course when some little girl somewhere writes me on Instagram, that’s just like the highlight of my day.


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