Muna Ileiwat

Crafting an artifact for those pivotal moments in our lives comes naturally for songwriter Muna Ileiwat. By embracing those sacred, shifting currents, the London-based, US-born songwriter carves a new pathway into the ground we thought our feet would never leave. New EP Twenty-Seven follows the fluctuating grief of lost friendships, the anger of sudden change and the overwhelming sight of a new horizon but Muna isn’t deterred by a hairpin bend––instead, it brought her back to herself, and eventually to her greatest and deepest joy: creating for the sake of it.

The percussive, voltaic opener “Pity Party” served as the catalyst for this latest collection, introducing Ileiwat’s euphoric blend of indie pop electronica. Inspired by an event that happened on the last night of her twenty-seventh year, Muna began exploring and unpicking the emotional baggage from those twelve months to try to make sense of where her life was going. “That year marks a time when I became somewhat of an open book,” she explains. “I had no time for people’s bullshit and decided I was just going to start tackling life with 100% conviction.” This self-assured stance is palpable throughout the EP’s assertive offerings, as she laments “I wonder what you're looking for, acceptance isn't here knocking at your door.”

Hit with a sudden break-up at the start of the pandemic, Muna shunned social media and instead turned to more organic methods of catharsis. “I was trying to not be too precious about my songwriting or my art in general. It’s hindered me in a lot of ways in the past –– writer’s block that eventually turns into existential creative anxiety,” she says. Creating a project solely for herself, with no intention of releasing it or getting too attached to the end product saw Ileiwat’s creativity flourish. And with this open bloom, came new collaborators and a new community.

Recorded at Zig Zag studios in Woolwich, London, Twenty-Seven’s sonic world sees Ileiwat stretch her creative muscles to create an intricate, saturnine setting that embraces gloomy keys, sauntering bass guitar – played by Abi Sinclair – and crisp, lingering percussion, played by James Luxton (Fenne Lily). However, this isn’t an EP that wallows in its melancholy––instead, it offers a measured and sometimes cheeky refrain, as Ileiwat declares “There is ambition, and there is defeat or a whiny bitch underneath,” on the EP’s stripped-down, lilting title track. The song’s combination of bright, finger-plucked guitar and fitful electronic percussion mimics the bumpy ride that comes with exploring and honouring the transformative emotions of early adulthood, but it also reaches for clarity among the fog of uncertainty. Here, Muna faces her demons head on with humour, wit and grace.

Twenty-Seven recognises the anguish and anxiety of finding your way in a world that offers no road map. By exploring and addressing these existential feelings, Muna ultimately offers a sense of purpose and inner-tranquility. Twenty-Seven is the joy in missing out, and the hunger for something better. “My main inspiration throughout this process was exercising and accepting a lack of control. Creatively, writing and recording this EP felt new in many ways. It felt like I reclaimed my innovation by just creating for myself,” she says. “It’s a profound way to experience a sense of community and being able to share that with others is wonderful in many ways. It made me realise that’s the real reason I wanted to make art in the first place.”

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