“I don’t really understand how I make music,” says Josie Boivin, who records and performs as MUNYA. “I feel like it’s coming from another world.” Other-worldly is an apt descriptor for MUNYA’s music. The songs are at turns playful and melancholy, as catchy as they are strange, light and airy but full of powerful emotion.
Born in a small town in Quebec, Josie Boivin is the youngest of nine children. Classically trained as a pianist, Boivin discovered she could sing opera in high school, when she was overheard by a music teacher while jokingly imitating an opera singer. After spending her teens in the highly competitive opera world, she studied jazz at the University of Montreal. Boivin took some time to explore, experiencing life and working odd jobs, trying to find the best outlet for her artistic vision. She played keyboards and did backing vocals for local artists in Montreal, honing her skills as a producer, performer, and musician.
It wasn’t until September of 2017 that Boivin found her calling, when a friend invited her to play the legendary Pop Montreal festival. At that point, she only had one finished song. “I realized that this was my chance,” she says. “If I was ever going to make my own music, it was now. I quit my job and moved in with my sister, just so I could write and produce constantly.”
After her sister would leave for work every day, Boivin set up her gear, transforming the kitchen into a recording studio, where she wrote and recorded, cleaning everything up before her sister got home at five. These recordings, coupled with a few in-studio days with Miles Dupire-Gagnon and Gabriel Lambert from Anemone, would eventually become a series of three EPs – a “trilogy”, if you will – each named for a significant place in Boivin’s life: 2018’s North Hatley (a village in Quebec), Delmano (named for the Hotel Delmano in Brooklyn) released in October 2018, with Blue Pine coming March 2019. These three EPs will be released as a full length LP “MUNYA” in March 2019 on vinyl, CD and cassette.
Boivin’s musical process is as fascinating and intuitive as her music. “My music is a collage of first takes, the rawest and best moments, that I transform into something new,” says Boivin. “I’ll take the drums from one song and a guitar part from another and melody I wrote for something else entirely, and I’ll put them together and see how they work.” MUNYA’s songs are upbeat but ethereal, built around tight, repetitive drums and Boivin’s luminous voice. There’s a lightness to this music, a glimmering simplicity, but with a sense of sadness lurking underneath that gives these songs their true power.
Blue Pine is MUNYA’s brightest and most blissful collection of songs to date. “It’s All About You” is darkly playful pop about the joy and agony of all-consuming infatuation. “Benjamin” is a breathless tribute to a new relationship. “Only you can look at me this way,” Boivin sings, with all the pleasure and vulnerability of basking in the gaze of the person you love, and the song nearly crackles with joy. But on the mysterious “Blue Pine,” Boivin flips the script a little “All the spark I can give to someone,” she sings, “Do you wanna be the one?” The singer is the one with the spark, the power and fire, and she can bestow on anyone she chooses. It is a gift offered to the deserving, not forced. Like the best MUNYA songs, it seems impossible to resist.