Interview: Mu

Mu’s Brit­tney Rand (left) and Francesca Bel­court. Photo by Ian Lanter­man.

Mu’s Brit­tney Rand (left) and Francesca Bel­court. Photo by Ian Lanter­man.

Francesca Bel­court and Brit­tney Rand are the two women behind Mu, Vancouver’s dream pop chron­i­clers of youth. The duo has been grac­ing the city’s elec­tronic scene with dreamy tunes for nearly three years. Their debut album, sim­ply called Mu, explores the uni­ver­sal themes of growth and con­fu­sion that char­ac­ter­ize the young adult expe­ri­ence. Their fresh new sin­gle, “Debauch­ery,” mean­while, “addresses all that is depraved, mag­i­cal, and tem­pes­tu­ous about the ‘in-between’ years and com­ing of age in an era obsessed with itself.” In antic­i­pa­tion of Mu’s new album, II, which will be released on Febu­rary 12, SAD Mag’s Meredyth Cole spoke with Bel­court and Rand about their music, their high school selves, and how emu­lat­ing Drake can (some­times) lead to success.

**Psst! Stay tuned (pun very much intended) for a spe­cial musi­cal sur­prise at the end of this interview.**

SAD Mag: Tell me what you were like in high school. Did you and Brit­tney know each other?

Francesca Bel­court: In high school I acted pretty sim­i­larly to how I do now but in the body and mind of a hor­monal teen. I found any chance I could to be mak­ing and play­ing music rather than doing any nor­mal work, jump­ing onto any stage there was and was pretty blessed to be encour­aged to do so by my peers. If cre­ativ­ity was not required in a class, I would gen­er­ally be doing things like bik­ing through the hall­ways in a lib­er­ated protest. (Gen­er­ally speak­ing my teach­ers and class­mates were pretty chill but I was still not a fan of author­ity or struc­ture). Brit­tney and I didn’t know each other in school as she lived across the coun­try. I think we would have got­ten along though, she was a punk! Still is.

SM: Mu’s work seems to be rooted in the mood of ado­les­cence and young adult­hood. What is it about these ages that is so inspir­ing for you?

Brit­tney Rand: More than being rooted in ado­les­cence and youth, I think it’s rooted in dis­so­nance. The themes we often work within are rooted in the fragility that comes with hope­ful­ness, and the com­plex­ity of free­dom and change—which are both, of course, symp­toms of youth and ado­les­cence. We’re nav­i­gat­ing and explor­ing the dark­ness of our own expe­ri­ences, because change and growth can be very con­fus­ing. On the other hand, “learn­ing adult­hood” can be a very inspir­ing and enrich­ing expe­ri­ence that pro­vides us with the skills we require to find our inde­pen­dence and resilience. Of course, learn­ing this almost always comes at the cost of some despair. It’s a kind of dance that I find to be mys­te­ri­ous and inter­est­ing to doc­u­ment creatively.

SM: Pop music has always been a genre of music aimed at ado­les­cents. What did you lis­ten to when you were in high school? Did these tastes shape your sound now?

BR: I grew up obsessed with pop cul­ture, but so iso­lated! I grew up in a rural high­way town in north­ern Ontario, with lim­ited access toTV, etc. At that time, sta­tions like The Box and MTV could still be lis­tened to, but not viewed, on satellite—unless you paid for the chan­nel. We found out that you could tape down the “can­cel” but­ton on the remote and get around that…so we’d tape music videos to VHS any chance we got.  It was really excit­ing to feel like we were being invited into what the rest of the world was doing.

I was into every­thing I saw in music videos—rap, pop, soul, grunge, folk, rock, R&B. But, when I was a teenager I was heav­ily influenced—and shaped by—my love for punk music. I think I’ve always been in love with pop music, but at some point or another pop music always reaches a crux for me; it either speaks or doesn’t speak to me. I find it fun to take some­thing very poppy and nos­tal­gic, and stretch it out to see how far it can go away from its expected direc­tion before it’s nearly not pop. I like bor­row­ing from the main­stream, almost mock­ing it, and then embrac­ing it and play­ing with it. It’s kind of nice that we’re in a new pop land­scape [and] that we can have both our explo­ration and depth, but also our fun.

SM: What advice would you give to young musi­cians try­ing to break into the scene in Vancouver?

FB: I moved to Van when I was 18 with my high school sweet­heart. I had no idea where to go, I just knew I wanted to play music and that I couldn’t do that on Cortes Island or in Camp­bell River. So I played any­thing, any­where, with any­one. Folk con­certs, hip hop shows, I sang with elec­tronic pro­duc­ers. Expe­ri­enc­ing as much as I could in every scene I dis­cov­ered lead me to meet Brit­tney at the Wal­dorf Hotel right at the time I was start­ing to really know my own music. It’s a small city, it takes a bit of time, but my advice would be to run ‘round à la Drizzy. If it feels wrong where you are turn around and try a new way.

As SAD Mag puts together the fin­ish­ing touches on our upcom­ing High School issue, who bet­ter to make a cus­tom mix­tape for our read­ers than Mu. Fea­tur­ing an exclu­sive cover of “Run­ning up that hill,” this 12-song mix is a per­fect evo­ca­tion of those high school nights that seem to last for­ever, and the youth­ful moments that feel so sig­nif­i­cant. School dances, make out ses­sions, and joyrides: the things that are silly and so pro­found at 16, times that take on the qual­ity of an anthem in our mem­o­ries. Enjoy.

1) Mu — Run­ning Up That Hill (Kate Bush Cover)
2) Pumarosa — Priest­ess
3) Sui­cide — Dream Baby Dream
4) Maji­cal Cloudz — Down­town
5) Okay Kaya — Damn, Grav­ity
6) Brian Eno — Deep Blue Day
7) Cindy Lee — Prayer of Baphomet
8) Cocteau Twins — Pearly Dew­drops’ Drops
9) Jenny Hval — Why This?
10) Lydia Ainsworth — Mala­chite
11) Miley Cyrus — Lighter
12) The Cran­ber­ries — Dreams

Look out for II, avail­able start­ing Feb­ru­ary 12, 2016. For more about Mu, check out their web­siteSound­Cloud, or Twit­ter.