For some people the name Muni Long may be synonymous with the TikTok hits Time Machine and Hrs and Hrs which completely took off on the platform last year, yet for others the name Priscilla Renae might also right a bell.
As a songwriter, Priscila had quite a career penning songs for the likes of Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Mariah Carey, Rihanna and many many more.
However, after building a writing career that spanned over 12 years, she put her pen down for other people and decided to shift her focus on herself. Now reintroducing herself as Muni Long and taking all the lessons and experiences over the years she is back showing us exactly who she is and what she is about.
Having released her debut EP Public Displays of Affection last year, she is not stopping there and is set to release its 5 track follow-up Public Displays of Affection Too this summer as well as her latest single offering Baby Boo features rapper Saweetie.
Speaking with Muni, we talked about the transformation from Priscilla to Muni, writing with intention, Baby Boo and what we can expect on the new album.
Hi Muni, you have had a successful career as a songwriter where you went by your real name Priscilla Renae, what was the shift that made you realize you wanted release your own music as Muni Long?
I think it was just like a mental shift of wanting to have a specific outcome without interference and I think when people know you a certain way, they just never wanna let it go. Like if they used to call you ‘mook mook’ when you were a baby and now you’ve grown and matured and you have a serious business it is just always the way they see you. I feel like it’s just a way for people to remind you of, like, I knew you back then and I don’t like that. The more that I get into this character and get into this world that I’ve created I think it’s just deciding this is who I wanna be, this is the way I wanna present myself, this is the way that I identify and the way I view the world. Through this lens of Muni Long it takes an intense amount of focus and intention to create a world, create a vision, and stick to it because people are gonna try you and test you and see like, is there a hole I can poke? It was constantly happening to me before. So I think I needed to just make a complete shift to be able to, even for myself mentally, to be able to bring this version of me to life.
You have spoken in other interviews about the impact your experiences have had on you emotionally, which is something not many people tend to speak about. What has been the biggest change for you mentally as you were stepping into this new space of Muni Long?
I think the biggest change, the most significant thing is just advocating for myself, before I was a people pleaser and very much goody two shoes, I don’t wanna ruffle any features, I don’t wanna upset anybody. I don’t wanna make too much noise. But now I just have this fearlessness that comes from just detachment. I don’t care what other people think about me. I’m here for my journey, I’m here to express myself and the best that I could be in every moment, um, handle whatever is thrown my way with grace, excitement, you know, just really building a life for myself and my future. You know, my children that will come, you know, the next 10 to 20 years on this planet, I plan to live experience the best that the world has to offer. And you can’t do that when you’re always helping everyone else build their dream. You know, I did that for 12 years and I was very good at being a servant and providing a service and I was happy to do it. But now I’m doing this mm- and I wanna explore this and I wanna experience this and what this feels like and how I can, you know continue to grow myself as a person artistically. I have more tools at my disposal. I have more resources. I have access to bigger and better, and I wanna use that for myself. And so definitely I would say setting boundaries, enforcing them, not being afraid to say, no, not being afraid to stand up for myself, stand up for others. Set a precedent for like, no, you’re not gonna treat women this way. Cause there’s a whole lot of like colourism, racism, prejudice, sexism, ageism, there are all these things that if this one doesn’t work, they’ll try this stuff. You know, just things that people will try to see if there’s a hole that they can poke. And me being detached from the outcome, me being free from the burden of caring, about what other people think of me, not needing outside approval. These are all things that are just blessings or extreme gifts that allow me to do what I’m doing.
Talk us through the experience of having your track Hrs and Hrs blow up on TikTok last year and how that has impacted your career since?
I love not having a barrier to entry. I love being able to like wake up and speak directly to my supporters and my core group. I love that people can relate to the things that I say whether it’s a song or whether it’s just like a funny TikTok video. I love that I get to show people my personality, where I’m from, how I talk, the way I view the world. I think it’s great because people appreciate me, the person, and not just the things that I create, which is very shallow cause as soon as you make something, they don’t like, you know, they move on. But when they buy into you as a human being, they ride with you and they follow you, I love that. That in itself makes me motivated to actually say something of substance. I won’t just promote and say something to be performative. No, because I understand that people hear me when I talk, which I don’t think a lot of artists have had before now. They haven’t had the power to do that, cause we’re always relying on three or four sets of hands to carry their message to the public. Now you don’t have to do that. Also just understanding the difference in audiences from Instagram to TikTok, they’re different on TikTok. My audience is younger and they’re more diverse on Instagram, it is very cultural, so I have to speak differently. Not being able to read the room is what keeps artists out of touch. You know you don’t understand what’s real and what isn’t because you have this (social media) filter that the information is coming through. I’ve completely given myself over to thinking people wanna feel happy. So let me try to make something like that, which is how you get Baby Boo you know, I think people wanna feel loved, you know, we’ve been locked up in the house for two years. Let me make something that just oozes that when you get Hrs and Hrs. The whole project Public Displays of Affection is just all about love and relationships. So yeah, I love it long story short. I think it’s incredible. I hope that I can maintain that cause you never know where the internet is gonna go. But for now, I’m really happy to have that close, intimate relationship with my supporters.
What were the biggest differences in the production of Public Displays of Affection (your first as Muni Long) compared to your previous releases?
I think there are lots of little tiny details that make a huge difference. I think when I’m walking into the room from minute one in the studio, the song is being made through my intention, through my frequency. I tell people all the time like if you’ve ever been in the studio and you’ve seen the waveform on the computer, that’s happening all the time, it’s just not being recorded. So from the time I step into the studio, I don’t even go in the room if I’m in a funky mood, I’m rarely in a funky mood, but you know, if I’m soon as I hit the parking lot, I’m like, okay, we’re gonna have a good day. Thank you for all this amazing music, you know, because it’s, it is like it’s a, it’s a spiritual process and it starts with your vibe before you even open your mouth. Um, so you know, tuning in to the right channel is, is a big thing. I didn’t use to do it as intentionally as I do it now. And then sonically, I just understand how to make a song sound finished and how to like stack my vocals and what tone to use in my voice and what plugins to use, how to mix it properly. All of that just comes with just like experience and ears of doing it. For the most part, it’s just really the biggest thing is just like the frequency, the vibe before you open your mouth I’m doing R&B music, which is something that I’ve never explored as an artist and I’m adamant to like, although I might like baby boo is a lot more mainstream, the root of it is R&B for sure. And I’m adamant about sticking to that path and just bringing R& B to the forefront again, how it was when I was coming up in the early 2000s. I’m just happy. I’m just super free and just grateful to be able to express myself I don’t think I’ve been this happy ever making music think I was curious and I was excited in the beginning, but I wasn’t ever like happy. I’m just grateful.
What can you tell us about your recently dropped track Baby Boo with Saweetie and what can we expect from your next project?
So the song is called Baby Boo is featuring my girl, sweetie. She was a sweetheart. It was so much fun working with her. I came into the studio just with no expectations. They play me some scratch ideas and immediately I started with “I love you. I love you I’m always thinking of you”, you know, just very childlike, you know, I’m always being silly so she cut her verse. I was super impressed. I think people were surprised with the video and even her singing on the track. I thought she sounded amazing so I was very excited to have her on it. Then in terms of the project, I’m doing an extended version of PDA and it is going to be called Public Displays of Affection 2. And it’s more songs about love, just to finish telling that story. By the time the full project comes out in September, it’ll be 18 songs. I feel like just dumping all that music on people at one time is a little overwhelming. So I wanted to break it up to where I gave you 8 songs in the first one 5 more in the next one and then finish it off with the full project in September. So I am very much excited about it and can’t wait for everybody to hear it.
Baby Boo feating Saweetie is out now, follow Muni Long via @munilong
Interview Seneo Mwamba
Photography Megan Malone