Muni Long on ‘Hrs and Hrs’, new song ‘Another’ and conversation with Pharrell

With a new stage name, a new style and “Hrs and Hrs” of focus, Muni Long introduces a new version of himself. Previously known by her real name Priscilla Renea (her last name is Hamilton), the ubiquitous songwriter helped write popular classics — Ariana Grande’s “Imagine,” Rihanna’s “California King Bed,” Mariah Carey’s “A No No” to name a few. — before creating and performing her own hit chart. But getting into music as a songwriter can be grueling. “When you get into the business, there’s all these rules, status quo, etiquette and… [politics] about how to behave in order not to tiptoe,” Muni Long tells ELLE.com over the phone as he is driven through the canyons of Los Angeles.

Still, writing songs for renowned artists in multiple genres has increased Long’s skill in producing her own music. With caution, she worked her way as an up and coming artist to a point in her career where she could control her own shot. “You are now taking a check from someone, you are obligated to them and their rules and if you don’t abide by the way they want you to be and do what they want you to do, they can rip your dream back from you, ‘ says Long.

A lyricist and performer for over a decade, Long looked inward and changed the direction of her music career. In January 2020, she launched her own music label called Supergiant Records, and in 2021 she released her well-received R&B single “Hrs and Hrs” from her EP, Public Displays of Affection. Romantic and dramatic, the song fully showcases her gifted vocals and heartfelt writing, especially with tender lyrics like “you give me a superpower.” It went viral on TikTok and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 R&B chart and Emerging Artists chart early this year. “I now know that I am enough not to be influenced by other people,” Long says. “I just keep doing great work and don’t brag about the accolades. When I celebrate, it’s really recognizing everyone’s contribution to my dream.”

Shortly after, her EP track “Time Machine” also started making its rounds on social media (it’s her second most listened to on Spotify with over 6 million streams; “Hrs and Hrs” has over 70 million). This hateful R&B melody offers a different approach to Long’s song-making; one that isn’t afraid to embrace the pain. “Time Machine is an incredible song live,” Long reveals. “I can sing the intro and the way it catches on. It’s like all the lights go out and there’s a thump. By the end everyone was singing in their own world: I wish I had a time machine.

Fresh off her viral moment, the acclaimed songwriter and rising R&B star has just released a new heartbreaking single called “Another,” further proving her skill at sentimental R&B storytelling. Here, Long ELLE recounts a valuable conversation she shared with Pharrell about creating art for the masses, how she will always choose artistic integrity over commercial success, and how learning to do her own nails has given her a sense of calm. .

You come out with a new single called “Another” – you jump from the romantic yet viral nature of “Hrs and Hrs” to this song about moving on. What prompted you to write this heartthrob song?

I think everyone has been at one time or another where someone just doesn’t realize how good they have it with you. It’s painful to look at someone you took for granted. Continue. Be happy and be successful without you.

I really consider myself a storyteller and I’m multidimensional so I don’t think just because I wrote this really successful love song that the song is necessarily for everyone. For love in general, it’s like a roller coaster going up and down. Hopefully people hear it and really feel connected. I like the perspective of this song, it shows that you want to play it that way. Watch me turn this and you [really] will regret.

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Do you think “Another” lets in listeners on a different side of you?

I have so much music and so much more in store. I feel weird defining myself because I have so many dimensions like I grew up on TRL [Total Request Live], where you’ll hear NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, LFO, Christina Aguilera, and Destiny’s Child. In Los Angeles, you’ll hear Tupac and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and that’s what I listened to. So that’s the way I write -[music] was very much a spectrum.

When you build the choruses for your best songs, do you rely more on instinct and impulse?

The songs coming out now are definitely impulsive. There are times when I wake up from my sleep and I already have ideas from my dreams there. I just write them down or I have a melody or something that I heard in my dream, but for the most part, when I go into the studio I just let the moment be about channeling.

The first thing that comes to mind may pass through my brain and go straight out of my mouth, because sometimes I even listen back to what I said and laugh as soon as it comes out. I don’t think when I make music; if I ever get stuck trying to make a text make sense, if it takes me more than ten minutes, I just move on.

Looking back on your early success as a songwriter composing your own R&B records, what’s the takeaway you appreciate most from transitioning from writing for other artists to writing for yourself?

Just know how to make a song and song structure. How to hold people’s attention. How to add your candy. Things are really priceless.

You are experiencing the impact of your Internet virility and have recently achieved RIAA Platinum status for ‘Hrs and Hrs’. How do you absorb all the new supporters discovering you now?

Welcome! I’m very happy. There are times when it gets a little weird, but you know, it’s part of the territory. Hopefully I can change the way people see the impact of celebrities and bring a little humanity into it. People just kind of forget you’re human.

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What was your first reaction when people started showing you personal love as your platform grew?

I did get discovered on YouTube, so over the years a lot of people came to me. They would say, “Oh my god, are you Priscilla Renea?!” Yes that’s me.

That happened to me very often. I think the benefits are a little different this time, like when I walk into a restaurant, I have a reservation. If they recognize me, they let me sit right away. That’s really cool for when I’m really hungry.

What golden advice would you give to artists who feel lost and are currently trying to find their way and voices?

I would say take the time to really write down where you want to go and how you want to be represented, what you want your legacy to be and then start taking the steps toward those things. Don’t wait for other people. If you feel like you may need more money and more connections; you really just need the idea and ambition and work ethic to get started.

Issa Rae, who started the Raedio label, has discussed how the music industry can abuse artist development. I know you strongly advocate for young creatives and their dreams.

That was really the goal. I had a great conversation with Pharrell where he really confirmed that for me. This company makes you feel like you are not enough. Making sure you have to work hard, but not everyone is going to be the best like Destiny’s Child.

I think the most extraordinary thing I did was just not give up by not listening to outside voices. Stay away from being discouraged by people who try to take advantage of me. This has happened many, many times. Keep pushing and don’t let anyone tell you to behave a certain way. I had a certain amount of success as a writer and nobody expected that I would have to go on YouTube to find the beat, but I found that beat on YouTube. Yes, I’ve written songs with Stargate, Rodney Jerkins, Max Martin, all these people, but I couldn’t go to them and get a song. You know what I mean? I really had to humble myself to start over.

You will be touring as a solo artist for the first time this spring. The One Night Only tour allows you to connect with so many of your online fans. Why is it now time for the world to know who Muni Long is and can be?

We currently live in a DIY world. If I didn’t, it would feel like I didn’t try. It’s less about other people knowing who I am and more about myself – like giving myself a fair shot at my dream. If I left this earth and I didn’t try, I’d just be the dumbest person.

“I think the more authentic you keep your story, the more people will resonate with it. Just tell the truth and make it rhyme.”

What fascinates you most about performing live now?

Everyone had their own moment. When I went back and looked at the footage, people were really singing and jumping. It’s great because that’s what you want. You want people to get involved and forget about their problems and just be free.

You have a long history as a songwriter and a background as a strong R&B singer. Do you have any hidden talents you want to discover more this year?

I am a really good cook. I can also do my own nails. My friends keep trying to convince me to do theirs too. [Chuckles] No, I don’t want you to ruin it for me because I really enjoy doing it. I don’t even know if this is a talent, but I also learned to spin fire.

How would you describe what it takes to create a universal hit?

I heard this quote during a USC graduation: “Whatever is most personal is most universal.” Many of us think that we are the only ones dealing with things. But as we tell our story and share it, we realize that there are hundreds of people who are going through the same thing right now. I think the more authentic you keep your story, the more people will resonate with it. Just tell the truth and make it rhyme.

This interview has been edited and abbreviated for clarity.

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This post Muni Long on ‘Hrs and Hrs’, new song ‘Another’ and conversation with Pharrell was original published at “https://www.elle.com/culture/music/a39695425/muni-long-another-hrs-and-hrs-interview/”

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