The Texas-based duo crafting their own cinematic sound.
Austin-based duo MISSIO have created their own unique, uncategorisable sound – at times it feels nostalgic and closely familiar, but just when you’re about to place a finger on why, their next track evolves into something entirely different. Lyrically, they write with poeticism and honesty, juxtaposing darkness and light and asking their audience to indulge in both with them.
Made up of singer-songwriter Matthew Brue and producer David Butler – who officially partnered in 2015 – MISSIO (taken from the Latin word “mission”) have since released a two-part EP “Skeletons”, debut album Loner in 2017 and, earlier this year, a highly acclaimed follow-up record The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man. But most important to them are the connections they’ve made along the way, having built a fiercely loyal community of fans who’ve resonated with their personal journeys and lyrics.
Fresh off the back of a European tour, we caught up with the pair to find out more about their creative process, why they love being on the road and what’s to come.
Let’s start by winding it back… How did you both get into music?
Matthew: I got into music aged six. My parents had me start piano and choirs – I grew up and wanted to quit those, and they wouldn’t let me! It was the best decision they could have made for me…
David: I didn’t come from a super musical family; I actually came from a pretty academic, sports family. Which is kind of cool, because it led me to kind of discover this whole world that I had to myself. The second part of it was that decision that every musician has to make – to put their dreams on the line. Do you have something to say that’s beyond “this is fun for me to do in my spare time”? And that came for me – I was doing a nine-til-five office job trying to make money, and it just got to a point where it was like I literally can’t do this anymore, and I quit. I just dedicated my life to writing music and being in the studio producing records.
Was there a compromise involved in crafting your sound together?
M: I think that’s where the MISSIO sound comes from: it’s the fact that we do come from such different backgrounds, in life in general and musically. I think when we combine our inspirations together it comes out kind of dark, fucked up, cinematically beautiful. It’s interesting. I love the differences that we have for that reason.
How would you describe that sound? I’ve seen other people describe it as everything from alternative, to indie-rock, to electronic…
D: It’s like cinematic hip-hop music, and we of have a little bit of a punk rock attitude to go with it. I think we both have kind of a fuck you attitude when it comes to a lot of stuff – we try to be real and honest. We value songwriting and that makes it hard sometimes in the electronic space… I think it puts us a little bit in no man’s land. But the benefit is we fit in a lot of different lanes as well – we get to play with electronic bands, we get to play with alternative bands, we get to play with heavy rock bands and hip hop artists. To us, as music fans, that’s our dream. So we’re cool with it.
What’s your process for writing those lyrics?
D: Matthew and I have been getting into the writing mode a little bit right now. It goes bigger than just putting it on the calendar that we’re going to write today, because whether we’re on the road or at home, we’re talking about the things that we’re going through. It’s more like hey, I have to deal with this huge thing in my life right now and we’re going to deal with it together. We already know where we’re at with each other’s lives – it’s like let’s figure out how to write about that.
What’s it like having your fans connect with such personal stories?
D: “I See You” is a great example of a song where you get to see the positive impact it can have. It’s super humbling to get to be a part of people’s lives on that level. Music can have a pretty deep impact on people’s lives, and we definitely share that with a lot of our fans. That’s really the message: don’t be alone with your problems, don’t feel like you have to take the weight of the world by yourself.
M: People try to walk around acting so tough in 2019, like it’s such a bad thing to show your feelings and talk about things that you’re dealing with. But what I’ve noticed is people are so fucking lonely, that they kind of hide behind this mask or this wall. Our goal is to strip those walls down, strip those barriers down, by us being the example and saying hey actually, it is ok to show your struggles because it’s only going to benefit your life. It’s cool to go into a show and see these really tough exterior-ed people really break down and go holy shit, I don’t know what this culture is at your shows, but I feel comfortable to be myself and therefore I want to come back – which is really special.
Why title the album The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man?
M: “The darker the weather, the better the man” was a lyric that just popped up randomly, being inspired by a place we were in at the time. As we began to write some of the rest of songs on the record we loved the meaning of it, but also thought it really wrapped up what we were trying to say. It became this song about hope in the darkness. I felt that that song kind of encapsulated the record as a whole, so we landed on that.
How do you find going on tour?
M: I love it. I’ve noticed the thing that brings me the most happiness in the music industry is when we get to play a show. It’s the best form of therapy I’ve ever found because you can literally have the most shit day ever, and when you get off that stage just be another person. So for me it helps a lot – especially dealing with addiction and having that as something I struggle with pretty consistently – to be on the road with all of my friends who really look out for me, then having a show at the end of each night.
Do you have any stand-out moments from your recent tour of Europe?
M: This was our first time ever in Europe. We would always look at these streaming numbers from all over the world and go “man, it’s so cool that this many people around the world are listening” – but it never fully latched on that those numbers were actual people until we got overseas. It was such a surreal experience for me being halfway across the world and seeing people know who I am and know all the lyrics to our music. It was like you had a blurry picture and then everything just kind of became clear, and so I started actually seeing these fans and going holy shit, this thing that we’ve been building is actually a thing.
Where are you off to next?
D: We’re heading back to Europe and we’re doing an eastern European run and a big festival in Russia, which will be super fun. After that we’re coming back and we have some creative things that we’ll be doing here back home. Then I think we’re going to be hitting the road again in the fall.
What’s your vision for the future of MISSIO?
D: That’s a tough question. Truthfully, the goal is just to be able to be an artist, and to be able to continue to create and hopefully establish a community of people around what we do, that respond and continue to support it. That’s all I want to do – that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
M: What’s special to me is that our fans are so cult-y. They know every single lyric and they’ve seen every bit of content we’ve pushed out. If we can keep a very loyal fan base, I think that’s the biggest thing for me. We didn’t get into music to expect to make a shit ton of money, our goal is to share our experiences first hand and relate to others.
What would you think back when it all started, if you could see the community you’ve now built?
D: One thing for sure is: trust your gut. That’s been something that we’ve had to do a bunch in terms of figuring out what decision is right or wrong, because a lot of the time there’s no obvious answer. Also, always make music that makes you happy and excited – don’t make music you think other people are going to be excited about. I think if we do that, or if anybody does that, then – regardless of who likes it – it’ll be good.