Donna Missal’s on a Mission
Photos / Malia James
Story / Erica Hawkins
The words “Feed me your fiction / Give me just one taste/ To sustain this addiction / Blissful affliction” shortly followed by “Don’t go fucking with my fantasy / Keep Lying to me” sung with rasped passion by LA-based singer-songwriter, Donna Missal’s debut track, “Keep Lying” are a concise introduction to not only her sonics but the frankness of her lyrics. Straightforward and soulful, her tracks thus far are all smoky deliveries of juxtaposing emotions. The sultry delivery of complex emotions has resonated quickly with fans, with “Keep Lying” shooting to the top of Spotify Viral and HypeMachine charts shortly after its premiere – but Missal’s rise is anything but an overnight success.
“It took me a really long time. I’m 27. I’ve been writing music for over 10 years I’ve been playing in bands for years and years and years and I just started releasing music like maybe three years ago. It took so much self-discovery to get to the point where I was comfortable putting my thoughts and feelings out there for people to eventually judge and scrutinize,” Missal shares in reflected on not only her rise to fame, but also her ability to share her personal stories unabashedly with the world.
That willingness to tell personal stories, ones that we rarely get to hear, is evident in her track “Girl” a play by play of the worst aspects of female competition. In it she pleads, “I don’t wanna steal your man / I’m not hanging with your friends / I’ve no one to impress / So why are you upsetting, stressing over nothing?”
The dynamics in the song were inspired by Missal’s real experiences with female friendships. “I had just experienced this situation with these girls I was really trying to be friends with, you know what it’s like. When you’re like, man I don’t know why you don’t like me, I really want you to like me and accept me. Getting older and looking back on these situations that were most poignant to me in my formative years, you can realize now that it’s all about insecurity, self-doubt, and things that we project onto other people. The more we can put that out there we can say ‘I’ve done this, you’ve done this’ we don’t have to do this anymore.”
The poignant track barely made it to the studio and, at first, was just an experiment Missal was playing around with. “I’d been in the process of making my album with my producers over the course of a year. I was playing around with a little practice amp and a guitar and I can barely play but I was just messing around with the chords remembering a melody I’d written years earlier and I just put a little clip of it on my instagram and I went on the studio that day and the producer was like ‘What is that? Why is that not on the record?’ So we started working on it right away and I’m really happy that it’s made its way on there.”
For Missal, it was important to shine a light on something many women deal with in friendships, and she felt was worth singing about. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced some kind of woman on woman pitting against one another, this feeling of competition or needing to compare yourself to the woman that you’re next to. I just want to talk about and writing about my personal experience as a woman and just as a human, I think that’s the way to make my message resonate the most with the people who listen to my music. Talk about things that I know about. I’ve experienced this through every facet of my life and so many women do, so I think it’s important to talk about the things we experience. It’s the only way to really understand each other better is to put that thing out there and see what you get back.”
Missal’s not only interested in achieving notoriety as a singer-songwriter, she’s also on a mission to change the way women and the issues they face are discussed in popular culture. “I’m really excited by this shift in media, culture, music, fashion, all these industries that are hopping on this new wave. This message that is being spread by young people, that we’re willing to love and accept ourselves, and one another. I want to be part of that because it’s a message that means a lot to me.”
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