Donna Missal is kicking ass and taking names. Her voice alone stuns, while the intricate composition behind her music has the type of lasting power that could drive a grown man crazy. That is, if we weren’t absolutely blown away by every single track she released. With several entrancing singles under her belt and a tour she just wrapped up, we were able to take a few moments of her time to ask some questions. So check out her most recent single “Slide” below, and then get to know Miss Donna Missal.
If you could make a grand entrance in any way possible – really introduce yourself to our audience as best you can – how would you do so?
I would just start singing Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)” at the top of my lungs as the only time I feel really comfortable being grand is through singing. It’s like my armor, makes me feel strong.
What was the first record or song you remember listening to, and who introduced it to you?
All of my earliest memories of music go back to my dad. He used to play his favorite music for me in the car. First song I remember being like “wow what is this?” was “Superstitious” by Stevie Wonder. I think I was 5 or 6.
Was there a defining moment when you realized that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Actually not at all. It was this long, even transition into that mindset. My father has been recording my sisters and I singing since I was 4 with his old studio equipment in our basement. In high school I started classical voice training through theater, which lead to singing in a cover band, into writing my own songs with a band, into the next band and the next…eventually becoming an artist. My father was a writer, singer, drummer, producer, his mother was a song writer in the 40’s. I think it’s in my blood.
“The Keeper” is such a beautiful song, as we’re all probably aware at now. What, specifically, inspired that song?
I was having a conversation with my friend Homer who cowrote the music and produced the song with our collaborator Tommy. We were all in the studio, he was talking about losing his keys at an airport. How difficult it was to get them back and how he was given the run around. We were working on this song that day so I just ran with that concept. I really like to take seemingly unimportant situations and magnifying them. I like to stretch my creativity, it almost never starts where it ends up.
You just played both weekends of Riot Fest. What was that experience like?
I had never been to a festival before playing Riot Fest in Denver. Being there was this instant reminder that people still really care about bands and just music in general, and the sense of community built around the music is unlike anything else. Playing in Chicago was the last stop of my small tour and it was the ultimate celebration. My father is from Chicago so it just felt really good to be there. The culture that Riot Fest created is really special. The fans are really special. I saw so many bands I didn’t think I’d ever get to see. I felt really lucky to be there.
Do you have any personal anecdotes from Riot Fest?
I watched Suicidal Tendencies from the side stage for their set in Denver, when I got back to Jersey my mom asked me specifically about them – if I had watched them play. She told me she loved them as a young adult. It was the coolest thing, really unexpected to bond over something like that.
As for touring… what are your essentials on the road?
Water and a notebook and pen.
What is your favorite song right now?
I can’t stop listening to “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” by Sharon Van Etten.
If you could perform with any entertainer, who would you work with and how would you collaborate?
Anderson .Paak is unbelievable I would lose my shit to write with him. I saw him play at Bumbershoot in Seattle, his show was so magnetic. My sisters were there with me and it was their first time hearing him or seeing him, and watching their reaction to this new, exciting music that exists outside of the pop radio format was a huge highlight of the tour for me. Really, really inspiring. I would want to open for him.
Anything else you’d like to add, darling?
I’m just so happy to be doing this. To be a woman in music. We’re just at the beginning of a new age in the industry. It’s all very exciting. I’m here to be a part of the change.
Keep up to date with all things Donna at donnamissal.com.