“Missio” is Latin for mission. What began as a side project for singer-songwriter Matthew Brue has now shifted into the spotlight, and with major tours and full-length albums in queue, the MISSIO mission has officially commenced.
Accompanied by producer and instrumentalist David Butler, MISSIO sports an alternative/electronic sound with beat-driven hip-hop undertones. Since their formation, the band has been featured on MTV’s hit show Teen Wolf and charted at #7 on Spotify’s U.S. Viral charts. Atmospheric and expressive, this electro-alternative act is keen on a spirit of experimentation. Keep both ears tuned to MISSIO in the coming months, as their project Loner is due out later this year.
We had the chance to catch up with MISSIO minutes before their second performance at the annual SXSW festival in Austin, TX. They shared details on their SXSW experiences as Austin natives, their upcoming album and tour, as well as their love for Lana Del Rey and Muse.
OTW: What does it mean to you, as
an Austin-based band, to have SXSW support?
MISSIO (David): More than anything, it just feels good. We’re starting our tour, and it feels good to start it at home. And this is the first time we will ever play music that we’ve had actually written at a previous SXSW.
It’s the start of our live version of what we do, very storybook. It fits into our story quite nicely.
OTW: How was your first show compared to what we should expect now?
David: It’s been an evolution, you know. We started out just writing, mostly a lot more cinematic music. We kind of did this hybrid DJ thing–just him and I, no drummer or anything, and we would have a lot of electronic elements. It was a lot more chilled show, more of a vibey type show. In a lot of our new material, we just got into pretty big beats, and we’ve added a drummer that plays with us live. It’s definitely more of a live band feel to the show now. A lot more hype, very aggressive.
OTW: Is that sort of the direction that your music has moved as well?
David: Oh, definitely, the music has driven everything. It’s all about just representing what we’ve written. Everything is just kind of organically brewed to the point where it is now.
MISSIO (Matthew): I have always really liked cinematic music so when I started writing the very first songs, several years ago, I wanted to create a lot of emotional depth within the music. But at the same time, I also love hip-hop and I love old folk music. Then, we started co-writing together, he has his influences of old-school rock bands, hip-hop, and then Dwight, who’s the producer, has his influences.
David: It touches on a lot of different things. Everything is electronic, so you can easily classify it as that. Then, there’s alternative elements but what the heck does that mean anyways? Alternative is just, you know, it’s just good music, I guess [laughs]. I love grid, grind and aggressiveness, and you find a lot of that in our material. Especially a lot of material that we have in our record, which is all what our live show is all about.
OTW: Ohhh, tell us about the record!
David: I cannot wait to get it out! We wrote these songs that we’ve just been really stoked on. I’ve started to play live a little bit, and I’ve been getting some really cool responses–people are resonating with them. It’s going to be really exciting to actually get something out so people can listen to what they’ve heard at shows.
OTW: What’s it going to be called? Is that revealed yet?
Matthew: It’s called Loner.
OTW: Assuming that alludes to the theme?
Matthew: All the lyrics are kind of a sneak-peek into some of the things that I’ve experienced in my life. A lot of addiction. So, it’s a body of work that can be described by times of being super lonely and depressed.
OTW: Do you hope that it helps listeners as a coping mechanism?
Matthew: Definitely, yeah. We talk about it all the time.
Music is the avenue to get to people, but our goal is to have conversations with people, and hear people’s stories and tell our stories.
We’re super excited just to stir it. Having one-on-ones with people at shows, or when we meet them and they say, “Hey your song helped me do bla bla bla,”– I’m super excited for that.
David: Yeah, man. To me, it’s one thing to make music, but to get to go out and play shows and actually have this real experience with people. All of our songs are very specific to things that Matthew’s gone through, they’re not general things; they’re very specific experiences.
But it’s also interesting that the more specific and revealing you get with how you feel about a struggle, even if that struggle is very specific to you, there’s a relatability with that. I mean, a struggle’s a struggle.
There’s a lot of music that talks about “I don’t have any problems,” or “I feel great,” but that’s not who we are. We say what we really feel, and reality is that a lot of times we don’t feel great, that’s life. Hence, our single, “Middle Fingers” [laughs].
OTW: That’s your latest single, right?
Matthew: Yeah, it’s interesting to talk to people because they think it’s a very negative song or it’s “F you.” It’s not! We’re talking about struggles that we go through, and it’s actually “F the situation” that we are going through. And I tell people a lot that what’s cool about playing that song live is that you’re in a building with how many people are there, and they all come from different religious backgrounds, and different political backgrounds, and we sing that song and we lift our middle fingers up and it’s like everybody forgets any of that stuff.
Nobody has a care in the world, and it’s beautiful to me.
David: It’s so interesting. There’s something very liberating about being in a space where you can just flip whatever it is that’s on your mind off and not be judged for it, or not be expected to say whatever is politically correct, just be real about whatever it is you’re experiencing. I think that even though that is different for everybody, it’s a unifying anthem song that everybody can get behind. Everybody is in their own mind, but we’re all together thinking about the same thing.
OTW: And it’s just so fun to sing along too! We read that MISSIO began as Matthew’s solo project and then later you guys linked up. How did that come about and what changed as a duo?
Matthew: I had met him through a mutual friend, and I was in a different band at the time. He was doing some side producing work outside his band at the time.
David: The band didn’t work out; we worked out! [laughs]
Matthew: I was tired of writing these super pop-y songs that didn’t mean anything to me. So, I was like, “Fuck it, I’m just going to write my own songs and go back to some of my old influences like Al Stevens, Sigur Ros.” I had no intention of doing anything with it really, just having songs for my friends and myself and that was it. I brought them to David, and I was like, “Hey do you want to record some of these and work together again?” He was like, “Hell yeah, let’s do it.”
So, we did, and it was weird because at the time, he and his wife were looking for a third roommate, and I bring this up all the time because I think this is what really helped initiate MISSIO, as far as the work ethic and flow goes. We actually lived in the same house and he was working all the time, I was working all the time, and we got a last-minute place in SXSW, and it was like, oh shoot, we need to figure how to play live.
It was just this really natural collaboration that happened organically, and then we started co-writing together, and here we are.
OTW: Where did the name MISSIO come from?
Matthew: Latin, for mission. Maybe four, five years ago I was starting to get clean, and my sister had sent me this phrase, and I fell in love with it because it was a period in my life where it was very encouraging to me. So, I got a tattoo on my wrist, and then when I was thinking about different names to call the music project that I was working on, it had to be MISSIO! I freaking love it!
OTW: Nice! What would be your biggest piece of advice after the addiction struggles you went through?
Matthew: You have to talk to somebody. I don’t care who it is. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your parents, don’t. But, I held onto things for such a long time that I became this thing that was just filling up and up, and it just exploded. There’s something about sharing, no matter what it is, depression or struggling with addiction stuff, whatever you want to put in that title, you have to share it with somebody.
There’s a huge freedom about opening up to somebody else and letting somebody come in that makes you feel vulnerable but not alone. To me that was the very first step that I had to take.
OTW: You guys did a great cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Westcoast,” why that song and are there any other dream covers or collaborations?
Matthew: I love Lana Del Rey! I love her vocals, I love her melodies, I love her hip-hop undertones with the old-school quality of her recordings.
David: We haven’t done very many covers, but we do our version. We sit in a studio and nerd out for a little while and get tones and re-write the beats. It’s almost like writing a song from scratch, without melodies/lyrics. When you think about it like that, it’s all about about finding melodies that are really inspiring.
OTW: So, let’s talk about the tour. Any dates that you are particularly excited for?
Matthew: The Gramercy Theatre in New York City. I’ve heard a lot of friends talk about that place. Also, Milwaukee at the Rave Bar, have you ever been? It used to be an old man’s gathering house basically, as sexual as that sounds [laughs].
David: It just got some real creepy vibes, that place.
Matthew: There’s like an old-school abandoned pool down at the bottom of the floor. It’s three stories high, and there’s venues in different rooms but it’s all super haunted looking. It’s an experience.
OTW: Any tour tips?
Matthew: Don’t eat super late.
David: Oh god, we’re terrible at that. Trying to figure that out.
OTW: And then you guys are also supporting Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars right?
David: Yeah! I’m a super fan boy, like that’s insane! To say I have a lot of respect for those bands, that’s an extreme understatement. Matt Bellamy from Muse, that dude inspired me in so many ways as a musician.
OTW: So, when you first meet him, what are you going to say?
Matthew: Maybe kiss him on the cheek?
David: I hope not, but in the moment, you never know. If you feel it, you just have to go for it.
Matthew: There’s two types of people in this world. There’s the person that is too cool to take the picture with the person that they respect and then the other person is like, “Oh no hell, no I’m going in!” I feel like I would have to in that moment, take the picture, because I’m going to remember it the rest of my life. I would never get that again; I can’t ignore that.
Moral of the story, when you’re feeling it, do it!
OTW: Last question: who are your top artists to watch at the moment?
Matthew: I don’t know how to say his name but XXXTENTACION, the rapper. When I heard his track, I called David and was like, “Dude have you heard this track?!” It explodes on the speakers. I think he’s maybe in jail, which kind of sucks. The track is called “Look At Me” and it’s got like 50 million plays. I don’t know anything about him but all I know is that track has been on repeat for two week straight.
David: I’d say Shug, that’s a guy that worked on one of our songs. Love him. Our producers band, The Wind and The Wave, are also doing some great things. There’s so much music out there though; it’s an awesome time to be an emerging artist.