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ACL Highlights: MISSIO on Philanthropy, Music and Social Justice

“I’m uncontrollable, emotional, chaotically proportional, I’m visceral, reloadable, I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m crazy.” With lyrics packed with powerful diction and intense beats that resonates throughout bodies, MISSIO, comprised of singer-songwriter Matthew Brue and producer David Butler, attracted a huge crowd at Austin City Limits this past weekend and in the past year in the music industry. They played both weekends, a feat that is typically only offered to bands who are guaranteed to attract large crowds, like MISSIO did. From performing in Lalapalooza, Hangout Fest, Ohana Fest, and Firefly and recently, in “Life is Beautiful” in Vegas a couple of weeks ago, the weekend before the shooting, MISSIO has made their name known and have even grown their fan base through these festivals. I was able to get the opportunity to interview them on their time touring, experiences of performing and their views on social justice and philanthropy.

How is it like to have a packed schedule? Did you see yourself having this life?

David Butler: We’re a little different in that regard. I think I always, from an early, early age, I dreamed about being a full time touring musician and it’s been a vision I’ve had for a long time. It’s difficult. It’s exhausting. We’ve pretty much been on the road full time since March. We maybe had a couple weeks off here and there so it’s grilling but, it’s a dream come true. Honestly, every artist’s dream is to get to share their art with people. And we get to see how people react to our art. So it’s a treat every night.

Matthew Brue: I’ve been doing music my whole life but I never really went, “Man I want to be a rock star” or something like that. I literally felt like when moving forward, I kept stumbling into things that kept happening. All the while I was writing songs. To be doing this now is pretty surreal. I definitely love being on the road. There’s a lot of structure. There’s a lot of things to stay busy with. There’s the routine of having to play a show every night. It’s actually a little bit more difficult for me to go home after being on the road for several months because you kind of go from a lot of structure to no structure and so, I really enjoyed the last year of seeing new places and meeting new people, hanging out with my bros.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Matthew Brue: I’ll always try to warm up vocals for fifteen to twenty minutes. They do stretching. We try to listen to jazz. There’s something about putting soft jazz, Dave Brubeck, on that kind of relaxes us a little bit. We change into show attire.

David Butler: Usually takes me about 10 minutes to put some shoes on. *both laughs*

Matthew Brue: Drink tons of water. I’m always drinking water. We’re not really a rager band. We’re really chill guys so if anyone went backstage expecting a party or something it’s very anti-climatic.

Does the post-show ritual differ?

David Butler: We normally try to chill a little bit though like drink a couple of beers. For the most part though we’re ready for bed.

How would you describe your fan base?

Matthew Brue: Wild. A lot of our message is directed towards people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, alcoholism – that type of thing. So we get a lot of compassionate, more in touch with their emotions as fans, which is cool because when we get to play with them and they resonate with what we’re saying, they just react in a really passionate and strong way. And uh, yeah they’re just wild.

Was that the emotion you were trying to evoke with your music? Did you foresee your current fanbase?

Matthew Brue: No.

David Butler: Yeah, no. I don’t think… honestly, I don’t think we had any audience in mind when we were writing. Our goal is always to be as real as possible to what we know and I think that’s who we really are. And especially Matthew, through his story, and being honest. I guess, revealing and talking about your deep insecurities will have other people relate to it or they won’t. And the type of people who relate to it, just happens naturally.

Matthew Brue: He said it really well. When we started writing the songs, it was like writing in a diary. It was just an outlet to express how we were feeling so early on, it was just sitting in a studio or a little room and going hey, I just want to write how I feel today. And then as things progress and as our songs started to become heard a little more, we began to see more and more people started to jump on board listening. Now we’re here and I think that’s the thing that we’ll probably try to keep wrestling with because we don’t, as much as our fan base means to us, I think when you start writing songs for people and you’re not actually resonating with the songs itself; it can be a little dangerous. So, I always want to stay in that mindset of writing for ourselves and things that we experienced, or that we want to experience or that we have struggled with so that people continually go, “Hey I resonate with what you’re saying.”

How would you describe your music?

David Butler: I think our music is honest and almost honest to the point of uncomfortable sometimes. In terms of character, it’s pretty aggressive. We both like harsh and offensive sounds. We try to portray that with the way we arrange, the tones we select and the beats we use are pretty aggressive driving. But emotional, like there’s a deeper level to it that takes a couple of listens to get to. Maybe on first pass, you get it and you’re like, attracted to the beat or the melody but once you kind of hear it and realize what we’re talking about I think there’s a deeper level. What that deeper level is what I’m most proud of about our music.

Do you guys write your own lyrics?

David Butler: Matthew writes the bulk of our lyric writing and he’ll usually write almost all of them. And then we’ll come together and I’ll add my two cents.

It’s kind of ironic when you write something that is personal and not for someone else and that ends up being the thing that resonates the most with people, you know. It’s authenticity and genuineness and that’s how we try to be in song and on stage when we’re talking to people, really just life in general. Not trying to be more than what we are or anything. Just real.

What is a social issue, that you believe, is neglected by the media?

Matthew Brue: The thing I’m passionate about, and I wouldn’t really consider it social justice, persay but the effects social media is having on people. I think social media can be a really dangerous thing. It’s changing a lot of the way civilization has been ever. So, I think there needs to be more awareness of social media being, I don’t want to go as far as to say a drug but there are the same things that happen in the brain neurologically with social media and the amount of time someone is spending on a substance. I think it needs to be talked about more

David Butler: To add to that, I think one of the strongest messages that we talk about every night on stage and it’s pretty obvious in our music has to do with people connecting with other people. I think the world in general, we all have darkness, we all struggle with different things you know, Matthew talks a lot about his substance abuse and thing like that, I have a lot of anxiety issues and everybody has issues. I think one of our biggest messages is, it’s okay that you do and to talk to people about it. That’s what we’re doing through our music, which is talking about our issues. And to tie it in with what Matthew said, a lot of people just hide behind social media and put up a false front of “Look at my life; it’s perfect.” We’re guilty of it. It’s like, “Oh, look at this perfect picture that has been edited, having the time of my life.” But the reality of it is, a lot of people feel lonely and I think social media can be good but it’s not a substitute for having a real connection and sharing with people your struggles.

Do you have a personal statement on philanthropy?

Matthew Brue: I think it should be a driving force behind modern society. When you see in history the people who spent time giving back and sharing – honestly, time is the most valuable thing someone has and when somebody plans on giving their time towards their people; I think it makes the biggest difference.

David Butler: I think for whatever reason the human condition, there’s some flaw in it that tells you, you should care about yourself most. And if you want to be happy, make yourself happy. But ultimately, the best thing you could ever do is to be selfless and give to other people and like, philanthropy and giving back almost feels selfish to do it because it’s the best food for your soul. It’s the best thing you can do. And when you’re depressed, all you want to do is think about yourself and the best way to get out of it is to think about your friends, your family or organizations like that and that’ll fill you up. Guaranteed.

What advice would you give to teenagers hoping to get into the music industry?

Matthew Brue: Don’t do it. I’m just kidding. The only advice I have is to write honest and write things that are genuine to you. Don’t ever be writing songs to try and gain fame, or money, or power, or whatever it is. I think art at its truest form is writing for yourself first before you start thinking about all those other things.

David Butler: Honestly, maybe this is what I’m thinking about at the moment, but if you’re going to go and be successful as an artist or in the music industry, be a kind person. Be a good person. Don’t walk on people. Be a part of the change of making the industry better. There’s a lot of people that will use you and take advantage of you but it doesn’t have to be that way. Like I’ve seen the whole world work with other people helping each other out, making friends, share their stories and stuff. Don’t just self-promote exclusively. If more people were like that, this industry would be better off.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Matthew Brue: I think every day we are grateful for the people that take time to listen to our record and to buy merch and to buy tickets to concert. And genuinely, those people that help us get to do what we love every day so thank you.

To learn more about MISSIO, check out their website to find upcoming tour dates and how to listen to their music via iTunes and Spotify. 

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