Discover & Download - Donna Missal

August 13, 2018
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On her debut album This Time, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Donna Missal shows the elegant collision of elements at play in her music: a poet’s command of tone, a soul singer’s boundless intensity, a bedroom musician’s willful embracing of intimacy and experimentation. Along with channeling the raw passion she first ignited by playing in rock bands in her homeland of New Jersey, This Time expands on the melodic ingenuity displayed in recent singles like “Driving” and “Thrills.” Above all the album is a testament to the sheer force of Missal’s voice, a dynamic but delicate instrument that achieves a beautifully nuanced expression even as she belts her heart out.

With its title taken from a track Missal co-wrote with her frequent collaborator Sharon Van Etten, This Time is an uncompromisingly honest look at living entirely on your own terms. “I’ve spent most of my life being hyper-focused on time, which I think is something that a lot of women obsess over,” says Missal. “We’re in such a rush to make things happen, when really we should take the time to figure out what we actually want out of life. And even though it’s so fucking hard to have that kind of patience, I think it’s so important to believe in yourself enough to let things develop in a way that feels right to you.”


“I really wanted this album to reference my history of playing in bands,” Missal points out. “It’s all these very pure, talented musicians playing together in a room, but then we took that and sampled it and altered in a way that creates something totally new.”

From song to song on This Time, Missal shows a natural musicality she credits to her father, a former session drummer and songwriter who ran his own studio in Manhattan. Born in New York, Missal moved with her family to New Jersey as a kid, and grew up playing with the vintage microphones and 16-track tape machine her dad kept in the basement. “Every year he’d have us make Christmas albums for my grandparents,” recalls Missal, who’s one of six children. “We’d go out and buy these instrumental CDs of Christmas songs and he’d record us singing over it, and as we got older we moved onto making our own arrangements and playing the instruments ourselves,” says Missal. “It was my first experience in singing and I just fell in love with it.”

“Senior year I told my teacher that I didn’t think that was my path, so he graduated me four months early, and then I joined a rock band.”

Missal stuck with her band for several years, first playing basement shows around New Jersey and later booking gigs in Manhattan. As the band’s lyricist, she discovered a deep love of songwriting, and dedicated herself to honing her craft. Eventually moving to Brooklyn, Missal balanced her time between bartending and writing, and soon came up with “Keep Lying”—a soulful slow-burner showcasing her full-throated vocal delivery. “At the time I was struggling to understand what I wanted to do with my music,” says Missal. “I didn’t have the confidence yet to stand behind my vision, so I thought I could get other artists to cut my songs and just thrive that way.” Although she’d initially planned to use “Keep Lying” as part of her effort to score a publishing deal, Missal ultimately self-released the demo and landed it in the hands of Zane Lowe, who premiered it on Beats 1 (and, in turn, helped push the demo to the top of Spotify’s Viral charts).



Having signed her deal with Harvest Records in early 2018, Missal has also recently appeared as a featured artist on Macklemore’s GEMINI, written songs for the Netflix original series The Get Down, and supported K.Flay at a pair of sold-out shows. And with the release of This Time, one of her greatest hopes is for the album to impart the same sense of self-discovery that informed its creation. “This isn’t a record about love and loss and relationships,” Missal says. “It’s about taking chances for yourself, figuring out who you are and really standing behind that. I made a point of putting myself out there as a real person navigating this life at this moment in time, because I want to do whatever I can as an artist to help people feel more confident in navigating their own lives. I’d love for the listener to receive the message that you can take your time to learn and love yourself. That’s been the most important discovery that I want to share with this album.”