Interview: Matthew Brue of MISSIO talks musical partnership, Austin roots and new album
Matthew Brue was writing music as a cathartic exercise to deal with his demons when he reached out to David Butler for help with production. The two had history working together, but the timing was perfect for a partnership on this new project.
MISSIO was the result, the name taken from the Latin word for “mission.” And while the mission is ever-changing as they have new experiences and take it all in stride, they want to spread a positive message to their growing fanbase: you are seen, you are heard, and you are not alone.
The fusion of so many genres makes MISSIO hard to categorize, but the most apparent influences are hip hop, electronic, and punk rock. They’ve said the songs are written like rock songs, but the albums are tracked like hip hop records. Butler also adds his touch with dark, sultry back beats.
Just before MISSIO embarked on their cross-country tour in support of The Darker the Weather, the Better the Man (out April 12th via RCA) Atlas caught up with Matthew Brue for his take on where MISSIO started, their growth so far, and trying to keep living in the moment.
Atlas: What is your origin story as musicians and as a duo?
Matthew Brue: I started MISSIO as a solo project for fun in late 2014/ early 2015. I had no intention of ever touring or trying to gain success, but I needed to get some songs out for myself, almost as therapy. I had worked with David previously on a different project and decided I wanted him to help me produce some of these songs so I could at least get a couple of syncs to cover the cost of making the EP. While we were in the studio, David’s band at the time broke up and they had a SXSW slot that we ended up stealing. At this point, I had only played a few shows in my life so I reached out to David to help me play live and we started to realize it was going to be a good fit to work together. From there we decided that we would become a duo and try to make this thing as genuine and as real as possible. It’s still funny to me that within the mindset of not caring about being successful is when things started to take off for us. We’re really grateful for that and try to maintain that same mindset to this day.
Atlas: How did living in Austin—and seeing the impact of SXSW—influence your musical path?
Brue: To be honest, SXSW has always been respected by many local Austinite musicians. It’s definitely an Austin staple. We remember being able to play our first SXSW event in a hotel lobby for no one and yet, we were still so grateful to have said that we had the opportunity to play SXSW. Playing those first couple shows gave us the confidence to be able to play more shows in and out of Austin.
Atlas: Your first album, Loner, was sonically dark, but its lyrics were ultimately unifying. How did people respond, and what were some memorable fan interactions after being so open and honest on that record?
Brue: It was amazing to see the fan response and how much the lyrics impacted people. The best moments for both of us are when people come up to us or send us messages saying how certain songs helped them during their hardest times of depression/anxiety or that the music literally saved them from taking their own lives. As artists, there is no better reward than to see your songs impacting people in such a strong way.
Atlas: What were your priorities during this writing period for The Darker the Weather, the Better the Man?
Brue: It was interesting to us both how much pressure we felt this time around. I don’t know what changed, but it’s a weird feeling to realize people are actually going to hear this second record. We built fans off of the first record so it was a bit scary knowing that as soon as it drops people would get to judge the songs immediately. We did our best to make sure we continued trying to write these songs for ourselves and to keep them as honest and genuine as possible. We really wanted to grow as songwriters, producers, and I personally wanted to say a bit’ more lyrically/melodically. We have been through so many new experiences being on the road and touring in the last couple of years that we wanted to share some of that with the world.
Atlas: What do each of you bring to the project?
Brue: David has more of a technical background and is an amazing engineer. He helps make the songs sound futuristic and unique from a tonal standpoint. He also loves lighting and the live shows so he deals a lot with our stage/lighting setups for tours. I tend to focus more on the writing/instrumentation of melodies/lyrics for songs and love to do more of the branding/visuals for social media as well as handling of the contract/email stuff. I love our working relationship because I know what he’s good at, and he knows what I’m good at. We both give each other space in our preferred areas and collectively we become an awesome yin & yang. I couldn’t do MISSIO without him and he couldn’t do MISSIO without me. We really do make an awesome team!
Atlas: Who are some artists on your radar right now that you can’t stop listening to and talking about?
Brue: I’ve been absolutely loving the artist Rosalia based out of Spain. I heard her record last year and fell in love with it. It’s flamenco/pop, but I just appreciate her artistry and respect to her countries traditions. We’ve also been listening to a lot of The Cure recently. Those songs are such classics and really brilliant songwriting. Also, our producer Dwight Baker got me into The Flaming Lips recently. They’re crazy and weird, but I love their melodies.
Atlas: What’s the master plan for MISSIO and some big-picture goals?
Brue: This is a bit of a hard question to answer because so much is out of our control as far as how successful we’ll become, but we love what we get to do. Obviously, being the biggest band on the planet would be rad, however, we’re just grateful that we get to do what we love every single day and love that people are impacted by the songs that we write. We tend to overthink things A LOT, so we try to maintain a “live in the moment” mindset as much as possible, however we’re one of the hardest working bands out there and want to do our best to reach as many people as possible with a positive message that continues to change lives.
Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam