‘Loners’ No More: MISSIO Discusses Their Sonic Journey from Austin to Major Music Fests

MISSIO’s press photo, taken by Tim Saccenti, Styling: Von Ford

A few months back, Austin, Texas based MISSIO grabbed the world’s attention with the rebellious anthem “Middle Fingers.” Since then, the May release of their full-length album, Loner, gave fans more of MISSIO’s compelling sound with tracks such as the bass-driven electronic “Everybody Gets High” and the haunting “Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea.”

MISSIO fuses the genres of electronic and alternative with elements of hip-hop, pop, grunge and lots of distortion. Their songs range from bass-heavy bangers with memorable choruses to more subdued, pensive tracks with deep, evocative lyrics. Matthew Brue’s remarkable vocals punctuate each song and stay in your head long after the track ends.

The Pop Break had the chance to speak with Matthew Brue and David Butler about their experience at Firefly Music Festival in Delaware, and all the dimensions of Loner, from the themes to the album art and the album’s overall message.

Brue reflects on their experience performing at Firefly Music Festival in June and said that it was one of the best festivals they’ve played so far. They had two sets—the first was in the Toyota Tent for on-the-rise artists, and the second was at the Treehouse Stage. For MISSIO, the Toyota tent was their favorite performance, as the reaction from the audience was bigger and better than they expected, Brue said.

“They said it was the biggest crowd that they had in that tent at any festival,” Brue said. “To hear that and to see that many people come hop in with us when we were playing our set was really one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far as a musician.”

Since then, MISSIO has thrilled fans at many shows, including their most recent performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois on August 4.

All show-goers have the chance to discover MISSIO’s knack for combining the genres of alternative and electronic. As Brue explains, they have a very cinematic sound at times.

“There’s so many different facets to MISSIO,” Brue said.

Brue and Butler decided to start MISSIO in 2014 after they had worked on a couple of music projects together and realized they had a pretty creative chemistry. While he can’t place exactly how it translates into their music, Butler explains that they have very opposite personalities.

“Musically speaking and even in life, I’m much more of an outgoing extrovert and Matthew’s [Brue] more of a super introvert—he likes to be alone, hence the title of the record Loner,” Butler said.

Missio Press Photo 2
Photo Credit: Tim Saccenti

Butler adds that Brue’s voice is one of the biggest signature sounds of their music.

“Early on, what attracted me about the possibility of writing and working with him were his lyrics and his voice,” Butler said about Brue. “Those are the most distinctive parts of our sound. Especially when you combine the way we approach melodies with the lyrical content. To me, that’s what sticks out on the radio when you hear a MISSIO track.”

Additionally, while there are a lot of songs on their new album Loner that have heavy beats to dance to, there’s a depth to their lyrics that goes much farther than a majority of the surface-level music that’s on the radio, Butler explained.

Fans will notice the album art on Loner’s cover, which features a dripping, robotic-looking figure and wonder about its significance. Butler explains that their buddy Gary Dorsey, an artist/photographer who owns the company Pixel Peach in Austin, Texas, created the image we see on Loner’s cover. After giving Dorsey the record and the album’s title, they gave him creative freedom with the image. Dorsey presented them with a few options, and they immediately found this image beautiful.

“There’s the radio on the neck, which is representative of music and then there’s some of the drips coming down, which can represent a darkness,” Brue said. “There’s an underlying darkness found in the lyrical content on the record. And there’s just that one single image of that person, with his head down, looking so lonely. It was just a perfect representation to us out of all the art that he created. It just matched and fit our vibe for the record.”

As far as specific songs on the album, “Everybody Gets High” is a very meaningful one.

“On the entire record, that’s the song that’s a summary in 4 minutes of what it was like growing up for me and being in the middle of addiction struggles,” Brue said. “The verses are my earlier years and beginning to use drugs and the effect that they’ve had. Vicodin is my lover and the choruses are a way of addiction speaking to me, asking me to “take a sip, take a sip, take a sip.”

This song features an iPhone app/video game that gives fans a chance to win an exclusive acoustic version of “Everybody Gets High” or even tickets to MISSIO’s shows if they’re skilled gamers.

“We were talking about ways that we could be creative and push the limits of how we get music out there,” Butler said. “The industry is changing in terms of how people listen to music—it’s everywhere in our lives. Matthew [Brue] and I really love the song and wanted to give it the biggest platform we could because it just really inspired us.”

Once they had a strong concept of what the video game would look like, Butler asked an old friend from high school to create it for them, and then they wrote up a script. Butler explains that the stars aligned for them and all the details fell into place really easily.

Another noteworthy track on Loner is “Bottom Of the Deep Blue Sea,” which as of August 5, hit No. 1 on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation top 18 chart. This song makes listeners think about the power of addiction, depression and anxiety to lure you into the depths. Everyone has his own demons to deal with, and they’re always waiting to drag us down again.

Brue explains that this track is a conversation between the victim of temptation and the tempter, represented by the chorus.

“The way that I always describe addiction is that it’s very sexual in a way,” Brue said. “You have this beautiful thing that’s staring at you and it’s constantly telling you to dive in. Then you actually decide to give in to whatever your struggle is, and it just pulls you down. It does a 180 and literally controls your life.”

Brue continues and says that people never plan on their struggles taking over their lives, but it happens anyway. This struggle becomes dark, especially if you’re dealing with it for months or even years at a time.

“Whether it be addiction, anxiety or depression—the feeling is that you’re trying to swim up from the depths and it’s just pulling you to the bottom of the sea,” Brue said.

“Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea” offers a therapeutic opportunity for them to share their experiences and struggles and let others know that they are not alone.

“There are people all over the world that struggle with those issues,” Brue said. “Especially outside of the substance abuse, just depression in general is something that a lot more people are struggling with today. It resonates with a lot of people.”

MISSIO hopes that their album communicates an honest, authentic attitude, Butler explains.

“Part of what being an artist is about is sharing your perspective on the world,” Butler said. “What makes that point valid is being honest. We’ve made a really personal record that both of us vibe with and we feel like it represents where we were, and where we are now.”

To check out MISSIO’s full lineup of festivals and performances, visit their website here.

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.