Sticks & Stones Shitty Interview No.125

Following the release of her mesmerizing new EP ‘In the mirror, in the night‘, today we have the pleasure of shitty interviewing Donna Missal. Born and raised in New Jersey, Missal grew up in a tight-knit family and developed a passion for music at an early age. By high school, she was already working professionally as a singer, and in her early twenties, she took the internet by storm with her first single, “Keep Lying,” which went viral after Zane Lowe premiered a demo of it on Beats 1.

With ‘In the mirror, in the night’ Donna Missal is determined to answer the question, “what does intimacy really mean?” She adds, “We always talk about intimacy in reference to sex and romantic relationships, but what does it mean to be intimate with yourself? What does it mean to know yourself, to love yourself deeply enough to truly be alone and enjoy it?” Written a cappella in her bedroom, the collection finds Missal stripping away nearly everything she’s come to be known for—the acrobatic vocals, the blockbuster choruses, the anthemic performances—and instead distilling her work down to its most vulnerable form.

The collection of songs rely on subtlety and insinuation, exploring questions of identity and independence with keen insight and raw honesty. The performances are delicate and nuanced to match, with Missal’s hushed vocals wrapped in lush, shape-shifting electronic arrangements from Irish producer Sega Bodega. The result is a vocoder and synth-fueled sound more reminiscent of Bjork or Imogen Heap than anything Missal’s built her reputation on thus far, an immersive, experimental collection of avant-garde pop that balances sonic liberation and personal revelation in equal measure.

Of the collaboration, Missal says, “Making this collection of music has been a practice of quietness, intentional restraint, intentional softness and a deepened understanding of what intimacy with myself means to me. Making music from my bed, dreaming up a universe for the music to live. While the world became so small around me, I was reaching around me for a world outside my own. Working with Sega Bodega on this music remotely felt like what a true collaboration is supposed to be; a coming together of worlds.”

Opening with the eerily dreamy “butterfly”, the in the mirror, in the night EP is a meditation on growth and self-transformation, one that learns to replace pain and loneliness with beauty and joy. The hypnotic, harmony-laden “skin” moves on from the mind games of a manipulative partner, while the unsettlingly off-kilter “insecure” (produced by Mura Masa) cuts ties with a toxic personality, and the intoxicating “(to me) your face is love” surrenders to complete and total infatuation. But perhaps it’s the whispery, pulsating lead single “sex is good (but have you tried)” that best encapsulates the EP, with Missal singing, “Sex is good / but have you tried taking off your clothes in the mirror in the night when you’re all alone?” – wrapping up the EP with a tidy bow, the title sung softly and sensually as a question of self-reflection.

LISTEN

Sticks & Stones: What are you fucking with right now?
Donna Missal: Drinking enough good water.

Sticks & Stones: What’s overrated?
Donna Missal: Intense virality.

Sticks & Stones: Whare is the best place to eat?
Donna Missal: Home.

Sticks & Stones: Who are your biggest influences right now?
Donna Missal: Madonna from her ‘Ray of light’ era & Rosalia.

Sticks & Stones: What flavour jelly bean would you be?
Donna Missal: Popcorn.

Sticks & Stones: What lies are okay to tell?
Donna Missal: The ‘On my way’ text when you’re not.

Sticks & Stones: Worst day of your life?
Donna Missal: (Refer to illustration).

Sticks & Stones: Would you ever get gold teeth?
Donna Missal: Yea.

Sticks & Stones: What don’t you tell people?
Donna Missal: What the worst day of my life was.

Sticks & Stones: Give us some shitty advice.
Donna Missal: Text the ex.

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