Analogue Music | Missio


By Matt Conner

Matthew Brue and David Butler have always focused on their musical mission. It's even in the name.

The duo known as Missio (Latin for "mission") began making music under the banner of connection. The hope was to reach fans with authentic songs that encouraged and challenged in meaningful ways. And they've done just that, as a global pandemic pressed the pause button on a European tour that was elevating their platform to new heights.

Yet what seemed like an inopportune break—the halting of an ascending vehicle—became an important clearinghouse to recalculate and reorient. Suddenly Butler and Brue had the chance to evaluate their goals, to check their motives, to survey their direction. In short, they revisited their mission.

On the other side of some pulse checking, Missio is back with a comforting album for troubled times in Can You Feel The Sun. Songs like "Wolves" or "Don't Forget To Open Your Eyes" or "Daydreaming" all speak hopefully to a world at war in myriad forms. These songs nail the bullseye of the band's intended target, a heartening listen that connects with the listener.

We recently asked the members of Missio to tell us more about the year they're having and what matters most to them on the other side of deeper considerations.

Analogue: We're all under the same cloud here. As artists, how have you processed the pandemic and charted a new album release?

David Butler: We had to process all this stuff really deeply for a while. Obviously, this has impacted everyone, but our specific situation is that we were in Europe when it went down in March. We were on tour, ready to play a few of the biggest headlining shows we would have ever played to date in Russia. We had to cancel the second half of the tour and we flew back on the last day the country was open to receive Americans back.

"Even though this year has been tough for a lot of artists and the industry, I think it could be good in the long run because it's forcing things to change." -Matthew Brue

We had this record done in November just before all of this, so we had to think through a lot of what we wanted to do. Do we want to release this record right now? A lot of people in the industry will tell you it's a bad time because you can't tour, so it forced us to really look at what our true motivations were. Why are we even a band that makes music? Where we exist is as exists. We see ourselves as artists and that's why we love to create.

It became a decision of "this is what we have to do because we want to release the music" so we knew we'd figure out everything else around it. We've been following the art. We felt like the record was very applicable to the struggle we currently feel with a lot of frustrations in the world, so now is the time. It's making the best of it.

Matthew Brue: Although the industry is suffering in some ways, I always think struggle is good—for people and societies. When you start doing really, really well, there's a general attitude of entitlement that happens over years. When you have something that cuts you down as a person or society, it helps you to grow and learn and figure out what's next—how to change and move forward. Even though this year has been tough for a lot of artists and the industry, I think it could be good in the long run because it's forcing things to change. It's forcing people to have to look at situations and scenarios and go, 'Okay, what's working and what is not? How do we make it change?' I'm thankful for this year in some ways, even though it sucks.

Analogue: Even the band's name means "mission," obviously, and I find that interesting since you're talking about your band's mission. Have you discovered that your aims have changed in this time or even over time?

Matthew: I do not think the mission has changed. The mission has always been about impacting people in whatever way that looks like. The way that it impacts will always change from record to record, but the overarching ideology is we're here to write music to help change people—to help people with their depression, their anxiety, their addictions, whatever that may be. From the early music that Missio was writing, it was about people. It was about honesty. It was about vulnerability. Even though genres change or our music matures or our success increases or decreases, our goal is always to not look at our success as an amount of streams, per se, but putting faces to those numbers and say, 'These are real people.'

Credit: Alexandra Thomas

Part of the reason why this record was written is that we were able to to go tour the world for the first time. We met people in Russia and the Ukraine and all these places that you can only imagine being. Then you understand and realize why you're there. You're having conversations with people who have no idea where you come from and you have no idea where they come from, yet around the music—Missio's music specifically—their lives are being impacted. It led to us coming back home being so fucking inspired. There's something supernatural about the fact that someone can hear something you wrote in your bedroom or garage or studio—wherever it may be—and it influences them in a way that their actions influence other people. It's fucking mind-blowing. So the goal and the mission are always that, and I hope we never lose that. That is the strongest thing we have going for us.

Analogue: You referred to some soul-searching during this pandemic. Do you find that you're on track with that mission or had you lost your way a bit?

Both: [Laughs]

David: I think you'll be able to read into my answer, but we're self-managed at this point. That was not the case before. We basically had to put our money where our mouths are and say, 'We believe in this music now.' And anyone who doesn't believe in that model was not going to be... that's just not how we run our business. So it was excruciatingly difficult, to answer your question, to make that decision. But man, this as real of an answer as you can get, but there's been so much freedom that Matthew and I have experienced.

Everyone tells you that artists need to be basically be in their place and have people speak on their behalf and do all these things, but it's been a great experience for us to go back to the way things were when we first started, which was just Matthew, who at the time had moved in with my wife and I—we had an extra room in our house—and we would just walk down the hall and talk about things.

There's a flow to art and energy that, yes, if you acknowledge the industry and realize that's a thing, then it's easy to put it through that filter—but music is way simpler than that. It's about having an experience and not knowing how to share that emotion, so we put it down in music and then people hear it and have that same feeling. When you think about it, it's absolute magic how that happens. Again, we want to get back to what we love. We're very happy with what we found on our soul search and now we have a greater confidence in who we are. We believe it has a purpose and that we have something to say. Frankly we also enjoy the process of getting it out. We know who we are.

Analogue: You mentioned writing these songs before the pandemic but then they took on greater meaning. Was that surprising?

Matthew: We talk about that all the time. To me, it shows that human intuition is a real thing. I don't know how it works, but it was us and a couple artists, too, I noticed that were writing similar things at the same time without realizing it. As COVID hit and we started to go inward and think through things, there were lyrics written in November that spoke to things happening in March. Even when riots started happening, even a song like "Wolves" played into that. Granted racial struggles have been around for a long time, but to see it happening so quickly through the writing is really weird and surreal.

"You're in a struggle for your whole career to put yourself in the right condition to be a vessel to communicate an idea."

That's why I continue to label this record as a little bit supernatural, because the way it came about and how it's speaking into the current news and situations is out of our control. We're still trying to wrap our brains around how it all works.

Analogue: Do you feel that way about the songs are formed as well? You use the word "supernatural" about the way they connect or are applied...

David: The best way I can describe this whole situation is something I heard Quincy Jones say. It's a great picture of the balance between our role and the supernatural. Essentially the human role in art is that we have to work at our craft and give ourselves the tools to translate the ideas, but the ideas themselves come from somewhere beyond. You're in a struggle for your whole career to put yourself in the right condition to be a vessel to communicate an idea. In songwriting sessions that are super-productive, there's a flow or energy or vibe that sometimes I can only describe it where the sounds and tones and parts you pull up all arrive at their peak. They're immediately iconic and you didn't have to work for it. You're just channeling something.

Matthew: I won't name the artist, but I heard a very popular artist on a podcast a while ago and I was so fucking pissed off. This interviewer asked him, 'What does music mean to you? How do you approach it and view it?' He was trying to allude to the question you just asked, but his response was so fucking lame. He said, 'I don't know. I just do it.' I got frustrated in that moment because when we're writing and a melody comes to mind, the supernatural part is at play.

It's not like I'm just sitting in my apartment able to tap into some amazing melody just because of myself. Something happens because of an experience or energy and you reach up and you're able to pull. There's an insane gratitude that comes afterward that I can't believe I get to be a part of it. So I wish more artists would take that approach. It's such a mysterious and beautiful thing that happens when you get melodies like that. It inspires me. It's why we write songs. The unknowing-ness of it all is what is most inspiring to me.

VISIT: Missio