Having spent most of 2018 on the road, supporting the likes of King Princess, Donna Missal is rapidly building a community around her. Much to the delight of her international fan base, Donna kicked off this year with a short European tour, that saw her perform at East London’s Moth Club. Self-describing her sonics as feminist stripper music, neo-pop or melody rap, one thing is for sure; her lyrics might be emotionally dense – heartbreak, betrayal, deception – but, the woman who stood across the table from me irradiates a magnetic proximity to her, that’s equal parts piercingly honest and self-aware.
“You’re made to feel like there is this pressure of doing things on the clock.” – she pauses – “I’m finally at a point where that is less important to me, and that’s sort of what my record is about: finally coming to the conclusion that time is yours, and it’s yours to do with what you need to do with it. That came out through years and years of learning, and it took me a really long time to get here.”
Leaving the innocence of the early twenties behind, Donna’s life experience gave her a fortified sense of self and focus, not only to own her truth, but to share it with the rest of the world.
“For me, as an artist, its just as important to have a clear message as it is to make great art. Finally being able to release music and feel the impact of what art can do. I just want to keep going. When I close my eyes I don’t see arenas or paparazzi. I see people. I want to uplift and empower all of those around me. And I want to reach as many as possible.”
The passage of time and the constant race against the clock exerts tremendous pressure on a woman’s life. Whether it is the pressure to fit the stereotype of getting married and bearing children, or handling the social pressure if you don’t, there are constant daily reminders at the turn of every corner to remind us that our bodies will invariably change through the passage of time, and that for each malady there is a newly invented remedy. It is a multi-billion industry. Study’s have proven that there is scarring psychological damage carried by an idealised unattainable ideal of perfection that just doesn’t exist IRL.
“I was 28 in December. This industry capitalises on youth, especially for women. There’s still so much societal pressure to capitalise on your youth, and to be young and remain young. Every product, every media outlet. And it’s all appearance based, which I think is the most ridiculous part of it all.. there’s not nearly enough narrative that focuses on speaking about who you really are.” – she proceeds – “I think this is so important that this is spoken about. The ideal woman is all of us. That beauty standard? That’s unattainable. People are saying that, and it is resonating so loudly that media and even politics have no choice but to listen.”
Ageism, whether it is in music, film or fashion, has been wildly and thoroughly documented. However, this one of the topics that only recently have been brought to light for discussion. Social media played a crucial role in sharing different lifestyles and alternatives to the one reality that’s in our most immediate surroundings. Raising alternatives to the veil of the socially desirable has empowered not only artists, but people to come forward to speak about their own experiences.
“We all have a media outlet these days, and that’s very empowering for this conversation in particular. The infrastructure has been set up to keep a woman down, people of colour, different sexual orientation, and different religious affiliations. These subgroups of people have always been put away by media. I think it is amazing to see that because of the rise of social media, it seems like the corporate world, and the world of media art and culture, music is finally starting to listen to society, rather than it being the other way around.”
Donna started another chapter of her story yesterday: Her directorial debut. The visual treatment for ‘Jupiter’ was directed by Donna herself, shot at dusk in her hometown in New Jersey. Speaking on her inspiration behind the video and song: “To me, the song is about a first love. I wanted to make a video to reflect that experience of feeling something for the first time. To me, that brought to mind the memories of driving through my hometown as a teenager, feeling all of these big feelings all at once. It’s my first time directing a video so I chose the setting of my own hometown in NJ that I think could remind anyone of where they grew up.”
Donna Missal is embarking on a 20 date prom-themed US tour starting tomorrow, you can check the full schedule here.