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NUNN ON ONE, MUSIC. Donna Missal talks tattoos, Valentine's Day
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Singer Donna Missal comes from a long line of songwriters in her family. Her career began in 2013 with writing songs for the film How to Be a Man. Her song "Keep Lying" became a viral hit and was performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Her debut album This Time was released on Harvest last year with a deeply personal vibe to the music.

Openly bisexual, she plans to reclaim the prom for all of her fans, including the LGBT community, for her North American headline tour.

Windy City Times: Hi, Donna. Where are you from, originally?

Donna Missal: I am from New Jersey. I started making music when I was really young in our basement in my childhood home. I have been doing that ever since, recording and writing songs. I started singing in New York and was playing in a band right out of high school.

I sang demos for other artists that led to me mentioning that I wrote music too. It took my awhile but I found a publishing company that would give me my first deal.

WCT: Your career seems to be growing, so talk about that.

DM: I have been developing how I am as an artist for a long time. It is all starting to click. I have been refining my craft and figuring out what I want to do. It's about finding out what I want to do sonically. It has been an ongoing work in progress. I hope that part of learning and exploring never ends.

Putting out my first record showed what kind of artist I want to be. I want to make records that transcend time. I really want to do this forever.

I have been super-involved in the visual part of my songs and designing the live show. I want an experience for the fans to come check it out and remember. I have never had a headline tour of my own.

WCT: Do you have a favorite tattoo?

DM: I have my dad's name tattooed on my wrist. I got it when I was in Melbourne, Australia when I was on tour with Macklemore. I had a song with him on his last album. He brought me out as one of the featured performers.

WCT: Have you been to Chicago much in the past?

DM: My dad is from Chicago. I played a show in Chicago a few months ago. Music seems so important there to the culture. Chicago shows up with so much energy. I am starting the tour in Chicago and couldn't be happier.

WCT: We are spending Valentine's Day together.

DM: I love that! There's so much pressure around that day for everyone. You would think we would be past that. I want to break up the monotony of that day. It's either have an expensive dinner or be at home alone to not see all of these couples. I think that can make people feel isolated.

Music is an outlet for people to feel things. I want to take the holiday back and make a fun night. People can bring a date or with fiends or come alone. We can all have a group date!

WCT: Your concert has a prom theme?

DM: Yes. I wanted the feel of a school dance. I was home schooled, so didn't have those memories growing up.

My album is about figuring out what you care about and who you are. Everyone is at different stages when these events happen. People may have been closeted and couldn't show up to these things being themselves.

I encourage everyone to come out however they want to this thing. If you want to wear a suit or a dress or casual I don't care. Everyone can have a moment where they reclaim the experience. I want it to be positive.

WCT: Being gay and asking a girl to my high school prom was awkward.

DM: I imagine it was embarrassing and isolating. These experiences are not supposed to make you feel bad. It's supposed to be a coming of age, milestone moment. That is a common story. It's heartbreaking and it sucks. Why can't we just forget about that experience?

It took me so long to understand who I am and what I believe in. It was shedding self doubt and the oppression that comes from being a woman, pressure in society and coming to terms with my bisexuality. It took years for me to unpack these things.

I have always found it ironic that we celebrate these events at such a young age. We are supposed to be coming into ourselves as adults and mile mark it with a prom. I don't know anyone that had themselves figured out at that time in their lives or know their sexuality or even feel good about themselves. I am just now starting to feel good about the person that I am.

We don't have to remember these things as a defining moment. Let's do it now or when the time is right. You are coming to the show?

WCT: Yes. I will be there.

DM: Bring whomever you want and wear whatever you want. It will be a party. I can't wait to see people feeling free. That is how I am coming into this experience. I hope everyone feels liberated and free.

Missal hits Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. with tickets at ChopShopChi,com .

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