Donna Missal was a toddler when her renowned record producer father Steve Missal closed up New York shop and moved his family to suburban New Jersey, where he planned to quit the business. But old habits died hard. “My dad just couldn’t get rid of his great old equipment, so he built a full-fledged recording studio in our basement, where I grew up making music and singing with him, and by 4 I was already making full albums for my grandparents,” says Missal, 27. Despite never taking stardom seriously, she’s about to release her soulful Harvest debut disc “This Time.” She owes it all to one track, the current single “Keep Lying,” which changed her life.
When did you first write “Keep Lying”?
Five years ago. I was living in New York and working as a bartender, and I had only had the intention of writing some songs I could then pitch to publishers. I just wanted to be this published writer — that was my big ambition. So I wrote it with this songwriting couple, Mike McAllister and Julie Hardy, and we were writing together every couple of days when we came up with it.
And you sang the demo for publishing houses to hear, which somehow got released online?
It made sense to my manager to put the song out and see if it could advance my career in some small way. So that’s what we did. But somehow, it got into the hands of the DJ Zane Lowe, and the first time it was ever played was on his Beats 1 radio show. So that kind of started my artistry — that was the very beginning of it. I don’t want to say it was haphazard. But I wasn’t even aware at the time that that’s what I was doing.
What happened, post-Zane?
I started to get interest from major labels and small labels, and of course publishing companies. I was really just finally having the conversations I was always hoping to have. But I was getting the impression that people just wanted me to keep making songs that sounded like “Keep Lying,” maybe make an EP. But that didn’t really resonate with me. So I took some time off, just to find out who I wanted to be as an artist.
And the “Keep Lying” single is a new souped-up version of the original demo?
Yeah. Harvest, my label, thought they could really work it at radio. But it didn’t feel right to use the demo version from all those publishing sessions ago. And when a song finds its way out there like mine did, sometimes it just takes a little bit for people to catch on.
IF YOU GO
King Princess, Donna Missal
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F
When: 7:30 p.m. July 23
Tickets: $17 to $20 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com
Note: King Princess and Donna Missal also appear in a sold-out show on July 24 at the Great American Music Hall in The City.
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