Missy D has made her name in Vancouver as a longtime emcee with a penchant for soulfully-sung hooks. That’s on display, full-force, across last year’s joyful, emotionally poignant Yes Mama EP, and more recently through this spring’s synth-bass bumping “Rollin” single.
Earlier this year, Missy D went multi-hyphenate by launching her own Instagram Live series, Missy D Interviews. Each Wednesday, she connects with a mixture of established and emerging artists to talk music and more. This includes collaborative partners like rapper Kimmortal, and Vancouver artists like Teon Gibbs and Prado. She’ll also speak with producers, photographers, social justice advocates, and more. No matter the guest, Missy D is enthusiastic to chop it up, often serenading each guest as they pop into the bottom half of an Instagram Live split-frame.
Speaking with Gut Feeling, Missy D got into the connections between working crowds and intuiting an interviewee’s needs, and why she may not be pulling up any wacky face filters for our benefit any time soon.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
I think some people would say that I am. My 9-to-5 [as a University educator] usually asks me to facilitate conversations between students or student leaders. And I enjoy one-on-ones. People that know me know that I’m introverted, but that’s just because I’d rather do one-on-one conversations—though I do love to perform for a big group.
You’d brought up in your recent conversation with Udokam that part of this project is just about “checking in on people,” whether that’s friends, musical peers, activists— all of those can dovetail within each other obviously. What can you say about connecting to the community through Missy D Interviews?
There are so many facets to it. At the core, it’s just an extended ‘how are you?’ Often with people that are community builders.
If you listen to that Udokam interview, there’s a question I asked her: ‘Hey, what can people do to support you?’ She’s usually supporting others, so this was a way to take a step back [and support her]. That’s community: taking care of one another. ‘How are you really doing? Let’s sit down.’ We don’t have to do it on IG live. We can do it off-camera, but I think inviting people to the conversation is a reminder to us all that we’re not alone.
There’s an especially relaxed vibe to how you conduct Missy D Interviews— sometimes you’re serenading people into the segments. Have you noticed any differences in how you use your voice through these talks, versus how you might work a crowd in a concert setting?
They’re different exercises, but they speak to one another. I think Missy D Interviews is really about listening. I’m actively listening to that person, because I want to bring back some of the things they said at the end of the interview. I want to connect the dots in my head, take in the information that they’re sharing with us. If I’m not listening carefully, I might miss something and then miss out on a follow-up question.
It mirrors what I do onstage, where I’m also reading the room, trying to see, “Ok, are we going to follow the set list that we prepared, or do we need to do another song because the crowd is responding differently.’ It’s interesting, those two different exercises. They’re helping one another. Because I got used to reading the room, I can try to read into what my interviewee needs at that time—do they want me pass on a question, or give them a bit more framing? I also find myself trying to share more about the human, not just the artist.
On that note, you’re connected to some of the artists you’ve interviewed through the series — either as a friend, a collaborator, or just by virtue of them being local. Have any major revelations come out of these talks that have given you a new perspective on a close friend?
A few people have been very close friends of mine; some I’ve only met once. I call them friends—I hope we’re friends—but we definitely don’t know each other well. [For instance,] I was interviewing Haviah Mighty a couple of weeks ago. Haviah and I have done a few shows together over the years, but we don’t have a lot of time to talk about life in the green room.
I’m finding it very interesting just [finding out] what people are watching. We spend a lot of hours on our screens! Yesterday, [Ebon Empress] was talking about watching YouTube makeup artists. I would never have known that—her make-up is fire, always. Not the first thing I would’ve thought she’d be watching. ‘Oh, you’re watching a YouTube makeup artists? That’s Dope!’ I’ll write that down for myself, and I’ll probably watch some this weekend.
That’s the fun side of things, but there’s also people just being honest with me, like, “Yo…it’s been a tough year,’ or opening up about the things that hope they can do, or about what influences them. Really having those heart-to-heart conversations on what inspired them to write a song. It’s fascinating! Most of the time we go over time, because I’m like, ‘Tell me more! I wish I had asked this two years ago when we were in the green room, but, hey, I get to ask it today and laugh with you some more.’
Looking at the lighter side of tech available to you through Instagram, you did an interview with Teon Gibbs recently where he showed up onscreen with a Pokemon filter on his face. Have you thought of fooling around with that, yourself?
He threw me for a loop; I think Kimmortal did the same thing during their interview. I’m going to be exploring those filter reactions, but I’m scared [to use them]. I lost one Live [interview], but now I know how to archive them.
I’m always scared that if I press a button it’s going to close the session. I’m going to lose everything; I’m going to look unprofessional. That’s the only reason I didn’t do it, too. ‘You play around; I’ll just try to stay on the call.’
On top of being a singer, a lyricist, and emcee, you’re now exploring new media over Instagram. Since you recently released your “Rollin’” single, a song where you speak on sorting out purpose and identity [“I’m trying to figure out who I am”], what has this latest project done to help further figure out your sense of self?
It reminded me why I do music. I always hope that my music brings people into the conversation— either by expressing themselves, feeling their feelings, or reflecting on a certain topic. Missy D Interviews is a more active exchange between two people, compared to music being more like, ‘I’m sending you the music, but I don’t always hear your reaction.’
[Missy D Interviews has] really allowed me to explore how my voice can be heard—or should be heard—by the community. It’s also reminding me about the community I’ve built over time. The pandemic was isolating; I didn’t get to see my band every week for practice. It made me feel, ‘Oh, shoot… who’s my bubble?’ It made me feel lonely. So Missy D Interviews, and music in general, has reminded me that there’s this whole community out there. The guests I’ve had so far, it’s like, “Oh, we have a mutual friend, or you added me on Instagram but we’ve never met in person yet.’ My role within the community [through Missy D Interviews] is showcasing these people; spotlighting other people. The light doesn’t need to only be on me! I’m enjoying that aspect.
I don’t know…I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do, but I think the community is going to help me figure it out.
Bringing it back to something you brought up earlier: Even as you’re sharing these other people’s stories through the Missy D Interviews platform, what can people do to support you?
I’m trying to figure out how to develop this project. It sounds limitless right now; there are so many things I could be doing. A lot of the e-mails I’ve been sending out this week are like, ‘Where can I take this? Where can this go? How can I develop the format?’
Is there a fun component to add to it? Can I bring in live performance? Recently I saw that Instagram can do a Live story with four people. A future concept I’ve been thinking about is instead of talking to one person at a time, maybe I’ll start having group conversations. I see potential; I see room for growth.
I’m looking for words of wisdom. Maybe I have some expertise on music, but I just want to learn “how do I become a better interviewer?” And I want to go big. If anybody can help me with that, let me know!
Missy D Interviews airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. PDT over on Instagram.