After the success of their first album, Secondhand Rapture, MS MR are back on the road with How Does it Feel this year. They’ve been on the road in support of their new album since the beginning of the year and they are starting the Fall leg of their North American tour in Austin once again.
Vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow met briefly during their time at Vassar College but never discussed collaborating on anything until Max sent some material to Lizzy and she felt a connection to his sound. Lizzy never really sang in front of anyone before she got in a room with Max for the first time. The label she had started with Derek Davies, Neon Gold, was doing an amazing job of finding new talent and she never thought of contributing to the industry as an artist herself. The fact that they connected on such a level and everything fell right into place is an incredible story and I’m so happy we didn’t miss out on such a unique voice and sound.
The band agreed to chat with me about what’s going on and what we can expect from their show here in Seattle October 20th at the Neptune. The call was 9:45PST so I felt a little less guilty because I thought both were in NYC. Then I found out that Max was in LA for the early call with me, I felt so bad he had to get up so early but that just proved how great he is.
NWMS: Where am I catching you guys?
Max: Lizzy’s in New York and I’m in Los Angeles at the moment. We just got back from Berlin and we are just repacking to go out on tour again tomorrow.
NW: You’re on different sides of the country, Max, you’re on the same boat as me. Then it’s really early for you.
Lizzy: Hey guys, it’s early here I’m still waking up too. (laughs)
NW: I guess it is early, especially if you’ve gone out the night before.
NW: So when did the touring start for this album?
L: We started at SXSW, then festivals in the summer. We did a small amount of club shows when the album came out. It’s been great to play the material, and being on the road for the next three months is awesome and having started and kicked it off in Scandinavia last week. We’re hungry and ready to be on the road and to play the new record for everyone.
NW: How is this tour going over in comparison to the first one?
M: The show is still the same in terms of the high energy show we’ve been known for, the music is more coordinated with our stage set this time around. With the first album we hadn’t really thought of how it would be on stage when we were writing it, so for this one we sat down more and the setting allows us to move around and interact more with the audience. In terms of the stage set we have a new light box feature that we’ve been using, and we’ve worked with a lighting designer, it’s a great production.
NW: I can’t wait to see the show, you’ve been a band I’ve wanted to see but just never happened. I was at ACL in 2013 the second weekend and the last day got cancelled and I never got the chance.
L: It’s alright, you get to see us now, and this will be much better since it will be the full immerse MS MR experience. You’ll get to hear all the songs and we’ll play longer. We traveled 24 hours to go back and play that show in Austin and we woke up to hear that it was cancelled, it was unfortunate. So now, we’re really going to make it the best ever for you.
NW: Now that we mentioned the stage, how do you input your own ideas with the person you work with to set up as you imagine yourselves?
L: We hired someone and the infinity mirror is an idea we’ve had for a while. For us we’re such visual artists, when we style ourselves for our videos, our photographs, our online world, we didn’t really have the opportunity with the first album being a new band not making a lot of money. It’s nice now with this album that we were able to invest a little more time to the production of this record. We still keep it very simple, we want you to be engaged with us, we don’t want it to be a distance between us and the fans, it’s a high octane colorful show. We put a lot of pride in our outfits, we’re hand making a lot of them, and the show really is a natural extension of who we are as people.
NW: Who are your biggest influences in your style?
L: It’s always changing but Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Jerry Hall, right now 70s Cher, I think it’s fun to pull inspiration from different time periods and mix things up. I want to play with feminine and masculine edges, being hyper feminine but in a way that feels very tough, make sure however we are and however we dress feels at the time how we feel.
NW: There is a more pop direction on this album than with the first, what inspired the change?
M: There wasn’t an effort for that, it was more an evolution a chance of how we’ve evolved as artists, a writer, a producer, a vocalist. I think we wanted to find another way to present our emotions, we didn’t only want to be down and dark all the time, we wanted to have the sense of light, perseverance, overcoming in a way.
NW: How does your writing process work? Lizzy most of the lyrics and Max music and production?
L: For the most part that’s how it goes, I think we’re both still involved in the other’s process so that we both feel a part of it but it’s great to be able to collaborate like that. We became much more confident in ourselves in the transition to the second record in order give each other the breathing room to see each other’s visions through and then come together and combine what it feels like for both.
NW: I know you are both involved in other projects, Lizzy how does that work with you being gone on tour with Neon Gold records?
L: I’m still running the label with Derek, I’m very lucky because I have partners that are very supportive and understanding and help me with both. I’m still part of any major decisions that happen, still involved in the records we’re working on, still looking for artists to sign, still at every label meeting. It’s nice to be able to still do that which brings experience on different ends and to learn so much for the future.
NW: How do you pick artists you want to work with? I think it’s so cool that you currently have so many people I’ve followed in the last few years (Tove Lo, Charli XCX, VERITE, St.Lucia) or you’ve helped launch their career (Ellie Goulding, Gotye, Haim, Icona Pop, MO, Passion Pit, Naked and Famous).
L: At first a lot was going to shows but now I find things online, and Soundcloud, it’s nice that we’ve established our name so managers, labels and artists will email us directly with material.
NW: Do you live in different cities when not on tour?
M: Yes, this has been our new setup since last November, and it’s been going great. I like it here and there’s more opportunity to work on production and writing with other people. Everything I work on helps with bringing something else to the table.
NW: What have been some of your favorite records from this year?
M: Jamie xx, Florence and the Machine, Tame Impala
L: It’s been a great year for music and it feels like it’s only getting better. I’m currently working on this band called Mitski that is awesome.
NW: Craziest thing a fan has done?
L: Nothing wild, they are very excited to be around us and nice. Someone threw a bra onstage once but other than that I can’t think of anything. We have a fan in Germany that travels around to all or our European shows which is so rad.