Lizzy Plapinger is one-half of the enigmatic pop duo that is MS MR, whose wild brand of music has always struck a chord with fans of all genres. Lizzy hasn’t ruled out the possibility of more music with MS MR but has moved on to a new project under the moniker LPX. This project stretches the definition of pop in a package that is more personal than MS MR and showcases her amazing vocal range with a rock & roll bent. Lizzy recently spoke with mxdwn to talk about her roots in rock, her record label Neon Gold records and her future musical direction.
mxdwn: Your new EP as LPX Bolt In the Blue is an eclectic mix of pop and straight rock & roll. What prompted you to venture off into a solo project?
Lizzy Plapinger: The truth is that with MS MR, those were literally the first songs that I had ever written. Max (Hershenow) was the only person I had ever made music with. And after doing two albums together, I didn’t really know where to take it. Max had been working and producing with a bunch of other artists and really sharpening his skills and I saw him moving. I think I wanted that experience for myself a little bit to see what it was like to create something on my own before we came back together. In that process what became really clear was that I wanted to do something that was closer to the music that I grew up listening to. I love pop music and I am so proud of that music that we have made, but I grew up listening to bands – rock & roll, punk and indie. It’s really interesting that I grew up to make pop music. My solo music lives a lot more in that other world and I challenge myself to write and record outside of my comfort zone.
mxdwn: Your voice on the LPX record has a different emotion and power behind it on this record. You can hear it pushed to its limits on songs like “Tremble” and on “Tightrope” you get a beautiful rasp in the background that I love so much….
LP: Thank you! That is the greatest compliment. I am really proud because I feel that I tapped into a new side of my voice and myself. I feel that those two songs are the first two songs that really laid the foundation of the project. Those two songs were the ones that I felt I could say “This is it, this is what I want that record to sound like.” And I think it’s a notion of being on my own and having the space to really push the emotion, aggression and vulnerability, which was really an amazing thing to channel into these songs. Made it feel a lot more personal. It also is a feeling of moving forward and really figuring out who I am on stage too which is really when I feel the most happiest in the skin I am in.
I really figured out that I am a high-octane performer. My favorite people to watch on stage, like Karen O or Matt Shultz from Cage the Elephant, are super wild. I wanted music that was going to fuel that experience. I am always thinking and dreaming about the live show. My sweet spot in music, I sort of jokingly say it in the studio but it’s sort of true, is like… cry-rage. I want people to be raging and moshing and having the time of their lives but I also want the music to be hitting them in the gut to the point where they almost want to cry. It’s so lit up, but so emotional at the same time. It’s exactly what music should do, or at least what I look for when I am listening to an artist. It was really awesome to articulate all that into these songs.
I think that I got a little more confident with my voice and experimenting. I was really self-conscious because I’d never really sung in a band. I always wanted to know if my voice was strong enough? Am I hitting the notes right? Do I sound professional enough? There is so much time and care and something really reckless and earnest about the vocals in LPX. My voice is all over the place, I was literally ripping my vocal chords open and I could have re-cut those takes and done it perfectly, but I love that some of it’s broken because it becomes the mess that I am portraying. It becomes so much bigger and real to me and it’s really liberating. That’s what rock & roll is, it’s a bit messy at times.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna
mxdwn: How did you stumble upon your love of music and when did it become clear to you that that was the road that you were going to make it a career?
LP: I’ve always loved music. I have two brothers, one older and one younger. My older brother played guitar, I was always stealing records from him and he was always playing me stuff. My dad was always playing music throughout the house. From a really early age, my older brother and my dad took me under their wing. It was a combination of watching musicals, my dad’s love of country music, my older brother was a teenager in the 90s, so he introduced me to The Beastie Boys, and Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, and all that stuff. I grew up as a dancer, which was an inside connection to the music world.
I often think its the music that you listen to in your high school years that completely defines your tastes and takes over your everything, and when I was growing up in high school I became really obsessive into creating and defining my own tastes. I was born and raised in London, so I was able to go to shows by the time I was 14, so it was really easy to sneak into gigs. It became a huge part of my life just as an independent kid. The weird part of it is, I really never saw myself as a performer. I loved dancing, but I wasn’t a fan. I really just wanted to find good music and share it with people. My dream was to start my own label, so when I met my best friend Derek (Davies) at 14 and he had the same dream, our relationship became about music, that was really when the dream, solidified and then it happened.
mxdwn: You hit on running your own label, which is Neon Gold Records. It’s very interesting because all of these wonderful bands came out of that label. How does it feel to be a part of the new wave of music that has come through your label?
LP: I feel so incredibly proud. On a personal level I am fulfilling my dream of running a label. Not only that, but I get to do it with my best friend. I think what’s always been really special about Neon Gold and one of the reasons we started the label, was that the music we love was too quirky for Top 40 at the time and too accessible for the really dark corners of the internet. There was all this amazing music being lost in between lanes. At the time pop music was a really dirty word. It wasn’t cool to be a really ambitious act or be a band that people actually wanted to listen to.
Over the past 10 years with Neon Gold, I feel that pop music is no longer a dirty word. It’s reclaimed its position that everyone can enjoy. I think that pop music, even on the most mainstream levels with people like Rihanna, is really experimental and pretty awesome. I feel really proud that we are one small piece of the fact that pop is really happening now. And it’s interesting because now alternative music is back where pop was 10 years ago. Alternative is now this dirty word that no one really knows what to do with anymore and we are going to see this change again in the next coming 10 years. It’s interesting to be at this stage where I can see the cycles of music a bit.
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna
mxdwn: I never really understood what the term alternative meant….
LP: I totally agree, we live in a pretty genre-less time when music is global and there is no space for genres.
mxdwn: Do you have any future plans to record or tour with MS MR?
LP: There’s nothing really coming up just yet. Things are great with Max and me but we are really just doing our own thing. He’s doing really well writing and producing in LA with a bunch of other people and I feel that LPX is just getting off the ground. I’ve got a lot more music and plans with it too. MS MR isn’t over by any means but it’s gonna be a second before new music or tour comes. The door isn’t shut, it’s just not on the near horizon.
mxdwn: What about LPX? Any new music coming?
LP: I’ve got a bunch more music and I’m really figuring out what my next move is. Should I release another single? Should I release a second EP? Should I release a full album? I’m sort of figuring out what I want to do. Because I’m self-funding and self-releasing, I can really do whatever it is that I want to do. It’s really exciting. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get music to people. I’m still writing, so there will be some new music this year and I’m going to try to do more regular releases. I love an album, but it’s not reflected in the way people consume music anymore. People have A.D.D. and it sucks, I understand why you want to release things quicker. But nothing packs the punch of an album. That’s the best, and always the goal.