Five Questions with MS MR
Allie Tollaksen | Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Last weekend, indie-pop duo MS MR, consisting of singer Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow, performed at Legends. Associate Scene Editor Allie Tollaksen had a chance to ask them a few questions.
Allie Tollaksen: You released your debut studio album last year, what can we expect in this upcoming year?
MS MR: We’ll be spending most of this year working on writing and recording the next record, as well as touring with our dear friends Grouplove on our longest U.S. tour to date, as well as hitting a slew of festivals this summer including Coachella, Bonnaroo and Firefly.
AT: I had heard your music and known MS MR, of course, as a duo, so I was surprised to see a four-piece band on stage. What was the process of turning into or touring with a larger group?
MS MR: We always knew we never wanted to be the two of us on stage with a laptop — that would have undermined the ambition of the music and also didn’t seem like a fun way to perform. We wrote the music before ever having played live so the transition to the live show took a lot of time. But we knew we were going to build a band around it from the start and it was exciting to see the music take on a new life with live instrumentation that highlighted both the organic and electronic elements of the production.
AT: What is your songwriting process like?
MS MR: We’re somewhat new songwriters so for us writing is all about experimentation and it can begin in a number of ways. We often start with either the two of us sitting down together and attacking a new song, but increasingly we divide and conquer songs — Max will have a track for Lizzy to write over or Lizzy will have a vocal idea that Max will write under. We’re incredibly collaborative with one another so no song feels more like one of ours than the other.
AT: You’ve been known for your presence on Tumblr. Do you think that engagement with internet culture influences your music or how you came
about as musicians?
MS MR: Absolutely! We often say we could have never made this album in any other time period. Our engagement with the internet had a huge influence on the music itself but also the way in which we shared it with the world.
AT: Lizzy, I was so surprised and impressed to hear you started Neon Gold as an undergraduate. How did that come about? Do either of you have any advice for young undergrads looking to get involved with music?
LP: I have always loved music and dreamed of starting a label so when my now business partner Derek and I heard “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit for the first time we knew we had hit upon something really special, and we should just throw ourselves into doing what we love. We just followed our gut which is similar to the MS MR process, stay true to what we love, don’t over think things and follow our instincts.