MS MR: We're still figuring it out

Categories: Interview
MS_MR_Tyler_Kohlhoff.jpg
Photo by Tyler Kohlhoff

Riding the success of their wildly popular single "Hurricane," New York-based MS MR have "made it" in every sense of the word, scoring a deal with Columbia Records that led to touring, the release of their full-length debut Secondhand Rapture, and performances on stages as large as Lollapalooza.

While the meteoric rise of another NYC pop duo may not bat a lash on its own, what does is vocalist/Neon Gold records cofounder Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow's unexpected communion and growth. Post-undergrad studies at Vassar, the two have actualized into a textured blend of bouncing, brooding pop (also: they're great on Tumblr). Ahead of their sold-out show Saturday at 7th St. Entry, Gimme Noise caught up with Plapinger and Hershenow.


Gimme Noise:You released two singles, "Hurricane" and "Fantasy" in 2010, but your debut record wasn't released until 2013. Did you have it in your head that there would be a full-length from the beginning? What role did circumstance play?

Max Hershenow:Well we had a collection of material in our back pockets and we wanted to have some other stuff to prove that we weren't a one-note band. There were no expectations or specific plans initially, just sort unspoken hopes I think. And obviously circumstance did play a part in our growth.

Lizzy Plapinger: And we were enjoying ourselves!

MH: Yeah, we just genuinely loved doing it. And so I sort of think that we would have written a record anyway -- even if none of this had even happened -- because we liked doing it so much and we still have liked doing it even if it hadn't taken off. So, I don't know. It was an initial impulse.

What is the dynamic of your musical partnership?

LP: It's something that we are still figuring out. If you want something in black and white, well, some people seem to be able to work that way, but not us. We're so involved in the process and it functions as a true back-and-forth between us. I think that relieves the pressure.

MH: we're both complimentary to what the other person has to offer. I have a knowledge and vocabulary for more technical aspects like chord progressions and producing. Lizzie doesn't play an instrument but she has this completely, incredible gift for melody. She really pushes me into new directions and picks up on things that I'm not able to pick up on.

LP: I think it's fun. I mean it has to be fun. If we're not having a good time while we're doing it than why are we doing it? It's really, really wild that this has taken of the way that is has. We're well aware that we have a lot to learn, but hey, that means that there is also a lot of room for development. That's really important to us.

Where do you think you function best creatively?

MH: it's definitely easiest for us to write in New York. I have a little studio in my apartment where we can listen to records and be at ease and it's free and just low key. But I mean when you're on the road you sort of have to make it work a little bit because you have to write! We're still figuring it but we want to start thinking about the next record. It's definitely best in New York.

Lizzy, how much involvement do you still have with [the label you founded in 2008] Neon Gold?

LP: You know, it's not impossible for me to remain involved. It's actually pretty easy. There are a lot of long drives in the car where I can be on my email or listening to demos. Neon Gold is my baby and I've honestly learned so much going through all of these processes as both a musician and someone from a label. It's helped me to understand both sides of the business.

What's your number one priority for the rest of the year?

MH: You know, I hope to have most of another record written or at least a direction for it. I want to try new recording processes. I hope we have the time off the road to go to a real studio and, like, lay down some pianos and live instruments. I've learned so much and I'm really hungry to try it.

MS MR play 7th St. Entry on Saturday, September 28 with Wildcat! Wildcat! The show is sold out.

See Also:
50 cool facts about the Minnesota music scene
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list
Top 10 must-see Minnesota music videos this week

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