MS MR Talk Musical Evolution, D.I.Y. Fashion and Having No Regrets: Interview
Alt-pop duo MS MR first turned heads with their 2013 debut album Secondhand Rapture, led by the single "Hurricane." The dreamy production, coupled with Lizzy Plapinger's haunting vocals, helped the band earn critical praise and a growing fan base.
Following their highly anticipated SXSW 2015 set earlier this year, MS MR released their second studio album How Does It Feel, last month via Columbia Records, featuring lead single "Painted" and their dreamy "Criminals."
Plapinger and bandmate Max Hershenow recently sat down with PopCrush to discuss the evolution of MS MR, their creative process and becoming D.I.Y. fashion designers backstage at Lollapalooza last weekend.
PopCrush: Since this is your second time performing at Lollapalooza, does it feel different since you aren't Lolla rookies anymore?
Lizzy Plapinger: Yeah, I think there is a certain comfort to the familiarity knowing how things run both in the festival and behind the scenes.
Max Hershenow: Just knowing the layout actually is sort of nice and familiar like, "Oh we've been here before." Yeah it's cute.
Plapinger: But I would say it's the same amount of nervousness and excitement.
You started to design your own stage outfits. What made you decide to take a D.I.Y. approach to what you wear?
Hershenow: This is a new era for us of D.I.Y.-ness. It's been very exciting for us to feel like we can take all the control. I love it because you can take something basic, boring or plain and then make it your own. Completely unique and individual. It's just a fun thing to do on the road.
I would wear what you wore in the "Painted" music video every day.
Hershenow: [Laughs] I love that shirt. What I'm wearing today is sort of inspired by that.
Did you two have previous clothing design experience or took what you saw around you and add your own style do it?
Plapinger: You take what you see. I think for us starting to make our own tour outfits is the same approach on how we make our music. It's very much trusting your instincts, having fun with it and staying true to our individuality. I think people are going to see it on stage and also in the music. "This record was written to be performed on stage" is what we were thinking about while creating it.
You released your second album, How Does It Feel, last month. Max previously said the record sounded bigger than he was anticipating. Did this album become more ambitious than you were initially planning?
Hershenow: I think we were definitely ambitious and it was as big as we dreamed of it being. I think the same sort of ideas and impulses are on this record as there were on the first record. Now we're just better musicians with a more varied palette, and better skills to articulate that. The songs feel as lush and big and meaty as we wanted them to, with the pop songs we dreamed of making when we first started the band.
How Does It Feel definitely sounds more mature compared to your previous album. If you could go back to Secondhand Rapture, would you change anything about it or leave it alone to show the evolution of MS MR?
Plapinger: No regrets. Showing your evolution is an important process and I think there is something beautiful about Secondhand Rapture being the first songs we not only wrote as MS MR, but in our lives. "Bones" was literally the first song I've ever seen to completion with anyone else. It's nice to have that second record and put the first record in context and shows the steps we've taken as individuals and as artists.
Lizzy, you are the co-founder of Neon Gold Records. Does being an artist and label owner give you a better perspective of the business?
Plapinger: I think when we're in the studio they're two completely different mindsets. It's nice to just not think about the business and just be emotional and visceral and think about the art. But then it is nice to have that experience when after the record is in completion, I'm thinking about how we're going to share the music with the world. It's helpful.
You're back into active touring to promote How Does It Feel. How do you pass the time when you're on the road. Catch up on the rest of Mad Men? Swipe left or right on Tinder?
Hershenow: I work out a lot. That's my thing, especially when you're in different time zones all the time. It's important to have a daily workout and readjust. It's not that exciting though. Lizzy is a big cinephile.
Plapinger: I watch a ton of movies. I always have a running list of old and new films that I want to see or TV. Or I'm listening to music. I'm very escapist and always trying to listen to what's out.
Hershenow: I do my best production when I'm a plane, mostly, because you're completely focused. I have a little mobile keyboard and work on a plane a lot of the times.
Do you force yourselves to write songs or let it come to you?
Hershenow: I think for us, it's a balance of that. Knowing when to quit is part of the art of it and knowing when to push through is just as important. There are days in the studio where nothing happens for hours and we're just super frustrated, and finally something happens. There are also days we're just pulling our hair at and then we're like, "Let's just go get a beer and watch a movie." Sometimes your best ideas come after a break. Honestly there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it for us.
How Does It Feel was released on July 17.