Like moths to a flame, we were drawn to the charisma and ease of performance that Lizzy Plapinger contributed to the electro-pop outfit MS MR. With her latest project, the more alternative-geared LPX, we’re not just flapping our wings towards that flame, we’re flying right through it. (Check out the TrunkSpace review of her debut EP, “Bolt in the Blue,” here.)
We recently sat down with Plapinger, co-founder of Neon Gold Records, to discuss the sense of accomplishment in going it alone artistically, the inspiration behind LPX, and why she’s ready to get inside her own skin and explore her creative self even further.
TrunkSpace: Is there a different feeling – a different sense of accomplishment – with something like “Bolt in the Blue,” which is wholly yours as opposed to a more collaborative atmosphere like with MS MR?
Plapinger: It is a very different feeling. It’s just a really wonderful sense of showing a complete and whole side of yourself with the world. I’ve always been incredibly proud of everything that Max (Hershenow) and I have made together and shared. This is definitely a different feeling when it’s just sort of me and an audience; honestly even bigger than that. I mean, on my own as a self-released, fully independent artist to feel like we’ve gotten so much traction and attention, to have so many ears on the music without the push of a major label – it feels like a huge sense of accomplishment and sort of full circle of everything that I’ve worked for MS MR and Neon Gold Records and how it all sort of perfectly came together in the package of LPX now. I’m using all the lessons I’ve learned basically.
TrunkSpace: At the same time, did you also feel more vulnerable releasing this particular material, because at the end of the day, all of the feedback, positive and negative, falls on you, correct?
Plapinger: Sure. It’s so weird. I never feel nervous about sharing music or videos or art. Not because I have some sort of full arrogant sense of it, but I just never put anything out unless I love it so completely, and I know, hand over heart, that whether it does well or it doesn’t, that I’m super proud of it. I’ve never had this anxious feeling of like, “What’s gonna happen?”, because I’m just so excited to be sharing things.
I feel like the biggest difference heading up to it was, honestly, just how much work went into it. It’s a really different thing when you’re plugging into a label and you have a whole team doing PR and you push this sort of international button and everything goes off at once. This is a really tiny team. It meant that the media leading up to it was sending personal emails to every person in the press that I’ve ever met and to any person I know at Spotify. I think everything about LPX is a lot more personal. With any sort of accolade or compliment that comes with it, it just feels that much more meaningful because I just know how much time and work and effort has gone into every piece of it.
TrunkSpace: How long has the project been gestating inside you? Was it something you have been thinking about for a long time?
Plapinger: I never had any sort of pre-meditated, preconceived notion of doing LPX while I was in MS MR. What we were sort of preparing for the third album at the end of the second album cycle, I just didn’t really know where we were gonna evolve and grow as a band at that point. Max had been writing and producing with a lot of different other artists, which is awesome and I was super supportive of. I did just honestly feel his evolution as a producer and as an artist and I think I really wanted that experience for myself, and in the process, to make music that was a little bit closer to the artists and bands and musicians that I grew up with listening to, which is really much more rooted in rock and alternative. Once we sort of decided to take a second and explain that in writing with other people, it’s only really then that I started imagining what a solo project would look like. I think it took about a year. It took four or five months for me to create “Tightrope,” which really set the blueprint for everything afterwards. And once “Tightrope” was written, it took me about maybe six months to get the rest of the material – keep writing, keep writing, keep writing, finding new collaborators, and then onto the music, which was a really awesome experience. It was a combination of being in the room with new people, which I’m really enjoying just what that means every time and how you have to reassert yourself every time you’re in the room with a new person… I assumed that going into the room with different people would mean, I don’t know, losing your sense of self and you acclimate to that person, and really it’s only forced me in the opposite direction to sort of understand my point of view as an artist more and more so that I can directly communicate that as soon as possible. Going through the process of mixing and mastering without a partner – I’ve always been so lucky to learn and have Max to help me with those kind of choices and those processes, and to do that on my own, was really awesome. I’m hoping that having that year under my belt, of doing that with “Bolt in the Blue,” I’m hoping I can move more quickly through the process and be releasing things a little bit more regularly now that that first body of work is out in the world.
TrunkSpace: And from an artistic standpoint, having “Bolt in the Blue” out in the world now must instantly charge you to get back into the studio and do more.
Plapinger: Totally, and literally the week that it came out, I was actually in Nicaragua where I wrote “Tightrope” and “Tremble,” which sparked the project, and was writing. I think I have the bones of the next body of work, the next couple songs that are going to be released. I’ve really not stopped writing even though this record just came out three weeks ago. I’m already looking to the next things, which is always a struggle. You’re always excited to put out the next thing but it took so much time to put “Bolt in the Blue” together I still want to honor and bring as much attention to that as possible, but I’m always excited to keep moving forward.
TrunkSpace: It’s like a painter. You finish a painting and you can hang it on the wall to be enjoyed, but at the same time you want to move on and paint your next work.
Plapinger: Exactly. My job is really done. I’ve made the music. Now it’s out in the world and I hope people love and appreciate it. All I really want to do is keep creating.
TrunkSpace: So will that next batch of songs be an extension of “Bolt in the Blue” or will you stylistically be trying different things?
Plapinger: It’s all in the same world genre-wise. Something that was really important to me with this first body of work was really just contextualizing LPX as something so different from MS MR, which really lived in the electro-pop world. I think when I first started releasing LPX songs, people didn’t know quite where to place me because I come from that genre. I love that these six songs really establish me in this alternative lane. I’m definitely still mining what that looks and feels like to me.
I think that “Bolt in the Blue” feels like such a high octane, aggressive, prickly, high energy body of work, it’s kind of bursting onto the scene. I feel like the next body of work, or couple of songs, will still have that energy but might not be quite as aggressive. I don’t know. I’m still sort of figuring that out. New songs take on a life of their own, but I feel like the next couple songs might be the calm after the storm.
TrunkSpace: Artistically that must be kind of freeing. You’ve made your introduction to the world as LPX, and now it becomes less about establishing what that new sound is, and more about what is inspiring you currently.
Plapinger: Absolutely. And that’s always ever-evolving, especially if you’re a music lover and you’re always listening to new records. I think so much of “Bolt in the Blue” is honoring the artists that I’ve grown up with, especially the female heroes that I have in alternative like Siouxsie Sioux or Shirley Manson or PJ Harvey. And recently I’ve been listening to a ton of new ones, and that’s definitely shifting the influences that I’ve sort of embedded in the production. My writing style is never really going to change and I’m always sort of experimenting with the tone of my voice and what my body is physically capable of in a sonic way, which I really love. That’s really liberating for me to think of my voice like that.
It has been interesting to see that this sound is ever-evolving as I think it always should be. The first hurdle is out of the way, which is exciting. People know who I am and now there’s more room for me to even get inside my own skin.
“Bolt in the Blue” is available now.