We caught up with the duo - vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow - backstage at Osheaga to talk music, get the inside scoop on where they stock up their amazing wardrobe and even got them to write a love letter to one of their fave peers.
I have to start with a cheesy question and ask you how does it feel to have released 'How Does It Feel'?
Lizzy: It feels surreal and exciting to have completed it and have shared it with the world!
Max: And to be performing it live. We wrote it to be performed live, so playing this recent series of festivals has been really, really great.
As you were starting to write the record, did you go into it with any specific goals or preconceived notions, like creating music that's meant to be performed live?
Lizzy: I wouldn't say there was too much of a preconceived idea, but we definitely had conversations about how much we wanted to show how much we’ve evolved as a producer, as a vocalist and as writers. We wanted it to be energetic and something that would make us want to dance. And not just rock around and fist bump, but grind and get down and get sensual. And I think there’s a dirtiness and nastiness to the record, but there’s also pure pleasure and the inner turmoil and angst from the first record, so it doesn't feel like a complete departure from Secondhand Rapture.
Is it ever hard to let a song go and say 'This is done, we're not tweaking it anymore'?
Max: It’s hard for us to know when to stop writing in general. We probably finished 40 or 50 songs and had another 100 started for this record. There’s nothing more fun than starting a new song, there’s so much potential, so it was hard to say ‘This is the last week we have to write, then we have to consolidate.’
Lizzy: From the writing room to recording and instrumentation to mixing, you sort of lose songs in the process. It’s interesting to see what songs come alive and get better and better and how some songs you think were absolutely amazing never really make it to the place you want them to. That’s sort of a comforting part of the process - it helps remind you not to get too attached.
Max: When we first start writing it’s just us because it’s important to have music that feels right for us first, but when we were narrowing it down, we definitely needed some outside input. You get too close to it, you listen to it so much, that it’s hard to have that perspective. Also, sometimes there’s a song that’s really good and we love it, but it doesn't make sense in the context of the whole. Part of being an artist is knowing what to hold back.
Your style is so amazing, it's crazy. Do you shop specifically for the stage or do you find yourselves wearing the same outfits when you're performing as you would on a day off?
Lizzy: It used to be more like that, but now, for better or worse, something crazy I’ll wear on stage, I’ll wear on my day off too. We just like feeling comfortable and being the best version of ourselves and clothes are such a fun way to communicate the aesthetic of the record and our influences and points of inspiration. Sometimes it’s also just a comfort thing. You miss home, so you wear your favorite piece from New York.
If your closet was burning and you could only save one piece, what would you rescue?
Lizzy: I can’t even talk about that, that makes me wanna die. [laughs]
Max: These sunglasses! We would both be fully naked, just wearing our glasses. [laughs]
What are some of your favortie spots to shop?
Lizzy: I love Patricia Field so much. Screaming Mimis is great and Urban Jungle is a great vintage store in Brooklyn. There's such a great vintage community in New York, I feel like I have a relationship with the stores, I can come in an be like, 'What did you just get in?' Some of them even know my style and hold things for me. It’s not just about getting your clothes -- they're friends.
Max: Rose Bowl in Los Angeles is amazing. First Sunday of every month they have a massive flea market - it's so fun!
Lizzy: You have to dig and there are all these Japanese women with carts who are cut-throat -- do not get in their way! Sometimes I’ve followed them around just to see what they’re buying. [laughs] They have a very good eye!
Last but not least, we like to ask bands to write love letters to one another - are you game?
Lizzy: I'm gonna do it! With Father John Misty!
'Dear F.J.M., you make me feel Father John Misty downstairs. <3 Lizzy (MS MR) xxx'
MS MR will be back in Canada playing three shows this fall as part of their How Does It Feel Tour! Do. Not. Miss. Them.
Photos: Katherine Dydyk