MS MR - 2013 - Photo by Tyler Kohlhoff

Photo by Tyler Kohlhoff

”We are laying the foundation now to be in here for the long run; whatever we need to do to prove that, we are gonna be in here, twenty records from now. That is sort of our goal“

NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION caught the wonderful and quirky duo MS MR in between tea time and a stunning performance at this year’s MELT! FESTIVAL. The festival conditions, thus far, were perfect. Not a single cloud in sight and a promising line up lay ahead.  Still, the sticky heat was almost bearable that Friday afternoon. After greeting Lizzy and Max in the tiny tent near the quarry pond, I was covered in sweat and festival dust. Max grins at me, beginning the interview with “… melting at Melt! Festival”MS MR (pronounced Miss Mister ) is Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow. They just released their first record Secondhand Rapture and already it’s clear: these two have crafted a perfect mix of colourful pop music.  Both make it very clear that MS MR (despite all this fuss about their glitzy appearance) is not just a pretty looking but short-lived mayfly.


Concerning your band name: you’re obviously the Ms and you are the Mr.?
Lizzy: Or maybe it is not so obviously. (both lough out loud)
Max: Well we love the fact, that it is sort of an anonymous name that anyone can claim the title of any gender that they choose to claim, that day or that hour. We joke, that Lizzy is sometimes the more masculine one and I am the more feminine one and vice versa. As fluid as we want it to be, we are comfortable with that.


You being lauded as the newcomer of 2013.  Is that a blessing or a burden?
Lizzy: I think it is a blessing. We are very lucky that things have been going so incredibly well and we are so happy that finally we have the album out and to be sharing it. But there is a danger that comes with being described as a sound of a certain year, because you don’t want to be held in that year and find you are already dated or you are over before it started. For us, it is nice to know to be appreciated and getting a good buzz and hype. But I think we are just trying to continuously prove it, to pull that attention. We are laying the foundations now to be in here for the long run; and whatever we need to do to prove that, we are gonna be in here, twenty records from now. That is sort of our goal.


In an interview I read your are quite curious how people would label your music.  I would like to know, how  would you tag yourself?
Max: I think for us, the umbrella term we could use and the only accurate one would be pop. And I think we are proud to be pop musicians and we are proud of the flexibility that that label gives us. That you can sort of make pop into whatever you want it to be and you can find pop in every genre. I think that freedom was what sort of inspired us to write the record and I think I want to maintain that. That’s why I wanna be a pop musician.


Your music is often compared to bands like FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE. Is that a flattering comparison for you?
[one_half last=”no”][/one_half]

Lizzy: Incredibly so! I mean we absolutely love FLORENCE. Really I completely idealize her, she is amazing. Comparisons are really interesting, because when you are a new band that hasn’t sort of defined itself as an individual act yet, you can’t help but be placed in people’s boxes of comparisons, because people are trying to figure out what sort of sound you represent. We really like hearing that people think it is more like THE XX, or like COCTEAU TWINS or TORI AMOS and then some people think its more FLORENCE. But I always like to hear someone say its like a band I have not heard previously.  I think it means, that people can’t quite put their finger on who we are yet. Eventually we will be MS MR and new bands that come around will be compared to us.


And then who are your influences?
Max: Well definitely FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE! I think we were really sort of fluid about what we brought into the process. We both listened to a ton of music and sort of felt free to bring in music from any genre or any time period. And also when you are writing music and listening to music all the time you can’t help and absorb things. It also is about the unintentional ways that things come out. Like, when we were recording, the Adele record was huge. It obviously influenced us. I don’t know how but it was just everywhere so you couldn’t avoid it. Like FOSTER THE PEOPLE and GOTYE too.
Lizzy: Yeah, it is interesting. I don’t know if we would necessarily listen to them. In some ways they must have weaseled their way in, because we were not listening to them. But we listen to a lot of music from all genres and time periods. Anytime we write, it is a chance to sort of push ourselves in a new direction and try a different style or different sound or different use of my voice or a different instrument that we have never incorporated before.  I hope that we will always feel that way about writing.


How important is public image to you?
Both: Appreciated but not essential.
Max: We wrote the record that we wanted to write, and we really really liked writing and writing is still the best part of the project. It really is an exciting thing to do and so I think everything else is just the cherry on top.
Lizzy: Most important is that we make music that we like and we respond to. I mean Hurricane was one of our favourite songs. But I don’t know, for whatever reason, we didn’t think that that was gonna be like a single or like one of the main songs. And than how amazing it is, that we sort of validated our own love of that tune throughout other people’s love of it.


Since we are called “NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION”, I’m interested in your opinion on these two things.  What do hope and passion mean to you?
Max: Hope and passion, oh man.
Lizzy: Well (both giggle), on a serious note I would say hope is dream unfulfilled but wanted. And passion just immediately reminds me of sex.
Max: Great!
Lizzy: Sincerity and luridness!