MS MR: “We’re really inspired by impending doom and inclement weather”

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Electro-pop duo MS MR are children of the ’10s (is that the right terminology?), soaked in Tumblr, the Internet and sounds so vogue you’ll be zapped onto the cover of Nylon just by listening to them.

They couldn’t have appeared at a better time. Adorned with boutique threads and neon hair, my MS of the pair, fashionista Lizzy Plapinger is a star in the making – Florence + The Machine had a similar introduction to icon-dom. Max Hershenow, the MR, produces their sound – self-described as ‘Tumblr Glitch Pop, Soul Fuzz, Electroshock’ – giving the act the aural flair to back up bolshy claims and outrageous statements. They’re razor sharp in every department (they probably even smell fantastic), and poised to take the world by storm. And with that natural segue…

“We’re really inspired by impending doom and inclement weather.” Says Max. “2012 was the year shrouded in apocalypse and we got together to write out best songs in bad weather. ‘Hurricane’ is the perfect example of that. It was written in New York City and it couldn’t have been written anywhere else, that environment is unique. We identified a few other things that inspired us. One was media and our relationships with it and the opportunists and limitations of the world. We were very influenced by media and it has changed the way we write music.”

But it’s not just the rain and social networks that give the outfit their frenetic brand of slick synthery. Lizzy is keen to share her love of pop; there’s a wide-eyed eagerness in her voice: “We love all different genres and time periods. Our love of pop music has been proudly embraced. I think it’s such an overarching genre and means both everything and nothing at the same time. You can find pop in anything and it’s very open ended, it’s in country and rock and rap… we didn’t deliberately reference many specific bands while we were writing, but in hindsight we identify how the music we grew up with had an influence on us.”

As we approach the point of no return for MS MR and the release of their first long-player, Secondhand Rapture, there’s a giddy glint emanating from their eyes. “We’re more excited than nervous. Really ready for people to hear,” says Max like a child who’s been fed an espresso. “We are working on a celebration. Definitely working on it and we want to do something… we’re definitely going to do something…” he rambles, before Lizzy cuts across: “I mean it’ll probably be us drinking 40oz beers and eating pizza. That’s all we need!”

As the dust begins to settle after the creation of Secondhand Rapture, they reflect. “It was a very collaborative process, very fifty-fifty. It happened one of two ways: either Max would write something for me to sing over, or I’d do an a cappella track for him to write over. It was ultimately a really shared process that we didn’t want just one person dominating. We wanted to feel like we’ve both put in the same amount,” recalls Lizzy. “It was recorded at Max’s apartment on just keys and laptop and a few mics – that’s all still in the mix. Tom Elmhirst [Adele/Amy Winehouse producer] was in the studio and added more elements to give it some life, so it wasn’t so confined by stringency of home recordings… but we were also proud that it has come from a place like that. I mean the vocals were recorded in a spare bedroom!”

The time they spent crafting sonic art was infinitely valuable. “I think the key ethos is that we need to stay open to experimentation, continue to let the process be our our guide and not over analyse, let the music out and then go back to think about what is our ‘sound’. Nothing was predetermined, it just happened, and we went back and found the connecting pieces of our musical identity. It’s important to maintain a curiosity.” It was as much a soul-search for them as a recording process, but it was something that was memorable nonetheless. “We loved it. It’s what we love doing the most. It was an adjustment from tour life, which we’d been doing for a while, but it’s obviously something we love and embrace, so we were both happy when were in the studio,” says Lizzy, before Max tacks on: “I think that moment when you realise how everything has come together is great. There a high for creating more.”

‘Fantasy’ is arguably the biggest cut from the record – though ‘Hurricane’ is a major contender. “It was an a cappella track. We are drawn to the organ sound, something so dark and sinister. And I loved making an upbeat, dancey pop song using something so heavy. It’s about a relationship that didn’t go exactly to plan. It’s about the reality being harsher than the dream might be.” It’s a whirlwind of menacing synth flourishes and elegant vocal hooks, tribal drums and massive choruses. So enticing is the track, that Kele Okereke of Bloc Party whipped up a house remix. “That was pretty awesome. We’re big fans, and it’s incredible to have his twist. We’re always interested in hearing different interpretations of our music. We’re solid in our identity, and we love different views of our music, but what he did was certainly new!” Max gushes. Lizzy pipes in: “We really appreciate it. Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm was one of my favourite records of all time, so knowing that he just listens to us is insane!”

But MS MR aren’t just about their recorded noises. They’ve built a solid reputation for exuberant, engaging and raucous live shows. “We’re pretty wild. Things get loose, it’s high energy… maybe people would expect chill and electronica, but I think there’s a rockier vibe to us. We have a live drummer and other live musicians with strange instruments, and we loop stuff through pedals to add a warping glitch. We play off one another. It’s really fun to have the freedom in a live setup to just let go.” They have a busy, busy schedule ahead of them, with festival slots around the world. “We love playing festivals. It’s a fun counterbalance to the smaller club shows. My highlights will be Glastonbury, as it’s Lizzy’s favourite festival but I’ve never been before. Also Splendour In The Grass in Australia – it’s supposed to be on a really beautiful beach. I’m excited for Lollapalooza in Chicago too.” Max is more thoughtful, but Lizzy jumps right in: “Governor’s Ball is up there! It has the best line-up, a tonne of our friends are coming from all over the States, it’s going to be such an epic weekend…”

MS MR have heaps of energy – that’s obvious in their music – and they’re open about intentions. It’s refreshing, in the midst of a wave of mysterious producers, to have an act transparent about themselves and their hopes and dreams. However, they are still coy about what we can expect from their shows this summer: “It wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you…”

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