Lizzy Plapinger is a musical force to be reckoned with. Having moved to NYC for college, she set up Neon Gold Records with Derek Davies from her dorm room, meeting Max Hershenow to form electro-pop duo MS MR. And that was all before she turned 22.
Now going it alone after a decade in the ‘biz, she’s just dropped her debut solo EP, “Bolt in the Blue”. Under the new moniker LPX – which is how she signs off emails – the EP is full of stomping alt-pop bangers that are best played at the loudest volume possible.
Fiery and fantastic, “Bolt in the Blue” offers the perfect glimpse into Lizzy’s mind and is an exhilarating look at what else is to come. And so we caught up with the musical mastermind – in-between her binge watching of Black Mirror episodes during New York’s recent snow storm – to find out more…
Just a little bit of background, can you tell us how you first got involved with music?
My journey to music has been a really long and complicated one. I was born and raised in London and spent my life breaking into concerts every weekend. Then I met a guy called Derek, who’s like my best friend, and we dreamed of starting a record label together. We ended up going to college in the States and then I started a record label with him out of my dorm room in sophomore year. So my first relationship to music was from a business side, which was starting to run Neon Gold Records, which was really awesome. And then also, I was booking shows in school and having a radio show, interning with Domino Records and a bunch of different venues and promoters and stuff like that – just basically getting as many hands involved as humanly possible.
Then we graduated school, and signed Neon Gold Records to Columbia [Records], and we were able to start signing albums instead of just vinyl singles which was an awesome experience. In that time period, I also started MS MR with a friend of mine and we started to make music anonymously, and it sort of just took off on its own! We ended up getting signed, and then I started experiencing life as an artist and a musician and a performer. Then at the end of the second album with MS MR, I just felt like I had to try and do something on my own. That was sort of the beginning of LPX…
So starting off on the business side, did that kind of insight help you as a musician?
Yeah, absolutely! I mean, I just love all that stuff. It meant that with MS MR, we could take so much control. We got to make every decision when it came to single choices, and artwork, and video direction, and all the branding. We had done so much of it on our own before we even got signed. I think that’s partly what appealed to people both from a fan perspective and business perspective because we had such a cohesive vision. I think it was really rare to see, especially at that time as an indie band. You know, we were really running neck and neck with the campaigns that labels were doing, and we were doing it on our own before we were even signed. So yeah, it was awesome. I brought everything I learned from Neon Gold to MS MR, and then everything I’ve learned from MS MR and Neon Gold I’m bringing to LPX. I feel like every project I’m doing just keeps building out of itself and that’s really exciting. You’re constantly growing off of everything you’ve learned.
How does it feel venturing out as a solo artist now?
It was a little scary, only because I work so well in a partnership. It’s so fun to have a collaborator, you have someone to constantly bounce off ideas, or hold your hand after something’s not going well, or celebrate when things are going well. I mean there’s a real strength to having a great partner. So it’s really hard for the first time to be holding my own hand and having to be really tough with myself about things. But ultimately it’s really creatively satisfying for the first time in my life to never compromise on any level and to make something which is so entirely an extension of myself. In LPX I feel like I’ve just so honestly and sincerely put who I am into an artist project. It means that I can really stand by everything and talk about it so easily because it’s a natural piece of myself. I’m having a really good time with it. I mean it sounds like an understatement, but it’s powerful. I’m 29, and so having my own business for 10 years and being in a band for six years and coming out of a five-year long relationship, it’s just really the first time I get to stand on my own, and really wholly own my own shit from top to bottom. It’s important for me to do that.
And your EP – “Bolt in the Blue” – is amazing…
Thank you! It’s so fucking high octane, it sounds like cocaine. Everything’s so high energy. There was a lot to take in, there were no ballad moments.
“I really want to live and breathe in an alternative rock space.”
Could you tell me more about the inspiration for it?
Well bringing it back to MS MR, those were the first songs that I’ve ever written in my entire life. And there’s so much about MS MR that was exploring what we were capable of, like creatively scratching the surface. The music and sounds that we made were sort of limited by how experienced we were, and making electro pop was the limit. So for LPX it was awesome to do something that’s honestly a lot closer to the music and the culture and bands and artists that I grew up with. I really grew up listening to punk and indie and rock so I really wanted to make something that was closer to those influences, much more guitar driven, band based, organic, and really high energy. And I think that alternative rock especially is so dominated by men. It’s really hard for me to think now who’s really neck and neck with stadium bands.
You know on one level you have people like Muse, and coming up it’s like Glass Animals and The 1975, and there just aren’t a lot of women in that space who are playing those spots or who you’re listening to back to back on the radio. I think it’s such an amazing lane for a woman to come in and dominate this space, and I really want this project to do that. Everything to do with this project has been about being the loudest, most aggressive but still vulnerable version of myself. And bringing the alternative rock side to the project, but still influencing it with my love of pop. I think that all the songs are ultimately pop songs, and all pop melodies – they’re all just so grounded in this alternative contexts which were so important to me.
And lyrically, you know it’s just a real natural extension of what I’ve always been. It’s hyper personal, everything comes from me. There’s always this balance of incredibly dark visuals that are made somewhat more powerful by the melodies that are backing them. I’m always surprised about how much I lean towards the aggressive imagery and knives and gore. You know I think about something like “Slide”, which in my opinion is probably the most pop song in the EP, and it’s all about ripping out your insides. Even I have to admit it’s so melodramatic, but it’s the only thing that I feel that can sort of emphasise that torment. I always find it so funny that there’s such euphoric agony in that song, but it’s not all doom and gloom. I think “Tightrope” is the most optimistic song. And that was a good challenge for me, after the pure darkish doom and gloom, to try and write something a bit more optimistic.
The EP is an introduction to you as LPX, so what do you hope people take away from it when they hear it?
I want them to have a good time. It’s so high energy, I want them to be moved out of stillness. I really want people to feel energised by it, whether emotionally or physically, whether you’re ripping to it at a party with your friends, or sat in a car crying to yourself because you’re going through a tormented break up. I just want people to be energised by it. That’s really one of my greatest wants for it and the other half is that it’s so emotional, I just hope people feel some comfort in it. I also think people are still in the process of figuring out where I should go genre wise. I think at this point I’ve really been held to more of a pop language – that I have no problem with, I’m happy to live in it – but I think the EP is really gonna give more context. It’s really an alternative project; I really want to live and breathe in an alternative rock space, and really merge landscapes of pop and rock in a way that I don’t think have been done for a while, especially by a woman.
So what’s the plan after the EP comes out?
I’m figuring out touring and I’m gonna keep writing. Probably gonna continue to release music this year and make some videos too. That’s probably as important to me as writing songs, and I love that I get to go back to that world. It’s kind of like this panto/punk world that I’m building, and that’s the best way for me to bring people on to it. I guess it’s just full steam ahead!