MS MR are a boy-girl indie pop act straight out of New York and London, except that makes them sound a lot less interesting than they actually are. Their catchy four minute songs may have the grandiose, Elysian appeal of Florence & the Machine or Bat For Lashes—think songs called “Bones or “Fantasy”, kettle drums and supernatural synths ascending to the firmament—but the band were born in the distinctly earthly environs of Brooklyn basements and Tumblr. This tension between the sacred and the profane, the emotional and the pop-transcendent is what gives their debut Secondhand Rapture its enigmatic charge. Allow us to make introductions.
1. If you were still in high school, which clique would you belong to?
Max Hershenow: Theater nerds/sarcastic academics
Lizzy Plapinger: Art kids
2. Your most memorable show?
One of our favorites was our show at Laneway Festival in Sydney this year. It was one of the biggest and most raucous crowds we’ve ever played to and the first time most of the crowd knew the lyrics.
3. An album or artist that changed the way you thought? And how did that happen?
M: I lived in Latin America in high school and was really influenced by Latin pop. The Spanish singer Bebe’s first album Pafuera Telarañas made me think about different ways to combine influences, which I think has profoundly affected the way I write now.
L: Music Has the Right to Children by Boards of Canada. Before listening to that record I had never heard anything like it and it totally blew my mind. It really opened me up to a whole new genre and experimental style of music and felt like the gateway to other acts like Avalanches, Prefuse 73, The Go! Team… It continues to be a strong touchstone for me in thinking about music and how you can meld and transform sounds to create new atmospheres.
4. What does underground and mainstream mean to you?
For us it’s about toeing the line between these two worlds. We’re very much rooted in a DIY and “underground” scene and sound and want to continue to explore unique and alternative ways of making and sharing music. However, we also have big ambitions for the band and genuinely want as many people to listen to our music as possible, so we’re absolutely not afraid of being accepted by the mainstream, as long as we stay true to our core identities and “underground” work ethic and style.
5. Should music be free?
There needs to be a back and forth—If music is free in one form than you would hope that a fan would pay it forward to the band in another way. We have always made our music available for someone to listen to for free in the hopes that if they enjoy it and believe in the band they will follow through and purchase the album and/or come see us play a show.
6. Latest find on Soundcloud or Bandcamp and what you like about it?
M: “Out of Yourself” by Truls. It’s such a good pump-up party anthem, and his voice is amazing.
L: This new band WET. They only have two songs up right now but I love her voice and how smooth the music is.
7. Describe your one indispensable outfit?
M: Doc Martens, black leather jacket, jeans and a t-shirt.
L: high-waisted pants, crop top, dragon lady jacket, wire framed vintage sunnies and my Vagabond shoes.
8. A film, book, or artwork that greatly influenced your music and why?
M: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez—it taught me to not shy away from my inclination to infuse the mundane day-to-day with a sense of high drama and a touch of magic.
L: Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut—one of my favorite stories and the catalyst for “Dark Doo Wop”.
9. Your current favorite song and what you like about it?
M: Daft Punk, “Doin’ It Right”. I love the way the two melodies interact.
L: Chrome Sparks, “Marijuana”. It’s sort of become my go to in the car and just immediately puts me in a good mood.
10. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
M: A choreographer.
L: I have a studio art background so I hope something with design.
Ms Mr’s debut album Secondhand Rapture is out now on Columbia Records