Q&A with spring concert artist MS MR

Dream pop duo to perform in Center for the Arts Saturday


The first free undergraduate concert of the spring semester is on Saturday.

MS MR, an indie rock duo from New York consisting of vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow, will perform at UB on Feb. 20 at the Center for the Arts (CFA) for the first concert of the spring semester.

In lieu of an EDM-themed concert like Electric Tundra last year, the Student Association announced the genre for the second installment of the concert will be indie rock and pop.

Marc Rosenblitt, SA’s entertainment coordinator, said the production and talent costs are still being finalized, but will total around $30,000-40,000 in production costs and around $30,000 in talent costs.

The Spectrum had a chance to speak with Plapinger and Hershenow about the duo’s roots, music-making process and how they visualize their performances.

The Spectrum: How did you meet at Vassar College and what was your progression from starting a band into a serious music career?

Lizzy Plapinger: Well, Max and I both went to Vassar.

We weren’t that close to each other, we ran in different circles but had some overlapping classes. We didn’t really connect until after we graduated. It was Martha Graham School of Dance and I was running my record label Neon Gold. And he came up to me looking for a new artist. I had been writing a little bit on my own so it felt like a good opportunity.

I think we felt like an immediate appreciate for each other’s naiveté. Coming to this so green. It just clicked and it was really easy working together.

And I think we sort of just sort of got off I think our just pure excitement to have this outlet to make music. We didn’t really have sort of a plan in mind; we were just making the music to make the music.

TS: How have things changed from your first album, Secondhand Rapture, to your second album, How Does It Feel, whether it’s your artistry or how you approach music-making or anything like that?

Max Hershenow: Definitely. I think as we spent basically three and a half years on the road with that album, we got such better musicians, better vocalists, better producers.

We could sort of approach the whole thing with a lot more intentionality and more of a focused approach that was more cohesive. It was exciting to go back with three years of knowledge and three years of performing under our belts.

It allowed us to think about performance and how we were [going to] play these songs live because on the first record we never really thought about that.

TS: How do you keep the energy up during your live shows?

LP: We were always really adamant that we never wanted it to be just the two of us onstage. We’re really lucky that we put aside the time and built a band around us.

Which, you know, is really awesome and sort of creates a rock ‘n’ roll live energy. And I think that naturally Max and I have a lot of energy and we take performing really seriously.

I think the most important thing really is that we are having a good time on stage and you can see it when you see us play and that becomes really infectious to an audience.

And we sort of get off on getting people moving and involved. But really no matter what the setting is whether we are in a club or a festival we’re going to give it 110 percent to get people active and dancing. That’s sort of a mark for how successful the music is going. That’s always been how we are.

TS: How would you describe your dynamic with [Hershenow]?

MH: We’ve grown together. Because both of us were so green at the very beginning, we learned so much together.

We’ve gone from being near strangers to being each other’s best friend and creative touch point as well. The relationship has turned into something really, really rich and something we both value a lot.

LP: We’re one-halves of one each other’s creative brain. It’s nice to have a partner to bounce ideas off of and tell you ‘that’s a good idea,’ ‘that’s a bad idea,’ ‘you can go further,’ ‘you can do better,’ ‘no that’s good you can settle on that.’

There is an enormous amount of respect between Max and I and that’s why this works and will continue to work. And I think at the end of the day we just really like each other, we’re one another’s best friend and really enjoy one another’s company through this.

If you aren’t enjoying it, why are you doing it, you know?

Brian Windschitl I the senior arts editor and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.