MS MR: 'It's all about challenging ourselves'
May 13th saw the release of MS MR's debut album SECONDHAND RAPTURE (catch up on our thoughts here), capping a fine start to 2013 for the New York duo which saw them reach the masses when Sky chose their haunting track 'Bones' as the backing for their Game Of Thrones series three trailer.
We felt it was about time to catch up with the duo on the recording of their debut and, given that they came to our attention as the first band to use tumblr to exclusively release an EP, we felt the most appropriate way was utilising the Internet ourselves via the medium of email, smiley faces and OTT capitalisation, et al.
Can you introduce yourselves to the TMF readership and tell us one interesting fact about yourself that people may not know?
We are MS MR, an alternative pop duo out of New York City. An interesting fact about each of us is that prior to MS MR, Max was a modern dancer at the Martha Graham School and Lizzy was running the record label Neon Gold Records.
Do you have an earliest musical memory? Was there a record or act that made you think 'I want to do this'?
VERY bizarrely one of BOTH of our earliest musical memories is dancing around our living rooms to Paul Simon's Graceland.
Your debut album has just been released, can you tell us a bit about the journey from start to completed record?
It's been a pretty wild and unexpected one. It was just two years ago that we jumped into making music for the first time - Lizzy had never written songs before and Max had barely begun experimenting with production and songwriting. Although we hardly knew each other before we started this project, we found out very quickly that we had very complimentary skill sets and that we were sort of magically on the same page when it came to the kind of music we gravitated towards.
Over the course of a year, we wrote and produced our entire album in Max's closet-turned-studio on a keyboard, a microphone and a computer. We didn't tell anyone that we were working together, which meant we were really only writing music for ourselves and didn't really have expectations of what might happen once we released our music into the world. Because of this, the music is a really pure expression of who we are as musicians...it hasn't been shaped in any way by outside opinion.
After we signed a deal and were in the process of mixing the record we decided to go back in and do some additional production with our mixer, Tom Elmhirst. We spent a week in Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, adding live instrumentation to better highlight the contrast between the electronic and acoustic/organic elements in the tracks and more fully realising the ideas we'd sketched out in Max's apartment.
Talk us through the track listing; any concerns of frontloading the album with all of 'Candy Bar Creep Show''s tracks and our other known single 'Fantasy'?
We recorded all the songs from SECONDHAND RAPTURE over the course of the year and put the tracklist together before deciding what to put on the EP. From there we decided which songs were the best introduction to us as a band and worked as a package together. It just so happened these were the first half of the record. We hope people feel that the songs they may already be familiar with start to take on a new meaning once understood in the context of the rest of the record.
Any particular issues that cropped up when recording that made you think you'd do something differently when it comes to returning to the studio?
We're both very proud that our recording process was extremely DIY and low-tech; we hope we'll always start writing in Max's apartment. But having the chance to spend a week in Electric Lady definitely opened our mind to different ways of recording that we want to continue exploring as we start thinking about the second record. For us it's all about challenging ourselves and experimenting as much as possible.
Having become the first band to use tumblr to exclusively release an EP, was there any temptation to utilise an innovative release strategy for SECONDHAND RAPTURE?
Just you wait ;) Right now we're excited to play with more conventional ways of releasing and distributing music, but we hope to always find ways to make each release special and unique for people to listen to, share and experience.
If we were to look at your MP3 player, is there anything on there you'd rather we not see? Do you have your own stuff on there?
We strongly don't believe in the notion of a guilty pleasure - if you're enjoying it than why feel guilty about it? We definitely have our own material on our mp3 players, not because we listen to it all the time, but because listening to it while walking around the city and seeing how it feels in different environments is an important part of the writing process for both of us. We definitely think you'd be surprised by how eclectic the mix of recently played songs are for both of us.
In honour of Sky using 'Bones' for their Game Of Thrones trailer, which GOT character would be and why? Or was the trailer the first time you'd ever heard of GoT?
We are HUGE fans of Game Of Thrones so getting that sync was a huge deal for us! It was used so well, was perfectly edited, is such a credible look for us AND gave us access to a new audience of 20 MILLION viewers... really pretty amazing.
Lizzy: if I was going to be a GoT character I would HOPE that I would be Khaleesi.
Max: I'd be the youngest Stark daughter - she's pretty badass.
What's next on the MS MR agenda?
Basically gearing up for festival season! We're playing roughly 20 festivals this summer from Europe to Australia to the US... we're insanely excited about it.
And finally, what's the question we should have asked you today?
We love talking about our dream collaborators in the hopes that one of them might come true if we keep mentioning it!
SECONDHAND RAPTURE is out now. For more information on MS MR, check them out on Twitter @msmrsounds and their official site - www.msmrsounds.com