Bands will work for years to develop the kind of chemistry that materialized at the very beginning of Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow’s working relationship. What started out as a friendly, fresh-out-of-college experimental pop project has quickly developed into MS MR, one of our favorite rising bands to come into their own this year.
Neither the MS nor MR half of MS MR saw themselves as musicians initially: Hershenow was on track to continue a budding career as a modern dance choreographer, while Plapinger had her hands full managing Neon Gold–a record label that she founded as a second year student at Vassar College. If Neon Gold doesn’t sound familiar, some of the artists signed to the label will—Ellie Goulding and Marina & The Diamonds are some of the more famous careers that Plapinger has helped launch.
As the story goes, Hershenow was looking for a singer to sign on to a project he was working on and asked Plapinger to recommend a few. She put herself on the recommendation list, and the search ended right there. At the beginning, the duo remained under the radar, preferring to work on MS MR under the comforting guise of anonymity. Their work was, and continues to be, very experimental, so both were cautious about allowing too many outside influences to manipulate the synergy that they’d built. Their first EP, released in September 2012 and entitled Candy Bar Creep Show, was a blend of four alternative pop songs. It took a minute to catch on, but once people started hearing their sound there was no stopping the flood of fans.
Their relatively quiet debut EP drop was partially due to the fact that they chose to optimize it for Tumblr in such a unique way that the Candy Bar Creep Show release was written up in Wired magazine. It was dubbed a bona fide Tumblr album because each of the four songs released on Tumblr were accompanied with a special widget that allowed users to not only reblog the post, but also hear the song through SoundCloud, watch a corresponding video on Vimeo, buy the song, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and create fan remixes with released audio stems. If it sounds a little similar to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange drop, good catch, because according to the Wired article, the release was loosely based off of that.
Fast forward to Summer 2013, and MS MR has left the anonymity far behind. The top track from their EP, “Bones,” has been all over the silver screen, making appearances in episodes of Pretty Little Liars and Grey’s Anatomy as well as a promotional video for Game of Thrones. Their first studio album, Secondhand Rapture, was released in May and they’ve been dutifully killing it ever since on the summer festival circuit. If you missed them at Governor’s Island or Lollapalooza, don’t worry—they’ll be kicking off a full-blown U.S. tour to promote the new album in mid-September. Check out the dates and reserve tickets here.