A raspy voice can take over after a romantic quarrel, a weekend at a festival or even a long night in the jungles of Nicaragua.
Well, maybe not that last one for everybody, but that’s exactly what the rasp on Lizzy Plapinger’s voice can be attributed to on her debut EP Bolt in the Blue. From forming the electro pop duo MS MR with Max Hershenow to founding the record label Neon Gold, Plapinger has consistently exuded a #GirlBoss attitude in her musical endeavors. Since she and Hershenow came to a mutual decision to take a hiatus from MS MR, she saw an opportunity to continue forging ahead as an artist. “I saw Max growing as an artist, writer and producer and I really wanted that for myself,” Plapinger says. “I wanted to hold my own hand under the fire and put myself in an uncomfortable position and grow.”
She admits that although the first time she ever wrote a song was with MS MR, she had a solid initial idea of what she wanted LPX to be about. Drawing inspiration from her early musical choices like PJ Harvey, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Shirley Manson of rock band Garbage, Plapinger was geared up for her alternative rock stardom. “I wanted to do something that felt more primitive and punk,” she tells me. “But, the first couple months of writing for LPX were a disaster,” she adds. Coming from creating two albums with MS MR, Plapinger admits that it was a struggle for her to get out of that lane.
Eager for a more evolved sound to separate herself from MS MR, Plapinger took a trip to Nicaragua, as anyone in this predicament would. Deep in the dark jungles, late at night, after shot-gunning several beers, LPX was born.
“I was just drunk enough to have a really strong false level of confidence,” she says with a laugh. “I jumped on the mic and this was very unlike me but, I started screaming. The lyrics were just falling out of my mouth. It was like an outer-body experience.”
Describing the creation of her song “Tightrope” off Plapinger’s debut EP Bolt in the Blue, she adds, “In that moment, it solidified everything I dreamt LPX would be,” she says.
So, what is creating a song usually like for this seemingly unpredictable songwriter? “I’m really precious and take a lot of care with my lyrics. I usually write poems before I go into the studio, and then translate that into a song,” she tells me. “’Tightrope’ was a rare instance of screaming a stream of consciousness, basically.” She says that the song is about throwing yourself towards something whether you’re going to succeed or fail. “I thought that was so beautiful because it perfectly ties into the spirit of the project,” she adds.
If “Tightrope” is the spirit of LPX, “Tremble” is the guts. With a visceral vocal, Plapinger admits that prior to recording “Tremble,” she hadn’t slept for five days. “I was getting ready to leave Nicaragua, had been partying really hard and was heading back to New York to deal with a relationship that had been weighing on me,” she candidly says. “Tremble” is aggressive and makes your heart feel heavier than it ever has due to the rawness in the vocals. “I loved how fucking broken and honest it sounded. I’m the physical embodiment of the mess I’m feeling on that song,” Plapinger says of her voice on the recorded track.
LPX has supported HAIM and RAC on tour, has played sold-out headlining shows but with her EP, Plapinger wants listeners to see how rooted she is in alternative rock. In a genre hugely dominated by male bands like Cage the Elephant and The 1975, Plapinger poses the question of, “Who is the next Hayley from Paramore?” This badass frontwoman doesn’t shy away from celebrating the bands fronted by men, who she openly admits she admires. “I want a career like Portugal. The Man and Glass Animals, but I want to hear a woman’s voice on a sick fucking rock track. Those are my dreams for this project.” She adds, “Instead of talking about it, I’m going to do it.”
Female-fronted bands like Grouplove, MUNA and HAIM have been paving the way for women to take center stage, but as seen by the 2018 music festival lineups so far, they aren’t securing the top-billed spots. “It’s an issue that festivals need to sort out,” Plapinger says. On MUNA, one of my own personal favorite bands, Plapinger says, “MUNA for President as far as I’m concerned.” With a socially conscious outlook, an uninhibited stage presence and the simple desire to entertain, LPX might just be the next-gen woman of today’s punk rock scene.