While your favourite indie-pop duo MS MR are currently on hiatus lead vocalist Lizzy Palpinger has launched her solo project LPX which hears her channeling some angsty electronic-rock vibes. Her debut EP “Bolt In The Blue” is an impressive collection of tracks that show a raw vulnerability in her songwriting and vocal delivery. She showcases a very experimental and DIY production that hears her offering politically charged moments as well as empowering break up anthems. She will command your attention instantly form the opening track “Tightrope” that perfectly combines raw emotion with kick ass production. Sonically it’s very different to anything she ever did with MS MR and has her opening up a lot deeper in her songwriting instead of hiding behind metaphors. Now that her debut EP is finally out in the world I had a chat to Lizzy about the creative process behind LPX, getting drunk in a jungle, her favourite touring memories and her love for vintage shopping. Check out the chat below;
TB: This solo project hears you channeling an angsty and empowerful sound. When you started writing and recording for this project did you already know how different you wanted it to be from MS MR or was it all very experimental?
LP: I definitely had something in mind of what I wanted it to be. I knew that I wanted to do a project that was a bit more alternative and punk and rock and something that was a little bit closer to the bands that I grew up on. I’m such a HUGE fan of The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Garbage, Bloc Party, The Strokes and TV On The Radio. So I really wanted to create a world that was a little bit closer to my influences. I will say that even though I did have a vision of how it was all going to sonically unfold it was a lot harder to figure it out when push came to shove and I was actually in the studio for the first time. It took me a second to find my own voice within the project and it wasn’t really until I wrote “Tightrope” that I emotionally, honestly and physically really tapped into this other part of my body that allowed me to sort of find this different vocal style.
TB: You’ve previously explained the sound as high octane-sonic cocaine. What do you think about it that gives it that rush?
LP: *Laughs* I think it’s a combination of things with the production. Everything is pretty high BPM, the guitars are all pretty driving and I’m just naturally a super high energy person on stage and off stage and I wanted to create music that would fuel my fire as much as possible. So yeah I think it’s a combination of all the production but definitely my vocal.
TB: I have have seen you live a couple times in Australia when you were here with MS MR and you really do just command the stage and bring this crazy energy.
LP: OMG amazing! What shows did you come to?
TB: Splendour In The Grass a couple of years ago and then your Brisbane show at The Triffid in 2016.
LP: OMG, which Splendour did you come to? The one I wore a painted coast and the awesome show or the one where I wore the red sparkly onesie?
TB: What I love is that you remember the shows you’ve played from the outfits you wore *laughs*
LP: Oh yeah! I don’t know any dates or any other information but I know every single outfit from every show and they’re all in big bins in my closet *laughs*.
TB: *Laughs* It was the 2015 Splendour show for the second album promo and I’m pretty sure it was the red onesie!
LP: I LOVED that show! And I actually remember that I wore these red patterned leather boots and I came off stage and the entire underneath of the boot had come off. I love playing Splendour and I love that you were there! The Splendour shows are such fucking magic to be honest and you’re so lucky you have such an amazing music scene in Australia.
TB: One thing people couldn’t stop commenting about after you guys left the stage was just how happy you looked and how you didn’t stop beaming from smiling the whole set.
LP: *Laughs* Honestly whether I’m playing to thousands of people or only playing to 10 people that smile is on my face the whole time. It sounds so cheesy but I really earnestly mean it, it’s such a gift to write music and do it as your career every day. And every show just feels like the next best moment of my life that if I’m not feeling like the best and happiest version of myself at every show then I don’t deserve to be doing it. So I really like live in that moment to the fullest and really just want to share that relation with the crowd.
TB: When I first listened to the EP I kind of got “Think Of You” vibes but on steroids. Do you think you will ever reimagine some of the MS MR songs for your live show?
LP: Love it! I actually play “Fantasy” in the live show and it’s really interesting to take that song and recontextualize it to a LPX sound and have it fit so well. But I don’t know if I would or could do it with any other MS MR songs, more out of respect to Max. It feels weird to play those songs without him and I don’t want him to think that I’m replacing him in any way because I’m not. So it’s nice to do it with the one song and it’s an interesting challenge to see it reimagined in a different way.
TB: “Tightrope” perfectly incorporates everything we just spoke about before and really embodies this new DIY and experimental feel. What was the creative process like for this song in particular?
LP: “Tightrope” was the first thing I had written for LPX that sort of layed the blueprint for everything else so its a really special one to me. And what is really wild about that song is that I wrote it with my friend James Flannigan in the Jungle of Nicaragua… pretty drunk *laughs*. And he was just playing the guitar line and I fell absolutely in love with it. Usually when I write and especially with MS MR I write poems and I sort of end up trying to put the words to a melody. And with “Tightrope” he was playing that guitar line and I was like “hook the mic up, I want to start screaming”. So I just started screaming at the mic and in a stream of unconsciousness all these words kept coming out of my mouth and afterwards I stepped away and looked at James and went “holy shit, that was a whole verse”. It was this weird unconscious out of body experience. Like I didn’t write those words, those words were just channeled through me and it was amazing. And that song ended up being about throwing yourself towards a risk, someone or something whether you succeed or fail and just going for it. And I think its so perfect with the story behind that song and creation. So much about this project is about staying true to myself and being sincere about what I’m saying and the music I’m making.
TB: There’s a really vulnerable line in that song that goes “Hearts aren’t always made to break” and as soon as I heard it along with the crazy production that I was like yes, this song is special
LP: Aww I’m so glad you think that. I can be so angsty, it’s so much easier for me to write from a somewhat desperate, agonised and sad place and “Tightrope” was a real rare instance where it was about being optimistic and positive that you’re doing the right thing. And I love that line too, I think it’s a special one. Knowing that you are stronger in that situation.
TB: So lets chat about the storytelling. This whole EP is vey captivating and emotional. And one of the songs that instantly stands out is “Tremble” because of it’s heartbreaking vocal delivery where the listeners can hear the pain in every word you sing. So how did you break down those walls to allow yourself to be so vulnerable?
LP: That song is so so so personal and I think it’s special for a couple of reasons. One, because of the lyrical content. Especially with MS MR I used to write in metaphor and I think it was easier for me to write in those broad paint strokes because it detached me from the experience and I didn’t feel like I was sharing too much with an audience. And then with “Tremble” it’s this really really painful break up song and I think what is so powerful about it is that it feels like if you were sitting down with the person you were breaking up with one on one then those may just be the words that would spill out of your mouth. And I don’t usually write like that so for me to be THAT direct about what I’m feeling and going through was a real breakthrough moment for me. The other part of it was that I was so so emotional, distraught and worn down when we were writing it that my voice was a mess, like I was really about to lose my voice. And we cut all the vocals and I LOVE that it encapsulates the feeling of that whole song of just how tortured and difficult it was but still shows some power and strength. I could have come back later and re-recorded the vocals and sung it more perfectly but I didn’t want to do that because I thought that showing the flaws and shreds in the vocals is what makes it as special as it is. It’s also nice to have that level of emotion on an EP which is so high octane and high energy and to make sure it is still injected with real heart.
TB: The EP also has some political undertones where you address the confusion, the hurt and the importance of rallying surrounding Trumps presidency through the songs “Bolt In The Blue” and “Fog And The Fear”. Have you received any backlash from anyone surrounding you from writing these tracks?
LP: It’s so interesting because I haven’t yet. The song “Fog And The Fear” is about the country and the world being divided and not seeing things eye to eye and all standing shoulder to shoulder but not addressing any of the things that divide us. Part of the problem in politics right now is that people sort of exist in their own bubble where they see only what is reflected back at them and they don’t see the other side of things from the people who don’t. And I wonder if I’m still in that bubble where I’m preaching to the converted who already see the world I do and maybe that will change as the project gets bigger. But at this stage I haven’t received any push back or flack for it and I think what’s great about the songs is that you can interpret them the way you want. They are definitely politically charged songs that are inspired by the current state of the world and definitely the current state of politics in the US. But there’s never a moment in the song where it tells you what to believe or what to think.
TB: You recently attended the New York Womens March and are a massive encourager for people to stand up for what they believe in. Why do you think its important now more than ever before to be so vocal? And what would you say to someone who is scared to voice their opinion?
LP: Oh man, without getting too dark and dramatic about it I think there’s so much that’s dark and wrong in the world right now and that every voice needs to be heard. You need to speak up for the people who aren’t strong enough to and you need to stay up for yourself and I feel like in the process of doing that there is a beautiful comradery and light that is coming out of all the horrible things that are happening. It’s empowering to stand side by side with all these people who need that voice and I definitely feel that as a artist that if you have a platform then you need to use it to encourage people to stand up for themselves because it’s starting to seem like people aren’t going to stand up for you.
TB: Your journey began by starting your own label “Neon Gold Records”. Did you find that this gave you a real insight into the behind the scenes of the music industry to help make the right decisions for MS MR and now LPX?
LP: Absolutely and especially with LPX as I feel like its the combination of everything I wanted from running Neon Gold for 10 years and then MS MR for 6 years. I feel like I learnt the ins and outs of the industry, building a network, understanding how campaigns are built and intelligent ways to market or distribute. I have always enjoyed doing both sides of things and thats the main reason I continue to run Neon Gold with Derek because I love helping other artists navigate their process. It can be really confusing and overwhelming and there’s no right or wrong way to do it, it’s just about being creative in a different way.
TB: So explain to me how release day for this EP was for you? Lyrically I feel like it must have been so therapeutic to finally have it all out?
LP: Totally! What was so crazy about this EP release is that for MS MR we were on a major label, we were distributed all over the world, we saw an enormous amount of success and I’m so proud of what we achieved. But we had so many people involved and had so many hands on deck and we had people stationed all over the world supporting it. But for LPX and this EP specifically I’m self funding and self releasing it so everything is truly a labour of love and there’s a small group of people behind it and I just feel so proud of myself for saying I’m gonna do it and actually seeing it through and sharing it with the world. I’ve always been very honest and upfront with who I am with my fans, my audiences or anyone I would meet in the street but this EP is really the most accurate snapshot of who I am. I feel like I’ve really translated my most sincere and earnest appreciation and love of the music I love and the kind of person that I am and that feels so satisfying. I’m so excited to keep writing and keep releasing.
TB: And it’s important to note that MS MR haven’t broken up is that correct?
LP: That is correct! Max and I are still best friends and I literally just saw him all of last week and we are on such good terms and I think he’s growing so much as a producer with so many other artists which is awesome. And I think are both just taking our time to do our thing and when it feels right we will come back together.
TB: Have you guys worked on any music together recently?
LP: No we haven’t got back in the studio together since we decided to take an hiatus with the band. I feel like we just need to grow individually before we can come back together to know what the future of MS MR looks and sounds like. I do think it’s going to be amazing when we do now that we’ve had these two different experiences.
TB. And I have to ask, are you going to bring this project to Australia for some shows?
LP: OMG Thomas I desperately want to, if I could I would’ve been there yesterday *laughs*. I’m hoping I will come there as humanly possible. It’s obviously really expensive to get to Australia and as I’m self funding and self releasing it’s a bit hard to figure out how to get out there. But honestly it’s one of my favourite places in the entire world and I’m so grateful to have the support of Triple J and its so cool they’ve been supporting “Better” and “Slide”. So I’m just hustling to get out there, hopefully by this summer.
TB: Talking about touring Australia, MS MR have visited Down Under a couple of times. So reflecting on those visits whats your one distinct memory about Australia?
LP: Oh man, I have so many feelings about Australia *laughs*. The first one is the first Splendour In The Grass we played which was truly one of my favourite moments of my life, period. I think it’s just an amazing festival. I think Australia has such a love and appreciation for new music and new artists and we were so lucky to have that experience. So that first show will always have a special place in my heart. And then the second is more on a personal level… I love the vintage shopping in Australia. I absolutely love it and every time we were there I would make time to stock up, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. All the winter coats were so cheap and I should’ve learnt that every time I went I needed extra bags to bring it all back *laughs*. But it’s truly one of my favourite things to do in my down time there. Oh that and the good coffee and everyone is nice and every one is beautiful and handsome. You’re sort of living the dream, I hope you know that *laughs*. kinda makes you wonder why I don’t live there, don’t you think? *laughs*.
TB: So let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just answer with the first thing that comes to mind
TB: Most people think I….
LP: Wear glitter
TB: If I could form a supergroup with any other band or artist it would be…
LP: Shirley Manson from Garbage
TB: One question I can’t stand in interviews is…
LP: Where did you get your name from?
TB: My guilty pleasure song is…
LP: No guilty pleasure song, every song can be amazing with no guilt associated
TB: If I was a rapper my rapper name would be…
LP: Omg… I have no idea. Help me out Thomas! I literally have no idea.
TB: I don’t know, I feel like it could be Lil Lizzy or something *laughs* I’m bad at this too!
LP: Sure! Lil Lizzy it is!
TB: I’m so sorry I feel like it’s such a lame rapper name *laughs*
LP: *Laughs* I feel like its a good note to self to not go into rapping.
LPX’s debut EP “Bolt In The Blue” is out now!