LPX’s Junk of the Heart EP is out now: stream
LIZZY PLAPINGER — Neon Gold Records co-founder, former MS MR frontwoman, and fearless feminist activist — is a decade into a flourishing music journey, and currently exploring a reinvigorated creative hunger with her exciting independent project, LPX.Since announcing MS MR’s hiatus in 2017, Plapinger has been ritualistically and obsessively refining the colossal and crashing sound of LPX’s genre-bending releases, “I had to come out really brash and savage and high octane to really lay my ground,” recounts Lizzy about 2018s Bolt In the Blue EP.
Now, after two years of dissecting her newfound musical freedom, continuing to provide an inclusive platform via Neon Gold, and co-curating an all-female festival billing alongside All Things Go and Maggie Rogers, LPX is back with the release of her latest EP, Junk of the Heart, and it’s epic.
Independently released today, Junk of the Heart finds the fiery singer-songwriter sharing an anthemic, sonically vibrant, and cohesive body of work about love, past relationships, New York, and change.
We caught up with LPX days after Neon Gold’s ninth annual SXSW showcase to discuss her latest EP, the importance of equal representation in music, dating in the modern age, touring and visuals for Junk of the Heart, and more. Read on below.
Lizzy — really nice to chat today!
Lizzy: Totally! What’s new?
I went to see a Japanese band called CHAI and their openers were Australia’s Haiku Hands and DC’s Den-Mate. The show was amazing.
Lizzy: That’s so cool! I just caught CHAI at SXSW and they were incredible. They do a really rad cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” It was surprising when I heard it but they’re a fun band and such great musicians. Also, it’s just exciting to see women of color in alternative music being so well-received and supported. Having them be so awesome, just feels like a powerful and positive thing for the genre and music as a whole.
That’s something you’ve championed throughout your career — exposure and equality for women in music — looking back at all of the artists you’ve supported in the past through Neon Gold and last year when you co-curated an all-female lineup for All Things Go Fall Classic.
Lizzy: It’s so important. Representation is everything and it’s completely inexcusable that in this day and age we aren’t already at a point where festival billings are at least 50/50. It’s something I care so passionately about, so it was awesome doing that with the festival, and I’m excited because it feels like a really empowering time in music.
In the wake of general global garbage, it feels like the silver lining, at least for me, is seeing more and more women artists speaking out about mutual support and establishing so many different voices and perspectives. It’s really inspiring to see and it makes me feel like there’s room for everyone.
Growing up, I feel like I had three different versions of what women in music were like, so it’s cool to see that expanding exponentially right now.
Diverse representation is everything. Elohim is an epic electronic artist that was recently discussing her struggle with festival bookings. It’s hard to get into that world.
Lizzy: It is, and I’m so appreciative and grateful that with MS MR we got to play so many and I love playing festivals. I desperately want LPX to be ripping on festival stages. I love a stage that size, I love an audience that size, a sound system that size, but it’s really hard, especially when you’re just starting out to cut through the noise and be booked early on. That’s really where so many female artists get their legs cut out from beneath them because they aren’t booked in those early stages and are then not able to grow into the headliners they deserve and want to be. It’s such an issue and it really drives me absolutely insane.
Totally, I understand. Neon Gold’s 9th annual SXSW showcase was just a few days ago — that lineup was insane and really diverse. How was this year’s event?
Lizzy: I’m biased but it was seriously a sick lineup. Especially toward the middle of the day when it was going Robinson, Your Smith, Donna Missal, Charlotte OC — dude, those four women fucking blew my mind — Odette, Wafia. Seriously, wow. Also, it’s like, put your money where your mouth is — here’s another opportunity or show where it’s predominantly women or at least 50/50 women and every single one of them is different. No one is even thinking that it’s predominately women, just that they’re seeing great artists on the bill. I want the conversation to move there in general. For me, Charlotte OC is a modern Stevie Nicks, so killer. Donna Missal, I’m obsessed, she’s such a boss.
Separately, two more people that I’ve been loving currently is Miya Folick — dramatic pop, Sinéad O’ Connor-ish — she’s literally a dream siren. This other artist that I really adore is Sir Babygirl, she feels like a modern Kathleen Hanna to me. Sonically, she sounds like Paramore meets Grimes but on stage, she’ll play with a strap-on and chaps. She’s just so entirely herself and so empowering, special, epic, it’s just really nice to see her thriving and getting all of this notoriety and support. It’s inspiring and makes me excited about this next wave of female artists.
Beyond Neon Gold shows and All Things Go, I hope to do more festivals and shows to stack all of these amazing women on.
I hope you do! You also have a new EP called Junk of the Heart out this week and it’s a massive sonic leap forward for you. Do you feel like you’ve discovered a bit more of LPX’s sound with this new project?
Lizzy: From the start of LPX, I had this dream of releasing three EPs that all sort of resonate into different pieces of my life and my sonic references growing up. They’re all different but co-exist in dark waters. Eventually, I’ll put out an album that will fill in the blanks and bring all three EPs together.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why this EP is different than the first and with the first EP I felt like I had to come out really fucking brash and savage and raw and high octane to really lay my ground and say “this is completely different from MS MR and this is different than how you’ve heard me before.” I’m immediately referencing some of my biggest heroes such as Shirley Manson, Karen O, and Kathleen Hanna, so I think I needed to do something more extreme.
What’s been really fun about evolving and moving to this second EP is that I was able to take a step back, redirect, and now reference an entire separate batch of artists that I love. Things like New Order, The War On Drugs, U2’s Joshua Tree, Blondie, and Pat Benatar. I still think it has a lot of the energy and intention of the first EP but there’s just a much more laid back, modern romantic nostalgia to it.
This EP has been marinating for a little and it feels like it’s bringing the pop and rock world more and more together. I’m feeling less pressure about which lane I live in and it’s really amazing that my fanbase is so open-minded and encouraging. It’s awesome because I’m already working on the third EP and that’s already kicking into a different direction.
As a fully independent artist, as a woman, and human being, it’s exciting to feel complete agency over everything that I’m doing from an artistic and business standpoint.
You’re really throwing it all out there on this EP. With the first track, “Black & White,” the instrumental opening is so cinematic and immersive. Do you feel like you’re ushering in a new era with this song?
Lizzy: Sonically, I think I’ve always been a little bit indulgent and I love that. I love a dramatic and epic intro, just teasing you into larger moments. I’m so into the drama of that, so it’s nice to build that up with ‘Black & White.’ This whole EP is so dramatic to me and I think it sounds like the soundtrack to a modern John Hughes film.
I keep joking, but not joking, that if John Hughes directed Sex & The City, the movie, in 2019 but it had Debbie Harry, Parker Posey in Party Girl, Pat Benatar, and Molly Ringwald all at the height of their prime, this would be the soundtrack. It just feels so, me, so New York, and I love to think of it as a short film unfolding.
The second track on the EP, “Might Not Make It Home,” really encapsulates that view and is the epitome of New York — falling into the night you weren’t expecting to have and loving every moment.
Lizzy: Bless you for saying that — and I think that’s one of the best things about New York City. This is song was also such a liberating moment for me in the studio and as an artist in general. I tend to go really dark and heavy when I’m in the studio. It’s just a really natural place for me to unload whatever I’m sort of wrestling with on an anxiety level. I was feeling so fucking dark about the state of the world, politics, global warming, and honestly, everything. It felt so heavy and I wanted to write something that felt like an escape, even if just for a night. When you need to just take the edge off a little bit.
So for me to come at it with that mindset — I wanted to make something a little more feel-good — was a great reminder that I don’t need to be at the grudges of anxiety to write something that’s powerful and connects with people. Ultimately, it’s a love letter to New York for me. I’ve been here eight years now and it definitely feels like home. I’m so proud and feel inspired by living here. It’s interesting because I feel like a lot of people have chosen to move and live in LA, but I’ve chosen to stay and try to achieve that New York fantasy.
I hope you stay out in New York — there may be something in the water but moving to LA can really change someone.
Lizzy: I totally agree. It’s exciting because I feel like it’s really starting to happen in the city again. You know, I was just reading Meet Me In The Bathroom, which is this really awesome book that chronicles the start of indie through the end of the 2000s. It talks about the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and others, during this third wave, writing about New York City as if it were a wasteland and then it started to boom — I feel like we’re on the cusp of that again.
It does definitely feel like New York is having that resurgence, it’s exciting to be around. In the song, are you at all making a reference to Kathleen Hanna?
Lizzy: Hell yeah – in the second verse, I imagine you’re stumbling into this party and you meet this person and you’re making out. You don’t even really know what their name is because they were trying to tell you while the band was playing. I just imagine Kathleen Hanna playing in the room at the punk party.
You mention ‘the punk singer’ in the lyrics — I wasn’t sure if that was a reference to Hanna’s documentary and you covering Le Tigre in your live performances.
Lizzy: That’s honestly genius, I hadn’t even put the two together but literally in mind, I’m imaging her doing it and being the performer but never put those two things together and you’re totally right. I wonder if subconsciously I did that, that’s amazing.
I try to put in as many references to my life and New York as possible with this EP. My best friend and I used to put on these shows in Chinatown called Fuzz and we’d throw it at this tiny dive karaoke bar that only fit like 50 people. Nothing online, just postcard invitations only, no guest list and it was five dollars at the door. Bands had to plug into the PA system and just play. We ran it for two years and it’s one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done. I had to put that scene into the fantasy movie of my best night out in New York.
“Falling to Fall” is the third song on the EP and the second unreleased track fans will get to hear on Friday. What can you tell us about it?
Lizzy: Love is such a masochistic routine and I think for me this song is equal parts self-deprecating and equal parts forgiving myself while in the process of throwing myself through that routine of seeking love. I pick myself up each time and go back to it each time, like everyone does, because the highs are worth the highs but sometimes going out and looking for people becomes such a mundane practice.
I’m feeling it now just going through the dating scene, it’s like groundhogs day but with different characters every time. You lose sight of why you’re doing it and you’re wondering “am I doing this because I want to be doing this? Am I doing this because I should be doing this?” At some point, you forget what the best version of that feeling is because you’re just used to the mundane process of it.
The first line of the song, “caught up in the habit of always wanting what I’m choosing but never having to have it,” is that — it’s a very modern snapshot of dating in 2019 and coming out the other side. As soon as you fall in love, you forget that conversation but I’m glad that I very much capture that moment of throwing myself into love.
Especially now, I feel like everyone around me is getting married and having children.
Lizzy: One hundred percent and I’m so excited you said that because I’m really excited for you to hear the third EP. I know we’re here talking about my second EP and something that I really like about this EP is that I feel like it’s caught me right at the cusp of that transition of coming out of my 20s and into this next adult phase and I feel like Junk of the Heart is about me wrestling with the anxieties surrounding that transition and in the process of writing this EP, I sort of come out of the other side and let go of the turmoil and pressure I put around such loaded choices about love, life, and me wrestling with those — be it a relationship or life question — are all wrapped up in this second EP.
The third EP is very much coming out the other side as a reflection of my choices after that chapter and where I am in my life. It’s very unhinged. I love artists like Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Lorde, who so perfectly reflect their generation in their music and they’re really honest about where they are in their personal timeline and I’m really trying to be as direct about that in my own work. I feel really powerful, I’m not a teenager or even in my early twenties making music, I just turned thirty last year. I’m going to make music that reflects that change in my perspective especially as a modern thirty-year-old.
As you said, my friends are having babies and I’m so happy for them but I’m not sure those are the choices for me, so what does this new narrative and representation of a voice like mine sound like in 2019? I think that’s why I keep mockingly, but not mockingly, making the John Hughes references and joke because I feel like his work was at the height of romanticism for me and Sex in the City separately was for so long this archetype of what women in their thirties were but it was also really new and iconic in its own right. I’m pushing those identities, narratives, and ideas forward a bit.
On your future and path forward, “Give Up The Ghost” closes the EP and is a song you once said felt like the last song you would ever release. What is it about this song?
Lizzy: You can’t really ever pick favorites but that one is all-timer for me. I know you shouldn’t feel that way but I really love this song. It’s one that poured out of me within twenty minutes. My friend, Guy [Connelly], who produced it, was playing the chords and I immediately got in the vocal booth and pretty much the first thing that came out of my mouth were those lyrics and that melody. I think most of the final product are those very first takes and I just burst into tears while we were recording it. It became this reaffirmation of forward movement and I think that song is about letting go of past relationships and a past identity of who I thought I was going to be while still carrying them with me in a new light. I think that song is so powerful and special.
On a nerdy music level, I had been living with that new The War On Drugs record, intimately. It had seeped into the veins of my soul and I wanted to make something a little more bound to what I was listening to at the time. It felt like a special nod, thank you, and an homage to a band that I feel helped me through a really hard time.
It’s interesting to hear you say “I’m done” repeatedly on this track when it sounds like the opposite is true.
Lizzy: With this EP and project, I’m constantly feeling like I’m not who I was before but I’m also not who I’m going to be moving forward. Whenever you catch me, I’m in moments of transition and I feel okay with shedding skin and constantly evolving and becoming more evolved versions of myself. So much of doing LPX from the start was about being so thirsty for that next step and really craving change and moving out of my comfort zone to become a better artist, writer, and singer.
I’m proud of myself for moving through those motions, it was not easy untangling my life from MS MR and doing this fully independent, self-funded and self-released. Stepping away from a five-year relationship, and so much about this project has been taking all of the lessons that I’ve learned from my life, this industry, the past couple of years, and standing on my own two feet and seeing what I’m capable of.
As a fully independent artist, as a woman, and human being, it’s exciting to feel complete agency over everything that I’m doing from an artistic and business standpoint. I feel like I’m in a unique position to prove the strength of female empowerment, the power of female voices within alternative music, which has previously been so dominated by men, and to come out as a businesswoman and say “I’m a boss within this industry and something to be reckoned with” and I hope that this is just continuing to expand the horizons of what future artists and women in this industry think they’re capable of doing and I’m so excited about where it’s heading.
I have big dreams about what I want LPX to be and become and where the music is going and who I’m becoming. It’s really exciting, I feel lit up about it every day.
Are part of those dreams, a larger US tour? I know you just completed a quick stint with MØ and we need to hear this new EP live.
Lizzy: Yes! The tour with MØ was so much fun. Karen is amazing. Her show is incredible. Her team is amazing. It was really wild, we had just toured in Australia and we came home and heard her opener had fallen through so we hopped on at the last minute and the whole thing felt like a fever dream. I was thinking this was just too good to be true but totally meant to be.
I’m planning tours right now, pretty much everything about being an independent artist is awesome and I’m loving it but the biggest challenge is the touring side because it’s the thing that I care about the most. If I could be on the road every day of my life, I would be. The bands that I admire the most like Cage the Elephant and Portugal. the Man, they’ve put in their time, they’re road dogs, and really built that constant relationship with their audiences. That means everything to me but it’s so expensive to tour as well.
That’s not a “woe is me,” but rather a weird reality that I have to face about being strategic of what I can do in a year. So, I’m deciding between a small headline run or holding out for bigger support opportunities, I’m figuring out that balance while trying to respect and give back to my fans as much as possible.
Also, because I want to play. I come alive on stage and so does my music. Really, that’s where I want you to hear it. Everything is written with the dream of being a festival headliner with a sea of people singing back. Like, I want every song to feel like an anthem. So, I’m working on tours and hopefully this year I’ll have a few dates lined up.
Will we get any more visuals with the EP?
Yes! I’m working on shooting some more videos and creating some more photos. That is one of my favorite things to do, it’s logistically more complicated executing because I’m a one-woman show, but, yes, because like I said the whole thing is so cinematic that I would love for each song to have a video. I have some shoots coming up so hopefully, some videos will be coming out throughout April.
Do you think more than one?
I hope so, I’ve written the treatments for all of them and I’m ready to shoot like in an hour if someone was here. *laughs*
Last thing, one line about the third EP.
Expect the unexpected.
LPX’s latest EP Junk of the Heart is available now on Apple Music and Spotify. Keep up with Lizzy’s tour dates, new music releases, and more.
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Cover photo by Billboard