Label founder, frontwoman & all-around creative force; from entrepreneurism to unique artistry, Lizzie Plapinger, AKA LPX, is a woman in music worth looking up to.
After starting Neon Gold records in college & helping to give an early platform to artists like Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding & Charli XCX, Plapinger stepped into the spotlight as the frontwoman for indie-pop duo MS MR. With an impressive resume already under her belt, Plapinger took things further in 2017 when she launched her solo career as LPX, opting to run her business independently, putting her in the driver’s seat for everything from her finances & release strategy to her aesthetic and the music itself.
To celebrate the release of LPX’s debut EP, Bolt in the Blue, we caught up with Plapinger about what led her to start Neon Gold, how the record landscape has changed in the last 10 years, what it’s like to be an independent artist in 2018, and more.
LPX by Angelo Kritikos
You started Neon Gold while you were in college. What inspired you to want to release records at that time?
I started Neon Gold with one of my best childhood friends, Derek Davies, while we were both in our sophomore year of college. I was at Vassar and Derek was at NYU. We first met when we were 14 and immediately became friends over the fact that we were OBSESSED with music. I was born and raised in London so I always shared what I was listening to from the UK, while he lived in DC and always kept me up on what was happening stateside. Music was the glue that kept us together. We both love finding new music and sharing it with our friends and so the pipe dream was that we would one day create our own label. We both worked a number of internships in the industry at labels, PR companies, radio, venues etc. But it wasn’t until the end of our sophomore year of college when Derek discovered Passion Pit opening up for Girl Talk at Boston college that we decided to take all our experience and pour it into something of our own. We spent the whole summer setting up the label and somehow convinced Passion Pit to release their first single, Sleepyhead, with us and the rest was history.
At the time we started Neon Gold pop was sort of a dirty word. Our taste sort of sat in a niche spot between music that was too quirky/altnernative for top 40 but too accessible for the the pure indie corners of the internet. In time the kinds of artists we signed and released have now come to redefine the pop landscape, especially at a radio where before there wasn’t such a clear cut lane. It’s so exciting to see artists like Haim, Mø, Tove Lo, Ellie make way for other artists.
Neon Gold is coming up on its 10 year anniversary next year. What was it like releasing your first record versus releasing records now — what’s different?
It’s definitely a very different landscape releasing records and breaking artists in 2018 than it was in 2008 when we started the label! Especially with the rise and importance of streaming and Spotify specifically. When we started blogs were a really pivotal piece of the puzzle in helping to get a band off the ground and that’s almost been wholly replaced with playlisting and Spotify culture.
When you were part of MS MR, you guys were signed to a major label (Columbia Records), and now as LPX you are running everything independently — what prompted this shift in your business model as an artist?
I’m coming to this from a really unique background with a lot of firsthand experience from both running a label (independently and in various experience with major labels), as well as being an artist signed to a major label, so I wanted to take everything I had learned and hold my own hand over the fire to take even more control of my solo project. There are lots of independent artists in hip hop but not nearly as many in pop or alternative – it felt like a really powerful and exciting challenge for me to try and break LPX on my own. It’s been really creatively satisfying to know, understand and plan every facet of the project as well as have completely autonomy when it comes to all of the creative (music and the visuals).
What were some lessons you learned while being signed that you apply to your business now? What are some lessons you’re learning from being a fully independent artist?
The biggest lesson I’m learning from being a fully independent artist is financial and team management. I don’t have financial backing from a label so really understanding how and where my money is best used, and also my time, is paramount. And similarly being able to trust in those I hire as part of my team to help elevate the project and work as a team.
As an independent artist, how do you structure your team, and what goes into deciding who to work with? How does it differ from when you were signed to a major label?
I’ve had the same manager since I started with MS MR, Matt Shay at C3, so there’s an incredible amount of trust and understanding between us that comes from years of working together. The exciting thing about structuring a team for a project like LPX is that I know and hand select every person on it! From management to press to my booking agent to my radio promoter… I have a personal relationship with all of them. It means there’s a face to a title and we can each hold ourselves and eachother accountable for our work. I thrive in this kind of familial business environment. Everything feels personal, because it is.
LPX by Shervin Lainez
You’ve said in interviews that your goal for LPX is to be a powerful female voice in alternative rock. Who are some badass women you admire — both from an artistry & a business standpoint?
There are so many amazing female voices in alternative right now! From Wolf Alice, to Mitski, to Muna, to Bully… the list goes on and on. I’m always inspired by my friend Hannah in Grouplove especially now as a studio artist, musician, designer and a new mother! I’ve always looked up to Karen O, Kathleen Hanna, Shirley Manson, and Siouxsie Sioux. From a business standpoint Julie Greenwald at Atlantic is a BOSS through and through. The way she commands that company and the teams of people around her is deeply inspiring.
You have your debut solo EP coming out on January 12th, which is a huge milestone. What do you want people to know about this record?
I’m so incredibly proud of this body of work. I’ve poured myself so wholly into the EP – lyrically, vocally, musically and visually – that I feel like I’ve never more earnestly or sincerely translated who I am into a release. It’s aggressive, emotional, vulnerable and extremely high octane and I hope people feel propelled out of stillness by it.
I wouldn’t have been able to create this EP without the help of the many collaborators and partners who helped bring it to life. Namely James Flannigan who executively produced all 6 songs as well co writing 3 of the tunes (Tightrope, Tremble, and Bolt in the Blue). As well as Jen Decilveo (Slide) and Guy Connelly (Fog and the Fear, Red Queen) for their incredible creativity, skill and heart. I also had the incredible opportunity to work with Zac Carper, the lead singer from one of my favorite punk bands Fidlar, on title track Bolt in the Blue (he also played guitar on a number of songs) and to be able to bring another artist I admire into the process was so exciting. Such a big part of creating LPX was about stepping outside of my comfort zone and working with new partners who would challenge and push me and this EP reflects that.
‘Bolt in the Blue’ is now available on all platforms, powered by Stem.