How did you meet and begin your musical collaboration?
Max: We both went to Vassar College in upstate New York…we knew of each other but weren’t friends and didn’t really travel in the same social circles until after school. Lizzy was running a record label, Neon Gold, and I was at a dance school in New York, looking to move into production. So I emailed her out of the blue and said “I’ve produced maybe 4 songs ever…do you have any artists who are at this level and might be willing to take a chance on a brand new producer?” And she emailed me back the list but also said that she had been writing music on the side and wasn’t ready to share it with anyone. Since I didn’t clearly know what was going on at the same level that she didn’t know what was going on, she thought we might be good partners! So she attached a song, I thought her voice was incredible and we just got together. That was really our first time hanging out one-on-one and it just instantly clicked. And from not knowing each other, we’ve spent 24 hours a day together for the past three and a half years.
You both have industry experience that goes beyond songwriting, what with one of you co-founding a record label and the other being a producer…how does that come into play when you are creating your own music?
Lizzy: For me, particularly with the business side of things, it’s a welcome release to put that at bay and actually just focus on the art and focus on the music. It’s fun to be listening to other people’s music and critique it and see a context for it and help someone else develop their vision…but it’s just such a treat to escape that, put it on the sidebar and focus on the music first. And then use that experience later once the music has actually fully developed itself.
Max: For the first year that we were writing, we really didn’t tell anyone what we were doing…even Lizzy’s business partner at Neon Gold didn’t hear any of the music for a while. I feel like that really helped us hone a unique sense of self and made it so the music was a very specific representation of who we are as artists. We weren’t influenced by even our friends’ opinions.
“Hurricane” was released two years ago and continues to win you over new fans every day. What is it about that song that you think people connect with so well?
Lizzy: I don’t know! I’m consistently thrilled that that is the song people connect with. It was probably the fastest we ever wrote a song and happened after the first hurricane we experienced while living in New York, which was Hurricane Irene. We didn’t spend it together but the next day there was this sort of turmoil and tension in the air…and everyone was on edge. In the aftermath of the storm, Max had written this track and sent it to me – I loved it immediately. I had simultaneously the night before been writing lyrics…sort of aimlessly, but inspired by the hurricane. The lyrics came instantly with the song he had sent and we recorded it the next day. In some ways, it feels the most representational of us.
Max: It wasn’t really overthought on either of our parts; I sat down and wrote the track in about an hour. I just read an interview with Brian Eno in The New Yorker this past week and he talks about how he thinks musicians write their best music when they don’t know what they’re doing or they’re not conscious of what’s happening. I definitely feel that “Hurricane” specifically was that moment for us.