A friendship? Sure. Strange smells of food gone bad? Probably. But “a global record label and support system for game-changing artists” would not be on the “Family Feud” board for the question, “What comes out of a dorm room?”
It was a decade ago that Derek Davies and Lizzy Plapinger created Neon Gold from their respective dorm rooms at NYU and Vassar, releasing Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead” as a 7-inch single. Now, the label is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a bash that includes performances by The Knocks, St. Lucia, Matt Maeson and even Plapinger’s solo act, LPX.
amNewYork caught up with Plapinger to talk about the label’s history, its challenges and its successes.
Could you have imagined as a college kid that this dorm room project would still be going on a full decade later?
What are the chances that Derek and I are lucky enough to work within a field that’s truly our greatest passion and love? We thought we were going to start the label and — fingers crossed — it was going to go well enough that we would be hired independently at record labels. So the fact that the day after I graduated college we signed a record deal with Columbia Records for Neon Gold was already above and beyond our wildest dreams. And I sort of feel like that’s exemplificative of the entire experience of doing Neon Gold. It’s like at every turn, the way the label has grown, the artists that we’ve been afforded the opportunity to work with, everything has always exceeded our expectations. When every day feels like a gift to be working in the field that you would be choosing to work in no matter what, and to see the success we’ve seen the last 10 years and the artists we’ve been able to be a part of their story, it’s really magical.
During those 10 years, you also performed both in a duo, as MS MR, and as a solo performer, LPX. How did that change your relationship with Neon Gold?
It was weird, because when Derek and I started the label, we were running it out of our dorm rooms. I was literally printing out the labels, taking out the packages every day to ship everything out to our distributors. I was the distribution center. I was going to every soundcheck for [Neon Gold’s regular party] POPSHOP. Just every small detail, I was all over it. . . . It just became a more enormous balancing act. I’m so grateful to Derek for allowing me the opportunity to grow into the artist that I was able to with MS MR while also being able to do Neon Gold and be as hands on as I’ve maintained being. And I think intimately, although it was a challenge, it’s made me a lot better at both jobs. Neon Gold made me a lot stronger as an artist with MS MR and now with LPX because I understand the industry from a whole different view. And similarly, for Neon Gold, my experience as an artist translates so beautifully to how I can communicate to the people we’re working with to figure out the ways and things specifically that are gonna bring out work for them.
Obviously you’re in last-minute prep for the festival, but what comes after that?
I think our main purpose is just to be a continued genuine support system for new artists that we’re excited about and will, hopefully in time, change the culture of the future of pop music. I think it has always been a little bit of a goal for us to walk this line between alternative and pop. When we started the label, pop was a dirty word. It’s really not the case anymore. To see the artist that originally fell outside of the lines, like a HAIM or Tove Lo or Ellie [Goulding] or Marina [and the Diamonds] or Gotye, now sort of redefine what it means to be pop and hear those artists on the radio is really exciting.
If you go: Neon Gold X takes place at the Knockdown Center starting at 2 p.m. on Sept. 29, 52-19 Flushing Ave., Maspeth, neon.gold/ngx, $75-$120.