Lizzy Plapinger has kind of a thing for male-female duos.
As co-founder of Neon Gold Records with Derek Davies, she’s helped release the first 7” singles from indie-pop acts like Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding, Icona Pop and Marina & The Diamonds. As one half of alt-poppers MS MR, she had a breakthrough 2013 with debut LP “Secondhand Rapture” and lead single “Hurricane,” which peaked at Nos. 8 and 32 on Billboard’s Alternative Radio and Rock Songs charts, respectively. And on Jan. 10, Neon Gold became a new imprint under Atlantic Records, which is managed by co-chairmen Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman. The new deal follows Neon Gold’s three-year partnership with Columbia Records, which included signings like Haim, St. Lucia, Haerts and Magic Man, among others.
Neon Gold co-founders Derek Davies and Lizzy Plapinger (right) with former St Lucia manager Rene Symonds and B-roc of the Knocks at the Neon Gold label tour at Santos Party House in March of 2012. (Photo: Emily Lichtenberg)
“It feels like the next chapter for Neon Gold, and we’re incredibly excited to bring new knowledge to the table, given all we’ve learned in the past three years,” Plapinger says. “We already had an incredible relationship with Atlantic, and to be working with another woman is really inspirational and exciting. That’s a wonderful bonus to the situation.”
Adds Neon Gold co-founder Davies, “You don’t find any stronger boy-girl duos in the industry than Julie and Craig…Two of the labels whose trajectory we’ve most aspired to are Fueled By Ramen and Canvasback, both of which were developed under Julie and Craig, so for that reason it also felt like a great home for us.”
*And on Tuesday, Neon Gold will issue as its 50th release the debut EP from ASTR, a – you guessed it – male-female duo comprised of Zoe Silverman and Adam Pallin. Though the release is separate from Neon Gold’s new relationship with Atlantic, ASTR is also the first signing to Lyor Cohen’s new venture 300, which will issue future ASTR recordings and other label signings through a distribution deal with Atlantic. The band is managed separately by Cinematic Music Group's Jonny Shipes.
On Thursday night (Jan. 16), ASTR kicked off the relaunch of Neon Gold’s Popshop, a monthly indie-pop showcase in New York now based at nightclub The Westway and previously held at venues like Santos Party House and Tammany Hall. As part of the Popshop relaunch, Neon Gold will also oversee all booking activity for the Westway.
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Next week, ASTR will play another relaunch event, the West Coast debut of Absolut Vodka’s “Encore Sessions” which will permanently relocate from New York’s Le Baron to L.A.’s Standard Hollywood. 300 will co-host the performance as its own Grammy Week party, sponsored by Absolut Elyx.
“I think Zoe’s one of the best frontwomen we’ve ever worked with,” Davies says of ASTR’s Silverman. “We’ve worked with a lot of successful girls from the pop space, and I can’t recall anyone with quite such incredible stage presence who were only five shows into their career as she was when we saw them. We’re excited to be working with 300 and Todd [Moscowitz] and Lyor as well. They’re people we’ve been in touch with before and have all this respect for.”
Neon Gold is still scouting its first official signing for Atlantic, and hopes to announce an official deal in the next few months. Davies and Plapinger will work closely with Sam Riback, Atlantic’s senior VP – head of West Coast A&R, who brought the deal to the label. “We are thrilled that Neon Gold is joining the Atlantic family,” Riback says. “Derek and Lizzy’s track record for identifying culturally relevant artists is what makes the Neon Gold brand such an exciting partnership for us.”
Other releases on the near horizon for digital release through Neon Gold include The Knocks’ "Comfortable" EP on Feb. 18 (featuring X Ambassadors, Sneaky Soundsystem and Ra Ra Riot) and the debut EP from Swedish indie-pop singer Tove Lo in March.
And in her dual role as part of the female-fronted revival at alternative radio led by Lorde, Haim and Chvrches, Plapinger is excited to share her first-hand learnings from her MS MR experiences with her current and future signings. “I’ve always had an incredible relationship with the artists we work with, but I can now talk to the people we work with on a level I wasn’t before,” she says. “It’s comforting to be able to say, ‘This is gonna be hard,’ ‘This is gonna be something where you need to do this to get to point B.’ I think I’m understanding the industry on a level I didn’t before, and that feels really powerful.”
*Correction Appended: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 300 has signed ASTR to a management deal. The company will in fact act as a label for ASTR's future recordings after the "Varsity" EP on Neon Gold. The band is managed separately by Cinematic Music Group's Jonny Shipes.