You may find yourself randomly daydreaming about what a 2018 Kate Bush electro-pop record might sound like and, luckily enough, you can now cease all such daydreaming because LA(-via New York) duo, Post Precious, have essentially created it.

Singer-songwriter and long-time 405 favourite, Alex Winston, channels Bush’s timbre over slick, Robyn-esque production from MS MR linchpin and Charli XCX’s roommate, Max Hershenow. The outcome? Summer’s best pop EP by a clear mile.

Having relocated from east coast to west coast, the two friends’ collaboration, which began with debut single, ‘Timebomb’, last year, reintroduces Winston’s voice back to our ears after a long hiatus brought about by record label woes (tl;dr: 300 refused to release her second album until she produced a so-called “radio single”). For Hershenow, one of LA’s rising writer-producers, Post Precious serves both as a congruent next musical step and, from a wider perspective, a creative outlet for devising an aesthetic - a look-and-feel for a much-loved project, in a much more liberated way than being signed to a major label with MS MR allowed him to do.

Giving the concept of “the 405 in LA” a whole new meaning, The 405 travelled to California to meet with Winston and Hershenow in Silver Lake, where we talked about their new EP, ‘Crown’, which you may have an exclusive first listen to below, ahead of its release on Friday.

What series of eventualities ended up in you combining forces to create Post Precious?

Max: Alex and I have been friends for about seven years. We met in New York – we actually met at the very first MS MR rehearsal – we’d brought Alex in to give her expert opinion and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve gotten really close since we both moved to LA and started writing for other people. We were writing a bunch of songs for pitch and then we decided that maybe it would be best if we just released them ourselves as a little side project in between Alex’s records and my work – I do production and writing for other people.

Alex: I was also stuck on a label and it meant another creative way for me while I couldn’t really promote my own music. To be able to still do things and make music has been such an amazing experience, just like… reinvigorate myself, putting out music. That feels fresh and exciting.

This thing with your label – are we talking a Kesha situation?

Alex: I mean, it wasn’t like that but I had a full-length [album] finished on a label and they were just not putting it out. Everyone thought I had just kinda disappeared and stopped making music but I truly couldn’t put my record out and this limbo situation has been really frustrating so Max and I started writing and I was, like, oh wait – I love writing music! With the pressure of being on a major label and having to do what someone else wants you to do, I forgot how much I loved to perform and do this.

Max: Her label was asking for a radio single for a year when, like, the record was done! And is really good.

Alex: Well, let me whip that up for you!

Max: Whatever [a radio single] means.

So was this before or after The Day I Died EP?

Alex: It was after. The record was done when I put out The Day I Died EP. So it’s been done for a very long time. And then I got sick as well [Winston has been diagnosed with Lyme disease] so it’s just been a combination of several frustrating things but I guess everything happens for a reason and I wound up out here, I wound up with Max and we are making some of my favourite music that I’ve made in so long, starting up my solo stuff working with Max too… like, everything feels right. Right now.

Max: I think it was a reminder for both of us of the ethos that we had at the beginning. We started in the music business with the curiosity and freedom to be unburdened by context and other opinions and have this drive to just get something out and the desire to do it – the more you do it, the more you work in the industry and internalise all of that stuff, you can start to feel really bogged down and feel very self-analytical because that’s what everyone else is… and so the whole ethos of the project is to take the pressure off ourselves and write whatever we want to write, self-release it so that there’s no one else to tell us what to do and it really feels like we are living the fun of that early era and the curiosity of it.

I’m interested in “radio singles” still being a major driver when it feels like we are now at an age with so many other ways for music to get exposure…

Alex: Right, it’s just so silly. And the thing is – every song that I wanted to make a single they didn’t let me and then you look at my Spotify and it’s, like, those are the songs that people gravitate towards. After a while, it gets very tiring when you feel like your voice is just not being heard and you’re the one creating the music.

Max: It’s frustrating – in all forms of music but especially the alternative scene. Hits are anomalies. They’re hits because there’s something special about them, they come from a place that is undefinable and, if you’re trying to recreate that or make something that fits some other form that people have heard before, it comes off as disingenuous and it doesn’t work. So the whole premise is wrong.

Was ‘Timebomb’ the first thing you wrote together?

Alex: It was one of the first few songs but it wasn’t the first.

Max: It actually started out as this power-ballad full of 80s synths and stuff like that.

Well, that version clearly needs to come out at some point.

Alex: It really should. We have an acoustic version of it as well, which is on the EP but… we just wanted to dance [laughs].

I really loved the video as well. You shot it in Joshua Tree, right?

Alex: Yeah. That was fun.

Max: We shot that with our friends Julian and Liam. Julian is a great director. And it was just about this ethos of working with people who are really invested in the project and excited about it. It was just the best day. And everyone who was there wanted to be there. We shot it at a house that had recently been built and it was solar-powered and they never had a shoot there before so the electricity kept flickering and we called the woman asking – is the electricity gonna last all day? And she was, like, honestly, I don’t know! We shot all day and it was that night, we had one scene left to shoot – the opening scene –

Alex: This dance sequence thing.

Max: That we’d rehearsed and only got one take of before all the power went out. So we had to clean up in the pitch black dark after a full-day shoot. There was stuff everywhere and everyone was scrambling around but everyone was really enthusiastic so it didn’t matter.

How does the visual side of things figure in your plans for Post Precious?

Alex: The visual side has been a huge part and it’s exciting because, for me, it’s been really fun experimenting. I feel like it’s a more sophisticated aesthetic that I’m not really used to and it’s fun creating this world. I’m learning a lot.

Max: And, again, we are taking an easy approach about it. If it works we go with it. The aesthetic is not really very premeditated it’s more like – ok, we’ve got these vague ideas for the photographer and we establish some visual narrative and then we build on that with the next photo-shoot and build on that again in the next one and because it’s like this side-project ethos we can afford to take risks with it and wear things we wouldn’t normally wear and be a bit more outlandish or allow ourselves to try things that may or may not work. When you’re spending, like, $500 on a photo-shoot instead of $5,000 or $10,000 it’s a different mindset. Like, when you are spending $10,000 you really want to know what you’re going to get out of it. When you’re spending $500 then if anything comes out – great! There’s less pressure and it may well end up much better.

And the collaborative approach here in LA really feels like it facilitates creativity without having to spend huge amounts of money because people seem to be really up for exploring working together…

Alex: Yeah, definitely.

Can you imagine Post Precious coming to life as organically as it has if you were both still in New York?

Alex: Not a chance.

Max: I think there’s a real ethos – I keep saying ethos – it’s a good word but I should stop [laughs]. But, yeah, people are really excited to work on things together out here -

Alex: It’s an awesome community, for sure!

Max: And, musically, we are surrounded by phenomenal writers, incredible musicians that are our friends who give us feedback, have worked on some of the songs with us. And everyone is just so invested and excited about that and I really feel like LA is the cream of the crop – it’s this incubator for people from all over the world.

Alex: New York – at least for me – had this real pressure. You have to hustle there. It’s so expensive. Even just to rent a recording space – everyone is on the hustle. I mean, LA is expensive too but here there’s a slightly more laidback feel and a lot more recording studios and it’s not just a grind. I feel like there’s a little bit of weight off your shoulders, so you can relax and take some time to do the things you’re passionate about instead of just things that are gonna help you pay your rent.

Max: I think there’s also a culture of self-creation here. People come here to reinvent themselves and it’s slightly frustrating if you want to date someone because you can’t trust anyone because everyone has many layers – people are presenting in crazy ways and it takes a long time to dig through all the layers to figure out who people really are. But I think that also lends itself to a more exciting and edgy creative process. There’s a real defined idea of what it is to be a New York band and there’s a whole aesthetic around that, which tends to be confining in some ways. In LA it’s a different feel.

Do you think that MS MR is a New York band in that respect?

Max: We pushed that narrative but I don’t know if we are that. We’re not the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or The Strokes or anything like that. I was really proud of the fact that we, like, fought through New York and made MS MR work and I thought that was something laudable but now I’m, like, thank god I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m also thirty so I’m not gonna do that again! [laughs]

You both emerged in your respective “other”, non-Post Precious, careers during the mp3 blogs era and, since then, the predominant mode of music consumption has evolved from downloads onto streaming. How has that impacted on your financial freedom to make whatever music you want?

Alex: There are two sides to that coin. On the one hand, putting our music out ourselves and getting it out there on streaming has made things so much more accessible, which leads to more opportunities, which leads to income in that way. But I guess you’re not immediately making as much money.

Max: It does give us the flexibility to self-release in ways that you couldn’t do before. But we haven’t made any money out of streaming numbers, yet. Mind you, Alex has made a lot of money out of her solo streaming -

Alex: Yeah, one of my top songs [on Spotify] that I put out on my own in between record deals [‘101 Vultures’] helped me pay my way for a while so I’ve definitely seen that side of it.

Max: When we started MS MR that was really when the industry was in total freefall and I never thought I would make money off record sales. I just gave up on the idea that selling music was how I was going to make money so if we manage to make any money off of streaming then – great!

Alex: Synch deals are what you’re really hoping for nowadays because that can give you the flexibility to just keep going. That’s kind of where the money is. Even my perspective has changed – like, 8 years ago I thought I’m not going to do that, like a brat [laughs] but it’s another way to get a dollar in your pocket.

You have referred to Post Precious as a side-project. Have you thought about what happens if it becomes your main project?

Alex: I don’t think we want to think about that because there’s something special about our [current] mindset. Max and I do not fight, we have a great relationship, we have so much fun together and everything feels really easy and we don’t want to fuck that up. I also really want to put out my own music and Max has a ton of different records that he’s working on so we are trying to manage all three things and not force anything.

Max: Also, I don’t really want to tour very much anymore, whereas Winnie loves touring - she’s raring to go. I feel like I’ve done it. I toured for most of my 20s and I’ve performed to huge crowds all over the world and I feel like I really scratched that itch, that side of myself. And I love writing music, I love being a producer and being in the studio. I also love doing the visual side of things and those are my most valuable skills. I’m much better at that. I’m good at performing but I’m not good at rehearsing or plugging shit in and waiting around in back rooms for shows to start. The trade-off, for me, is not worth it. But also don’t hold me to that because it could change [laughs].

Alex: For me, I’ve always loved touring and I’ve been doing it since I was 18. But it’s never been consistent and I’ve had so many ups and downs and setbacks throughout my career that I feel like I never properly got to tour America with my project, which I really want to do. And I’m like an explorer, I love driving and I even love the mundane middle-America nothingy truck-stops. I don’t know – I’m just fascinated by it.

You’ve played live here in LA as Post Precious. What’s your set been like, so far?

Max: Six whole songs. Three of which are covers.

Alex: But covers of our own songs as well!

Max: Yeah, so we’re doing MS MR’s ‘Dark Doo Wop’ only Post Precious-ised.

Alex: And we’re doing my song, ‘Down Low’, which is a slower ballad and then we’re doing the Harry Styles cover.

Your first EP is called Crown

Alex: Yeah and it’s been done for quite a while.

Max: There are two new songs on it as well as ‘Lose Myself’ and ‘Timebomb’ plus the acoustic version of ‘Timebomb’.

Tell me about the two new tracks.

Max: One of them is called ‘Crown’, which we wrote with an old friend of mine who was my first bandmate ever, Halona King. She is amazing.

Alex: And the other song is called ‘Satellites’, which is another song that started as a ballad and turned into a slow-burning dancier track. We were really inspired by Robyn’s ‘With Every Heartbeat’.

Do you have a favourite track on the EP?

Both: ‘Lose Myself’.

Alex: Vocally, it’s really fun to sing.

Max: We wrote that one with Ryn Weaver who’s just phenomenal.

What are your plans beyond the EP?

Alex: I plan on releasing something in August, that Max and I actually did together.

Solo material?

Alex: Yes. And Max is going to be part of the video, which I am working out right now. It’s very exciting.

Max: But it’s a totally different sound to Post Precious.

Alex: It has a lot of guitar on it.

And what’s coming up next for you, Max?

Max: I’ll be front row at Alex’s solo shows, Head Groupie, Stage Mom [laughs]. I just want to make sure she’s eating well. But… yeah – I’m producing for a lot of different artists right now. I’m doing an album with Ryn Weaver, which I am very excited about. I live with Charli XCX and she has various artists staying over, different musicians working there and I get to spend my days talking with people about their problems and writing songs about it. And then going out at night. It’s just a really lovely existence. It feels like we’re part of a special era of some sort.

And what about MS MR?

Max: Who knows, it’s all up in the air. I think we’ll probably do another MS MR record at some point. That is not off the table at all. Lizzy still lives in New York but she’s out here all the time.

Alex: We’d like her to move out here… give it time! Give it time and they all come out here!

Crown is out on 13 July 2018. Post Precious are launching the EP at AKBAR, Silver Lake, on 12 July 2018. For more information, head here.