How Post Precious built a big audience, by themselves, with just a few singles.
Alex Winston, one half of the new synth-pop duo Post Precious, played a showcase of her solo material at the 2017 DIY Musician Conference in Nashville. Her return to the stage after a long hiatus due to Lyme Disease was energetic and engaging, and I’m pretty sure she won over anyone in the audience that hadn’t heard her music.
With renewed momentum, she announced the following month that she’d teamed up with her friend Max Hershenow (of MS MR) to form Post Precious, and they dropped a single they’d written called “Timebomb.” Then came two more singles, one a remix, and the other a cover of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.”
Three songs. That’s it. And with those tracks they’ve built a monthly audience on Spotify of over 170k people.
I find it fascinating that indie music careers can now be made (and maintained) through singles, so I wanted to interview them about the process, as well as how those singles might or might not be building towards the release of their upcoming EP. Thanks to Post Precious for taking the time.
An interview with Post Precious
You’ve both had your share of label hassles and creative obstacles. Can you talk a little bit about that history?
Max: I’m not sure I would’ve acknowledged this a year ago, but I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with my career so far, despite some inevitable bumps along the way. I’ve been half of MS MR since 2011, and we released two albums on Columbia. The first did really well, but (as often happens!) the second didn’t connect in the same way, which led to a bit of an internal creative crisis, and a bit of a disillusionment with the major label structure, despite getting to work with someincredible people. MS MR left Columbia and went on hiatus in 2016, and since then I’ve had the opportunity to produce for a huge range of artists, which got me back on my feet creatively and led me to Alex!
Alex: Unfortunately, I don’t think my experience with major labels has been uncommon. In fact, I’ve heard my story so many times that it almost feels like a right of passage…or an outtake from Spinal Tap. I’ve been dropped, I’ve had two records delayed for years, I’ve been told what to wear, what my videos should be like, what kind of music to make,… you name it; it truly pushed me so far from who I had known myself to be as an artist that I couldn’t recognize my own creative identity. Once I was freed from all of that crap, I just focused on making music that I loved, with people that I was inspired by — that’s where I am right now. Music feels really exciting again for the first time in ages.
How did Post Precious grow out of that, and what does this partnership let you do that you couldn’t before?
We honestly started Post Precious sort of accidentally – we started out writing songs for other artists and slowly realized that we were maybe the only ones who could bring them to life in the way we imagined. But because we had been writing thinking the work was for someone else we didn’t put the sort of pressure on ourselves that we’d grown accustomed to being under as artists. We realized we could use that freedom as the basis for a new project where we were free to play and experiment.
How does the writing or production process differ when you’re thinking about releasing singles, as opposed to a larger album?
Max: I guess on some level we’re less focused on working within a cohesive sound or overarching themes than if we were thinking on a larger album scale, but because of the Post Precious ethos I don’t know if we’d really be working like that anyway. Rather than singles, I tend to think of the songs in little EP-style packages, which is a really exciting way to work. We get to explore one sonic idea from a few angles and then get to switch to a new one, which keeps things feeling fresh.
Alex: Yeah, there is something about not feeling tethered to one idea for too long that is really appealing to me these days! (ha) I like just following where something sonically different might take you and leaning into it, instead of wondering how it will fit with a record.
In terms of the biz side of things — promotion, playlist placements, stuff like that — what was your “strategy” for your singles?
We’re not really sure we have a strategy, haha…we have an extremely small team of two who have been AMAZING at helping us get the word out, and all four of us are super committed to being able to pivot quickly if something feels like it isn’t working. We’re also really reliant on friends to help spread the word.
With an EP coming soon, were you plotting your course towards that release with the singles, or is the EP kind of a culmination of that previous work?
You make it sound as though we have a plan here! The EP will include all the songs we’ve released up to the this point, so it is a culmination and also a rounding out of the sonic landscape we’ve been exploring with a couple of other songs.
How do you think about your place in the music world the way things are right now … like, you’re indie, but you have label experience. Is it the ideal place to be? Are you happy? Are you aiming to build back into a major deal?
Yes to happy! We’re having so much fun. Otherwise honestly we’re just taking things one step at a time. It feels amazing to feel a little excitement building around the project but we’re just going to see how things go little by little.
How does CD Baby play into your release picture, and what does CD Baby allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?
CD Baby’s been super supportive, providing creative ideas around the release of the music. The Post Precious perspective relies on a really artist-driven approach, and we couldn’t do it without a platform like CD Baby.
What else is in the works to coincide or build upon the release of your upcoming EP?
We’re going to play some shows! We have a few on the books and are just going to see how they go. Again, it’s one step at a time.
[Photo credit: Catie Laffoon]