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MØ: “Music reminds me I'm not alone”

MØ: “Music reminds me I'm not alone”

05 February 2014, 11:00
Words by Lauren Down

“No one has their shit together. Seriously, no one knows what they’re doing.” Youth, if every beauty advert is to be believed, has secrets to sell. For a price you can keep it, control it and even reclaim it. What your perfectly packaged purchases won’t tell you though, and what Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted surreptitiously lets slip whilst leaning into take a sip of her alarmingly luminous smoothie, is the thing youth and its current generational extensions are most unwilling to admit: that no one knows what they’re doing. “And those that do, man they’re soo boring!” Ørsted jokes. “I don’t want to be like that. I don’t think anybody does though. They’re all pretending or insinuating they’ve go their shit together but they don’t.”

If the 25-year-old behind last year’s Bikini Daze EP and this year’s forthcoming full length No Mythologies To Follow is willing to admit she doesn’t know what she’s doing, why on earth are we all still pretending? Maybe it’s because Karen Marie Ørsted (or MØ to use her proper moniker) manages to bring punk and hip hop influences together under one large electronic pop umbrella so successfully, that it’s easier to believe she might just be modest! But ultimately, it’s not about being a hundred percent certain of yourself, it’s about being unsure and just going for it anyway, the weight of expectation be damned.

“The most wonderful thing,” MØ says of her own expectations for the record, would be for people to connect with it the way she did with music growing up. “There have been times in my life where I’ve felt happy because music reminds me I’m not alone. You know sometimes, even if there is this person you don’t know singing, you can relate to everything they say and suddenly your own life makes more sense. Even when you’re with people, you can be alone. Music is where you get to vent those kinds of things. If I could help someone vent that would be the greatest thing.”

“Youth is confusing and restless,” MØ sighs, as excited as she is exasperated by that realisation because after all, that’s what her album, due out via Chess Club/RCA Sony on 24 February, is all about. “I’ve always been a very restless person. When you’re a teenager it’s all about finding yourself and your place in the world, and I’m still there. The only thing you think about all the time is yourself. You’re so insecure and upset with yourself in some way because everything your feeling is so new to you. It’s such an intense period of time and our generation, I think. We’re teenagers much longer than we ever were before. You know, now we’re still like ‘err, who am I? I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do with my life!’ well into our twenties, and that’s very interesting, you know?”

An expressive face with wild gesturing eyes and the hand movements to match, there is a quiet defiance hidden underneath her youthful pop experiments and playful, friendly exterior and underneath all the influences she brings to bear on No Mythologies To Follow.

We speak in length about the pop heroes of her childhood: “I was totally into the Spice Girls. They were the first record I owned. Like so many others girls, they really appealed to me. These five girls, all these different characters, talking so much about, you know, girl power and sticking with your friends – and fuck everything else.” She pauses momentarily to hug her imaginary friends and flip the V both ways before continuing, “It was so fucking awesome, but when I became a teenager, you know how it is, that’s when things just get turned around.” Neither of us can particularly recall why the switch from pop to punk happened in our lives, only that we know it did. Though I was never in a punk band.

“Generally, punk is just something that I’ve been active in for so many years that it lies deep within me and affects me I guess without even knowing it. You know it’s just a part of me. I played in this punk band with a friend of mine for 5 years, we were never in the UK but we toured in Europe and New York. We were producing the music but it sounded like crap, and yeah I was singing. We were called MOR, which means “mother” in Danish.”


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Although her punk roots may have never been out grown, she talks about the move towards hip hop when she turned 20. “In the town where I’m from, the activists and the punks and the left field political environment were also kind of related to the hip hop environment. I think that is the something that goes on in a lot of places, because a lot of hip hop is also like “fuck society” and you know – so it just suddenly made sense to start listening to that kind of stuff. I sort of fell in love with the whole scene. Everything it stood for was so fucking cool, you know? Hip hop and punk have been my big love story. I guess they define what I do today to a certain point.”

Note how behind pop, punk and hip-hop there always seems to be an “us against society” message that shines through, a quietly rebellious nature that can be found in everything she speaks about. She wasn’t always so quiet about it though. “When I was a teenager I just went kind of mad,” MØ confesses. “I was a wild child, a punk. I came from the suburbs where no one looked weird, so it was weird for people that I was weird. My eye opener? When my parents went on holiday and I invited like a 100 punk friends of mine back to the house and everything got trashed. People were puking and fucking everywhere. It was a mess. But that’s what you do when you’re a young punk. I really love my family and even though it was such a riot, when it was over, I understood the seriousness of what I’d done, and was like ‘Oh, I fucked up.’ I was grounded for like 3 weeks. They were pretty angry.”

There is, of course, still a bit of that wild child left. The raw, aggressive nature of her youth translated into heavy, bolshy beats on record with help from her producer Ronni Vindahl. “He’s very technical,” MØ says, when I ask what she thinks he brings to the table that perhaps she doesn’t. “He sees the details, I’m very much like do this, do that – blablablablaerugh. He’s very skilled and his sound is very fresh. He brings like a melancholy but happy vibe.” This contrast is one of the most striking things you’ll notice when you listen to No Mythologies To Follow. “I think that is something that happened kind of naturally,” she agrees with my observations “we’re both into both things. I very much like that mellow sadness, that sensitive vulnerable side but I really really also like the aggressive raw sound that we have within us.”

It’s a common dichotomy for sure, but done in MØ’s distinctly off the cuff and off kilter style, it makes for an intensely captivating, hook laden, listen. “There are a lot of contemporary musicians and artists I can relate to. I love Banks, Grimes, FKA Twigs and SOHN. I’d die to work with SOHN. He’s so good. That song he did with Banks, I mean it’s a great song but I think the production he did is fucking massive. But all those guys, it feels like we’re all on the same ship, not the same sound direction, but it feels like we’re part of something. We’re all dealing with the same things. It’s surreal. I grew up on an island in a suburb to another small town in Denmark. I loved it but it was very isolated. I remember just walking around and dreaming about being a pop star when I grew up.”

Having already established that no one really ever grows up, it’s a good thing MØ has already established herself as a pop star.

No Mythologies To Follow is out via Chess Club/RCA Sony on 24 February. Live photography by Jason Williamson. Lead photograph by Thomas Skou.

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