Q&A with MØ
by Kelly Subin (Marketing), published October 10th 2014
Even though much of the music world has been mispronouncing her name, MØ, born Karen Marie Ørsted, just doesn’t seem to care. In fact, she loves it. MØ’s debut album, No Mythologies to Follow, has been generating buzz since its March release because of its sleek mix of electro, pop, R&B, and a little punk. Her eclectic approach can probably best be explained by her opposite-spectrum role models: Sporty Spice and Kim Gordon. The Danish songstress sat down with Tastemakers before her show at the Paradise Rock Club on September 24.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): How many times does your name get mispronounced daily?
MØ: Actually, you know, it’s only Danes that can say it right, so it’s getting pronounced wrong all the time, but I actually kind of like it. I love when people come and say, “Oh, are you ‘MØ?” It’s like, “Oh yes!”
TMM: How do you pronounce it?
MØ: You say “Mooo!” But I love it when people say it their way. It’s like, fuck the real way. It doesn’t really matter.
TMM: So, MØ means “maiden” or “virgin” in Danish?
MØ: Yeah, it’s not actually like a virgin in the sexual way, but more like a maiden – like a girl child, like a pure and young, unspoiled girl.
TMM: So why did you pick that name?
MØ: Well, a lot of my songs are about growing up and about finding yourself and being in doubt and confused, and about the teen years and about how you experience all these new feelings. And confusion, and restlessness, and the search. So it’s about that whole process of growing older, and becoming an adult, and how you should always maintain that child within you. Always remember that you are at some point pure inside. Not pure like in a boring, religious way, but like how you always have a kind of childish way. It’s hard to explain. Also, I thought it was ironic because a lot of my songs are about being like “AHHH!” and wanting to do crazy stuff. And it’s ironic because a child is totally unaware of that.
TMM: So, when did you start making music?
MØ: When I was seven. Seven or eight. That was when I started. Because I started writing songs just after I heard the Spice Girls for the first time, and I was like, “I wanna be like them.”
TMM: Which Spice Girl are you most like?
MØ: Well my favorite is Sporty Spice. She was the one who sang the best and she looked so cool, and at that time I was only wearing tracksuits and Adidas’ and stuff like that, so I was like, “Yeah, that’s my girl.”
TMM: Do you think being an art student has had any effect on your career?
MØ: I think so, yeah. It’s always hard for me to explain exactly what it is, but I just feel like I was so happy attending the art school. I really wanted to go to the music academy but there it’s very much about following rules and being a certain kind of singer, or sing the right way and know all the theory. I mean, I know it’s a good thing to know the tools and I’m very eager to learn about the… stuff, techniques and stuff, but I think it was the very, very right thing for me to attend the art academy. It taught me that it’s not necessarily about the final project but about the journey towards it and the thought behind it, and about expressing yourself and being like this *gives middle finger*.
TMM: So, how was working with Diplo?
MØ: Well, very nice. I know his Instagram is very crazy, but as I see him he’s very cool and chill. But he’s very sweet and sympathetic, and very creative and hardworking. I mean, I really love his way of working, that he works with upcomers all over the world, but that he always works with Madonna and Usher and big, big stars. It’s all about being progressive and making new music and trying to expand the borders. And that’s what creativity is all about, so I really adore him for that.
TMM: So, do you have any inspiration for how you dress?
MØ: It’s not something I think a lot about, but I should probably know. I used to be in a punk band, and I’ve been in the whole punk environment for 10 years, so I’ve always really adored the whole punk style, but then combined it with the sportswear, and also just being yourself and being relaxed. But my biggest role model of all time is Kim Gordon, from Sonic Youth. She’s always had that casual grunge style, mixing it with sexiness but also total tomboy. I love that combination.
TMM: How was working with Elliphant on “One More”?
MØ: Elliphant and I we met for the first time at a festival in Oslo, one and a half years ago, maybe two years ago. And it was so funny because we were both total upcomers at that point. We met there and we just connected. She had listened to my song “Pilgrim” and she had felt that connection, and then I met her. And it was just like at some point – and I’m not very spiritual – but with her I just feel a kind of weird connection. I just adore everything she stands for and the way she is. I just feel like she’s the sister that you look up to. That’s how I feel about her. I’m just like, “Oh, teach me how to be like you!” in a way.
She’s so interesting, so inspiring. And it’s like we’ve been following each other and really having this love, even though we don’t know each other. I remember something she said to me like, the second time I met her. She’s like, “Hey babe, we’re like partners in crime. We’re both two girls who just started at this career and we have nothing to lose so let’s just [unintelligible noise]” And since then, well we’re both so busy so we don’t get to hang out a lot, but I just feel this special connection with her, so when she wrote me on Facebook saying, “Hey, I’m doing this song. Maybe this should be the song where we do a collab?” and I was just like, “Yeah! I wanna do that!” And I love the song, it’s just like… fuck, this song is good.
TMM: If you could try any other genre of music, like something completely different, what would it be?
MØ: I guess I would like to try metal. Because my music is a combination of so many genres and metal is very different from that. But it’s still related to punk at some point, with the whole letting go and the expression thing, so I think metal.
TMM: Future metal album maybe?
MØ: Maybe, I think I would be very bad at it. I think I would be better at punk. We’ll see though.