As the world struggles to pronounce her stage name, sporty Dane MØ (it's like moo) continues to rack up over one billion YouTube views as the voice and co-writer on Major Lazer and DJ Snake's smash "Lean On." The track has become the most streamed Spotify song of all time.
Born Karen Marie Ørsted, in Ubberud on the island of Funen, MØ's music career began with a childhood Spice Girls obsession. At 18, she formed Mor, a punky thrash band, and toured Europe and New York, playing in squats and becoming further involved in politics. A switch to electropop under MØ resulted in her 2014 debut No Mythologies to Follow which was a saucepan mash of bedroom beats, R&B, and electro-pop.
She's since skyrocketed close to the same pop stratosphere as her spicy role models and has collaborated with the likes of Skrillex, Iggy Azalea, and Justin Bieber. She teamed up with Diplo on "Kamikaze," crowned by Annie Mac as "the hottest record of the year" in 2015.
Now as she readies a follow up to No Mythologies to Follow, we caught up with MØ to chat music and being yourself.
Noisey: What did girl power and the Spice Girls spark within you?
MØ: I was seven or eight when they came about so was not super into politics or anything, but I think Spice Girls and the whole thing about these five unique girls who like were individuals in their own right but good friends also. They were like "Fuck boys, it's all about friendship." It was very adorable and very relatable.
Were they the driver behind your pop infection?
As a kid I was super into all kinds of pop. It wasn't until I became a teenager that I moved more into alternative music and punk rock. For a long time I wasn't actually listening to pop. But when I got back into electronic and hip-hop stuff, I rediscovered my passion for pop music.
What drew you to punk?
When I was around 12 or 13 my older brother had this friend who was a goth. He was dressed all in black …You know like super, super goth! I was just so drawn to that darkness and weirdness. I just wanted to rebel. And now that I think about it, rebel against what? I mean I have lovely parents and brother and things were always very great. I guess I just wanted to rebel because everything was great. Which doesn't really make much sense, that led me into politics and activist stuff, I was forever searching for my individuality.
Before MØ you were performing some pretty raw stuff. Was it hard moving from alternative punk to pop?
Not so much, because I have been in a lot of different bands throughout my life. Even though I have a huge love for alternative music and punk music, particularly, I have always had the love for pop music inside of me. Therefore actually it felt kind of natural for me to have different projects with different genres. I mean I would still do a punk band now if I had the time.
Coming from an academic household did you feel pressure to follow in your parents footsteps?
I remember my dad was like, "You should take the basics. You should go to college." But from the beginning, I knew it wasn't for me. I wasn't super bad in school, but I wasn't the best. I was only good at the things I was into, you know. So I never felt like I was going to become a super duper academic. All I knew was that I wanted to do something creative.
How'd you get tight with the Major Lazer crew?
In 2013 I met Wes [Diplo] and Chris Jillionaire and we just vibed. They'd send me beats and I'd send back vocal takes and stuff. We'd just brainstorm… you know through email and we'd meet up in studios and suddenly "Lean On" was made. Working with them is just like working with friends.
Musically, do you feel people are scared of being themselves?
I don't know. Again it depends on what genre or what scene you're looking at. There are many people who think you have to fit into a certain kind of box to be this or that in music. I guess that reflects some kind of fear of not being right. You know not being good enough. But in pop music it's pretty popular to actually to be yourself, to be real and natural.
You're captivating to watch perform. How has your stage persona evolved?
When I first performed I was so uncomfortable. I don't think I am a born entertainer, I don't think I had that natural confidence. But what I learned from being in punk bands was to just let go. That's where I evolved my stage persona. I learned that instead of trying to control the situation I would let go and become this creative creature. [Laughs.]
After the success of your first album have you felt pressure working on your second?Definitely. The success of "Lean On" opened a lot of doors. Not pressure, but I was so busy for so long and it took me take a while to get into the core of the second album. I feel I have found it now. But I'm still so busy and traveling all the time, so it takes longer than I thought to finish it up. But it's good. I'm happy now. I feel like the process is going well.
And you have good people to bounce ideas off.
Yeah, I do. And that's also another thing. This time around I'm not only working with one producer but with a bunch of different ones. It's still super important to have the sound united even though you have so many people collaborating with you. So there has been a lot of different challenges with this second album which the first one didn't have.
As a rebel—and we will use the term loosely—what is the most radical thing you have done?
Hahaha, I think the most radical thing you do is to always be honest, but also it's actually sometimes people think that honesty is something blah whatever. Like we talked about earlier, for people to just dare to be themselves all the time. I think that's pretty ballsy. And I'm not saying I'm doing that. But I think that's the most radical thing you can do is be honest and transparent.
Is a MØ x Sporty Spice collab ever going to happen?
Haha, I would love that! And I'm not just saying it. I would actually love that. (laughter) She's my hero.