Danish Singer MØ Reflects on 2014 and Success in Her Early 20s

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MØ tells me she’s tired, but you wouldn’t know it from her demeanor. As she peers into her computer’s camera, I get a glimpse of her arresting blue eyes, which carry a friendliness and warmth not often associated with Scandinavia. She’s genuinely excited to talk about 2014, the most formative year of her career, seemingly taking a ton of pleasure in reflecting on it all.

In March, she dropped her album No Mythologies To Follow, an incredible feat filled with futuristic electro-pop gems like the tracks “Pilgrim” and “Don’t Wanna Dance.” The album was a long-time-coming, and like falling dominoes, quickly led to other huge accomplishments, such as collaborating with Swedish artist Elliphant, as well as currently controversial rap/pop sensation, Iggy Azalea.

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Her sharp tongue, charismatic spirit, musical knowledge and willingness to talk about any subject makes her the perfect interview. Again and again, she shows insights on life that seem beyond the average 26-year-old. If there is anything the artist doesn’t seem to quite get, it is the extent to which the world knows and loves her music. She insists over and over that she is not a big star, and I think she believes it. That’s not to say she’s not thankful. On the contrary,  she’s incredible appreciate of her fans and everyone who has gotten her to where she is.

We talked to MØ about her album, the struggles of being in your twenties, and what it was like working with some of the world’s biggest stars of the moment.

Reflecting back on 2014, what were some of the highlights for you?

This year, it’s been so crazy. Everything has been going so fast, you know? In a way it’s hard to say this stands out, or this stands out, because everything just grew more and more. But so far it has been the busiest and also the craziest and best year of my life. One of the highlights, of course, was releasing the album. Since I was seven years old, my biggest dream was to release an alum…so that was really a fucking big dream come true. And also that I felt like a lot of positive responses came, with the fans being very personal. They were like, “I understand what you’re saying. It makes me feel something that I also feel sometimes.” And that’s the best thing. That’s the best kind of response you can get. I’m very happy that I’ve been able to touch some people, at least.

Now that almost a year has passed since you released your album, do you ever listen to it and reflect on that time of your life?  

Yeah, I do exactly like what you said. The other day  we were rehearsing some of the “Night Versions” that are on the deluxe album. It’s a stripped down show that we’re going to do. Going through all of the songs and really doing them like that, like stripped down and more intimate, it really made me think about all the things I was singing about. It was just like, “Oh my god, that’s just so how I felt a year and a half ago.” But in a way, there’s something very nice and familiar about that because you can feel yourself in it. I can still feel those feelings. I’m still in that mode, even though it’s in the past.

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I read that the song “Glass” is about getting to your 20s and not feeling fulfilled. Despite your crazy success, do you still feel like you want more?

I mean, you know, when I think about it, it is so wonderful. I’m a small fish in the water, but still I really appreciate all these things that have happened. But I think no matter what happens in your life, no matter if you became the biggest star in the world or not, our brains just work like that. We always find something that we’re not satisfied with. We need to always make problems for ourselves in order to keep on evolving. We can’t just be like, “Everything is great!” Because life stops. I think it’s human nature that we need to find some trouble to try to solve. Even though, I must say, I feel really, really happy, I really do.

With “Glass,” you’re right, you know? I was like “Oh yeah, you’re a teenager. It’s a fad or something, it’ll pass.” But you know what, I think that all life is going to be a search and a struggle. But life should be a struggle. That’s what makes it beautiful and that’s what makes it worth living. Because you need those crises to move and to move people and to do something. It’s really important that you have something to fight for, or fight against, that brings out the fire in you. That’s what you want to show. You communicate and you feel accepted.

I’m 23 and can definitely relate to that sentiment. I’m sure a lot of your fans appreciate your singing about this feeling.

It’s funny, because you know, we should all just be like, “Oh my god, we’re in our twenties! We’re all so young and free and we can do whatever!” But everyone is worried. Because everyone wants to be special these days because of Instagram and all of the profiles. Everyone wants to stand out and have this interesting life and an amazing career and beautiful boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s too much pressure to me, man. Like all of us young searching souls, we get all, “Ahh I’m not good enough! I don’t know what to do!” It’s kind of beautiful but it’s also hard. It’s hard to be young, but I guess it’s hard to be old too. Everything’s hard.

Now that you’ve achieved success on an international level, what’s it like when you go home to Denmark, especially because you just won so many awards at the Danish Music Awards.

I get all sentimental when we talk about it because it is so…you feel so honored and proud of yourself because the people in your country, they feel proud. Not that I’m proud of myself.

Well you should be!

(Laughs) Thanks…but you get so happy that all these people that don’t know you, they support you and love you and feel proud about what you’ve done. Again, not that I’m…I’m not a big superstar, I’m just doing these things. In Denmark, I really feel that people are really appreciating, or at least cheering for me. So to win these Danish Music Awards and really feeling that kind of love…it was almost too much. You so much want to show how happy you are and how much you appreciate them for doing that. But it’s so hard to express that because they’re feelings that are so unnatural. You just want to say, “I love you! I love you!”

It’s very overwhelming. And again, I’ve been dreaming of winning these awards since I was seven. It’s the daydream that I’ve had the most in my life, to stand at the Danish Music Awards and receive an award. That’s so sick. So when I finally stood there, I was like, “Fuck man. I’m just this little, stupid girl. I don’t know what to say. Who am I to think that I would have this big great speech? I don’t know how to make a speech.”

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Swedish singer Elliphant is another favorite of ours at BlackBook. Can you talk about the track “One More,” which you two collaborated on,  and how you met her?

I’m so glad that that song is doing well. Like, it’s really doing well! Elliphant is just so inspiring. I don’t know what it is about her. I guess it’s her open-mindedness. You feel like she talks directly from her soul. It’s so refreshing, because everyone has so many filters and are always holding back. She’s just like…I’m like this. Whatever. I think that’s so dope.

I met her in Oslo, in Norway, for the first time I think in the beginning of 2013. We both at that time had just had started our careers or whatever. We were both early in the process and at the beginning of everything. And she contacted me on Facebook and was like “You’re cool, girl” and I was like, “Oh my god, YOU’RE cool!” So we hooked up at this festival in Norway and just hung out, not too much, just that night. But I felt like there was a strange connection, even though I never met her before. But I felt like…I don’t know what it was about her, but there’s something in her that seems familiar to me.

We’ve had this attitude like, we’ve got to stick together. Even though we don’t really know each other. So we hooked up again in LA, we’d been emailing and stuff. So she wrote me, maybe a year ago or something, and was like “Hey man, me and Joel Little made this song. You should sing on it. This should be the song we do together.” And I was just loving the track. So I recorded all of the vocals, actually just in this room. My vocal box is just right over there. So I recorded it and sent it to Joel Little, and then suddenly it was done and it was a single. And to see that it’s going so well for her, it’s so fucking amazing. She just really deserves that. She really fucking does. She’s free man. No one’s free like she is.

There’s definitely something bold and inspirational about her.

Everybody says that. I mean, everybody says she is so inspirational. I mean, her music is inspiring but also her persona, the way she is, it really strikes me every time.

We’re speaking like we both have crushes on her.

Yeah, I know. Whenever I talk about her I always sound like I’m in love with her. But she’s just got to live with that.

What was it like working with Iggy Azalea on “Beg For It” ?

She was really, really cool. I really liked her when I met her. I thought she was actually really down to Earth and strong. Actually, I read somewhere that Kendrick Lamar said something like, “Hey, let her be. She’s doing her thing. Let her do it.” And that’s so well put because it’s like, she’s doing her thing, man. It seems like that’s what she’s born to do. I know that she’s been fighting for that right. She moved to America at an early age and was like, I want to do this.

But actually, the whole collaboration happened very fast. I was on tour in America and I was in New York when my manager got contacted by her management. They were like, “Can MØ give this song a try?” And we were like, “Of course we want to do it.” So I went to the studio like the day after that and recorded it. And then we went on to the next city to do some shows. And then a week after that, they contacted us and said that they would use the song and that I would be featured on it. So it went so fast. And then a week later, it was like, okay, Saturday Night Live next week. And she was just cool. She’s just a human being. Sometimes you think that the big stars are not human. But she reminds me of one of my old friends, just a strong girl.

Can you tell me about the song you just released, “New Years Eve” ?

Like we talked about, last year was the craziest year of my life. And the best year of my life so far. I felt like I wanted to end the year with a present for the fans. “Give something to the people,” or whatever they say. But also to start a new year, to mark an end and a beginning. I guess a lot of my songs are about how the years are going by and you’re always searching for some kind of answer. And the bottom line is sometimes it’s just about letting go of all those thoughts. Just go have some fucking fun with your friends and those who love you. Because, not to sound like a preacher or anything, but you know, close relations and people who really know and love you, those are the ones that in the long term will really make you happy.

Also because this year, everyone’s like, “Everything is going so good for you! You’re so wonderful, you’re so amazing!” And it’s like, you know what? Sometimes inside myself, I mean we all feel sad sometimes. I’m no star. I’m a person, like you. I feel things. So I also just wanted to make a song about a glimpse in my life. Like that song is exactly how I felt when I made it in the beginning of December. So I wanted to express that.

So what’s next for 2015?

Again, the human mind always wants more. You always want to evolve as a person. You’ll always want to do better with everything in life. So that’s of course also what I want. I mean, I want to make better music and if possible communicate with more people. I wanna share my thoughts and be better at it. Right now I’m working on a lot of new songs and it’s very exciting for me because I can feel that it has evolved for me in a way. But also, you never know where the finished product will end. But I feel like it’s building inside of me, and you want to express it in the right way. And that feeling is back, after touring. It’s been such a busy year so sometimes it was a bit hard to really get your thoughts clear about the music. It’s beginning to take form.

Photos by Carlos Santolalla