Mø wrapped up her first headline tour of North America with a sold-out show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles last week. It was the latest step in a slow but steady rise to pop prominence that began many, many years ago as a Spice Girls obsessed seven-year-old in Odense, Denmark. Since then, she has toured with a punk band, recorded a track with Avicii and released a critically-acclaimed solo LP called No Mythologies To Follow.
The 25-year-old spoke to me about her life-long obsession with music before taking the stage, covering a wide range of topics that include her humble beginnings, high-profile collaborations and the inspiration for current single “Don’t Wanna Dance”. She also talked openly about the Scandinavian pop scene and why touring America fills her with a sense of possibility. Mø even posed for a photo shoot — at the bar, no less! Make sure to peruse those pics up to and find out what she had to say after the jump.
How did you get started in music?
Well, I started making music when I was seven years old, but that was because of the Spice Girls. You know, I was like “Oh I want to be like them,” and I started making music just because I wanted to be like them. But then I discovered that making music was my way of expressing myself and a way to earn confidence. So, it became my thing. And then when I was a teenager, everything gets turned upside dow, and I got obsessed by Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon became my new role model. But, yeah, I started as a 7 year old.
You were in a band before you started your solo career?
I’ve been like in a thousand bands, you know, like in high school and stuff. You know, back and forth. I was in this punk band for 5 years with a girl who’s actually the little sister to my DJ, who plays with me. It was called Mor. It means “mother”. It was trashy electronic punk — just her and me. We were touring Europe and also New York. You know, it was underground, but we got places. Like small places.
Is that what led you to be signed as a solo artist?
Me and Josefine (Struckmann), who I had the punk band with, we both got into the Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark at the same time. And then, while we were there and had this punk band, one of my professors, he said to me that he thought that I should try and find myself and do something for myself because all these things he saw me doing in groups and always collaborating with a lot of people all the time, and he said “Hey, try to do your own thing.” I knew that music was my kind of number one media, so I started doing this solo thing. But it was different in the beginning.
Did you always sing in English?
When I started making songs at 7, it was actually English I was writing in because of the Spice Girls. It was very bad English, but I did my best. I’ve also been in groups where we were singing Danish. For example, the punk band — that was in Danish, but all other groups have been in English. All of the songs that I’ve written have always been in English.
I wanted to ask you about the music scene in Scandinavia. Why are Sweden and Denmark producing all of these great pop acts?
I get this question sometimes and it’s so hard to answer because I really don’t know. I mean, not to be negative or anything, but it may have something to do with that fact that Scandinavia is very rich, so we have a lot of me-time, we have hobbies. We don’t have to worry about surviving because we get money from the government if we can’t take care of ourselves.
Of course this is a good thing, but you know people do have much more time to just “ah self-discovery, and la la la,” but it also sometimes causes bad lifestyle decisions because people get lazy because they don’t have anything to fight for. That’s one explanation. A bit negative, but it could also be that maybe it’s because of being in the North and the melancholy or something like that.
Well there is an icy quality to lot of Scandi-pop.
Yeah, you’re totally right about that. Maybe because it’s North.
Pop music also seems to be taken more seriously in Scandinavia.
I think you’re right about that. At least, like, most of the acts come from there are taken very serious, that’s right. It is very much like “oof,” which is cool. Which is very cool. People allow themselves to dream high.
It’s interesting that you’ve talked about the Spice Girls and also Sonic Youth. Your sound is indie but there’s also a strong pop sensibility. Did you aim to blend those influences or did it just happen?
It actually just happened. My producer Ronni Vindahl and I, when we started working together and making this album, we didn’t want it to be calculated, or to be like “Oh, it has to be like this and this and this.” We were actually, from the very first song that we made together, just in-sync about the feelings and the vibe that we wanted it to express. Of course, music is genres but, most of all, I see it as feelings and communication, so it just happened. The way it did.
Does the album have an overarching theme?
Well, in terms of lyrics and also the vibe that I wanted to express with my voice, it was the desperate plea of youth and also kind of being young in this society.
No Mythologies To Follow has been out for three months, is it strange to listen to the songs now? Is there anything that you’d change?
I thought I would be very tired of it because I’ve listened to these songs for a long time but I’m actually not because these songs and this album it represents this… I’ve been trying about being a musician since I was seven, and this symbolizes the final piece of this journey. Plus, it was made over these past two years, and these past two years have been the most exciting years of my life so far. It fills me with so much joy, no matter if there’s something, of course there is something where I’m like “Oh, maybe I would like to change that.” But, you know, it is what it is, and shouldn’t be different because it is what it is.
Let’s have a little bit of a talk about some of the people you worked with. You collaborated with Diplo had a song on Avicii’s album.
It’s two different stories because Avicii, I never actually got to meet. I just got the beat like a long time ago. Long before his album was released, and I didn’t even know about him because I didn’t know about EDM like that. I didn’t really know him, and I was like “ok, this is different from what I usually do.” But it made me feel some melodies, and I was like “I’m going to do this.” So I did the vocals, and I sent them to my manager, and then I just kind of forgot about it. And suddenly I was told, “this is the song and it’s going on his album, and he’s huge,” and I realized that he’s fucking huge and this song is going to be on his album. So, that was strange but in a good way.
And Diplo, that was different because I’d been a fan of Major Lazer for a long time, and then I was asked in an interview by DIY Magazine in the UK about my dream collaboration, and I was like, “Major Lazer?” Then, a guy on twitter was actually tweeting Diplo saying, “Oh, please make this happen.” Then Diplo wrote him back “we love her,” and me and my manager were just freaking out. So, we got his contact, and we asked if he would be up for a session, and he was like “yeah, we can do that.” So we flew down to Amsterdam, and had this first session, just you know listening to music and then we’ve just been working back and forth ever since actually. We finished that track “XXX 88,” and we were on tour with him, with Major Lazer, in Europe for two weeks.
Have you enjoyed your tour of North America?
Yes! It’s been so fun. Like every time I try to jump down just to walk around in the crowd, they would carry me. I’ve never tried that because it’s always when I stage dive just before jumping, I could see the fear in their eyes like “No! You’re coming at me!” But not here.
Is there a big difference between the music industry over here and at home?
America is the biggest market when it comes to music and all my favorite bands are from America. It’s a market that everybody want to, you know, get their feet inside of. So, I mean, of course, it is a bit different in a way because Denmark is a very small country. A very small country. Europe is a big market too, but it is a bit different.
Actually, it’s hard for me to say what makes a difference. I think it’s actually something about, when you come to the States, people have this feeling of… possibility? Because sometimes in Europe you don’t really allow yourself to dream loud. While over here it’s like “this could be big!” It’s not that people say that to me, but you can just feel it. And I can feel it! I have this feeling of everything is possible. That’s the difference.
We started off by talking about the Spice Girls, so we should probably end with them too. Why did you decide to cover “Say You’ll Be There”?
When we decided to make a cover of the Spice Girls, I wanted to listen through the two albums, their old albums. I wanted to find one where I could find some darkness at some point because all of the songs are so happy, and the ones who aren’t happy, who are like sensitive, they’re like almost like too sensitive, too cheesy. So, I wanted to find one where I could just draw a bit darkness out of it, and “Say You’ll Be There” has always actually been my favorite Spice Girls song. I realized that maybe it’s because is it has a bit darkness. So, we choose that one because I could change the hook into something that’s more melancholic.
Lucky last question. Is there a story behind “Don’t Wanna Dance”? It’s such a catchy song.
It’s actually kind of funny with that song because I dreamt the hook, like the melody for the hook. Because the song is about being young and free and kind of like the positive side to being young and confused and about those hours where we just let go. And just, fuck everything I don’t care about the world. I don’t care.
It was after a night in town, in my old town, with all of my old friends where we were just shit-faced. I was picked up by mom. I was sleeping there, and in the morning, just before waking up, I dreamt this melody, and I didn’t have the lyrics or anything, but it was just this melody in my head. I imagined the song being played at that same club that I was in the night before with my friends, and it was strange. So I woke up and went to the piano and just started composing.
That’s a true story.
Photo Credit: Josh Fogel
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