møving on up: the rise of danish superstar mø

You know MØ, she of gargantuan bangers, Lean On and Cold Water. She’s literally done a Bey and dropped us a brand new EP to wrap our ears around. We caught up with her for ten to get the lowdown.

by Michael Cragg
26 October 2017, 4:00pm

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

You know MØ: she co-wrote and sung gargantuan bangers Lean On and Cold Water with Major Lazer; she's collaborated with the likes of Charli XCX, Cashmere Cat and Snakehips and she's probably on your favourite producers radar for a future collaboration or three. But she's also in the top five best pop stars working today based purely on her hugely influential 2014 debut album No Mythologies To Follow and last year's exquisite Final Song. While work continues on her "slightly" delayed second album (#soon), she's literally just this minute 'done a Beyoncé' and dropped a brand new six track EP called When I Was Young. To celebrate all that, we called a number using a telephone, raised the phone to our ears and used our mouths to converse with her. Here's what happened.

Hello to you MØ. Where are you now?
I'm in LA finishing a couple of songs for the album and just to have some meetings. Today I'm going to a session to write a new song -- every songwriter and producer is here so you might as well try and write a song (laughs).

We're going to get to the second album in a bit, but today marks a special day because you've just chucked out a new EP, When I Was Young. No build-up, no announcements, just BAM here are six new songs. That's a nice way of doing it. Why now though?
I've always wanted to do that thing where you just do a surprise release. Also, for two years I've been releasing singles or features with other artists, and that's been fun and part of a process, but honestly I've been longing to put out the music that wasn't necessarily meant for radio.

The first track Roots sounds like old, pre-Lean On MØ. Was that a conscious decision, to open with a song like that?
Yeah. I wrote it in London and I remember having that feeling of 'wow, it's a new era and my life has changed so much'. I was scared of the future but also excited. The lyrics are a reflection of that; of burning your old life and going into a new era.

Do you relate to that even more now you've had proper success?
Yeah, it's funny, it's the same feeling that I have now, and I can still relate to that song so much, but it's definitely gone up a level.

The title track and Turn My Heart To Stone both feature brass, while there are actual guitars on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque Runaway. Was it exciting experimenting a bit with new sounds?
I think in general lately I've been obsessed with live instruments. After the whole Lean On thing I felt like every time I'd do a session there'd be all these cool elements you'd hear on the radio, with all these drops and explosions, and while I love that stuff, for the EP I really wanted to try and do something a bit different.

Why are these six songs grouped together?
They all have a bit of the old MØ and the new MØ – whatever that is – and there was nostalgia in there too. I wanted to show the other side of the songs I like to make. I felt like I needed this before I could go all in on a big album campaign. It's about completing the circle, almost like a ritual.

When we spoke in 2016 you said it was much harder making the second album than the first, which I assume is still true. Why is that?
(Sighs) Everything changed after Lean On. In a good way, of course, but I think that's definitely stalled the process a little bit. I can't blame it all on that though because I remember even before Lean On happened I was like 'woah, second album, shit fuck arrggghhh!'. It must have something to do with my own perfectionism and purity about how I feel the album should be. So many people have opinions and try to guide you, and everyone has the best intentions, but it makes it harder to cut through the noise and be like 'wow, this is what I really want to do'. I need to be brave enough to do that. I'm such a pleaser – I want everyone around me to be happy – so it took a while for me to get to a point where I could say 'no, I need to be happy with everything that I put out'. I want it to be right.

One thing that can happen with sudden success is people expect you to compromise who you are as an artist. Have you ever felt pressure to do that?
I would be so sad if I had to do that. It would be the worst. I've had moments of thinking 'okay, I need to compromise a bit so I can fit into a more mainstream whatever' but every time I try and do that I just think fuck this, this is not fucking me! I'm not happy trying to pretend I'm something I'm not. It's such a horrible feeling to not be honest to who you are. I want to be myself otherwise what's the point. You do develop as a musician and as a human, and I have changed a lot, but the core of who I was back then is still the core of who I am now.

How has your 2017 been overall?
Yeah, wow...I mean, it's been a year of a lot of changes for me. I expanded my management and all of a sudden I had loads of hands working with me on this project. I think also this is year I've finally gotten out of the Lean On bubble, you know. This is the first year where I can focus more on my own thing for real.

You also cut your hair off, more importantly.
I did. More and more, yeah. I started at the shoulders and then a bit shorter and now it's a proper George Michael haircut.

Quite Princess Diana.
Yeah. I'm so happy about that (laughs).

Back to 2017. It can be hard to focus on the good things when the year in general has been so shit, can't it?
Yeah, it's true. I think maybe two or three times a day I have a conversation with someone about how fucked up everything is. I do sometimes feel like it's hard to celebrate the good things during a time when things are so fucked up, but on the other hand it can become this thing where it's like 'well the world is probably going to end, so we might as well celebrate'.

But also don't try and trick yourself into thinking 'oh things are totally fine' because things are definitely fucked up.

Did you make an new year's resolutions at the start of the year?
Yes. I actually did a little list. One was not to cancel any shows and I've kept up to that. I think. Almost. [She's postponed her UK tour until next year, but that's not the same thing]. And the other was to not eat as much meat and I've been good with that too actually.

Mine was to read a book a month. I've read two books this year...
Well, at least you read two books! I've only read one this year and I'm only halfway through the second.

What's been your favourite album of 2017?
This sucks because I can never remember whenever someone asks me. This sucks. Fuck. I'll get back to you*. I've got to say I've become one of those people who only listens to a couple of songs and then I get distracted.

This is why no one makes albums! You are the problem!
I know!! It fucking sucks. FUCK!

* She did get back: "As promised, fave album of the year so far is gonna be SZA's Ctrl! Literally love every song; catchy, cool, deep, original, accessible and inventive. IN LOVE with her and this album!!"

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when i was young