Audio Vacation: A Conversation with MØ
Danish songstress Karen Marie Ørsted, or MØ for short, is another artist that stands in the forefront of the post-genre landscape. Her sultry vocals may conjure up those of Lana Del Rey and Grimes, yet her bold persona, and urban swagger nods at the likes of Santigold and M.I.A. Drawing influences from her childhood, and her package holidays in sunsoaked beaches of neighboring countries, MØ took the blogsphere with her Bikini Daze EP -- an experimental piece that blends '80s synth pop elements with dreamy percussion. Numbers like "Dark Night" and "Waste of Time" expand one's listening experience with esoteric, offbeat samples, while her captivating falsetto guides listeners to nimbus heights. Debuting in 2013, MØ's budding tenure has already harnessed a steady buzz, with recent collaborations with Avicii and Diplo reinforcing her abilities to coincide with today's hit makers. Here, we caught up with the Sweedish-native as she shares with us her recent success, an inside scope on the Danish music industry, and how she might categorize her own music.
What can you tell us about your new EP Bikini Daze? How did you come with the title? What is it conceptual approach?
The title Bikini Daze is actually taken from another song I wrote while I was on a short holiday on Mallorca earlier this year. It’s about being young and bored – waiting by the pool, dazed and restless, for the sun to trash your skin. Waiting in darkness for answers you don’t know the question to.
How does it differ from your previous releases?
This is my first actual release as MØ. But this EP is a bit different compared to my previous singles. -I mean, “XXX 88” and “Dark Night” are pretty much in line with those, but “Never Wanna Know” is my first ballad, and “Freedom #1” is actually only a stripped down version of the song, hence the #1. We decided to use it on the EP to show the audience where the songs begin in the creative process.
You've worked with Diplo and Avicii recently. How did each collaboration come about? And how do their respective work methods differ from one another?
I’m a huge Major Lazer fan, and when DIY magazine, UK, asked me about my dream collab, I answered Major Lazer. Then a fan on Twitter wrote to Diplo ”Please make this happen!” and he replied ”We Luv Her” – and that was my cue, and 2 months later we hooked up in Amsterdam. With Avicii I got a beat send over, and so I made the melodies and the lyrics, recorded it and send it back to him.. Pure and simple.
In the beginning of a songwriting process I like to work alone, but then when the skeleton is there, it is good to get together with the producer, or at least be in close contact with him regarding the vibe and sound, finishing it up.
2013 has been a great year for you. How do you cope/deal with all the success?
I wouldn't dare to call it success yet. I’m very honored that people seem to like my music so far, and I praise myself lucky for all this attention, but I feel I have a LOT more to prove.
What is your biggest success in your career so far and what would you consider your biggest mistake?
It is very hard to say what the biggest achievement this far has been. It has been a long journey already and it has been building up constantly CMJ and SxSW was crazy fun, and working with Diplo was huge.. Also it meant a lot to me to finally release the Ep, building up to my upcoming debut album which I am very excited about.
People compare you to the likes of Grimes, MIA or Lana Del Rey. what would you say is the biggest misconception the public has about you?
I’m just very honored that people compare me with great artists like these. Sometimes I can see some similarities, but it’s not something I think a lot about. What else would you do if you were to describe a new act, than to compare them with an established one?
Scandinavia -- especially Sweden -- has been known for its musical diversity but also success. What can you tell us about the Danish music industry? What are its strengths? Who should we be on the lookout for other than you?
Yeah, Sweden is ahead! I personally think some of the strengths in Danish music, is that we are kinda good at making cool and edgy music.. At least that’s when I think the danes shine. I love this danish band called Broke, and I’m also big fan of CTM – those are the two up and coming bands I would recommend from DK at the moment.
What are the major difficulties European artists face in order to break into the American market?
Hmm… America is a big market, and has got a huge tradition for great music, and so much great music (actually all of my favorite music is from USA) comes out from America all the time, so you really have to be brilliant and unique to get through the eye of the needle.
Your sound has been described as "Post-Rock" and "Alternative" - how would you best describe your musical sense and what genre do you most affiliate yourself with?
I really love those descriptions! Especially ”Post Rock” – I’ll might be quoting that from now on! Anyway, if I was to put some words on my music, genre-wise, I would say it is some kind of Electronic Indie Pop with roots in Hiphop and Soul.
What are your plans in 2014?
To release my debut album, tour as much as possible and then finish up the second album!!