Denmark’s MØ has been steadily capturing more and more attention in the last couple years. With her Major Lazer, DJ Snake collaboration of “Lean On” becoming a massive hit, and performances on some of TV’s biggest live shows and fans numbering the millions, it would be easy to lose touch with reality but MØ remains as one of the most authentic and honest artists out there. While hitting the summer music festival circuit hard this year, Karen Marie Ørsted sat down with EARMILK at Sasquatch Music Festival to talk about the inspiration behind becoming a singer, and what’s next for the high energy songstress.
EARMILK: You have a strong and powerful voice, how long have you been singing?
MØ: Thank you. I’ve been singing since I was 7 or 8 years old but I haven’t really gone to singing lessons; a little bit (I did) but I was really bad at it because it was all about having that way where you have to stand like this (sits up very straight) and I was very bad at that so I don’t know how strong my voice is, but I have sung for many years.
EM: How has your style developed over the years?
MØ: I think my muscles in my throat have gotten stronger because of touring and stuff. I guess like with everything else, if you practice a lot you get better so, I guess I’ve become better than I was.
EM: You did a great cover of the Spice Girls "Say You'll Be There". What was it like to recreate a cult classic?
MØ: It was really fun. The Spice Girls were the reason why I started making music. I was such a fan girl so, when we talked about doing a Spice Girls cover, it was totally a joke like 'Ah we can’t do that.' I don’t know why, but then it was like 'No! we should totally do it!' It was just really fucking funny. I remember I didn’t want it to be too funny, like ha-ha, so I was trying to make one of the songs more dark and I think we managed to do that, more minor instead of major.
EM: Did you have a favorite spice girl?
MØ: Oh yeah, Sporty Spice. Melanie C. Totally my favorite, still is.
EM: Have you had a chance to meet any of them?
MØ: I actually met her (Melanie C). It was so crazy. It was this big Danish Awards show and I was nominated for the big prize. I got it and because they knew I was a Spice Girls fan and that Melanie C was my favorite, they got her flown in to give it to me. Still when I think about it, it was the greatest moment in my life so far. It was too fucking sick. Seriously, (I was) crying because I was so in love with the Spice Girls and so intensely wanted to be like them. To receive an award which is a big thing of course, but to have it handed over by her, was fucking iconic.
EM: Were there any artists growing up that had a big impact on your music style?
MØ: Yeah, well before I became a teenager I was all about the Spice Girls, Vengaboys, Cher, like all that pop...pop pop pop but when I became a teenager I totally turned my back on my pop background and denied it. I started only listening to punk and metal and hard rock and stuff like that. Sonic Youth especially were my big heroes. They still have a very special place in my heart because they just inspired me. Also, it’s hard to be a teenager; I wouldn’t say they helped me get through, that sounds so tough but more like Kim Gordan, (became) that role model that showed me ‘hey you can be sexy even though you’re a tom boy and awkward and nerdy and weird'. It made me believe like ‘hey I can be fucking awesome even though I’m fucking awkward.’
EM: Your song "Lean On" with Major Lazer has become an international hit. When you were working on it did you expect it to get as big as it has?
MØ: Always when I work on songs I’m very dreamy and open to it. Always when I write a song I’m just like ‘I want as many people as possible to hear this song' of course, just out of joy of the music but no, I did not expect it. I mean you never expect anything to go big because you can never tell. It’s just about putting your heart into it. But I’ve been loving the song ever since we started working on it because I feel very connected to it.
EM: Are there any other collabs that you would like to do in the future?
MØ: I have this really big dream of collaborating with Grimes and also Tyler, The Creator, Nicki Minaj. Of course now I’m just thowing it out there. There’s a lot of people, also producers.
EM: You've played on major TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live and Saturday Night Live. What was that like?
MØ: Jimmy Kimmel was really really nice. Saturday Night Live was mind blowing, but I had a bit of a technical problem so I really hope someday to play on Saturday Night Live again and do it better. That’s all I can say about that. Yeah like... use some fucking in-ears because I didn’t do that. I thought it was fine. Shit happens right?
EM: Yeah you live and you learn!
MØ: Yeah yeah, hey that’s my motto.
EM: Are there any other TV shows or venues you'd want to play?
MØ: All of them. I guess that’s my dream.
EM: All of your music has so much energy, does that come naturally?
MØ: Yeah, when I write songs and music it really just has to come naturally. If it doesn’t come naturally then I would suck at it.
EM: How do you get into the mind set for big live performances?
MØ: Actually sometimes I think I should be better at getting into the mindset... but sometimes, for instance, me and my band strive to have an hour before the set to just go get ready and punch each other, get into that kind of thing. Back in the beginning when everything started we used to take a shot before going (on) to stage, but not with touring so much you can’t, but sometimes we do.
EM: What music do you like to listen to while on the road?
MØ: Actually I don’t really have a playlist or anything. I’m so in my own kind of music. At least if I’m in the process of song writing I don’t listen to much, only if it’s this thing I know inspires me. Actually being literally on the road I like to listen to stuff that’s a bit melancholy, something that takes you away. Beautiful music.