MØ: “For So Many Years, I’ve Just Been On This Hamster Wheel”

Danish singer-songwriter has entered a new era on her third album Motordrome. The name draws inspiration from the Danish word ‘dødsdrom’, meaning the ‘globe of death’ carnival stunt. MØ envisioned parallels between the visual of a motorcyclist speeding around a mesh sphere to defy gravity and her own experience in the pop music rat race.

Following the 2019 tour of her sophomore record Forever Neverland, MØ returned home completely burnt out from years of churning out tunes and life on the road. She also endured a serious vocal injury and months of rehabilitation, which only spurred the anxiety spiral and sense that life was spinning out of control. When MØ finally pressed pause, she was slammed with the realisation that she needed to recalibrate, check-in on herself and make a change.

As irony would have it, it was during this reprieve that the creative wheels began to spin again and the album began to take shape. She reflects on moments of deep sadness on the electro-ballad ‘Goosebumps’, pays homage to her fans on the opening track ‘Kindness’ and embraces her new epoch on the power bop ‘New Moon’.

This metamorphosis can be heard within Motordrome’s matured sound as well. MØ leans into a darker soundscape, often pairing heart-rending songwriting and gritty guitars with sweeping strings and shiny electro-pop. The final result is a sonically satisfying oxymoron.

We caught up with MØ via Zoom to chat Motordrome, her new era and finding power through pain.

Music Feeds: It’s release day! How are you feeling?

: I’m freaking out! But it’s also such a relief. I’m excited. I’m nervous.I’m just feeling all the emotions, very literally.

MF: Can you describe what this new era is for you as both a person and an artist?

: Yeah, I think it’s a new era, because it’s the first time in almost 10 years that I’ve been in this industry, that I took a little step back from it all. Ever since I started, I’ve just been going nonstop, which I don’t regret. But in the end, as we all do, as humans, we need to keep developing. I needed to take a step back from it all and sink back into myself and take a look at who I am now and where I’m going.

I think that is really the big change because for so long, it was just high energy and full speed forward. That has just been a big shift in my way of looking at my work and looking at my life and writing songs, to really have a moment to feel what the music is going to be, you know?

MF: How did that impact the album? Did you spend more time on the process, experimenting and figuring out what you wanted it to be?

: In a way, yes. This time around, I did have a lot more time to really focus on the music, which was lovely. But at the same time, with my second album, Forever Neverland, that one took me four years to make because I was constantly on the road. So it was such a fragmented process in a way because it would always be like, “do one song and then go on tour for two months” and then “do a new song and then change the production”. Whereas with this one, it was very solid, focused. It took a while, but it was still pretty focused in a way. And there was a very concise theme. It really just was me reflecting on what I’ve been through and reflecting on where I was and trying to build myself up a little bit again, after having felt defeat and anxiety. In that way, it was a bit more focused and something that it wanted to do, rather than with my former album. Not that I don’t like that (album), but it’s two very different periods of time.

MF: You worked on a lot of the album during isolation after the pandemic hit. Was that a bit of a silver lining of not being able to go on the road?

: Yeah but I mean, I really felt so insanely lucky when I was taking a break myself. And I’d been at home for like four months when COVID happened. So it was weird because, again, like I sort of was meant to have a break, but then the whole world all of a sudden, was on a break as well.

MF: The album opens with ‘Kindness’, which is a really beautiful homage to your fans. Can you tell me a little bit about how they influenced that song and the significance of opening the album with that track?

: During this time, when I was taking the break, I think right before COVID happened, I started writing ‘Kindness’. After finally having time to reflect on all the things I’ve been through, one of the things that I was also thinking about was how insanely lucky I was to have had this amazing fan base, throughout all this time. My fans are so kind and so sweet and so supportive. And it was almost a shock to me. I was like, “oh my god, I can’t believe that I actually have that”.

Because again, for so many years, I’ve just been on this hamster wheel. So there was a lot of things that I think hadn’t really sunk into my brain. So when I had this realisation when I was having this break, I really wanted to make a song for them. And then the word “kindness” came to my mind. Sometimes for me, I feel like when you have a title, the song just writes itself if you’re inspired. So that’s how that happened.

MF: Another banger on the album is your latest single ‘New Moon’. I love how you’ve combined quite dark and sombre lyrics with a really powerful, danceable beat and catchy chorus. Can you talk me through how that song came out?

: Yeah, that was one of the songs that I wrote a bit later on in the album process, it was one of the last songs to be written. So at this point, the sadness has turned into some kind of energy and acceptance of the past. But I’m also being like, “I’m not gonna go down that road again. This is the new me.”

So regaining control and manifesting. That’s really what that song is about. Like you said, the perfect song for me is those songs that have a sadness or gloom to it, but then still has a powerful or uplifting side to it too.

MF: Out of all of the songs on the album, I feel like this one really encapsulates your new era. Would you agree or is there another song that stands out for you?

: No, I think you’re right. I think it’s definitely one of the songs that encapsulates that the best, I think ‘Live To Survive’, which has a similar kind of vibe. That one’s a bit more about forgiving yourself for having crossed over your own boundaries. But I think ‘New Moon’ is the one that’s sort of leading ahead, looking at the future.

I mean, obviously “new moon” but it’s also like, “This is me now”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just like, “Oh yeah, I have figured everything in my life out and I’m just perfect now.” It’s not like that but it’s definitely bringing on the optimism and wanting to learn from previous mistakes.

MF: I love ‘Live To Survive’. Do you feel like tracks like that help keep you accountable with this process as well? Like you said you’re not perfect and there’s room to continue growing, but I can imagine reflecting on and performing these songs would serve as an amazing reminder of how far you’ve come.

: ‘Live to Survive’ was actually the first song I wrote where this sort of feeling of defeat sort of turned into an energy again for the first time after I stopped touring. I was going through all those things. I was just feeling very sad and heavy. I wrote a couple of the songs in that period of time because sadness can also make good songs come through. But with ‘Live To Survive’ It changed into more powerful energy.

That is the truly therapeutic thing about writing songs actually. Once you have written that out and gotten those emotions out of your system and put it into an actual thing it’s there as a constant reminder. And it kind of forces you to walk the line of what you’re preaching, which is super helpful, because it really inspires you to keep on the path of where you want to go. So that is amazing.

MF: You mentioned that you wrote a few of the songs during some darker times and I assume one of those might be ‘Goosebumps’. Was that quite a cathartic experience to work on that song specifically?

: Yeah, absolutely. I had gone from 100 to a zero and was trying to find myself. I was really sad in that period of time, even though, you know, I think when you look at it from the outside, I really have nothing to complain about. I’ve been living my dream. But mentally I was just super drained. ‘Goosebumps’ was the first song where I could formulate what I was thinking and what I was feeling. It helped me a lot to write that song because it opened up something in me. And also, when I wrote that song, it was the first time that I knew that “Okay, I’m writing an album and I’m going to deal with these things.” I’m going to speak about it, you know?

MF: Yeah, I was curious if you went into the album process with this concept in mind or if it just formulated itself as you were creating?

: Yeah, I think it was the songs especially in the beginning that formulated what it was. It was all sort of a bit of a blur in the beginning and it wasn’t until those early songs that I started being like, “Okay, it’s coming together.”

MF: This album is also an evolution for you sonically. It’s really fun how you’ve incorporated grunge influences with beautiful strings and your quintessential electro-pop sound. What were the musical inspirations for the record?

: Some of the inspirations for me were ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Eurythmics. Also Depeche Mode as well. Also Charli XCX. I did make a Spotify playlist of inspiration songs, but it was very much for me just about really finding the right sense that had that kind of darkness and a little bit of an ’80s sound. And then finding those guitars with that dirtiness. And as you said, having the sadness and the gloom, but also having the hope and having the power and the banger pop vibe. It was very much a conversation about what the emotions of this universe were gonna be rather than actual references.

MF: You’ve played a few live shows already, but which songs are you most excited to take on the road?

: Not to sound up my own ass, but I’m really just excited to play all of them. Because when you’ve done a new album, it isn’t until you stand in front of a live audience that you truly know which of the songs really works live. So in a way, I’m just excited to play them all and see how people react.

MF: So now that the record is out, what else can we expect from you in 2022? Is there an Australian tour on the cards?

: Oh my God, I really want to go. I was there at Groovin’ The Moo in 2019 and that was just such a great tour. I really hope I will go back soon but right now I have a small American tour and a small European tour coming up this spring, which I’m so excited for. But hopefully Australia next summer or something!

‘Motordrome’ is out now.

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