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MØ On Music & Politics: “You Have A Platform And A Big Following, You Should Say Something”

Written by Cyclone Wehner on November 29, 2016

Danish electro-pop spark , aka Karen Marie Ørsted, has a new single (and dazzling video) Drum – and, come 2017, she’ll drop that long-awaited sequel to 2014’s No Mythologies To Follow. In the interim, Ørsted is returning to Australia for festival dates (Falls Festival, Field Day). She’ll even make her first trek to Western Australia.

Ørsted and Oz go way back. As early as 2013 the singer/songwriter performed at the Sydney Opera House for the Danish Crown Prince Couple’s Awards to celebrate the building’s 40th anniversary (yo, it had a Danish architect). The next year, she elevated Iggy Azalea’s Beg For It.

Growing up on the island of Funen, Ørsted was a huge Spice Girls fan. Later, this Girl Power adherent got into punk – and, with it, (progressive) politics. Ørsted was half of the electro-noise girl duo MOR. However, desiring autonomy, she went solo, conceiving ‘MØ’. Ørsted issued an EP ahead of No Mythologies To Follow – which, in turn, spawned singles like Pilgrim, Waste Of Time and the Diplo-stamped XXX 88. Oh, and Ørsted covered the Spice Girls’ Say You’ll Be There.

In 2015 Ørsted featured on Major Lazer’s trop house banger Lean On (with DJ Snake) – Spotify’s most streamed song ever until last month, when it was surpassed by Drake’s One Dance. This year Ørsted again showed up on Major Lazer’s Cold Water alongside an increasingly cred Justin Bieber (with a WTF Ed Sheeran writing credit). But what of her own career?

In late 2015 Ørsted unleashed Kamikaze, the lead single from her sophomore release – and another Diplo production (the video was shot in Ukraine, of all places). It landed at #60 on triple j‘s Hottest 100 poll. Ørsted has since aired Final Song and now Drum (with input from Charli XCX and BloodPop, formerly Blood Diamonds). The album is… on the way.

Conducting morning interviews in Copenhagen, Ørsted sounds cheerful. “Hello, hey, I’m good, I’m good – I just woke up!,” she chuckles. It’s 10am…

MF: It’s funny because I last saw you perform on the same bill as Elliphant in Melbourne (for a Splendour sideshow). She’s actually playing here tonight – and I’m talking to you.

MØ: Oh my God! I know – I’m following her on Instagram. She’s my friend. I saw that she’s in Australia right now and that she’s having a great time. I’m so happy. I wish I was there with her.

MF: Well, at least you will be in Australia in a few weeks.

MØ: Pretty soon, yeah.

MF: I’m really curious about your second album – probably everyone is asking you, “When’s the new album coming?” What can you tell us?

MØ: Everybody says that, “Ah, we don’t really live in the time for albums anymore, it’s all about the singles” – and, at some point, that’s true. But, for me still, I wanna put out an album – and I wanna really love it when I do that. So it needs to take the time it takes to finish up, so I’ll love everything about it.

MF: Music journalists love albums because it’s nice to get a body of work – and a story from an artist.

MØ: Exactly, a story – ’cause it’s like a little book. That’s why I still love albums because that’s where you sum up what’s been going on.

MF: When do you think you’ll release it?

MØ: The thing is it’s been postponed and postponed, because I keep on writing new songs. But right now the plan is to have it out in the spring next year.

MF: I think the best albums you have to wait for – look at Frank Ocean…

MØ: I wish it had been done before, though – it takes longer (laughs).

MF: What did you learn from making your first album?

MØ: I think making the first record actually came, like, super-naturally. It was a super-easy process, in a way, because I was just working with one person on the production. He was called Ronni Vindahl – and it was just him and me doing the album. All the songs I had been working on for a while. It all came pretty easy. Also, I wasn’t as fussy back then. So it was a really good process. I really enjoyed making that album.

Everybody’s always talking about the ‘hard’ second album – that it’s hard to do the second album – and I’ve always been like, “No, fuck you, it’s not gonna be that hard, it’s easy to write songs, come on!” But then you go through different processes. Also, I was in Los Angeles to do my album when Lean On became a big hit and my life kinda changed and then the music changed a little bit and new doors opened and stuff. So, yeah, it’s been a bit more of a bumpy road.

MF: This year you had a huge hit with Major Lazer again in Cold Water. You and Justin Bieber are on the same track. Did you get a whole lot of Beliebers following you on Twitter?

MØ: Actually… I remember, when the song was released, I was like, “I’m gonna get so many Bieber fans now,” but I don’t know. I mean, I might have, but I don’t know for sure. I think so.

MF: He’s making some really cool music. Everyone says this now.

MØ: Oh, yeah – he’s so cool. Everybody loves him – old and young…

MF: Have you hung out with him?

MØ: Yes! I’ve hung out with him, but only one time. We’re both pretty busy. But he was really sweet and really nice and very polite.

MF: You also did a song with Iggy [Azalea] and she described you as “amazing”. Have you stayed in touch?

MØ: With Iggy Azalea? Actually, I haven’t really talked to her that much – ’cause I’ve been super-busy and I think she’s been busy and also doing her new thing and stuff. And so not so much, to be honest.

MF: She’s been on Australian TV [with The X Factor].

MØ: I know! That’s so cool. Yeah, that’s really nice.

MF: What music do you like to listen to these days? What have been your favourite albums this year? Because we’re almost at the end of 2016.

MØ: Yeah, I know… The thing is, though, I have to admit, because I’m always working on music or doing music or performing music, a lot of the time when I’m off and have time to listen to albums or other musicians, I actually sometimes just prefer silence. So it’s not that I’m, like, super, duper crazy updated. But I have listened to some albums – for instance, Frank Ocean and the new Warpaint album and Chance The Rapper. I mean, I have been listening to some stuff. But I haven’t listened to everything, I must say.

MF: You were saying on Twitter in relation to the US election, “Love conquers hate”. Do you believe that music can bring people together? Can it help us through the crazy times that lie ahead of us?

MØ: I definitely think so. Music is a way of, how do you say – like you gather people and you communicate some things and you have a very special moment. You can really reach deep with music. The reason why I started making music was because – and I was even a small kid – I got so affected by the music that I liked, that it was like I had to start doing music myself. Also it goes so far back in history, this form of communication and gathering – it’s so deep in our genes.

So I definitely think you can achieve something great and political with music. And I should say it’s a really crazy time we live in right now. I think and I hope and I pray that artists and musicians will start doing music that maybe has a little bit more of a political message, instead of all just being about love and making money (laughs) – like maybe doing something that’s about political matters also, just a little bit, as it was back in the days.

MF: I’ve interviewed artists who I thought would be quite political – and that’s the thing they won’t talk about because they don’t want to get hate on social media.

MØ: Yeah, of course, definitely – and I respect whatever people choose to do or not to do. [But] I can just feel that I’m starting to really feel shitty if I don’t say anything because, if you have a platform and you have a big following, you should say something. That’s just my opinion. I think I would be sad if I didn’t say anything. I’m not saying that I wanna [be] like, blah, blah, blah – but just have it there, state your mind a little bit here and then. I just think it’s important – it’s so important. But also because the silence won’t save you – it’s not like it’s gonna change anything.

MF: What do you most get homesick for on the road?

MØ: I think what I miss most is actually just my friends and my family – just hanging out with them. The countryside where I’m from, it will always be there. I can always come and see that. I love doing what I do right now. I love travelling and living out this dream and really trying to go for it. So I’ll get home for real when I’m old (laughs).

MF: Here in Australia they always talk about how amazing Scandinavia is and how we should be more like Scandinavian countries. Are we romanticising things? What would you change at home, if you could?

MØ: Yes, no… I actually really love Scandinavia as well because the nature is so beautiful and it’s really nice. I love it here – and I even love that it’s cold and stuff like that. I don’t mind the cold – but I’ll mind it in a couple of months when it’s really bad (laughs). Right now it’s okay. I don’t know what I would change. I actually think things are pretty okay. Maybe I would… no, fuck, man. I don’t know. I actually like it as it is!

MØ’s second album is on the way. She is touring Australia through December and January. Full info below.

MØ Australian Tour Dates 2017

Wednesday, 28th December
Falls Festival, Lorne
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 29th December
Falls Festival, Marion Bay
Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 31st December
Falls Festival, Byron Bay
Tickets: Official Website

Sunday, 1st January
Field Day, Sydney
Tickets: Official Website

Tuesday, 3rd January
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 5th January
170 Russell, Melbourne
Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 7th January
Falls Festival, Fremantle
Tickets: Official Website

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