MØ Dances Her Way Out of Paralysis

MØ (Right) with Charli XCX  & Cashmere Cat
MØ (Right) with Charli XCX & Cashmere Cat

Back in 2014, Danish pop star MØ (Karen Andersen) was an indie underdog, when her debut LP No Mythologies To Follow gained massive critical praise, then “Lean On” was released. Despite having material for a follow up album floating around for years, Andersen had so much new attention from the single’s sky-high success that she felt way too much pressure to match it. Andersen’s extended touring and steady trickle of singles however has made the wait bearable, culminating in last fall’s compilation EP When I Was Young. Now with her second LP all but finished, the Danish singer is ready to assert herself in world’s eye. We interviewed Andersen ahead of her co-headlining show with Cashmere Cat(hilariously dubbed the MEØW tour) at MTELUS on January 20 in Montreal to talk about her creative setbacks, staying DIY in pop and how she finds unique ways to present her new music.

Northern Transmissions: You had originally said your LP was coming last spring, so was touring causing the wait and how far along is it now?

Karen Andersen (MØ): I put out my album in 2014, and then at the start of 2015 I had “Lean On” coming out and that just changed everything. I remember in the heat of all that I was already writing the second album, but it changed so many things. All these doors were open now, and I had moved from being this small, new indie artist and saw that it could be a pop thing. My stuff always takes forever to get to point where it’s right and 100 per cent me. I think that it took me so long to figure out what this album would be like, because I honestly have 100 songs or something like that. To put out a full album though it has to be fully honest and that it’s a good dose between all my different elements. It has taken forever, and every time I thought I was almost there, I would realize I wasn’t.

NT: With your second LP looming, why did you decide to start with your When I Was Young EP instead, and what about these songs stood out to put them out now?

KA: With the EP, I thought “OK, I need to put out a few songs now before I can go fully into my new album. It was also good to just get reminded on what it feels like to close off a piece of work. I was completely paralyzed from “Lean On” though, because it was such an amazing thing, but I had never dreamed of having such a big hit. It shook my world when it happened. It took longer than I thought to really get to a happy place with my second record.

NT: Considering the way the EP captures snapshots of your music since No Mythologies To Follow, does this mean you’re starting completely fresh with the music on this new LP?

KA: For the EP, all of the songs were written over different times. One was 2014, another was 2015 etc, so it was really a sum up of this time. For the album, the track-list is almost done for it now. A lot of the songs on this album will be from the last two years, so it’s less of a mishmash. It’s hard to analyze deeply into something like this when I still haven’t wrapped it up completely.

NT: A lot of your previous LP was recorded in your childhood home, setting up studio space in your room but now you’re recording between tour dates and at studios on the road, so how does it compare?

KA: I’m not in Denmark a lot now, but there’s always things that I need to record when I am home there. I record almost all my vocals on my own, I have a studio setup that I bring every with me and I don’t really like fancy studios that much. I need intimate spaces to record, where I feel safe and in my own private world. It’s funny because obviously the process has changed, because with the first album I wasn’t travelling all the time, it’s still a similar low-scale, DIY process with my vocals and writing where I can do it wherever and whenever.

NT: You’ve always been pushing punk and DIY in your pop, so can we expect another zine in the future?

KA: My biggest love is the music, but I love all the other creative things around it. Doing the zine was fun, but I also did this live session for the EP called “Trust Me Baby Star.” I like doing these little side-projects to the music, so I will definitely be doing more of that because it really helps me build around the music as well.

NT: What inspired you to make “Trust Me Baby Star” video and how were you hoping to make it more than just a simple promo material for the EP?

KA: The idea came because for three years I’d really only put out singles and collaborations, so I was so excited to put out more music than just a song, even if it was only an EP. So when the EP was coming out, we wanted to celebrate it by doing a live performance. I’ve been touring for all these years and I just love the live aspect of music and my music specifically. This idea came up in the discussion of how we should launch it and we loved it. I also love that kind of Lynch-y vibe, that nostalgic, beautiful but rough, eerie yet romantic kind of feeling. It’s rock n’ roll in a way.

NT: You and Diplo have been collaborating for years now so it was interesting seeing you guys dance together for ‘Get It Right,’ how did that song come together and was he fast at picking up the choreography?

KA: It was Wes’ (Diplo) idea to do a dance piece with him and I together, and I just loved that idea. He sent me the description and I remember thinking it was such a fun challenge. I’m flattered that you see me as a dancer but I feel like I’m awful with choreography, I’m always terrible at learning or memorizing any kind of dance. I was really into the challenge so we just went and did it and it was fun. The song we did a while ago in Malibu, but we’ve done so many songs and I’m inspired by his music so it’s a true pleasure to work with him. I feel like whatever we do together always feels important.

MØ (left) w/ Cashmere Cat

MØ (left) w/ Cashmere Cat

NT: Do you have any fun crossover performances planned for your MEØW tour with Cashmere cat and how much work is left on your album?

KA: We’re still plotting the tour so there may be some crossover performance. I think I’m done with all the studio work for the record, we’re mixing the last couple patches for it. Hopefully I’ll be announcing the release date soon, I’ll be on tour for a month, so I’m just preparing a bunch of stuff right now.

Words by Owen Maxwell