“an extraordinary voice” – Sunday Times Culture
“fragile and precious songs with a defiant toughness” – Dazed & Confused
“Icy sharp pop with a big heart and even bigger vocals” – NME
“warped pop to excite fans of Rihanna and Grimes in equal measure” – Q
“It’s like ‘mooer’. Or Mo. Or Moo. Or anything.” – Karen Marie Ørsted
MØ may not mind how you say her name, but you’d better start practising your Danish pronunciation. The 26-year-old singer-songwriter crash landed on the radar of those in the know in 2013 and spent much of last year gunning for the mainstream following the release of her acclaimed debut album No Mythologies To Follow – a unique blend of bedroom beats, soul-punk-electro-R&B and pop harmonies – alongside a number of buzz worthy collaborations and a relentless touring schedule that would put most so-called pop stars to shame. If there’s any justice in the world, she’s about to break big.
Karen Marie Ørsted grew up on Funen, one of Denmark’s largest islands, and she wrote her first song when she was seven years old. Even then there were traces of the bittersweet heartache that forms the backbone of her current skewed pop: the first single was called ‘Don’t Believe What People Say’. Karen was a pop obsessive until she became a teenager when she became very involved with politics, punk and the anti-fascism movement, leading her to discover the music of Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, amongst others.
At 18 she formed a “noisy, trashy electro-pop punk band” named Mor with her friend Josefine. But Karen had started to write songs on her own, trying out a variety of sounds and styles on her laptop in her bedroom, and in 2009, she became MØ. At first, MØ was almost a character, a larger-than-life exaggeration of Karen’s attitude. But slowly she found her own voice, swapping the rapping for singing and then meeting Ronni Vindahl, a producer & guitarist whose work Kendrick Lamar used on “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”. Suddenly everything fell into place and the sound of MØ was born.
The singles Glass, Pilgrim and Waste of Time soon followed, all characterised by an upbeat, skittish pop melody combined with surprisingly sad lyrics about heartbreak. MØ’s first EP, Bikini Daze, continued that theme, with its lead track XXX 88, co-produced by Diplo, beginning the process that will shortly lead to her featuring on “Lean On” the new record by his band Major Lazer.
It is not MØ’s only notable collaboration, by any means, as duets with Elephant and Iggy Azalea smashed the internet and rode the airwaves through the autumn of 2014, the latter leading to an appearance on the legendary Saturday Night Live, following MØ’s own solo appearance and US TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier in the year. A near-unprecedented four Danish Music Awards followed in November and 2015 finds MØ firing on all cylinders and ready to capture hearts and minds on stages worldwide. Already confirmed for Bonnaroo, Coachella and The Governors Ball festivals, amongst others, you’d better start practising your Danish pronunciation.