“Because it’s fucking vibes and feelings,” says Karen Marie Ørsted to me on the topic of the impossibility of describing music. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and I’m standing outside on East Pender in Chinatown with the 25-year-old Danish singer, better known as MØ. Ørsted stands a good head taller than me, sporting an ever-so-slightly stained Thrasher magazine sweater, acid-washed denim shorts, and black tights. We’ve made our way outside for a bit more peace and quiet, as her band soundchecks inside of Fortune Sound Club, which she would later play that evening.
Vibes and feelings are the perfect two words to describe Ørsted’s music as MØ. Her sound is difficult to describe in words, but play any of her songs and you’ll know exactly why it is so much easier to “feel” her sound.
Her sound has evolved greatly since she started MØ. “It was this crunk, crap rap, trash something, alter-ego, teenage riot stuff,” Ørsted tells me about MØ’s early days. And while that was fun for her, it wasn’t personal, but more about the attitude of being badass. “What makes it interesting is to show both sides,” explains Ørsted. “I realized that you don’t have to be badass all the time. So, I started to be a bit more personal and tried to just let go and do what I really felt like.”
No Mythologies to Follow, Ørsted’s debut album as MØ, hit shelves earlier this year in March and while personal, it also encapsulates her vulnerability in a way that resonates with the millennial youth of this generation. Themes of love, lust, and breakups are touched upon in a variety of songs, all of which are totally relatable to just about anyone. Particularly in songs like “Glass”, in which Ørsted sings of not wanting to grow old, this theme of eternal youth emerges in a way that is totally relevant to our generation and our society, to an extent.
“It’s like in this generation where the media and social media glorify and preach about people like they’re almost the Bible,” Ørsted states. “Everybody wants to be young forever. It’s the same search [for eternal youth], and we’re all searching for answers.”
While many remain floundering, putting youth on a pedestal and not knowing what their passions are, Ørsted has always known from the start that music was what she wanted to do. Her love for the Spice Girls is well-documented as one of the main impetuses for her to start writing songs and music. And what better way to thank one of her main inspirations than a fantastic cover. Back in February, she released a cover of the Spice Girls classic, “Say You’ll Be There,” which she considers to be her favourite song by the wildly popular British girl group. The Spice Girls cover put MØ on the map and it’s been uphill from there.
But of course, an increase in popularity also translates into an increased amount of things that an artist needs to do. Between the constant travelling of touring, interviews, and whatnot, it’s a miracle Ørsted even has some time to herself and hasn’t fallen into the trap of becoming jaded.
“I’ve gotten used to this kind of life and this thing I’m doing has been my dream since I was a little, little girl. You know, life can be hard, that’s just how it is. It’s hard to miss your loved ones but this makes sense to me, so I have to do this no matter what,” Ørsted says with conviction.
The constant busy schedule that Ørsted sticks to while on tour also serves as a reminder to give herself some time to relax. She does not put too much pressure on herself to devote any spare moments to writing new material.
“You need to relax otherwise you’ll burn the candle from both ends and you’ll fade away, you know?” she tells me. “On this tour, we have had so little time to relax and I’ve had to learn not to fill ‘em up with songwriting.” Given that this tour has also included debut late-night TV performance on Jimmy Kimmel, it’s no surprise that the free moments are hard to come by.
However, Ørsted’s passion for music and for this kind of life is clearly evident the moment she steps onto a stage. She’s wild and charismatic, giving it her all and proving to everyone that she was destined for this. Ørsted doesn’t know what she would be doing if she wasn’t doing music. While there was mention of being a ranger or something to do with the great outdoors due to her love of nature, it is obvious that expressing herself through the means of music is her main creative platform and that music is really what she is living for.
The stars are aligning for the Danish songstress. With a drive and passion for music like hers, it’s clear that she’s going to be one that others will be chasing in the future.
Photos: Nicole Wong (@tokyo_to)