Growing up in a Danish town of less than 2,000 people, it might have been crazy to suggest that Karen Marie Aagaard ørsted Anderson would become a household name before she turned 30, even if everyone outside of Denmark might pronounce it wrong. In the years that have followed, however, it’s not hard to see how exactly that has happened. Better known as Mø, pronounced Mer and not Moh, the last few years have taken the young singer from relative obscurity to international fame. Sitting down with Billboard Radio China backstage at Hong Kong’s Clockenflap festival, the 29-year-old singer delved into everything from growing up as a punk rocker to being part of some of the biggest hits of the 2010s.
On first meeting Mø, it’s clear that her unbridled enthusiasm and energy are not constructs for her music, but instead core facets to her very being. From the very beginning of the interview, it’s clear that the young singer is still blown away, not just by the scale of the Hong Kong metropolis, but also by the scale of her own career. In talking about the insanity of the last few years following her international exposure on Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s Lean On she said, “It’s been a life changer for sure, but it’s been so amazing. I feel so happy, I feel so grateful for the whole ride that I’ve been on.”
Talking about the Major Lazer track that ended up making her a household (if often mispronounced) name, it’s clear that the scope and reach of the song are still shocks to Mø. Considering the track has hit over 2 billion YouTube views, is one of the best-selling digital tracks of all time, and has over 1 billion streams on Spotify, it’s easy to understand how much this small-town Dane has been struggling to come to terms with the success of the track. “I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would actually be singing on a top 10 billboard song. … It was just overwhelming because sometimes you get the idea that the songs that become number 1 hits have to be produced by this person and has to be toplined by that person and has to be sung by this person, and so it was so amazing to experience that, actually, your little baby could fly.”
Following the success of that track, it’s no secret that Mø’s life was totally changed. From having gone from being an internationally unknown musician to becoming recognized around the world, things haven’t been the same for the young Dane. “Throughout all of 2015, to be honest, I think I was in the cloud of the whole thing, in a good way but it was blurry. It was like, ok, we’re going to play this TV show and then we’re going to fly to this place and then I’m going to play that thing. All these doors opened up all of the sudden and all these opportunities.”
The biggest issue coming off of a life changing feature performance like Lean On seems to be finding her own voice again, and Mø is certainly working on that. “You cannot just be the feature act, not that that’s a bad thing, because that’s a good thing, especially nowadays. But as an artist, you want to express yourself and you want to know what you want to express. So, it took me a while to get back out of that ‘Lean On’ bubble and just, so what am I doing now. That took a while but it was a good thing as well. There’s so many more opportunities now.”
Mø’s latest EP, When I Was Young, was released on October 26th of 2017, her first major release following the success of both Lean On and Major Lazer’s Cold Water featuring Justin Bieber and Mø. The new tracks might not be what new fans might expect following those two features and the others she’s done since 2015, but that might not be such a bad thing. “I’ve been working on an album for almost four years, ever since No Mythologies to Follow, and because of everything with Lean On and all these things that happened, I think I needed to, before I could finish the album and go into that whole second album phase, I needed to put out a little compilation of songs that I’ve done over the years that I’ve felt very personal to me. Just to show that other side, because for a while I’ve just been dropping singles here and there … I thought I just needed to show my fan base a little more of a variation instead of just putting out singles.”
That variation seems to be serving the young Dane well, as she travels the world under her own banner performing everywhere from Boise to Hong Kong and builds up a name for herself independent of the features she’s become known for. She admitted, prior to the interview, that the name Mø might be difficult for people to know how to pronounce, but with the way things are going, it’s not hard to imagine it won’t be long until everyone knows how to get it right.