You might have heard MØ (it's pronounced kind of like a cross between "moo" and "my," by the way) on last year's summer smash "Lean On." Or maybe you've rocked out to the Danish star's sugary electro-pop hits, like "Kamikaze" or "Don't Wanna Dance," or seen her owning the stage in her signature Sporty Spice–inspired garb at basically every music festival ever. Either way, MØ is on the way up. Or, rather, she's been up for quite a bit, but (some) Americans have been sleeping. So, stop sleeping, especially because her next album is due any day! Before her live performance on MTV's Wonderland last night, we caught up with the singer.
MTV News: You’re performing "Cold Water" and "Lean On," your two big hits with Major Lazer, on Wonderland. How are you feeling about the performance?
MØ: I’m super excited about the place we're gonna perform in. It’s just a cool vibe. It reminds me of this big squat in Berlin that’s called Köpi — it’s this artist and music venue, and sort of a "citizen's place."
How do you get ready to perform? Any special rituals?
At a normal gig, we would say that an hour before the show, we won’t go off [by] ourselves. My band will just hang out and take a moment to get in the zone, you know?
You've been touring pretty heavily in the last year or so. What are you doing when you actually have a break?
[Laughs.] I mean, there’s actually always work. It's just not touring — it’s songwriting, or it’s recording, or it’s promo. But if I completely have a day off, then I’ll just hang out with friends and watch TV shows with my boyfriend and do super-normal stuff. Cook food — even though I’m horribly bad at cooking food.
What TV shows are you watching right now?
My favorite one at the moment is BoJack Horseman; I'm on Season 3. And then I want to get into Stranger Things. I haven’t seen that yet — everybody’s talking about it all the time!
The songs we’ve heard from your new album, “Kamikaze” and “Final Song,” are very bubbly and light. Do they reflect the overall tone of the new album?
I love making super-fun pop music, but I’m also very much into the darker stuff. My album will definitely be a mixture of those two things. So it's not only that! But I really like the contrast. I think it leans less toward indie pop, and it definitely has more, how do you say, edge? It’s hard for me to put words on, because I’m still in the process [of finishing the album]. I've also changed as a person, and music changes in the world, so it's influenced my sound.
I read an interview with you where you said you'd like to shoot for more simplicity, because you sometimes tend to overcomplicate songwriting. Has that gotten easier for you?
It's true. I do tend to just go off and overcomplicate my songs and melodies. It's nice to keep it simple, but I also realize that it's important that you [as an artist] do whatever you feel is right. And if that means going off the creative path and doing something super weird, that's what you have to do. I love when a song is simple and adaptable to everybody. But then it's also important to have personality! I don't think anyone should hold back.
You've had a big year since “Lean On.” How has that success changed you?
Ever since I started doing what I do now, I've thought about how it’s so important to stay grounded and just stay true to yourself. You have to keep living like you always did before. But obviously with "Lean On," it opened a lot of doors. All of sudden it got very exciting. People would, you know, know me when I walked down the street. It's definitely changed me, though I think it's hard to put a finger on it.
Even something like people recognizing you on the street — how have you handled that? Was it something that you were expecting to happen once the song came out?
Yeah, the thing is, [even] before “Lean On,” my first album coming out and everything, it was a very slow process. For instance, in Denmark, I would be stopped on the street a little bit here and there. But with “Lean On,” it was just so much more. I had already tried on [fame], but not on that scale. People and brands want to work with you. There's just so much more attention.
You're also getting ready to release your second album soon. Do you feel any pressure now that you’re more widely known?
I do feel a pressure, but the biggest pressure is more that I stay who I am and that I’m doing what I love and what I believe in music-wise. Because I think you can quickly get caught up in the “whoa” — all this is happening! Which is great. [But] I don’t think people will appreciate my music if I don’t love it myself one hundred percent.
You first came up through punk, and now you’re making pop music. When you talk about it being important to stay grounded and true to yourself, has that been tested? Have you been in situations where you’ve had to stand your ground?
Before I got into punk, I was super into pop, so I never thought it was a bad move to go back to pop — it was already there with me. Alternative music is always within me. No matter what you do, you can’t take that away from me, and also you can’t take away the pop. I feel like whether people are approaching me from the punk side of things or from the pop side of things, I totally get them. It's a weird match, but that’s how I’m put together!