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Interview: MØ on her 'When I Was Young' EP.

Interview: MØ on her 'When I Was Young' EP.

On her ‘When I Was Young’ EP, MØ takes the distinctive style she established in her debut album ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ to a whole new level - from the sombre ‘Turn My Heart To Stone’, a heartfelt reflection on the difficulty of emotions, to lead track ‘When I Was Young’, a jaunty ode to nostalgia in the modern age.

We spoke with MØ when she was in New Zealand last year opening for Sia about the new EP, her new Moomin tattoo, her next album, and more…

That whole feeling of not knowing where you belong and searching, that’s also what drives a great deal of creativity.

COUP DE MAIN: Last time we saw you was in 2015, when we interviewed you and Elliphant at the same time in Sydney before the show you played together.
MØ: Ohhhh my god! In the backstage, right? I remember it very clearly actually, even though that whole trip was such a blur, because we were so jet-lagged. It was such a nice tour. Was it the one where we stage-dived together? Yay! That was an epic moment, I’ll never forget that.

CDM: Two years later, and you’ve finally made it to Auckland! How have you found Auckland so far compared to the other cities in NZ that you’ve already toured?
MØ: Yeah as a kid [I’ve been here], but it’s really hard to tell. When I was here last time it was 20 years ago as a kid. I was here for Rhythm & Alps in Wanaka, but again we went out into the nature. I was in Wellington as a kid and I remember that as really stormy but also really, really beautiful and warm - I was there in the Summer. I’ve only been to Auckland for less than 24 hours so it’s really hard for me to say, but I will say that when you land in New Zealand, immediately, the smell in the air is so nice and it’s windy and it’s so fresh. It’s so beautiful and there’s all these plants, it’s so green, and the hills and the water, it’s very comfortable being here, that’s the first thought.

CDM: We talk to a lot of Scandinavians and they always say it reminds them of home because it’s really similar.   
MØ: It’s true! We were also talking about that before - when you land and it’s like, ‘Oh I’m home!’ When really I’m the furthest away from home I could possibly be. But that’s nice, it’s nice that you can get that feeling going on a 24 hour flight to a different place and be like, ‘Huh, this kind of feels familiar?’ <laughs>

CDM: When we interviewed you and Elliphant together you said you were keen to work on an EP together - is this still something you want to do?
MØ: Yeah, that’s still something that we so want to do and we talk about a lot. Without saying anything, we do have a little bit of a concept going on, but when it’s going to happen and how, and all of that stuff, it’s super undefined still because obviously I’ve been working on my album and I’m finishing that now. Those kinds of things just have to get out of the way, but it’s really something we both want so much! It would be so much fun.


CDM: Do you still like Moomins? Did you hear there’s a new Moomin TV series coming out in 2019? You should request to write the theme-song for it.
MØ: Oh, like a new TV show? Cool! I actually didn’t know that but that’s going to be amazing. I’m obsessed with Moomins. I’m going to just make a really quick note. <laughs> Not even kidding, I am obsessed. I got yet another Moomin tattooed on my foot just the other day, Little My. I got it like a week ago. Let me write down that soundtrack note... Yeah, I love the Moomins, it’s actually almost too much.   

CDM: I really love ‘Roots’ from your new EP, particularly when you question, “Where will I dig my roots?” How do you think people can learn to build, and root their lives in something?
MØ: Thank you. Well, that’s something that the song is also about, that’s something we all have to go through. We’re on our own journey and sometimes it just takes a while to know what the fuck is going on. So yeah, that’s really individual.

CDM: You’ve said that 'Roots' is about soul-searching, what have you learnt about yourself since writing the song back in 2014?
MØ: It was funny because I wrote it in the beginning of 2014 but I then this year was like, “Oh my god I feel the same way,” I still feel that feeling that I’m still searching for something and I don’t know what it is, but it’s a good thing. It gives you drive. If you feel too comfortable, then you’re like, “Oh I’m just gonna chill, I don’t need to express myself, it’s fine." That whole feeling of not knowing where you belong and searching, that’s also what drives a great deal of creativity.

CDM: ‘When I Was Young’ captures really well the idea and concept of youth and nostalgia - do you think that youth gives people a sense of immortality, where nothing can harm them?
MØ: When you’re young? Definitely. It’s so funny because I still very clearly remember myself being a teenager and my early 20s being like, “I’m never going to get old, I’m just never going to grow up! Yay!” Seriously, I’m a pretty rational person, I know that we’re all going in one direction, but I felt fucking immortal! At least I had that experience, so I’m taking it that a lot of young people feel like that.

CDM: Which song from the EP, do you feel is best representative of where MØ is currently at this point in time?
MØ: The way I am? Oh, that’s really hard because honestly all of them are very personal to me and they’re different sides of me. The first thing I was thinking was ‘Run Away’ but that’s the mellow side of me though, there’s also a song like ‘Turn My Heart To Stone’, which is more of a mystical and romantic side of me, then ‘Roots’ which is more aggressive in a way. They’re all little bricks of something I would say is very personal to me so it’s hard to pick one.


CDM: The production on ‘When I Was Young’ is so fun too! How did you guys work on that?
MØ: That took a very long time to get done because obviously the production on it is a bit different. It’s more organic and it has these old-school cabaret horns, so it was a bit new for me, because I actually really wanted to go in that direction but at the same time I wanted to keep it fresh and keep it me and now. It took a little while to get there, but I actually love it, I spent a lot of time with the producer getting to the point where it was just right. Normally I’ll be obsessing about my vocals, but in this one I was obsessing about production. It was this whole, “You’re gonna need to put a bit more <sh sh sh> here and a bit more <uh uh uh> here.” So it just took a long time to get that.

CDM: The video was inspired by an Edvard Munch painting - do you find much art / many paintings inspire your creative process?
MØ: I think I am very often [inspired], but with this situation it was just very specific. Normally it’s like, “Oh I’ve seen something in a Lynch movie,” it all just becomes this soup of different inspirations and you make it, but with the video it was so specifically just that painting. He’s my favourite painter and artist in the world. It just all made sense for me, because I’ve always loved that picture. I remember as a kid it was one of the pictures that stood out the most to me because it was so simple and symbolic. The white, the red, and the black. So with ‘When I Was Young’ I was like, “This is the chance,” because it made sense.

CDM: Was it fun learning the choreography for the 'When I Was Young' video?
MØ: Yeah, it was really fun. Also because normally I’m super shit at choreography, I can never fucking figure it out. But with this one it went well and we all had fun with it, so, that’s always the key.

CDM: I think my favourite song on the EP is ‘Turn My Heart To Stone’, it’s so heartbreaking - “I wish I could turn my heart to stone.” Do you think it’s sometimes easier to not feel at all, rather than to experience the pain that so often goes along with relationships?
MØ: That’s my favourite too. Yeah, I think so. I’ve always found it very hard to turn off my emotions, unless it’s in the beginning of a relationship where you know you have to pretend you don’t really like them. That’s fine, but it’s more like in a relationship which is what this song is about, when you're with someone and you know things are not going well, then I cannot just be cold. The song is a reflection of a bad relationship but you kind of like that it’s bad. You know it’s not good for you and you know you have to get out, but you like that it’s not good. You know that he’s a fucking idiot and you like that. <laughs>

CDM: What advice would you give to people who are struggling to feel strong / or are struggling to leave a poisonous relationship?
MØ: Depending on how bad, but I would say on a scale where there’s no violence involved and they’re just bad for each other-- I’ve had a lot of friends and myself have been in bad relationships, and of course you’ve gotta leave, but at the same time no-one can tell you. You have to come to that conclusion yourself, and you will make the right decision in the end. I also think, and I don’t know if this is bad advice, but you can’t drag yourself down in a hole for not being strong the moment you realise it’s not well, you know? It takes time, you’re in a bubble and you’re in it together. You cannot just from one day to another be like, “No, no, no.” It takes a little while and you’ll be stronger that way because even if it does hurt for a little while, afterwards you’ll be like, “Well, I saw it through and I made it through and I’m out of it."

CDM: I love the little handwritten notes you put out to give some explanations behind the inspirations of songs on the EP - do you find it important to give your fans things like this to show them insight into your songwriting?
MØ: I definitely like to share those kinds of things, and even though we live in such a technological world, I still love the whole thing about writing it down because I myself do write a lot of notes and write a lot on paper so it’s nice to just combine those two things and put out some thoughts.


CDM: On ‘Roots’ and ‘Run Away’ you have production credits - what was it about those songs that you wanted to have a deeper hand in the production of?
MØ: With my old album ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ there were these songs called ‘night versions’ which were just me and my shitty production, and with ‘Roots’ and ‘Run Away’ they both started as night versions as well, so that’s why. Also, ‘BB’ started as a night version but it just changed a lot in the production.

CDM: You played 'Linking With You' and 'BB' at shows before the new EP was released - do you like testing new songs out on fans in that way before the studio version is released?
MØ: I like it a little bit, but it’s not like it’s something that I love doing because I also like to come out with something that no-one has ever heard. It was funny with ‘BB’ and ‘Linking With You’ because we had played them for a year or something, it was like, ‘Well maybe it’s about time to put them out there!’ Sometimes it’s nice to test it out but I don’t like doing it too much either.

CDM: Why did you decide to change the name of your song 'Riot Gal' to 'BB'?
MØ: Honestly I just thought ‘Riot Gal’ was a little bit too much, also because I’m a big fan of the old riot grrrl movement and I felt like this song is not about the political context of that, therefore I thought it would be a wrong impression if I was making a song called ‘Riot Gal’ because then it should symbolise something more political, then it shouldn’t be a love song. So I felt like I needed to change that.  

CDM: In 'BB' you sing, "I wrote love songs about you long before I even met you." Do you think it’s easier or harder to write songs about the concept of love, with or without a particular person in mind?
MØ: Yeah, that’s my favourite line too. Nice that we are picking up on the same things. <laughs> I always have someone in mind. Sometimes I do write songs that aren't always about an emotion I’m experiencing right in the moment, but then I’m putting myself back in that moment. Actually, when I wrote this song ‘BB’, it was about the guy that I was already dating but I was so in love with him and I was so scared that he was gonna leave me, and the line, “I wrote love songs about you long before I even met you,” was more like, 'He’s the one I’ve been writing love songs about.' You know as a kid if you write songs about being in love but you don’t know who it is? So it was like, ‘Oh, that’s you!’ <laughs>

CDM: Do you have plans to work on a sophomore album for 2018?
MØ: I’m finishing the album, I’m hoping it’s gonna be out before the Summer, so that’s the plan right now. I have the tracklist and everything, I was listening to the whole thing yesterday, so I think it’s gonna happen soon.

CDM: ’Nights With You’ is such a beautiful song celebrating female friendship. Was it important to you to write a song that’s so positive and celebratory?
MØ: Yeah, it was really nice because she’s just been my best mate since I was three-years-old, so it felt right to make a song for her. And also more universally, just celebrating friendships, even though a lot of people think it’s a love song actually for a lover of some sort. Honestly that doesn’t matter though, I think it’s nice that people have different interpretations of songs, and it’s nice because every time we play it live I get in such a good mood just thinking about her.

CDM: What was it like working with Charli XCX on her ‘Number One Angel’ mixtape - '3AM (Pull Up)' is such a jam!
MØ: I always like working with her because it’s always so relaxed and chill. It’s always spontaneous in a way, it’s almost a cool casual thing, and she always lets me do my own thing. So that was just really nice. It’s always nice working with her. She’s so cool, sweet, and down to earth.

MØ’s ‘When I Was Young’ EP is out now - click here to purchase.

Watch the ‘When I Was Young’ music video below…

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