“How do you pronounce her name?”
The Danish songstress MØ is used to the question by now. She heard it extensively while conquering Europe with her indie pop sound, and is fielding the question again now that she has her sights set on America.
During a recent performance at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the mispronunciations circulating around the historic venue included "moo," "mew" and "mo."
“I chose this ridiculous name,” MØ, 25, said playfully backstage, explaining that it's pronounced like "mercy" without the "cy." “People can say whatever they want. It’s not important to me. It’s just a name.”
Despite the difficulty her name has provoked, MØ doesn't seem too worried. Dressed in high heels, a pullover and a backwards hat, she seemed relaxed as she sorted through countless bags of Doritos. And with the uproar of approval she’s received this year, there’s not much reason for her to fret.
The Copenhagen native, whose real name is Karen Marie Ørsted, released her debut album, "No Mythologies to Follow", this March off RCA Records. It’s a 20-track collection, seamlessly adorning soothing bits of pop and electronica, while reflecting on feeling lost in the modern world. It portrays the unorthodox range of tastes that she’s explored throughout her music career.
Growing up, MØ experimented with pop, punk rock, and even, as she has described it, “crunk rap.” With the help of Danish producer Ronni Vindahl, she believes she has settled on a compromised sound.
“I gave [Vindahl] an a cappella song called “Maiden,” and it was the first time in a long time that I was very personal and vulnerable, but still having the aggression without crunk rapping, or hiding behind a filter,” said MØ. “He brought up the heaviness of the beat and the grittiness but still brought up the melancholy, the vulnerability and the glitter. We carried on from there.”
It has seemed to work for MØ, who has gained an international fan base since early collaborations with Avicii and Diplo. She has toured extensively since, increasingly adding dates since the release of "No Mythologies to Follow."
She began touring this year through her native Scandinavia and Europe in early March, and then embarked on a 12-show swing through the U.S., ending at the Troubadour. She’s set to take on the summer festival circuit, with many premiere stops along the way, including Denmark’s Roskilde Festival and England’s Glastonbury. She’ll make her way back to the States in time for Austin City Limits in October.
MØ woos through universal elements of love, lust and breakups in "No Mythologies to Follow," which she hopes connects her with fans across all borders. “No matter where in the world I am or who is listening, you want to communicate ... to be understood and you want people to feel understood ... no matter if it’s in America or Istanbul or wherever.”
There was a blatant connection with fans at the Troubadour, as MØ made herself just about as fan friendly as it gets. She peeped in and around the stage before her set, receiving instantaneous roars from the audience.
This continued through the opening set by Swedish pop singer Erik Hassle. MØ made her way on stage during Hassle’s song “Talk About It.” Though it was only a quick stint featuring a few verses, fans applauded heavily.
This was intensified during MØ’s set. Entering on stage with her lip-covered album artwork on screen behind her, the Dane bounced around stage, powerfully fist-pumping alongside every accompanied kickdrum. With the crowd already excited, MØ knelt down on the edge of the stage, singing “Maiden” directly into the dancing mass.
Her stage presence amplified from there. She exhibited an impressive sense of energy, dancing around endlessly throughout her set. Although her moves weren’t quite choreographed, her liveliness made fans in attendance up their energy as well.
This seemed to be contrasting to Grimes, the Canadian DIY (Do It Yourself) indie artist she is often compared to. While Grimes’ sound tends to be more abstract and atmospheric, MØ seemed to thrive off of the animated bass and the shrieking guitarist behind her.
As she went on to perform snippets of “Glass” in the crowd, “Never Wanna Know” around the rim of the top balcony, and the last verse of the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There” on top of a fan’s shoulders, those in attendance were introduced to the start of a possibly invigorating career.