Fanzines have played a treasured part in music’s history. As more aspects of life have moved online, the beloved DIY medium is as scarce as the mixtape. Denmark’s rising pop star, MØ, has brought back the fanzine, blending the print past with the digital present.
As the voice of the most streamed track of all time on Spotify, “Lean On,” and with over 3 million YouTube views of her new single, “Final Song,” MØ continues to venture into new territory. When she was inspired by her love of 1970s and 80s fanzines and decided to make her own digital and print version, “Empty Billboards And Overloaded Minds,” she turned to Microsoft for the tools and her fanbase for the content.
“I wanna do a ‘zine because when I was a teenager and up until now I’ve always loved the ‘zine’ format,” the singer explained on the MOxSurface microsite, sharing how she used to collaborate with others to make ‘zines that had both political and creative tones. “We live in a time where the world is on the internet – the 2nd reality – and together I think it could be interesting to see what creative output we could come up with. Mixing the scissor/paper generation with the copy/paste generation.”
Tapping her social networks, MØ’s calls for submissions were heard as photos, drawings, and poems began to flood in. Fans posted their contributions to the MOxSurface digital notebook, which operates on Microsoft’s free online platform, OneNote. On the other end, MØ used her Surface Pro 4 and specialized pen to begin assembling collages of art and words, pulling together what would eventually be the final “Empty Billboards And Overloaded Minds” fanzine, officially released Wednesday, June 22.
Over 400 fans from around the world – Denmark, Brazil, Russia, France, Mexico, the UK, and the US – were using OneNote to participate in MOxSurface. “Making this ‘zine together with friends, supporters and people from all over the globe has been a little dream coming true!” said MØ of the project’s collaboration foundation. MØ has shared her own drawings taken from ‘zines she made when she was a teenager, and rallied her friend and former bandmate in the punk duo MOR (currently a member of Timemasters), Josefine Struckmann, for an intimate one-on-one interview, discussing the Danish singer’s life and music.
This way to co-create a piece of digital and physical art represents yet another way artists can cultivate the coveted direct-to-fan relationship. By being the subtle conduit between the fan and their favorite music artist, Microsoft as a brand is able to also connect with the millennial audience through authentic and enriching experiences. This complements other Microsoft brand activations that connect music, technology and creativity together. Microsoft’s Music x Technology platform recently showcased Grimes’ “Realiti” remix installation at Moogfest, and prior, the MEW365 project enabled thousands of international MEW fans to collaborate and participate in the music video, “The Night Believer,” a single off MEW’s +- album.
“MØ has been working on making the fanzine while traveling the world,” said Jonathan Hulse, Microsoft Head of Consumer Marketing Communications. Using her Surface Pro 4 with OneNote, “She has been able to be creative with the project whether she has been on the tour bus, at the airport or backstage, for instance when she recently played at Coachella. We’re so happy to be able to support this great project.”
Although the fanzine is now available online, fans will continue to play their part by hand-distributing the print version of the ‘zine in secret city locations across 25 to 30 countries, turning again to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to get the word out on the #MOxSurface virtual scavenger hunt.
“Empty Billboards And Overloaded Minds” will be available at MØ’s merch stands during her world tour and at the following summer festivals:
• Glastonbury Festival (hand-out at the festival) June 22nd – June 26th
• Down the Rabbit Hole (MØ merch stand) June 24th – June 26th
• Roskilde Festival, MØ headlining (MØ merch stand) June 25th – July 2nd
• Stavernfestivalen (MØ merch stand) July 7th – July 9th
Disclosure: This is purely an editorial piece. VOLUME, the agency of Microsoft Denmark and the MOxSurface project, is a client of Buzz Boulevard, the agency arm of Kaffeine Buzz.