After pretty much conquering the world with smash hit “I Love It”, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo aka Icona Pop are now sitting pretty in the #1 spot in the UK. This past year has pretty much been a whirlwind for the critically acclaimed pop duo and I was very lucky to catch up with Aino whilst on the road to ask her some questions about their new album coming out, performing at the Billboard Music Awards, working with Charli XCX and the moment in time when they thought “wow, our shit is blowing up”…
So, before “I Love It” pretty much took over everyone’s playlists worldwide, Icona Pop was an emerging DJ duo. Was DJ’ing always something to fall back upon if the original songs didn’t catch on? I loved the days when you were doing your DJ sets opening for the likes of Sound Of Arrows and such…
In the beginning we started doing DJ sets as Icona Pop, but we were always musicians from the beginning. We really started DJ’ing to get experience with traveling and get your music out, travelling very lightly. We never really saw ourselves as a DJ duo, but more musicians that DJ also. We love DJ’ing though. It’s nice to get to play new music, find new music and get lots of inspiration from other artists.
Before “I Love It” you gals also released the Nights Like This EP which had some lovely songs on it like “Manners” and my personal favourite Icona Pop song “Lovers To Friends”. Can you tell me what your interpretation of “Lovers To Friends” is about in your eyes?
Awww, “Lovers To Friends” means so much to us. We were going through some heartaches and breakups during the writing of that song, it’s very emotional and we are so glad you like it. It’s actually one of our favourites also. We are gonna release the album in two or three months. “Lovers To Friends” will not be on the album but we will definitely play that live because it is a part of Icona Pop. Now that “Lovers To Friends” is out there, you’ll probably hear similar types of songs to that one in the future.
I actually own your self-titled 14 track Swedish album. Tell me about some of those tracks like “We Got The World” and “Wanna B With Somebody”.
Wow! So happy you have the Swedish album, but the one we are releasing will be all new tracks. If you listen to that Swedish album, you can tell that we’ve been on a musical journey and we’ve been trying out different genres. The new album isn’t just going to be sixteen tracks like “I Love It”. I think with the new album you’ll start to get to know us “very well”. The new album is going to have songs about falling in-and-out of love and heartache stories – universal themes…and a few party stories of course! We’re very proud of the album, we just wrapped it up three weeks ago in LA and we are excited to get it out. It’s the right time now.
You’re finally releasing a new song called “Girlfriend”. Is there any sort of pressure to have it be as big of a hit as “I Love It” or does those type of things not really worry you?
Of course you’re always nervous about new songs, but as long as you’re proud of the work you release, you can’t really do any more. I think we have a lot of songs that are equal to “I Love It”. We stopped being scared of “not having another hit” because you can go crazy if you think too much!
I loved your very simple performance on the Billboard Music Awards. Tell me, what was going through your mind before going on stage, a stage shared by some of the biggest greats in the music industry.
It was crazy! I didn’t realize “what” we were doing until afterwards when we went out into the audience and realized we were sharing the same stage with people like Prince and other popstars! I think it was good that I didn’t realize until afterwards. We just had to get out there and do it and hope we did it well afterwards!
For me, the turning point of your career was your sync with the show “Snooki And JWOW”. That’s when I thought, shit – Icona Pop are really blowing up. That’s the power of a good sync. When was the turning point for you gals, the point where you thought, “shit – we ARE blowing up”.
Laughs. We had a really strong feeling for “I Love It”. When we recorded that song, we were going through some emotional stuff. We really started to work with amazing people who understood what we wanted to do. That was really our turning point in the fact that more people were believing in us. We’ve always believed in us. When it really started to sink in, is when we had our first headline gig in New York. It was a small venue, but it was sold out and people were standing in a line when we arrived and they were singing our songs that had not been released in the US. That felt pretty big for us. We were really happy! We also had the song featured on the TV show “Girls” which is one of our favourite TV shows. We felt that sync gave the song another life and the song started to reach out to other types of people.
How did the collaboration with Charlie XCX come about? I’m a huge fan of hers. Is she the unofficial third member of Icona Pop now? Said jokingly. You don’t really see her talking about the single that much. Is there a reason for that?
She’s a really cool girl. She’s also doing the kind of “punky pop” / Icona Pop cool thing. We actually met for the first time in Sweden when we were working a lot with Patrick Berger in the studio. When we moved to London, she was our neighbor. We even played some shows with her before “I Love It” – she’s just a really cool girl. Maybe she could be the third member (laughs) but she’s really good on her own!
That was all my questions, I just want to thank you for your time in speaking to us today. Any closing words for the readers of EQ Music?
Our new album is coming out end of the summer. It will be different than the Swedish album and we hope that you like it. Thanks to all of the supporters, you really help us live our dream.