(L-R) Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo of Icona Pop. Photo: Fredrik Etoall
“We have so many good nights out with our friends, we write about when we have so much fun that we never want the night to end. You love your friends and you kind of just want them to feel what you feel,” Caroline Hjelt says of the inspiration behind the killer, upbeat dance tracks that the Swedish pop duo Icona Pop has been producing over the last few years.
Hjelt and her band mate Aino Jawo met at a house party that Hjelt was throwing in 2009 and hit it off instantly. “The next day, Aino texted me and said she was coming over with a bottle of wine and her computer, so we just sat down without even talking about what kind of music we wanted to make and wrote our first song,” says Hjelt. It’s kind of amazing that they can take a night out and turn it into a career path that would take them musically to the ranks of artists like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia, but that’s exactly what happened. Since then, the two have become best friends, which Hjelt describes as “a dream come true—to be able to travel the world with your best friend doing what you love is unreal. We inspire each other so much.”
Of course, they didn’t just jump into music production over a bottle of wine and a computer. Hjelt attended a variety of music schools throughout her life and Jawo had been producing for years prior to forming Icona Pop. “The easiest thing would have been to pick up a guitar and make something acoustic, but we wanted the challenge and we were inspired by so many different things,” Hjelt explains of what inspired them to produce electronic music.
Hearing them on the radio, you would probably be confused as to why I categorize them as electronic producers, but onstage, they kick ass and take names by live mixing their songs with different drum machines and synthesizers. “We play around with heavy beats. Aino plays with the drum machine and we mess around with vocal effects. We want people to be able to feel and hear that the music is live. We aren’t that scared of missing a note because we would rather have a good show than play it safe,” says Hjelt. The energy and passion they throw into their live performances feed into every crowd in a way that could make a small room of 500 people feel like you’re partying at the main stage of Tomorrowland. “I’m so emotionally and physically tired after a show, with every show I feel like I’m going through whatever I’m singing about and I’m just jumping around like crazy because I get so much back from the audience,” Hjelt says of their live performances.
As for their new music, Hjelt pointed out that they’ve been working on it for four years. “You’re definitely going to be able to hear the journey that we’ve been through since we released our first song, as well as how living in different places inspired the way we create music. It’s a very personal album, and I think people will really get to know us—we’re super proud,” she says. She mentioned that their new album will still keep their signature up-tempo pop style, but also branch out and show a new side of Icona Pop that they’ve yet to showcase. Their debut album, titled This Is…Icona Pop, is out September 24 and will feature their newly released single “All Night,” a catchy and upbeat electronic song with lyrics that describe how they feel about the journey they’re on.
Their first single, “I Love It,” which will also be included on their debut album, just went double platinum in the U.S. and North Korea (which Hjelt was over the moon about). “When we first heard Charli XCX was working on a song called “I Love It,” we heard a rough version and felt such a connection with the emotion in the song that, we wanted to adopt the song. We wanted the anger and the punkiness, we wanted everyone to feel what we felt,” she points out upon my mentioning that although their songs are about breakups, they’re still very empowering. Icona Pop has been playing at music festivals around the world during the last year and are beginning their North American Iconic tour in the next few weeks. Catch them live at The Complex in Salt Lake City on September 6 (I wouldn’t miss it). This is…Icona Pop will be available for purchase in the U.S. on September 24, 2013 and you can find out more information about it as well as their upcoming tour dates on iconapop.com.