Icona Pop: Loving It

If you’ve attended a festival, hit a club or just turned on the radio these past few months, chances are you would’ve heard Icona Pop’s breakthrough single I Love It. With that short and sweet burst of energy, It Girl Charli XCX on vocals and an anthemic chorus, I Love It is a certifiable summer jam. But the hit isn’t the first smash Icona Pop can boast. Swedes Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt released their debut single Manners on French tastemaking label Kitsune last year, the track later being sampled on Chiddy Bang’s platinum hit Mind Your Manners. Now, the duo are making their maiden voyage to Australia for the New Year’s festival circuit – hitting Summadayze, Summafieldayze and Field Day soon. In the lead up to their visit, inthemix caught up with Aino for an all-too-brief chat.

So how’s your US tour going?

It’s been amazing! We went to Toronto two days ago and yesterday Philadelphia, tomorrow it’s New York and then we’re going to go and do the whole East Coast. The crowds in the US are amazing. They sing, they dance, they go crazy and they really stay true to you once they find you. We had these amazing fans that followed us around the country. We saw them all over the US and we were like: ‘What are you doing here?!”

Could you tell us about the designs for the Icona Pop EP cover? Do you guys enjoy having a part to play in the artwork as well the music?

Yeah, we love to stay creative in all areas. I think we’re control freaks, kind of. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes you end up having a little bit too much in your head when you have to focus on the music. But we’re surrounded by really good people right now and it feels awesome.

Yeah, I was going to ask – because I read that you two are best friends – what are the advantages and disadvantages of working creatively with someone that you’re so close to?

I think there is only positive things, at least from what I’ve seen. It’s amazing to be able to share what you’re going through with your best friend. And also the harder periods in your life, it feels like Caroline is always standing beside me if I’m feeling a little down and I do the same for her. We give each other a lot of inspiration and help each other if someone is down. So I right now, I’m very, very happy that I got her with me and I don’t think that’s going to change. But in the beginning I was kind of afraid of it because I need to have a lot of space, but she’s exactly like me and we have a huge respect for each other. So I guess we just found each other, in a way.

So I Love It was such a big hit for you guys. How did the Charli XCX collaboration come about?

We’d both been working with the same producer, Patrick Burger, who’d been producing a lot of our songs. We were actually in the city together with him working on a song called Good For You, which is on our EP. Then he showed us a really, really rough version of I Love It with Charli XCX singing on a really kind of cute beat and we just totally fell in love with it. We were going through similar love problems, so we asked her if we could use it and she was very happy to let us. So we took that song to Style of Eye, who is one of our friends and is an amazing techno producer. Then together with Style of Eye and Patrick Burger, we explained how we wanted it to sound: a little bit angry, but still kind of just charming. And so they helped us produce it and make it more Icona Pop.

So Charli write the lyrics for it, is that right?

Yeah, she wrote the lyrics and she wrote the melody. She’s really cool, we like her, we met her a lot of times before I Love It when she was in Sweden.

You released your debut single on Kitsune. What was your experience of working with the label?

They’re amazing! They’re like a small family and that was very early in our musical adventure. That was like one year in. We put our first song called Manners up on MySpace and then one of the label owners just found it there and he totally fell in love with it. So he asked if we could release that on his compilation and we said “YES!” because we loved all of the Kitsune compilations. So at first we thought it was a joke, we were like: “What! Are you kidding? Of course, just take the song!” Then we started to go over to Paris DJ’d at a lot of the parties, and they took care of us like we were their babies. So I’m very happy about that, and still today we try to play at their parties. I think once you release something on Kitsune, you become a part of their Kitsune-y family forever.

Yeah, it does seem like that. So you just mentioned DJing before. What sort of music do you guys play when you do DJ sets?

It all depends on the mood. We always play kind of jungle-y music with a lot of drums, and then sometimes we decide if we want go to a little bit harder. It’s all kind of raw house music. Then sometimes we go a little bit softer, like Paris-feeling almost. We like to play fun songs not like all of the typical dance-y stuff.

So what do you have planned for Australia when you get out here?

Oh my god, we’re so excited. You know the snow is just pouring down in Sweden right now, so we’re going to take so many photos when we’re swimming in the ocean! We’re so looking forward to seeing gorgeous men and dancing with a lot of surf dudes. We have a lot of friends over there so it’s going to be fantastic! I just feel it in my whole body. Starting the New Year in another continent, that seems perfect to me.

Yeah, it’ll be great. So you guys are still based in Stockholm?

We’re actually based in New York.

So what prompted the move to New York?

We lived in London for a year and then we moved back to Stockholm over the summer because we had a lot of festivals there. Then we came back to the US because we signed with Atlantic and their main office is here, and we just thought that we had a lot of huge opportunities going on right here. But our rule is that we should be where the buzz is, so it was a natural step.

I think a lot of Australian artists feel like you need to move to the UK or the US to have a big international career. Is that the same for Swedish artists? Is there that perception that you do need to move to America to make it big?

Definitely not. I mean, we fell in love with the music kind of long time ago. No, we fell in love with New York a long time ago. So we were always aiming to live here and now it’s just a dream come true. But then again, we travel more than ever now, so it feels like we were only actually here two or three days last month. I mean, I think I’m going to end up in Sweden. I love Sweden, but right now I have to be somewhere where the pulse is a little bit faster.

I know that you’ve cited Daft Punk before as an inspiration. What are your other musical influences?

Well I started to listen to a lot of old music when I got a little bit older. Usually it was a lot of pop, boy/girl bands, one hit wonders, but I like Talking Heads, Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, all that stuff. Then I also like David Bowie – he’s amazing, and Neil Young and then PJ Harvey is the coolest girl in the world. So I listen to a lot of different genres. Everything from classical to reggae music.