by Donte Kirby
“I don’t care, I love it!” Those are words you must have heard lately. Unless, of course, you have been living under a rock, six feet underground, mummified with plugs in your ears.
Since the release of their hit single “I Love It” Swedish synthpop duo Icona Pop, true to their namesake, have become pop icons in both the UK and the US.
The formation of Icona Pop is a tale of musical love at first sight. Aino Jawo, after a breakup, meets Caroline Hjelt at a party one night and they click. The musical spirits meet their counterpart in another. The next night they’re writing songs and are wed in the musical matrimony that is Icona Pop. The duo’s sound is a mix of electric house, punk and indie pop blended together with an expert understanding of the importance of a good hook and infectious chorus.
“We’re dreamers. We dream big, but it went beyond our expectations,” says Hjelt. The duo were in the studio recording when they heard Charli XCX’s rough version of “I Love It” and it was love at first listen. “It’s exactly what we’re going through right now,” Hjelt continues.
They Icona Pop-ized the song, adding an anthem-like chorus along with their signature vocals and now it’s a double platinum single. Icona Pop has been together for four years and Hjelt remembers their humble beginnings, despite what the meteoric success of “I Love It” might have you believe.
“Just yesterday I was looking at pictures and realized how far we’ve come. The two of us were sleeping in one bed on the floor in London, there were rats,” reminisces Hjelt about the times before “I Love It” sent them into the stratosphere. Before the hit song we all know, there was the debut single “Manners” and the EP Nights Like This.
“In the UK you have to win the crowd over, but once you do they’re amazing,” says Hjelt.
The duo had already won over the UK when “I Love It” appeared as the theme song of Snookie and JWoww and an episode of Girls, solidifying Icona Pop’s hold on the United States. After the song exploded, the duo and “I Love It” were everywhere, performing on Good Morning America and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (to name a few). “I Love It” also appeared on other TV shows such as Glee and The Vampire Dairies, and a commercial for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
“I Love It” has spawned many covers from Florence Welch to Robin Thicke. Hjelt says Thicke “like[d] it, he put his own spin on it. That’s how it should be.”
Next was the release of their second EP, Iconic, which included “I Love It” and featuring Charli XCX on the track. The song then appeared a few months later on the duo’s self-titled debut album.
The duo likes to “go where there’s work.” Going from Sweden to UK and then touring the United States, no strangers to living out their suitcases. Being from a small country like Sweden, touring across the US has really put its’ size in perspective for them.
Hjelt recalls their first show in New York and the line around the corner. She was amazed they had “come out to see us.”
Now the girls looks forward to their upcoming North American tour, appropriately named “The Iconic Tour”. Starting in August at Lollapalooza, the tour also includes K.Flay and Sirah. Of course, Icona Pop will be hitting all the major cities across the nation and doing their part to make electric music more alive. Their new album This Is… will be released this fall on September 24th, two days after Icona Pop comes to the TLA in Philadelphia.
“Our little baby’s been in labor for four years and we can’t wait to release it.”
Hjelt continues, “it’s really been a journey and you’ll feel that.” The album was recorded whenever they got the chance, sometimes on the back of a bus or van while on the road, other times in a studio.
When people listen to Icona Pop the duo wants people to “feel like we felt when we wrote it.” Their goal is to “write music that makes people feel.”
The new single “All Night” is “really for me,” Hjelt says. She gets a euphoric feeling every time it plays. Whether the new single will be as popular as “I Love it”, though, only time will tell. To Hjelt and Jawo, the success of a song isn’t what matters.
“We make the music we like and we can only hope the fans feel the same.”