Swedish duo explain they're not a couple and their place in pop
Michael Baggs

14:18 24th May 2012

Icona Pop are the latest in a long line of Swedish pop exports - but these two are a little different to the typical saccharine sounds of Sweden. Moonlighting as DJs of hard electronica since their migration to London, the duo's latest single 'I Love It' is a Charli XCX-penned slice of pounding, punk-influenced electro pop which is being tipped as a breakthrough hit set for mainstream success.

We caught up with Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo in an East London pub recently to discuss their potential future pop success, their love for the UK's music scene, their experiences of the UK festival scene and their outspoken approach to the opposite sex...


Hello Icona Pop. Did you meet as friends or as musicians?
Aino: We met through a mutual friend but not through music. I had been dumped and a mutual friend forced me to go a party at Caroline's house, she was like 'you have go, you have to get out of bed and have fun'. I was really bad.
Caroline: I was having a party, and I lived in an apartment where we had a lot of good parties. Everybody was really happy and having a good time. My friend said she was bringing a friend and that we needed to show her how to have fun again because she's very sad. When she came to my apartment, it was love at first sight!
Aino: We had so much in common that we ended up in a club. I remember it so clearly. We ended up in a club listening to 'Show Me Love' by Robin S and Hot Chip 'Over And Over'. We drank too many shots and danced the night away.
Caroline: Then we said we should try to do something together - as you always say when you're drunk, but never ever do. But she called me the next day.
Aino: Then I went back to her place with a bottle of wine and we just sat there. We didn't talk about influences, we just started to write. We made our first song that turned out very good.
Caroline: And I still love that song!
Aino: We're going to release it one day, when we're 90 and releasing out greatest hits album and that'll be the extra track.

So basically you got together through being dumped and alcohol. If it was two boys we'd be calling it a bromance. Is there a female alternative?
Caroline: Sismance? No, that doesn't work.
Aino: We're sisters, basically.
Caroline: We're like a married couple, people often think we're a couple but we're not. We're just the same person. It's all about timing as well. When we met we were both down at the bottom. She had been dumped, I was kind of sad and frustrated about stuff and then we met each other and everything just opened a totally new world. We thought that we were the best band in the world from day one.
Aino: Everything went so naturally because we made the beats ourselves and did everything. We thought, we ARE a band now.
Caroline: Then one month later we booked a gig and the songs were not finished. We were stood on stage improvising a lot and it was one of our best gigs ever. It was amazing.

You're new single 'I Love It' is being tipped for mainstream success. Do you pay any attention to such things?
Caroline: Every time we hear something like that, of course you get happy. I'd rather get happy and then get sad than to never feel anything. I think you have to dare to get happy sometimes. It's like with love. We get happy but we keep it for ourselves. You don't want to talk about it that much, you just take it into your system.
Aino: Just to have a song that people really like is an amazing feeling.
Caroline: It's very important to live for today and for the now and if today, somebody wrote something nice, I would take it in and get excited about that but I wouldn't be hanging my life up on tweets someone has sent. We're just really satisfied right now.

Charli XCX wrote the song. How did that come about?
Caroline: We met her the first time in Sweden a few years ago, she's so nice. We were sitting in on a recording session and we were shown a rough version of the song and we just said: 'Wow. This is our song.' We were doing another song at a time. We took the track to our friend Style Of Eye who did a new version of it for us. The first time we heard it we knew we were going to fight for the song.

Watch: Icona Pop 'I Love It'

You're very open about how much you like good looking men. Should women be more open about men they fancy?
Aino: I think we are very frustrated because the only thing we make love to right now is music. We've been working so hard that when we notice someone gorgeous we can't help but react. We don't meet these people we're just like...
Both: WHOAH!
Caroline: Sometimes we just do it for ourselves. I can be very shy if I have to go and talk to someone but it depends. It's good to tell someone you like them. If you think someone looks good, go and tell them. I'm sure they would be very happy to hear it.
Aino: I've only done that once. He was really glad to hear it, but then I was happy after that. I felt there had been a stone in my heart. I just went up to him and said: 'I just have to say you're really cute'. And then I ran away.
Caroline: Yeah, but you did it and that's the important thing. Otherwise you'll just go home and think that you should have.
Aino: I would be so happy if someone said that to me. When we're together we're popular.
Caroline: But when we're on our own we're just really scared.

On your travels, where have you found the most attractive men?
Aino: I like London because there are people from everywhere and a lot of different people with a lot of different styles, different colours - a lot of every kind of man. And New York. And French people - I love the accent 'when zey talk like ziss'.
Caroline: I'm melting. Totally.

How has your material changed since moving from Sweden to London?
Caroline: Not that much actually. It has changed, but not because we moved to London. We've been DJing a lot and play a lot of hard music.
Aino: When we DJ in Sweden it's difficult to find places where you can play hard music. I remember the first DJ set we played in London we brought the hardest music we had - and it was still too soft.
Caroline: We love hard electro music and even listen to some techno and house music. Maybe three years ago we didn't do that, and now we're getting into that scene - and maybe you can hear that a bit more in our music. There's definitely more bass in our tracks - and we like that.

What's your favourite thing about living in London?
Aino: We love the beer.
Caroline: We love the pub culture, we love that you can just go and have a beer anywhere. You can have a beer on the street if you want to do that. The main thing is the music scene, but pop is very good in Sweden. We always try to tell our friends what we're listening to in the UK.

Do you have any festival shows lined up?
Aino: We are doing a lot of festivals across Scandinavia and Europe but none in the UK. We went to Glastonbury last year, and had so much fun. We saw a lot of good bands.  We were supposed to DJ there. We were meant to open the entire festival but something happened.
Caroline: The stage had security problems and with the speakers. We waited for three hours only to be told: 'I'm sorry girls, but you're not going to be able to play'. We were like 'Are you f**king kidding?' because we'd come all the way from Sweden. He said we could play next year.
Aino: But then they took a year off!
Caroline: So maybe next year.

How do you cope with the mud and the filth?
Aino: We are old festival people so it takes one day and then you're used to it. Glastonbury was really bad, it was pouring with rain for the first two days. Once you're in it and haven't showered for a week, you just don't care. That's the best feeling. That's why I want to go to festivals - so I can be a pig. Everybody just wants to have fun. Still, it was a very clean festival compared to Swedish ones. In Sweden you can see puke all over the floor, people pooing outside. It's terrible. But I love it clean.
Caroline: The Swedish are like vikings. And they drink too much beer.
Aino: They only drink on Friday and Saturday. They don't go for one beer in the week.

What's next after 'I Love It'?
Caroline: We're going to release our album after the summer, so that's exciting. And we'll have another single before that.
Aino: We don't know what that will be yet but we have a lot favourites, we love one we made with Style Of Eye called 'Rocket Science'. It's a bit slow, but that's a good thing.

Thank you very much, Icona Pop. 'I Love It' is released 'summer' 2012.

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