Posted September 16, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

Aino Jawo of Icona Pop: How it’s supposed to feel

Icona Pop
Icona Pop

When the Swedish dance duo Icona Pop played at Lollapalooza over the summer, the band had fans singing along to its music and dancing like they were at a nightclub even though it was the middle of the afternoon and bright daylight. The duo — Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt — has a smash hit with the single “I Love It (featuring Charli XCX).” A catchy dance song that finds the duo shouting “I love it” over and over to a punk-inspired dance beat. Jawo recently phoned in to discuss the tour and the forthcoming debut, This Is Icona… Pop, which drops next week.

You’re near the end of a US tour. How’s it been going?
It’s been amazing. It’s such a cool feeling to be able to go around in this huge country and have sold out crazy shows. People are singing along.

Your performance at Lollapalooza was great.
It was cool, but it was so early. We didn’t think there would be that many people. It was a shock when so many people showed up.

You two met at a party?
We met in 2009. We had a mutual friend named Emily and she called me for two weeks and told me I needed to get out of bed. One day came to my place and took me to a party. Caroline was hosting the party. We instantly clicked and felt like we had this energy. I knew about Caroline and she knew about me. But we never talked before. The day after we talked about music and started Icona Pop.

Had you been in bands prior to that?
Yeah, we were both musicians for a long time. I was in several bands and I was producing and she was singing choir. Once we met, we instantly felt like this is how it is supposed to feel.

And you started writing songs immediately?
We did. [hat was fast. We don’t believe in sleep.

Which song was that?
The first song was “Sheriff Came to Town on a Big Black Horse.” It was like music from a Western movie. It was a spaghetti western song. It was very much about frustration. I hope we will release it one day.

Talk about “Manners.” What do people like about it?
I think people like the fact that it’s an honest song. It’s about how you treat people and how people treat you. It’s about stories about how people treat each other. It was a different sound from what people have heard. It was still electro but a little harder. The bittersweet melody was different.

Everyone immediately felt the hook. You either hate it or you love it.

It must be amazing to see “I Love It” take off.
Yes. First of all, it’s so simple. Almost everyone can relate to it. It’s about coming out of a heartbreak. It’s a very empowering song. People can sing along. It doesn’t have to be about love. It can be about different situations and it’s also about anger. It’s a bit different from the other songs on the radio. Everyone immediately felt the hook. You either hate it or you love it. People were craving something different.

Talk about the album.
We’ve been writing on it for five years, well since Caroline and I met. It’s been recorded all over the world. Some things in Australia and Germany and everywhere. It’s not going to be 16 tracks that sound like “I Love It.” People will know what we really sound like.

What about “It’s My Party?”
That’s not going to be on the album, but it’s with our friend Zebra Katz. We were joking around in the studio. It’s a very ironic take on the song.

What are your aspirations?
We’re just reaching out for more people and we want to keep on expressing ourselves. We’re going to Asia for the first time and then we’re going to Europe and we’ll come back to America. We love it here. Just keep on doing on what we’ve been doing.

Upcoming 2013 Tour Dates

Sept. 19

Sept. 20

Sept. 21

Sept. 22

Sept. 25

Boston, MA – Paradise

New York, NY – Webster Hall

Columbia, MD – Virgin Mobile Freefest

Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of the Living Arts

Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].