Icona Pop


Icona Pop was officially born in the manner you’d hope two smart, spunky Swedish girls would unite: under the midnight sun, bonding over heartbreak and breakbeats. ‘I was dumped, and a mutual friend forced me to go to a party. Caroline was hosting it,’ Aino Jawo recalls on meeting her future bandmate Caroline Hjelt. They now famously describe the resulting bonding experience (and all night Stockholm dance-a-thon) as something like ‘love at first sight’.

Sparks flew. Out with relationship angst and in with female friendship: a creative fuse had been lit, and that very night, the two began scheming and dreaming of forming ‘the best band ever’. But unlike most alcohol-aided ambitions, this one began to unfurl the very next day, when the girls began writing their first song together. Armed with their laptops, Aino’s brother’s studio, and a thirst for experimental percussion, they knew at once they were onto something good. ‘It was already there from the first song,’ says Caroline. ‘This is how it should feel like. In Aino, had found my missing ingredient.’ Which, of course, is how many now might describe Icona Pop’s relationship to music – a wonderful thing so suddenly necessary it’s hard to believe it didn’t exist before.

The girls’ trajectory from eager Stockholm youths creating early templates for their hyperkinetic pop to playing to a crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden clocks in at just over three years – an impressive alacrity that should keep other musicmakers on their toes. Jawo and Hjelt worked ceaselessly, collaborating with high-caliber producers Patrick Berger, The Knocks, and Elof Loelv to create a distinctively dramatic sound – bright and dark in one, combining chanted choruses and live but mechanized drums with their signature ‘bittersweet’ lyrics. In other words: very Scandinavian. ‘There always has to be a balance of happiness and darkness,’ Caroline says. ‘Otherwise you’ll just float away.’

On their breakout hit, ‘Manners’, that duality revealed itself elegantly, with crepuscular synths punctuating the spare reverb-steeped bass drums and scolding choir, ‘Manners! You better reconsider. You will never do better’ before it all descends into a heavenly sea of ‘ba ba ba’s’. Soon, their ‘Nights Like This’ EP was ranked as one of 2011’s most promising debuts by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and other essential tastemaking outlets, while —  most tellingly —  New York and London club kids instantly paid close attention, leading to Icona Pop swiftly being one of THE new artists to check out live, glowstick army and all. But it all was about to go zero gravity, thanks to three little words: I LOVE IT.

Shot like a dart into the public’s collective subconscious by HBO’s hit show GIRLS, “I Love It” is the rave-fueled stormer that truly put Icona Pop on the radar of millions. ‘I crashed my car into the bridge, I don’t care! I love it!’ the chorus declares proudly, making nihilism seem damn fun. The unofficial summer anthem of two summers in a row (and how many acts can claim that?), its sales now stand at 2 million in the US alone, where it’s been an unmovable fixture of the Top 10 for months. Its global achievements also rank in the upper commercial echelons: in the UK, it immediately hit the Top 5 upon its iTunes release, and in Sweden its success has literally changed the landscape of the Scandinavian recording history, prompting Icona Pop’s Stockholm-based label/management company, Ten Music Group, to set up a New York City office — a milestone for Swedish pop.

“I Love It” has dominated literally all pop cultural arenas: from Glee to Dancing With The Stars to repeat performances on American talk show staples like Good Morning America, Today, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Simply, it’s a juggernaut, a future classic that the band’s full length debut (out August 26th, due to popular demand) pegged as one of 2013’s most-anticipated records. The girls feel the pressure but are eager to confront it head on.

‘It’s going to be really honest, it’s kind of a diary for us. We’ve experienced a lot of lovely and weird stuff this year!’ Caroline says. New collaborations with Shellback, Kool Kojack, and Peter Svennson (of Cardigans fame) are on deck. ‘It’s just a lot of love, a lot of friends,’ Aino says humbly, underscoring the admirable companionship dynamic that makes Icona Pop so likable. Next single “Just Another Night” will turn heads: not just another headbanger, it beautifully bridges bittersweet Italo arpeggiation with massive power pop appeal, securing the prospects of Icona Pop becoming a reliable progressive presence on the international pop frontline.  Huge futurist sounds, soaring emotions, dancefloor confessions, unabashed honesty, fierce friendship: the traits that will define what will surely be an iconic debut album – a sonic ecstasy offered at a rave communion near you this summer.