Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt met on a Saturday night in February 2009. It was, Aino says quite reasonably, “the best thing that ever happened”.
So the day after the best thing that ever happened happened, these two girls from the Stockholm suburbs formed a electronic pop duo band, and on the Monday – when the hangovers had cleared and it still all seemed like the best thing that had ever happened – they booked their first gig – Icona Pop was born. This felt all very well, but then they realised they had four weeks until their gig, but no songs.
Autumn of 2011, Icona Pop moved from Stockholm to London, and with an album ready to go the tunes are in no short supply. Icona Pop says: “We like galloping drums, and synthesisers, but we still like the classical pop melodies. And that’s ‘what we are’. We don’t have to decide, because there’s no decision to be made. We just have to do exactly what we want.”
In the intervening years they’ve working with The Knocks (voted one of NME’s hottest production outfits of the hour), Patrik Berger (Robyn), Elof Loelv (Niki & The Dove), Fredrik Berger (The Good Natured) and Style of Eye, as well as sessions with UK producers like Starsmith (Kylie, Ellie Goulding) and Burns. Their Neon Gold-released double a-side single ‘Manners’ / ‘Top Rated’ prompted journals like NME and The Guardian say things along the lines of “effortlessly cool” and “all the makings of a 24-carat pop hit”, and the duo have perfected their live show, too – that first performance back in 2009 went rather well, all things considered, while their first London gig was impressive enough to bag them a management deal with Artist Company TEN, the team behind Niki & The Dove and Erik Hassle.
There’s plenty more of this evocative stuff right across Icona Pop’s as-yet-untitled debut album, due out in 2012. Effervescently romantic number ‘Sun Goes Down’ is a Knocks collaboration written on a trip to New York. “We both had a crush at home,” Caroline recalls, “and we were thinking about our lovely men on the other side of the ocean, singing, ‘I will be waiting for you until the sun goes down’.” The sound of it all is hard to pinpoint, but there are some unmistakeable Madonnaisms on spirited anthem ‘Beat The L’.
So that original plan for Caroline to give Aino her best night ever? Well, that night they met in 2009 has since been immortalised in song, on the vivid and joyous ‘Nights Like This’ Caroline explains, “everything that night was like magic, and the lyric ‘nights like this, you will never be alone’, is what Icona Pop is all about. It’s about being together and having fun, and inviting as many people as possible because the best nights out are the ones you want to share with everyone.”
As nights out go, Icona Pop’s first must of one of pop’s most vital, and it’s still in full effect three years later. In fact, it feels like it’s just getting going. “We’re having so much fun all the time,” Aino smiles. “It’s kind of scary.”