Icona Pop All Night!
Icona Pop hasn’t even finished their performance when Will Ferrell rises from his chair and starts some slow, statesman-like applause. Robin Thicke, a few seats down, joins in shaking his head resolutely as if to say “no, no no, this is too good”. Eminem, standing at the side of the stage, joins in with a finger whistle. Soon the entire stadium is standing up in celebration.
Robin Thicke, a few seats down, joins in shaking his head resolute as if to say “no, no no, this is too good”.
It’s the MTV European Music Awards 2013 in Amsterdam and Icona Pop has just performed “I love it”. Welcome to another night in the lives of Sweden’s new pop export.
“We’re not here to please people,” says Aino Jawo after the show. “We are here to express ourselves. We have never compromised and we have always been true to ourselves. That’s what we are the most proud of.”
Talking about the secret behind the duo’s massive success, she says it all comes down to a gut feeling.
“It’s easy to lose yourself in this business. But we have always followed our instincts. If we hadn’t we wouldn’t be standing here today. We would have followed the path some one else pointed out to us and ended up somewhere else. We have done it our way the whole way and that has brought us here,” she says, looking out over the sold-out Ziggo Dome.
With synths that spin like a badly souped-up motorbike and a melody that sticks after one play, “I love it” became the song that introduced Icona Pop to the world in 2012.
What followed within 12 months is extraordinary: Over two million cop- ies sold of “I love it”, songs featured in TV shows such as Girls and Glee, a fan base made up by names like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, two songs on Billboard top ten and performances at the Billboard Awards (“Will.i.am turned up after the show and told us he bought our ep”), David Letterman and America’s Got Talent.
“We invited the legendary New York transvestites from House of Xtravaganza on stage,” says Aino Jawo.
The last one, a performance in front of 13 million people, showed some of the girls’ integrity.
With conservative America waiting at their TV sets with thick-crust pizzas and leg warmers, the girls took the stage with ten New York transvestites.
The degenerate night club queens became too much for the TV production managers.
“We invited the legendary New York transvestites from House of Xtravaganza on stage,” says Aino Jawo. “The ones who taught Madonna the vogue dance. The production team from America’s Got Talent freaked out and forbid them to go onstage. It’s a quite strict TV show and we were the opening act at the season finale. When they got the most viewers of the entire season. But we demanded to have them onstage. We said ’we will cancel if we can’t have the transvestites onstage and then you will have different problem. We won’t perform if we can’t have the back up dancers we’ve chosen’. Maybe that’s one of those situations when people say ’What a diva’,” says Caroline Hjelt.
Christmas will be spent wrapping up presents on a tour bus while crossing America. After crowning 2013 with a gig in New York City, they will spend 2014 on the road in the US with Miley Cyrus and in the UK with Katy Perry. Things will get messy.
“It’s all about having a good time. When we give each other the look we know things will get wild. We can end up in party mode for a very long time. I’ve woken up on tour and thought ’Where am I? Well, people speak Swedish so I guess I’m in Sweden anyway.’ Haha.”
Where is the weirdest place you’ve woken up?
“We’ve woken up in an empty swimming pool in Hollywood Hills. We went to this amazing party in Los Angeles and it got a bit late. So apparently we decided it wasn’t worth to drive home. We slept in this empty pool instead. And I can’t tell you how many haunted motels in America we slept in. Deep in the south where we just waited for some crazy hillbilly to jump in and kill us. We slept with our stylist between us in bed for protection.”
“It’s all about having a good time. When we give each other the look we know things will get wild. We can end up in party mode for a very long time.”
Do you have any good tour anecdotes?
“Loads. We drank moonshine with Robin Thicke in Maryland. We partied together backstage at a festival and some one had made apple pie moonshine that was served in jam jars. It all ended with Robin Thicke pouring it down everybody’s throats. It was quite a messy night. He’s actually made a cover of “I love it”, a version to make love to. It’s fantastic. I’m gonna make love to my own song,” says Aino.
All the doubters who thought Icona Pop was a one-hit wonder were proved wrong earlier this year when their debut album “This is ... Icona Pop” was released. The celebrated record was described as “euphoria mixed with a twinge of apocalypse” by Pitchfork and “head-hammering up-in-the club chants about eternal weekends” by Rolling Stone magazine.
The girls themselves describe the album as “a whore”.
“Because it’s been everywhere, in every country, every city, every hole. It’s been recorded all over the world,” says Caroline. “We usually build small recording studios in the wardrobes of our hotel rooms. We take nylon stockings, put them over a lamp shade and use the fabric as a microphone cover. Then we put on the little travel mic and stand in there and sing with the whole body. I’ve taken off the head phones and a bunch of cleaners has been standing terrified outside in the hallway. And we think we’ve just recorded a new world hit.”