Earlier this year, Swedish electro-pop duo Icona Pop were forced to cancel a stretch of West Coast dates, including a L.A. show at The Fonda Theatre, due to member Aino Jawo’s illness. In a statement at the time, the group’s other half, Caroline Hjelt, spoke up:
"We cannot tell you how sad we are and how much these shows meant to us. Our fans are so important to us and we live to perform on stage for you each night. We promise we'll be back and will see you soon! In the meantime, please send lots of love and good energy Aino's way!"
But that’s just Icona Pop for you: two good friends looking out for each other and making good, fun music. It’s an energy that translates in recordings like “I Love It,” a track written and guest-spotted by Charli XCX, which earned them worldwide fame. It’s also a bond that translates in their energetic on-stage exhibitions right down to source material of the album as a whole.
“There’s a lot of emotional stuff there. … We like to disguise our heartaches in poppy melodies,” said Jawo on the album, a project that’s been five years in the making. “Without Caroline, I wouldn’t have come this far.”
A perfect example of their seamless personal to professional presentation is “Girlfriend,” the album’s fifth track which borrows lyrics from Tupac’s 1996 song “Me and My Girlfriend.” On their version, there’s a refreshing new BFF factor, an interpretation that required written permission from the late rapper’s mother.
“We grew up in the nineties and hip-hop was huge in Sweden,” said Jawo. “For us it was amazing to use something that Tupac wrote.”
Jawo and Hjelt's comfort level definitely comes handy in other entertainment facets, like shooting their album cover. The project was helmed by Fredrik Etoall, a friend of the girls who directed their video for “I Love It.” Featured on the front are both girls, fully naked and engrossed in the moment. But Jawo insisted that it was far from sexual and, like everything else they do, was more about having a good time with each other.
“We were just sitting there. We were having a lot of fun,” she said. “We had a bottle of whiskey, and we were drinking at the same time and just taking a lot of photos.”
“I think that our album is very strong,” said Jawo, admitting that “I Love It” is far from the best song on the 11-track release. “I think people will be shocked.”
Since the tour dates were postponed, Jawo and Hjelt are back on the road, working hard to reschedule the missed shows. A rep for the band assures us that Jawo’s condition "is getting better.”