SXSW: Dear Icona Pop... We Love It!

Icona Pop‘s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are the two girls that you’ve always wanted to be, or be best friends with. Upon meeting them, they instantly put me at ease with their laid back and welcoming vibe and began entertaining me with their fun stories of drinking and getting involved in shenanigans. They’re the kind of people you’d call first to come out dancing with you at a club, and they’d also probably be the first people you’d call when you’re going through a terrible break up and need a place to crash.

It’s hard to believe that these ladies who act so humble and grateful when speaking about their success have just recently placed their hit, "I Love It", in one of today’s biggest shows on television, Girls. Having lunch with Caroline and Aino hardly felt like an interview, it was more like getting to know the new friends you just met at a music festival. Also… did I mention, they’re both beautiful?

Milk Made: So this is your first SXSW?
Aino Jawo: Yes. Last year we were laying on the floor in London with rats.
Caroline Hielt: And we were about to go to Coachella with MILK– so that was our only goal.

MM: I also wanted to tell you that you met my friend Mackenzie Stith, who showed you pictures of the outer space party we threw for her birthday that had decorations inspired by your "Manners" video. Here’s a picture from it.

AJ: YES! We met her at a party. OMG. That’s amazing. Yeah, I saw that and thought, "Shit! We should totally have a party like that." You have to say hi to her. Are you based in LA? We’re coming back soon. We need to party more in LA, we always work there.

MM: Did you come up with the idea for the music video or do you have a team that does that for you?

CH: We were really drunk when we came up with it, and we had a lot of glow stuff in the rehearsal studio. We went from a gig to the nightclub and because we had such a good vibe, we didn’t want to go home, so we recorded some weird shit and sent it to our manager and said, "We want to do something like this." And the next morning, he was like, "Sounds like a perfect idea." We were like.. what idea?

MM: Sometimes drunk ideas are great. Sometimes they sound great when you’re drunk and then not so great when you’re sober. But it seems like a lot of your good ideas come from when you are partying! Didn’t you two meet at a party?

AJ: Yes, it was like 4 years ago. I was not in a good mood, and we had a mutual friend, and she was calling me like, everyday, 5 times, for 2 weeks, saying, "You have to get out of bed, everyone goes through heartache, that’s the way life is." Finally, one day she was like I’m going to come to your place and I’m going to pick you up and we’re going out dancing tonight. And she was kind of angry, and I think I needed that, because sometimes when you get sad, you kind of start to feel sorry for yourself. So, she came to my place and picked me up and we went to Caroline’s place, and that was the first time we met.

CH: We just met and we felt the vibe — we had this special connection immediately, and we felt like Shit, we shouldn’t waste this, we should just go, you know? I think especially when you were down at the bottom.. I know she was just dumped. And I was just frustrated over my situation with music and my love life.. then you are not afraid in the same way, and I saw light, and I was like, "Aino, shit, this might work."

MM: I’ve always thought that heartbreak can be the greatest motivator if you turn it around the right way.

AJ: I think I opened myself up in a way I’ve never done before, I just had to find something that would make me happy again. And in that way I got more open to see people around me and I wasn’t afraid of meeting new people. So when I met Caroline, well, I totally don’t think we would have done that if we weren’t down at the bottom. So I’m very happy about that today. Two days after we met we booked our first gig. We wrote our first song the day after we met. It was the craziest time, we didn’t sleep, we went to our day job, then to the studio, then we went out DJing, then we never slept because we were so high on energy.

Me: And from that heartbreak, you guys wrote amazing anthems! I burned a CD for my best friend who was going through a horrible break up and "Manners" was the number 1 song on it. I still catch her singing along to it, and she’s not even really into electronic music. She’s not heartbroken anymore, but I think it definitely helped her get through it.

AJ: I just got goosebumps! We’re not man haters, I mean, we love men, that’s the thing. And we throw our hearts out and we get hurt a lot of times, but it’s fucking worth it. Manners– it was about, we were living in a hippie collective living in the middle of the city and we had a bunch of people moving in and out, and we saw people, getting dumped, and we saw people dumping people, and that was the inspiration for Manners, and we saw both sides. I mean, I’ve been a pig in my life. I mean I haven’t..

CH: Well, not with bad intentions!
AJ: But you just have to be honest.
CH: You just realize afterwards, shit, he really got hurt.
AJ: But I’ve also seen people hurt people doing some really shitty stuff. So we became pretty angry, we’re like what the fuck? Have some Manners. It’s very simple.

MM: Yes! It’s such a great song. It was on Kitsuné, right? How did you get involved with them?

AJ: We were sitting home and suddenly we get this call, and it was our manager. He said he’d just talked to Gildas from Kitsune he’s been trying to get a hold of us. And I thought he was kidding, like it was a joke. But, Gildas saw us on Myspace. We had "Manners" up and a picture we took in the bedroom, and we had about 2000 plays– it was probably from just our friends and our moms, being like, "You go girls!" And he was just surfing around the internet and he found us, and he just got a hold of us, and a couple of weeks later, we were flying to Paris and just started DJing at their parties and hanging out with them. They’re just awesome.

CH: They’re so cool.
AJ: That meant to so much to us.
CH: For them to even fly us out to Paris– to travel for the music.
AJ: We had some crazy nights.
CH: Oh yeah, shit.

AJ: We played a rock night, but we played really electronic music, the owner was like– I love what you’re doing but this is a rock night, and then an hour later he was like oh, what the fuck, everyone is dancing.

Later that night, I headed to VICELAND’s party around midnight to catch the girls in action. They proved that they could command a crowd, sing live, and look like they’re having the best time ever up on stage, all at the same time.

Before they ended their set with the song everyone was waiting for, Caroline thanked the crowd, taken aback by their support and energy, she was rendered a bit speechless saying, "We didn’t expect this. I’m Swedish so I don’t know how to say this, but, I’m very happy."

Aino chimes in shortly afterwards, "This is the same question I’m going to ask you guys.. Are you ready?"

Yes, we are definitely ready for a reincarnation of Girl Power in its new form, catchier, sexier, more badass.. we’re definitely ready for Icona Pop.

Photos By: Koury Angelo

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