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Icona Pop? We Love It!

You’ve been singing along to their hit single “I Love It” for quite some time now, and not surprisingly, the Swedish pop duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo—better known as ICONA POP—are just as sweet and charming as their tunes are catchy and addictive. Despite their crazy travel schedule as they prep to both release their second studio album and embark on their first headlining U.S. tour (kicking off Aug. 12), Instinct had the opportunity to catch up with the gals and chat about everything from their new girl-power anthem to what it’s like living the dream and having huge success in the States and abroad.

How did you ladies coin the name Icona Pop?

AINO: Icona Pop actually came from a conversation Caroline’s mom had. Her mother was talking to Italian friends of hers about our project and they asked if we were going to be the next pop icons, which in Italian means Icona Pop. She texted us when we were looking for a name and when we heard it, we loved it! 

CAROLINE: Thank you, mom! [Laughs]

“I Love It” is a huge hit—especially among the gays and Instinct readers—so thank you! Were you surprised at the success of this single?

AINO: Thank you! We are dreamers, so of course we have huge dreams. But when it actually happens, it’s amazing! Who expects their song to be one of the most-played songs on the radio?! 

CAROLINE: You’re dreaming about it and you’re visualizing it and then it’s like, “Wow! When did this happen?!” It’s just such a whirlwind.

We imagine it would freak you out a little bit. You work so hard for it and all of a sudden you’re living your dream. 

CAROLINE: For sure! We have our little crew and we’re doing exactly what we did a year ago—it’s just now there are more people involved and more people know our songs and are singing along. But we’re the same people we were a year ago, which we think is important; it’s important to surround yourself with people who keep you grounded and connected. 

What do you think of the gays, who many believe start the trends, picking your music up and running with it?

CAROLINE: We’re so very happy about that! [Laughs]

AINO: I feel like gay people are always a step ahead of everyone else. They’re the pacemakers; the trendsetters. They’re the sunniest crowd to play for, I swear. 

CAROLINE: There’s just so much love! They are the best crowd. You really feel appreciated. We recently did the White Party in Palm Springs and Capital Pride, and we had so much fun. We feel very welcomed with the gay community and it feels like home in that environment. It’s dancing and crazy and we love it! 

In your song “Girlfriend” there’s a sample some may recognize. What is the sample and what’s the song about?

AINO: The sample is from Tupac’s “Me And My Girlfriend.” He’s one of the best rappers of all time. We’re using that sample and singing about our friendship.

CAROLINE: We’re two girlfriends and we couldn’t imagine doing this without each other. Sometimes people end up fighting each other instead of realizing they should do something great together, like we’ve done.   

AINO: We actually had to write a letter to Tupac’s mom to get permission to use the song and she was very happy about it! Totally surreal. 

Your tour is about to kick-off this fall. Will this be your first tour together?

AINO: Yeah. This will be our first proper headlining tour in the States. It’ll be about two months, every day in a new city, which is like a dream come true for us. 

What’s the thing you’re looking forward to most about the tour?

CAROLINE: Going to places that we’ve never been before. This country is huge! And it’s so important to us to be able to dance and listen to our music being received all over the place and connect to our fans. Also, we’re about to release our second album, which comes out at the end of summer while we’re on tour. It’s going to be totally crazy and such a new experience!

AINO: We get to put everything together, from the music to the lights to the clothes. We want everyone who comes to our show to feel like they’ve experienced both our friendship and an adventure. 

What can we expect from you both after the tour?

CAROLINE: A whole lot! [Laughs] We just [try] to focus on today—and sometimes tomorrow and maybe even next week because there’s so much going on right now. We have so many fun things ahead of us: we’re releasing our album but we always continue writing so, of course, more albums to come. 

AINO: The main thing is our new album that is coming out at the end of August. We really can’t wait! There are just so many songs we want to share with everyone. 

What would you say to your LGBT fans about pursuing their dreams?

AINO: The main thing we would say is listen to your gut. That’s what we’ve been doing and when you don’t do that, you usually end up going in the wrong direction. Surround yourself with people who both give and have good energy; not those who take it from you. 

CAROLINE: Don’t be scared, just do it. You might be scared and hit some bumps along the way, but you’ll always get up again. It’s really the best advice ever because when you’re scared and you’re hesitant, it’s not going to work. You have to believe in what you’re doing and be sure of it. 

AINO: But we have to say to you and everyone reading—thank you so much! We can’t wait for everyone to come dance with us at our shows!

The girls' new album, This Is...Icona Pop, will be released Sept. 24. For more on Icona Pop, including their fall tour dates, check out iconapop.com