Known for their major pop hits with “I Love It,” now 4 times platinum, and “All Night,” Swedish duo, Icona Pop, chatted with us before their performance at the Propel Co: Labs Fitness Festival. The festival took place on Saturday, July 14, during a fitness class led by Gideon Akande.
The duo, featuring Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, have recently released their new singles “Faded Away” with Sweater Beats, and “Bitches,” a collaboration with their close friend and fellow Swede, Tove Lo, also featuring Charli XCS, Elliphant and ALMA. Icona Pop have been in the studio recording new music, and will probably release their new album sometime next year.
In our interview, Aino and Caroline share some of their special exercise tips and how they love uniting on-stage showing their fans their close friendship.
You guys have had some mega hits with “I Love It,” and “All Night,” and others….did you guys expect to have such big hits with both of them? Did you feel that they special and going to be life-changing, more specifically?
Caroline Hjelt: Songs are so personal. You’re in the studio, and you share a moment with someone. And sometimes you just get it right, and you feel. And if I feel like this when we listen back to the song, maybe all of the other people who listen to it will feel the same. “I Love It” – every time we play it live, it’s insane. So with that one, we knew it was a special song.
Aino Jawo: When we go to Sweden, our song “Emergency” – it’s like “I Love It” in the States, so it’s different wherever we go, which makes it so much fun. Your dream is for your song to become that big, but you never expect that. Because when you’re doing the work, you just… I still don’t even understand now how the songs are that big. I just see how the people react to the songs, that’s how we know.
One of your recent releases, “Bitches,” features Tove Lo, Charli XCX, Elliphant and ALMA. How did you guys connect and what was the collaboration like?
Caroline: We had some much fun making it. We go way back with Tove Lo. She’s one of our closest friends, so it’s so fun to have someone to share this with. Like, we always meet on tour, and we always do these things. So, it’s been great! She reached out and said I want you girls to feature on this song. And when we heard the other girls would be a part of it as well, that’s a no-brainer.
Aino: I mean it was so fun with all the girls on set. The video was amazing to record.
Caroline: I think it’s also such a natural process for us to do this song. I think also our fans, Tove’s fans, Charli’s fans, everyone’s been waiting for us to do some kind of collab.
Where do you draw your songwriting inspiration from?
Aino: We travel a lot, and we draw so much inspiration from going to different cities, and seeing how different things work in different cities.
Caroline: A lot of our songs are about love. And the self-experiences and situations that come from love. I mean, it’s almost like writing a diary sometimes when you go into the studio. Even if you don’t plan it, it’s not like “today I’m going to write about love,” but if something is bothering you, or you’ve been through something, or a close friend has been through something – it just comes up when you start to write.
How did you guys become involved with Propel Co: Labs Fitness Festival? Why is this festival so important you, and what do you hope your fans will get out of it?
Aino: We’ve been exercising for many, many years. And we see the vocal chords as a muscle. And you need to be in good shape on stage, with all the jumping around. Then, Propel reached out, and we started talking, and this was a no brainer. We exercise every day. It’s a part of our life, to be doing what we’re doing and stay healthy.
Caroline: And also it’s fun. People tell us they go to the gym and they exercise to our music, and that makes us so happy because that means it’s good energy. But, to be able to do it live, that brings that extra 10%. ‘Cause we’re giving, and they’re giving, and there’s just so much energy. I mean, we are jumping like crazy, and at this Propel festival, they are working out like crazy, so it’s great vibes all around.
Aino: And a lot of times for fans, it’s a workout to just come to a concert. But these people today, they came here to actually workout! This is for real. There’s going to be a lot of sweat!
Can you let us know about some workout tips and tricks that you both do?
Aino: We usually exercise together. We do circuit training, we switch it up, some days we do just cardio, but also it’simportant to lift weights and not just do cardio all the time.
Caroline: Especially for women, the weights are important.
Aino: But we mix it up quite a lot to keep it interesting. Usually weights takes a long time, cause you have to rest between sets. So cardio is great, if you don’t have a lot of time. We do sprints or some kind of high intensity cardio. It takes 30 minutes and you’re done – if you don’t have the time. You still get nice and sweaty.
Caroline: And also, it’s good to have a training partner. You don’t always have to train together, but some days you need more motivation, so you push each other. So when you’re like, “oh today I’m tired,” the other one is like, “come on, we can do this! It’s only 30 minutes.” And it’s very good to have that person.
Do you like to work out together?
Caroline and Aino: Yeah!
Is there a tour and/or new album in the works (or arriving soon)?
Caroline and Aino: Yeah!!
Aino: There’s a new album.
Caroline: But it’s been taking a long time, because we are so bad at saying no to stuff. Every year, we’ve been like, “ok, this year we’re going to block out this time to just focus on the album.” But then we end up touring and doing a lot of fun things because we just love what we do – too much! But now, we’re getting to a point where we have so much music, and we’re getting closer to being done with the album.
Aino: It will be done this year, but will probably come out early next year.
What do you hope young women take away from you guys’ performance?
Caroline: We have so much fun on stage. Like so much fun. I think it’s so important to try and find what you love to do, enjoy it and have fun. And when it comes to working out as well, you need to find your way to workout and make it fun. Your way of getting that energy and inspiration for the day. Today people work a lot, and there’s a lot of stress in our society. But working out, and for us standing on the stage, there’s just a lot of pure, good energy. And I hope people can take away that good energy to carry it with them.
Aino: And our friendship on stage. I hope they see that together, we can do this. Women unite.