Icona Pop (Pic: Fredrik Etoall)
After just over two years, Swedish synthpop duo Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, known as Icona Pop, are well on their way to building a loyal gay and lesbian fan base.
You’ll know them from their hit tracks I Love It, Girlfriend and their latest hit single All Night, which they performed in front of 11.3 million viewers on the grand finale of America’s Got Talent.
Icona Pop was born under the midnight sun, with two smart, spunky girls bonding over heartbreak and breakbeats. “I was dumped, and a mutual friend forced me to go to a party. Caroline was hosting it,” Aino recalls on meeting her future bandmate.
They now famously describe the resulting bonding experience (and all night Stockholm dance-a-thon) as something like “love at first sight”.
Out with relationship angst and in with female friendship: a creative fuse had been lit, and that very night, the two began scheming and dreaming of forming “the best band ever”.
Armed with their laptops, Aino’s brother’s studio, and a thirst for experimental percussion, they knew at once they were onto something good. “It was already there from the first song,” says Caroline. “This is how it should feel like. In Aino, I had found my missing ingredient.”
They’ve since released their second album (their first release internationally) This is… Icona Pop, have performed in front of millions – including at Pride events and the White Party in Palm Springs – and have made no bones about wanting to make a connection with the queer community.
“The gay community in general has great taste and is usually very good at zeroing in on new things in pop culture, so we’re very happy to be embraced the way we have been,” Caroline told the Advocate in late September.
She added: “I would be so happy to be considered a gay icon. It’s funny, we’ve always found ourselves surrounded by the LGBT community, even when we were performing back in Sweden. When we first started performing we were doing shows in little gay clubs, so it always feels like home when we perform for a gay crowd. It’s where we can really be ourselves.”
Despite not being lesbian themselves, they have no problem with gossip about their sexuality, which exploded after releasing their Girlfriend track. “I usually say I wish I was into girls so I could marry Aino, because we would have the perfect relationship,” said Caroline.
“A lot of our songs are about being who you are, expressing yourself, and being proud. So I think that goes hand in hand with the message of equality, because you should be proud of who you are whether you’re gay or not. You shouldn’t hide it; you should live it out loud.”
Icona Pop’s awesome new album This is… Icona Pop is out now.