There must be something in Sweden’s water, because bubbly, electro-pop, Swedish female acts (Robyn, Lykke Li et al.) and their infectious broken-hearted-but-moving-on-triumphantly anthems are all the rage.
Meet Neon Gold’s buzzy dance pop duo Icona Pop, whose handful of explosive, distorted synth-heavy tunes have gotten many a music blogger in a downright tizzy. And rightfully so. Their Patrik Berger-produced (responsible for Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my Own’) first single entitled ‘Manners’ is the kind of empowering pop gem which promotes semi off-the-kilter behaviour such as shrieking its playground chorus while showering before fist-pumping the night away in a sea of kindred jilted lovers. A few weeks ago i-D Online checked out Oh Land’s headlining gig in NYC, and were blown away a little earlier than expected by the supporting act (Icona Pop) who were making their American debut. Their set married the cheeky, noisy fun of the Ting Tings with a brighter, brooding-free Crystal Castles feel. In other words, they killed it.
i-D Online caught up with the adorable duo, Aino and Caroline, back in Sweden whilst they were busily recording their debut album set for a spring release.
First thing’s first, how did you two meet? And how did you agree on “ICONA POP”? It was one of those nights. My boyfriend had just dumped me and a mutual friend of ours convinced me that I needed to go out and have fun. Me with my broken heart met Caroline with her frustrated mind and it was like love at first sight. We decided that we had to try and write something together. That’s something you always say and then it never happens. But already the day after we called each other up and had our first session. It was at Caroline’s place and we were both a little bit nervous that the magic from the night before was just the wine and the neon lights speaking, but we realised quite quickly that we spoke the same language. From that day, we were a band. Hate to break it to you but there’s no story behind the name, it was Caroline’s Mum who came up with it and we loved it.
How do you decide who sings which verse, what subjects to sing about and so on? We consider ourselves partners in crime and we definitely work as a team. We both have a very low boredom tolerance and are constantly looking for ways to keep it exciting. We never argue about who’s going to sing the verse or who’s going to write the lyrics. If one of us wants to sing the chorus, it just happens. And if we both want to, we just sing it together! It’s all very simple.
Only a few songs have surfaced so far, what can listeners expect from the fully-realised album and your overall sound? We have two different life stories to tell and different musical backgrounds and it reflects in our music. Our common expression is a wild mix between galloping drums, dirty-sounding synthesisers and alive pop melodies. We’ve been in the studio for about a year, working with different producers, songwriters and crazy people. For us, it’s very important to be involved in the whole process with everything from the drums, lyrics to the final mix. It’s all about to be finished. Surreal, scary and amazing. It’s been a real journey with a lot of arty-party people involved.
Is there a formula for the perfect pop tune? We find it hard to write under too calculated formulas. A good pop song is playful and simple at the same time and of course has good lyrics. Pop music is a very open genre and anything goes, so we love when people mix styles, instruments and melodies and call it pop. A lot of things can be pop. We are Icona pop! At the moment, Petshop Boys “Domino Dancing” is our perfect pop tune.
There’s tons of electro-pop artists nowadays. Who are you digging? We listen to a lot of older music like Tubeway Army, Kraftwerk, New Order. We also listen to Chemical Brothers, Santigold, The Knife, The Knocks, Miike Snow, Crystal Castles, Tiga, Le Tigre, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Hercules and Love Affair, M.I.A, Röyksopp, Savage Skulls, Yeasayer, Robyn, Björk and so on. In our speakers you will not hear anything from Ke$ha or Jason Mraz!