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Icona Pop's Aino Jawo: "We Are Feminists"

Aino Jawo (left) and Carline Hjelt (right) contemplate life, love, and synthetic dance beats.
Aino Jawo (left) and Carline Hjelt (right) contemplate life, love, and synthetic dance beats.

Has this every happened to you?

One day, you're sitting on a sofa with your best girlfriend, talking about boys and music and dreaming big. The next, you're touring the world in support of a supersuccessful feminist pop anthem.

Most likely not, but Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt now find themselves living in this insane reality. Together, as Icona Pop, they've made their way around the globe, thanks to a sugary brand of girl power and the runaway hit "I Love It." Who could have expected that?

"Well, Caroline and I, we're dreamers," Jawo says. "So, of course, you're dreaming about the day that you record your big hit. But I never thought 'I Love It' would become this big. I mean, it's me and Caroline from Sweden!"

Of course, just like falling in love, sometimes fate takes over.

"We had a really strong feeling when we went into the studio," she recalls. "At that point, we were going through so much dramatic stuff. I think people can hear that it's a very honest song, and people can put their own experience into that song. It's not all about heartache. Like if you have this bad job situation or something, you can put that also in 'I Love It' and just get out your anger."

Jawo laughs thinking of anger and pop music on the same dance floor, but it's that mix of emotions that make the song so relatable for so many women. We all struggle with conflicting emotions, but we find our strength in letting go. And Icona Pop want to lend girls some of that strength with their music.

"We are feminists and I think every good person on this earth should be. I mean, the thing we are fighting for is equality, and we're going in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go," she admits. "Especially in the music business, you just see a lot of stuff sometimes that can make you pretty sad, but we're here to shake it up."

Indeed, Jawo and Hjelt have been shaking things up with a U.S. tour, roaming the country, taking in the sights and sounds. And soon, they'll be sharing their debut full-length, This Is..., coming out in September.

 

"I think that's something you're going to hear, that we've been through a musical journey," she says. "We've been writing this album for about five years, and we really want people to get to know us more."

There are certain songs on the album that Jawo is really stoked to premiere. Like "Then We Kissed," a "punky, chaotic" ode to the first physical connection you make with a stranger, and "Just Another Night," a slower ballad she and Hjelt really opened themselves up for. And of course, the whole thing is a labor of love.

"It's not going to be 15 tracks that sound like 'I Love It,'" Jawo insists. "All the songs on the album, I'm so excited for. It's so fun, because we've been recording it all over the world. We've been doing some vocals in New Orleans, in Sweden, in Germany. We've been building studios in our hotel rooms and stuff like that."

But if you can't wait for till September for more bubbly pop brilliance, the best thing to do is catch the ladies of Icona Pop live. They'll be returning to Grand Central this Saturday with a whole new stage production (hint: spaceships!) and a whole slew of dance songs to make you sweat.

"I just hope to see people there, and be prepared to have shoes that you can dance in," Jawo laughs. "They're not going to be able to stand still."

Icona Pop, with K. Flay and Sirah. 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com.

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