Icona Pop's Aino Jawo, top, and Caroline Hjelt met a party and have been inseparable ever since.
For Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, the secret to their success is simple: friendship.
In 2009, Jawo, 27, was going through a bad breakup with a boyfriend. In an effort to cheer her up, a pal dragged her to one of the many parties that Hjelt, 25, was throwing to deal with her frustration over a music career that was going nowhere.
"It was love at first sight. If she had brought her boyfriend or if I was doing well with my music, we wouldn't have become what we are to each other," says Hjelt. "She's my soulmate."
The Swedish duo behind the dance hit I Love Itaims to become emblematic of girl power, the nihilistic fun of a girls' night out. "We feel empowered and invincible together and that shines in our music," says Hjelt. After I Love It was featured in HBO's Girls (during the nightclub scene in which Lena Dunham's Hannah dances, high on cocaine, in a neon-yellow fishnet top), the pair got a warm hug from the mainstream. The song became a summer anthem, pulling in 2.5 million downloads and peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
With this week's release of debut album This Is ... Icona Pop, the new faces of rave hope to rule many all-night-rager playlists to come.
"There's something really romantic about going out all night," Hjelt says. "You never know what's going to happen." Their glowstick armies find inspiration to dance in Icona Pop's brand of thumping EDM and mainstream palatable pop, but what gets their proverbial toes tapping? "We heard the Chemical Brothers at Glastonbury Festival and we danced through their entire set," says Hjelt. "They make me want to rave."
The duo's bold fashion sense, a mash-up of patterns and disregard for what's trendy, matches its music perfectly. "I've always been very free and I love expressing myself through my music. I'm not good with trends. What I want varies from day to day," says Hjelt. "What do I want to say today without words?" With the big bucks of brands like Absolut and Samsung brandishing their good looks and fun style in ads, their popularity promises to continue its upward trajectory.
Do they sleep? "When we do take a break, we do it for real," says Hjelt. "We sleep for a week. When we're home in Sweden we like to cook dinner and watch crappy TV. We love to take long walks in nature." But even while resting, they're anticipating their next move. "We try to get really bored, because boredom inspires creativity," says Jawo.
For now, though, the girls have no intention of slowing down. They'll keep the party going with tour stops in Europe and Asia, opening for Katy Perry at this year's iTunes Festival in London. They wrap up Dec. 22 in Vancouver, just in time to celebrate their first Christmas in the USA. "We'll adopt American traditions, but we will also add a little Swedish spice," such as glogg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (gingersnaps), says Hjelt. "We want to throw a big Swedish party and invite everybody!"
"We're having too much fun to take it easy," says Jawo. "So we choose this life. Non-stop. That's what we want."