In mid-2013, barely a year after the release of their smash hit “I Love It,” from critically acclaimed LP This Is… Icona Pop Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop sat down with us at The Untitled Magazine for an exclusive interview to talk their newfound success and working relationship with each other (you can read the full-length interview in 2013’s The Music Issue). Seven short years later and the duo of Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt are still their devastatingly cool selves, just with a ton of new memorable experiences and quite a few more tours and tracks under their belt.
Now, the pop band is back with their brand new single “Feels in My Body,” a bona fide feel-good summer jam anthem. In contrast to the long list of sullen and moody singles released throughout the last couple months of quarantine, “Feels in My Body” is the wonderful celebration of energy that we all frankly need right now.
All these years later, we sat down again with Icona Pop to chat new music and their experiences of the last half decade. Check out the full exclusive interview below.
Tell us about your newest single “Feels In My Body.” What inspired the lyrics?
When we wrote “Feels In My Body” we were in the studio with some friends, and we all felt that it was way too long since we’d had that “epic night out.” When you feel so many emotions at the same time, you can’t stand still and just wanna share that feeling with someone else and push on through.
Walk us through the “Feels In My Body” music video. How did you come up with the concept? How do all the perspective camera tricks relate to the song?
We are so happy and thankful that we could make the “Feels In My Body” video happen during COVID-19. We really worked with the smallest and most amazing team. The song is kind of a party song but we were gonna release it in a time when no-one could party with their friends. So for us and our creative director Charlie, it felt more natural and interesting to shoot the videos with only us in like a museum among statues. To capture that liberating feeling when you dance and freak out in places where it almost feels forbidden. Gustav [Stegfors] the Director found the most amazing locations. Crille [Forsberg], the Director of Photography is a dear friend of ours and such a rockstar with the camera.
“Feels In My Body” is about feeling at your peek and sharing your high energy with the world, which is very different from the more moody pop music that’s been released during the pandemic. Was that intentional?
We wrote that song maybe seven months ago and always loved it. It felt really good to release it in a time when a lot of people were stuck in lockdown. It gave even more meaning to the song. The longing for that amazing feeling with your friends again. We felt that a song like that was very needed.
How have you stayed creative during lockdown?
The lockdown has been very interesting for us. We left the States for Sweden to be with our family and friends and did not expect it to be for this long. In the beginning, we both panicked a little bit… we haven’t been home in Sweden for this long in 12 years. We always tour and travel like crazy during the summer and now we couldn’t. In the beginning, we felt a weird pressure to make use of this time, to create and write music so much that we almost couldn’t. But after a week it changed and we came to terms with the situation a little bit more and got super creative. We’ve been doing so many fun things that could have never happened if we didn’t have this summer without touring. But we miss it so much though!
Last time you were with us for an interview in 2013, Icona Pop was just blowing up – looking back since then what has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Wow, we have really lost track of time and we’ve been a band for such a long time. It’s impossible to choose the most memorable moment because there are so many. I get all excited when I think back at our first US show in some small club to headlining tours to touring with Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and One Direction. Performing on SNL and all the other big TV shows, performing at the [Times Square] ball drop on New Years Eve, recording in the studio with our idols, traveling to places we didn’t know existed… the list goes on. The weird thing is that it still feels like this is just the beginning.
Both of you have said your moms are your biggest mentors, is that still true all these years later?
Yes absolutely! Our mums are our superheroes for sure and they have always been there for us no matter what.
How has your working and personal relationship with each other grown in the last decade?
Our friendship is just growing stronger and stronger. We’ve been through so much after all these years together. It’s a little bit weird that we can live, travel, work and create together. In some wonderful way it works. We don’t take each other for granted and we’ve learned that we are so different. Maybe that’s what makes it work so good. We have a natural balance.
Has your songwriting approach changed at all since your early days as a duo?
Our way of working is still very free, just as it was in the beginning. We don’t have a specific way of working, it depends on where we are and what we are feeling in the moment. We have learned so much from all the great people we have been working with over the years and we are much more aware of our strengths and weaknesses now. I can still listen to old demos and absolutely love them even though the production sounded bad or the song was unfinished. It sounded so naïve, had no rules, just pure feeling. We are much better now at knowing what we want in the studio, and how to get the song exactly where we want it. We really are a great team in the studio.
We love collaborating. It adds different energy in the studio and it’s a really creative way of trying new things. Especially because we have so many talented friends. We have some dream collabs but we don’t wanna jinx it. We will try to make it happen instead.
What musical artists have inspired you lately? Any new favorites?
We’ve always listened to so many different kinds of music and artists. Punk, pop, desert blues. Most recently if I look at our playlists we’ve been listening to Disclosure, Calvin Harris, Peggy Gou, Koffee, Beyoncé and Rosalía.
Where are you based these days? Do you often go back to your native Sweden?
We are stuck in Sweden at the moment. It’s nice to be close to our family and friends but we miss our home in LA.
Do you have any personal philosophies or words of wisdom you live by that have carried you through all these years working together?
Work hard, play hard! It’s so important to have fun along the way no matter what you do. It’s not always just the goal, it’s important to enjoy the journey too. Also, you are never stronger than your team. Surround yourself with people that have the same vision as you do and will help to make it a reality.
Are there any more upcoming projects or new releases we can look forward to from Icona Pop?
Oh yes! We have been writing so much and we’re so excited to share it with the world. We have an upcoming collaboration with our friends Sofi Tukker that we are very happy about. It’s a song about going to the spa.