Straight out of Sweden, these two power girls aren’t backing down from any kind of intimidation. Not only being singer and songwriters, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are also part of the fierce new trend: lady DJs. This fresh new duo has just started putting out music with hit songs such as "Manners" and "I Still Don’t Know". Icona Pop is sure to be the next big thing in our book. Recently put onto Kitsuné Compilation 11 – The Indie Dance Issue and featured on dap duo band Chiddy Bang’s new track, these girls are surely going to attract a new fan base everywhere they go.
QRO: How did you two meet?
Aino Jawo: Well I was kind of in a bad period in my life: I got dumped by my boyfriend, everything was so fucked, I lost my apartment. It was just a dark period in my life.
Caroline Hjelt: Yeah, actually we met through a common friend. I was actually very frustrated, kinda numbed in my feelings. I was always out with my friends way too much and then one night my friend, she was like "Yeah Aino, you should invite her to your party because she’s just the best person ever," and then we met and we hung out all night. Then the day after we decided we should write together and that’s something you always say but kind of never do, you know when you never call the person you say you would, [laughs] but then we did, and we started writing, and we realized very quickly that we were talking the same language and we both got so excited by that feeling because we were just like, "Oh my god, this is working!" So we decided that same day that we were so going to be in a band together. It came pretty natural. [laughs]
QRO: So you guys are DJs, are you currently DJing?
AJ: Yeah, all the time. It’s something that we really love and it’s a new way to find new music.
CH: Yeah, it’s such a good way for meeting new people, and getting out there and meeting the crowd, meeting all the people and stuff. We love music so it’s a luxury being able to decide what kind of music your going to play.
QRO: What made you girls steer towards becoming singers while being DJs?
CH: Well actually, from the beginning we were both musicians, and we’ve been in music schools and working with music for such a long time. We both decided that we wanted to be solo artists, but then we met and everything felt so good so we decided to be in a band.
We actually started DJing because we were living together in an apartment with a bunch of girls and having a little bit too many parties, so the neighbors complained a lot, so we decided that we should have the parties somewhere else. We decided to have them in different kind of clubs, and that’s when we all started to DJ, and now we’re doing it like every week and we love it but from the beginning we’re musicians and we see ourselves like musicians that play music.
QRO: Are you guys living in Sweden right now?
AJ: We are in London right now, but we live in Sweden. We are actually going to move to London so we’re looking forward to that.
QRO: Did growing up in Sweden influence your music in any way?
CH: I don’t know, it might have! We’ve gotten that question a lot about like, "Oh your coming from Sweden, what is it about Sweden?", but I think that British people are so sensitive for our music, and it’s such a small country. So if you’re into music you easily meet people that are also into music, and then you can really start doing good collaborations. I think British people are very sensitive of good music, so when you go out of town you hear so much things that you haven’t heard and you also realize how big the music scene is because in Sweden its so small.
QRO: Do you ever feel pressured, being female DJs?
CH: When you’re a female, they think you’re not that good or you’re just doing it and you’re just gonna stand there and not play and just say, "Yay, this is so much fun!", and not be able to fix it in yourself. People are always kind of shocked when you’re actually playing good music and having a good time. Sometimes people come up to you and think that you’re not playing, [laughs] like we’re having on a mixtape and that actually makes you upset because, I mean, why? There’s a lot of female DJs right now.
AJ: It’s a revolution!
CH: And we love it and we play kind of hardcore music sometimes; we just play music that we like.
QRO: What advice would you give upcoming DJs, specifically female DJs?
CH: Practice a lot. That means really trying to get whatever gig you can take and to be out there and playing. Hang out with all the people that love music so you can get new music that you haven’t heard before, and it’s also very important to be having a good time.
It’s very important that you’re having a good time, because then in the beginning if you don’t play that well it doesn’t matter if your having a good time, because people will see that and they will get happy and have a good time and dance to the music, even though you touch the wrong button sometimes because everyone has to start somewhere. So yeah, have a good time is the best advice we can give you.
QRO: Who wrote your song "Manners" and who or what influenced it?
AJ: We were actually living in this apartment with lots of girls, and every morning we would hear stories about guys that don’t behave. Every morning we heard like, "He didn’t treat me right!", and that is one of the inspirations; it’s a big inspiration. We also have a lot of guy friends that were like, "Yeah, this girl wasn’t treating right." So I think "Manners" is generally about manners no matter if you’re a boy or a girl, but what influenced us was living in that apartment and like see all our friends. There’s so many people that don’t behave and just take people for granted, and we were talking about that, like "Yeah! I’m a good girl, and you shouldn’t treat me like that because you couldn’t find anything better," you know.
QRO: What do you think about Chiddy Bang’s version of "Manners"? They sampled your song.
CH: Yeah. [laughs] We think it’s great; we actually saw the YouTube clip and we think they really pulled it off and they did a really good job. It’s very fond that they wanted to do it.
QRO: Are you guys on tour or have any upcoming shows?
CH: Actually, we’re just finishing our album now, but soon we will be out and starting our tour. We are right now at the moment moving to London, and right now we’re just to DJing because we’re focusing on finishing up the album.
AJ: And if you come to Sweden you’ll see us at lots and lots of festivals, so come to Sweden! Come to Sweden!
CH: Yes and then we’re gonna start performing. We’re gonna DJ at different places and very soon, like in the end of summer we’re gonna start performing in the rest of the world as well.
QRO: A lot of your songs are fun and upbeat – do you purposely make the beats sound more ‘club-ish’ so they’ll be more prone to being mixed in DJ sets?
CH: Well, when we write music we don’t think about our DJ set at all to be honest, but we’re always trying to be there together with the producers to be there from the beginning. We love to be involved in the whole process or sometimes we’re working with producers that are so good that they send us something that we just love. It’s all about feeling and I think, when we started making this record we just were in that amazingly happy feelings so we had to make upbeat tracks. It was impossible to do anything else, but we are gonna have some more like laid-back songs as well. I think on our album you will hear the whole journey of being in the studio for one year so you will hear a lot of different songs.
QRO: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
AJ: Ah they’re so many… [laughs] Of course Prince – like who wouldn’t? Dafatan, Kanye West, there is just so many, and we also want to star in an episode of The X-Files together with Ben Miles. We’ve seen the show so many times since we have it on DVD; we love it.
QRO: What is your song "I Still Don’t Know" about?
CH: It’s about someone trying to change stuff about you when you’re just very happy with the way you are. Like I’m never getting better of those kind of things, but I kind of like it. Yeah it’s about being who you are and not letting anyone change you if you don’t want to change yourself.
QRO: What is your favorite song on the album?
AJ: We have a song called "Lovers to Friends".
CH: That was actually one of the first songs we wrote. We also love "Manners". Manners is very special for us, we were writing it together with Patrick Berger and his brother, we were all jumping in the studio just singing; we really like that song and the lyrics and everything.
Manners / Top Rated Single Purchase Link (Neon Gold Records):
Kitsuné Compilation 11 – The Indie Dance Issue (Featuring Icona Pop)