10 years later, Icona Pop still doesn't care

In 2012, Icona Pop released their self-titled debut album, featuring a half-sung, half-screamed lyric that would become their de facto calling card: “I don’t care, I love it.” That’s what Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo said in 2009 A crucial step in the journey that began when naming the band - courtesy of Hjelt's mother.

"She went to dinner with her friends from Italy and they were talking about us having a band and they said, 'Oh, so they're going to be the next pop icon,' which is Icona Pop in Italian," Hjelt explained holding the Holding a glass of wine, I went to the bar of a hotel in New York to get busy. “We’re huge Prince David Bowie fans,” Aino added. “It’s not just about us; it’s about us. It’s like, ‘Oh, pop icon. "We want to be one of them."

It would be another year before the song, titled "I Love It," written by Charli XCX and mutual friend and producer Patrik Berger, was accepted in the United States. But ultimately, the band's electro-pop-punk mission put them on the fast track to fame. They spent two years promoting the song, opening for A-listers such as Miley Cyrus and One Direction, and it eventually became a top 10 hit worldwide.

Ten years later, the duo has finally released their second studio album, with the single "Where Do We Go From Here" premiering on June 23.

The full album "Club Romantech " will be released on September 1st. With help from EDM collaborators such as Sofi Tukker, Galantis and Ultra Naté, the album revisits the band's signature blend of complex pop melodies and pounding club beats. Club Romantech was inspired by the virtual nightclub they created in their studio during lockdown. "We started inviting fans and talking to them, like, 'How are you doing? What are you craving for when everything opens up?'" Hjelt explained. “It’s all about the people you’re with,” Jawo added of their club virtual dance bar. "It doesn't matter where you are. For us, we connect with you and me in the studio and our fans, and we feel like we have a club."

The album represented "so much freedom" as it was the first time they had recorded an album under full creative control, giving them a second chance to prove themselves. ("I Love It" was initially rejected by many radio stations and executives, but when the song dominated Top 40 radio stations and commercials, Hjelt and Jawo realized how strong their instincts were.)

"We're not tired of playing live because we just love the energy we have with the crowd," Hejelt said of their hit song and its early criticism (they "still don't care," she says). "It's probably going to outlive us. People always tell us, 'Wait ten years and you're going to hate this song, but it hasn't happened yet.'

Below, Icona Pop talks 10 years of "I Love It" and singing karaoke with Miley Cyrus.

On opening for Miley Cyrus and working with Charli XCX

What is your favorite memory of Miley Cyrus opening?

Hjelt: We were doing karaoke and hanging out with Miley. She took us to a barn party in Nashville.

Jawo: Miley is our favorite. We saw her perform maybe ten times on that tour. She is the sweetest and hardest working.

What have you learned from opening events for other artists?

Jawo: When you see big artists, they work hard too. Miley was on the tour bus every night and she did all the publicity and sound checks—exactly what we did, but with a bigger crew.

Have you ever seen the meme of Charli XCX performing “I Love It” in Germany and no one recognized the lyrics?

Hjelt: We love Charlie. She's the coolest. But we kept laughing so hard at that one. She was like, "What the hell? Don't you know these words?"

Jawo: She rocks and we’ve known her for a long time and it’s great to see her career blossoming now.

She still performs "I Like It" at her shows.

Javo: She is? I like that. We should go with her one day.

On Favorite Songs, Misunderstood Lyrics, and Playing SNL

What song would you like to play at your wedding?

Hjelt: There's Gotta Be a Place by Talking Heads.

Now what song would you like to have played at your funeral?

Hjelt: I don’t want a happy song.

Jawo: Yeah, or something like a symphony, but with a happy [tone]. There is a Beethoven song, but it would be very depressing. This is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. And maybe a Prince song, like "Purple Rain."

Is there an artist or band that is cheesy but you still like?

Jawo: I love all boy bands. We don't even think it's tacky. This is respect.

Hjelt: They're cheesy in a way. Like *NSYNC, we are huge fans.

What’s the weirdest thing about a song you’ve ever written?

Jawo: "Downtown," maybe.

Hjelt: Yeah, it's weird when your mom says, "'Downtown' is my favorite song," because [the lyrics are], "Downtown, downtown, when you kiss me downtown, I Love it." She kind of misunderstood it, but she didn't know it.

Do you remember the first CD you bought?

Jawo: Don’t Break My Heart by Toni Braxton.

Hjelt: We made these compilations in Sweden called Mr. Music . It's a bunch of different songs from different artists from the '90s.

What was the moment when you really felt like a musician?

Jawo: It was our first time coming to New York and doing our headline show. The venue was Glasslands, a small venue in Brooklyn.

Hjelt: We felt cool that we could come to New York and perform and people showed up.

Jawo: This is a big dream for us, people singing along to our music.

Hjelt: But I also remember when we were doing Saturday Night Live . That's crazy. And the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. That was the moment we were like, "Oh my gosh, I saw this on TV."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.