Icona Pop Stuns With Experimental LP ‘Club Romantech’

It was on the dancefloor at a Stockholm club where Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo met in 2009. Then, they formed Icona Pop, a globally renowned electropop duo that features electro house and indie pop music influences. Their style keeps in step with the night they met—club-ready, energetic, bittersweet and fresh. Today, September 1, their distinct sound is best showcased on their Club Romantech LP.

The 15-track body of work boasts catchy lyrics, pounding and bouncy basslines, tinkering synths, melodic beats, high-energy production and more. Collaborations include SOFI TUCKER, Ultra Naté, Galantis, Joel Corry, VIZE, Yaeger and Rain Radio. Certainly, Club Romantech is meant to set the dancefloor on fire.

During lockdown, they left Los Angeles and returned to Sweden. Jawo says they found they were bored during this time, as many artists were, so they met daily in the studio and used that boredom to find inspiration. They would talk about what they were going through with covid and what it was like being pregnant as they were pregnant at the same time, with their babies being born nine days apart. She adds that the “quietness of the world was a big part of what sparked our inspiration.”

“Having a baby, creating life and creating an album at the same time…I think this album makes it even more special for us because it was during such a beautiful and strange time in our life, a very emotional life,” Hjelt says. “It was like every day another feeling. It was so nice to have that safe space where [we were] allowed to let all the feelings come out and not have to be like, ‘Okay, let’s pull it together.’ It was like we were crying, we were mad, we were super happy— all those feelings were able to fit into our album.”

During this time, they began dreaming about what it would be like to stand with friends and in front of a crowd again. Hjelt says the pair began by creating tunes that they liked while experimenting to see what would fit into Club Romantech and the idea of it: a fantasy world with emotions and the best clubs, creating a sweet escape for their fans.

The track “Stick Your Tounge Out,” Jawo says, was created as a happy accident when their flight to Los Angeles was canceled. They ended up in the studio with their producer friend Tim Nelson. While they didn’t think anything would come of the track, they created an infectious, quirky banger that was album-worthy. Hjelt says the tune is about “tasting someone, making out with someone.”

She says that “Desire” was recorded after Jawo showed up at the studio saying she watched an Indian matchmaking show with a “super cool melody” and wanted to try to create something similar. They played around with some “weird” melodies but put the record on the shelf. Hjelt says it wasn’t until a year later that they got a version back with different production and some elements stripped. Thus, they decided that “Desire” had to be on Club Romantech.

Hjelt adds that “Fall In Love” is currently their favorite song from the album. The meaning behind it is about falling so hard for someone that you can barely breathe. “We stumbled over a weird note by accident,” she says. “Then we were like, ‘Wait, this actually made it so much more interesting,’ especially on this song where it’s a love song and I feel like [it’s] forward and simple,” she says. “On that one, it feels like we took the production in a more experimental way.” Indeed, the LP proves to experiment with new styles while still staying true to their origins of creating tunes meant for endless nights on the dancefloor.

“I’m very happy that we went to Sweden and wrote most of our album here because I think that affected the sound a lot—just how dance music sounds here and what we grew up with,” Hjelt adds.

Hjelt says she’s proud of what Icona Pop has done throughout the years, but she and Jawo don’t want to continue doing the same thing as they strive to be creative with their production. When creating Club Romantech, they decided not to have any rules and just see where they ended up. They didn’t go into crafting the record with a clear picture of what they wanted it to be, but they found a place where they felt good about the outcome.

“I think, at least for us, it’s very important to try and push it maybe too far sometimes, take it back a notch and be like, ‘Okay, that was too weird,’” she adds. “We didn’t even understand it, but if we take that top line, rewrite the verse and change the production…it’s a constant work in progress. But that’s also the fun part.”

As club kids from the start, Hjelt says she feels nostalgic when discussing going out with her friends and doing things such as crying over some guy but being happy just dancing anyway. Icona Pop’s goal is to do just that with its music and its performances.

“If you’re sad, then feel all those sad feelings,” she says. “But if you’re happy, we also want you to feel those feelings. We always say the best songs are the songs that you can cry and laugh and dance to.”

North American Tour Dates

10/14 – Atlanta Pride – Atlanta, GA^

10/20 – Trio Charleston – Charleston, SC

10/21 – Trio Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

10/27 – Ember Music Hall – Richmond, VA

11/17 – Rise Rooftop – Houston, TX

11/18 – New City Gas – Montreal QC

11/22 – Stereo Live – Dallas, TX

12/02 – LAVO – New York, NY

^Festival Performance

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