Caroline Hjelt (left) and Aino Jawo (right) gave an upbeat performance to end Cal Poly's Week Of Welcome. Alison Chavez | Mustang News

“Throw that to me!” Caroline Hjelt of Icona Pop yelled to communication studies sophomore Henry Broback in the audience of the ASI Welcome Back Concert on Sept. 22.

The crowd erupted in excitement as Icona Pop’s Aino Jawo put on Broback’s yellow WOW leader t-shirt while performing their set. The crowd roared and mirrored the duo as they formed “WOW” with their fingers and mouths.

Hjelt caught a WOW leader’s t-shirt onstage and handed it to her bandmate Jawo, who wore it while performing. Alison Chavez | Mustang News
Hjelt caught a WOW leader’s t-shirt onstage and handed it to her bandmate Jawo, who wore it while performing. Alison Chavez | Mustang News

“It was a pretty proud moment,” Broback said. “Not only because [Jawo] was wearing my shirt, but more because it was a good memory for my WOWies. Our last night together and they had their WOW group on Icona Pop!”

The next morning, Broback direct messaged the duo on Instagram, thanking them for wearing the shirt and showing his WOWies a great time.

“They responded! They said thank you and that [performing at Cal Poly] was really fun,” Broback said. “I think they had a great time and liked the school.”

That they did.

“We only see places like this in the movies,” Hjelt said over the mic. “We were like, ‘Wow! Can we live here?’”

Icona Pop sat down with Mustang News before the show and talked about their experience in San Luis Obispo and their future as a duo. Hjelt said San Luis Obispo reminded her of her childhood in Sweden.

“It reminds me of the summer camps back in Sweden that we went to,” she said. “It’s such a good energy, vibe and people are super, super nice. I feel like you can ask anyone, ‘So, where should we eat?’ and they will be excited to tell you where the best places are.”

For them, the rush of performing and the tour lifestyle is almost impossible to stop chasing. The duo has created music for almost 10 years and have traveled internationally on tours.

Years after their last album release, they are finally recording a new album, which will be released next year. They said their newest album will be heavily influenced by their past five years of international touring.

The duo took a break from making music for years. Now, they said, they are finally ready to return to the studio. Their new album is set to release next year. Alison Chavez | Mustang News

“We’re taking all the things that we have been collecting — like a diary almost — and we’ve been revisiting them now in the studio,” Hjelt said. “The reason that we want to do an album now is because we feel like we owe it to our fans, but we also want to do it for ourselves.”

Their break from music was a way for them to reconnect with their ‘roots’ before starting work on their new album.

“We went back to Sweden for a year just to go home and feel,” Jawo said. “[The album] is going to be kind of like the old Icona Pop, with something totally different.”

Women empowerment influences much of Icona Pop’s music. They shared that as women, they feel they are treated differently than men in the music industry. The pair is often asked if they fight on tour.

“We get questions like that because we’re girls and we get tired of that,” Jawo said. “You know, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl or whatever, fuck that shit!”

To the duo, their song, “Girls Girls” is about freedom, strength and making mistakes without shame. Hjelt talked about the power in dancing out heartbreak.

“Sometimes you search for mistakes to find your right path,” Hjelt said. “And we just felt like in that lyric, ‘girls, girls,’ we just want to feel it. Sometimes you just need to feel something to know that you’re alive. You’re like, ‘I am alive, even though that shithead just dumped me, and I’ll be alive now.’ But you have to find that somewhere else instead of sitting home alone in your bedroom.”

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