With the 2013 Billboard Music Awards rapidly approaching, we caught up with BBMA finalist and performer Icona Pop to help recount the the duo's recent highlights, favorite new artists and memorable moments that caught their attention during the past 12 months.
The indie-pop duo's smash single "I Love It" was a hit in its native Sweden last year before crossing over to America earlier this year. It has sold more than 1.2 million downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. On Wednesday (May 15), Icona Pop announced a North American headlining tour kicking off on Aug. 12 in Asheville, N.C.
Watch the 2013 Billboard Music Awards Sunday, May 19th at 8|7c on ABC live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas as host Tracy Morgan welcomes the biggest names in music to the stage.
Looking back on the past year, what was the highlight for you?
Aino Jawa: "It's been an amazing year for us, but I think one of the biggest things for us was [performing on] 'Jimmy Fallon.'"
Caroline Hjelt: "We started some years ago and finally to play on TV in the US was huge, loud."
What song really made an impact on you this year?
Jawa: "A couple of weeks ago, we saw the band Alt-J and they have this song 'Breezeblocks' that has been on repeat since we saw them. I mean, before every show. It makes you want to dance."
What new talent emerged or came into his or her own this year that blew you away?
Jawa: "We would have to say K.I.D.S. They're super good. We saw their first show at South By Southwest. She's so cool. It's almost a bit cloud-talky in a way and it sounded very fresh."
Hjelt: "It's nice to see a woman lead singer who knows how to dance!"
What was your favorite music-related meme or viral video this year?
Hjelt: "We had an experience when we were doing this radio thing, and someone was like, 'We're going to show you the best Harlem Shake video ever, but you have to go pretty close to screen because the sound is really bad.' So we go really close to the screen and we're like, "Yeah, that guy can really shake his ass." Then this horrific thing jumps up and is very loud and screams. We were so scared. I mean, my heart was just – yeah, so that must be our best viral experience this year. It's going to be hard to beat that one. But we're going to do a prank right back at that guy!"
Was there a surprising sound or music trend that pricked up your ears?
Hjelt: "Trend-wise, it feels like the '90s are back, which we love, of course. We just want to hear even more '90s vibes on the radio."
What are the biggest challenges facing touring artists today?
Hjelt: "You're working against time all the time and it's very hard because you have to be in the same places at the same time. But we're very happy with our gypsy lifestyle and we find it very romantic. And some days you can get tired of the traveling and the different time zones and not sleeping enough, but then when you go out on stage, you don't feel any of that. You get so much energy from the crowd, and we have the best crew also, so that makes it easy. We try to keep it very small in the family that we work with."
Do you live like a high roller when you're in Las Vegas?
Hjelt: "Oh yeah, hell yeah. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The last time we were there we ended up living in the suites and in some cool area and Aino lost her phone in the desert. We had a very good time and we're very excited to go back for the Billboard Music Awards."