Poplife and Grand Central present
697 N Miami Ave.
Miami, FL, 33136
Doors 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt met on a Saturday night in February 2009. It was, Aino says quite reasonably, “the best thing that ever happened”.
So the day after the best thing that ever happened happened, these two girls from the Stockholm suburbs formed a electronic pop duo band, and on the Monday – when the hangovers had cleared and it still all seemed like the best thing that had ever happened – they booked their first gig – Icona Pop was born. This felt all very well, but then they realised they had four weeks until their gig, but no songs.
Autumn of 2011, Icona Pop moved from Stockholm to London, and with an album ready to go the tunes are in no short supply. Icona Pop says: “We like galloping drums, and synthesisers, but we still like the classical pop melodies. And that’s ‘what we are’. We don’t have to decide, because there’s no decision to be made. We just have to do exactly what we want.”
In the intervening years they’ve working with The Knocks (voted one of NME’s hottest production outfits of the hour), Patrik Berger (Robyn), Elof Loelv (Niki & The Dove), Fredrik Berger (The Good Natured) and Style of Eye, as well as sessions with UK producers like Starsmith (Kylie, Ellie Goulding) and Burns. Their Neon Gold-released double a-side single ‘Manners’ / ‘Top Rated’ prompted journals like NME and The Guardian say things along the lines of “effortlessly cool” and “all the makings of a 24-carat pop hit”, and the duo have perfected their live show, too – that first performance back in 2009 went rather well, all things considered, while their first London gig was impressive enough to bag them a management deal with Artist Company TEN, the team behind Niki & The Dove and Erik Hassle.
There’s plenty more of this evocative stuff right across Icona Pop’s as-yet-untitled debut album, due out in 2012. Effervescently romantic number ‘Sun Goes Down’ is a Knocks collaboration written on a trip to New York. “We both had a crush at home,” Caroline recalls, “and we were thinking about our lovely men on the other side of the ocean, singing, ‘I will be waiting for you until the sun goes down’.” The sound of it all is hard to pinpoint, but there are some unmistakeable Madonnaisms on spirited anthem ‘Beat The L’.
So that original plan for Caroline to give Aino her best night ever? Well, that night they met in 2009 has since been immortalised in song, on the vivid and joyous ‘Nights Like This’ Caroline explains, “everything that night was like magic, and the lyric ‘nights like this, you will never be alone’, is what Icona Pop is all about. It’s about being together and having fun, and inviting as many people as possible because the best nights out are the ones you want to share with everyone.”
As nights out go, Icona Pop’s first must of one of pop’s most vital, and it’s still in full effect three years later. In fact, it feels like it’s just getting going. “We’re having so much fun all the time,” Aino smiles. “It’s kind of scary.”
K.Flay's new EP, Eyes Shut, is a response to apathy. Thematically, the disc's five tracks offer a dialogue about what it means to care—and not care—in the twentysomething era. K.Flay, the moniker for San Francisco-based musician Kristine Flaherty, reacts to this generational indifference musically. Her spit-fire rhymes and distorted indie-electro production are infused with unabashed passion and thoughtful concern.
Flaherty, who grew up outside Chicago and launched her music career while enrolled at Stanford University, arrived at this subject matter after spending nearly a year touring the country solo. Although she was opening for artists like Passion Pit, 3OH!3 and Wallpaper, Flaherty took the stage alone each night, urging a deep sense of introspection that initially resulted in a mixtape called I Stopped Caring In '96. The mixtape, which Flaherty self-released last spring, initiated the writing process for Eyes Shut.
"I spent my first few years making music just messing around, not really having a sense of what I was about," she explains. "With the mixtape, I started to realize my vision for the project. I made it in isolation, which was liberating in a creative sense. The songs on this EP start where the mixtape left off and reflect where I'm at in my own life now. There are no love songs. It's really about a mindset, a perspective. A lot of the people I know are pretty apathetic and disillusioned. They'd rather check out than engage in something. I'm drawn to that myself at times and at other times I'm repelled by it."
Isolation is a theme in Flaherty's creative process. She is a songwriter, musician and producer, who works alone on many of her tracks from conception to completion, sometimes in her mother's basement.
The five tracks on the EP were written during the spring and summer of 2011, with most of the recording occurring in September. Influenced by a diverse array of artists including OutKast and Lykke Li, the EP is an innovative combination of hip-hop, electronica and indie rock aesthetics, all bolstered by Flaherty's undeniable rapping ability.
The K.Flay live show shines through the recordings as well. "Until recently my recorded stuff hasn't captured what I'm trying to do," Flaherty says. "It's only been in the last nine months that I've honed in on that. You hear 'white girl rapping' and you get wary. But the live show has really shown people what I'm about and the production aspect of what I do. So with the EP it was about how I can replicate that accurately in a live setting."
The EP is a precursor to K.Flay's debut full-length, which she hopes to release in the first half of 2012. Meanwhile, between writing, recording and touring, the musician, who recently performed at San Francisco's Outside Lands Arts & Music Festival, has been sharpening her production skills by remixing other artists, including Beastie Boys, Young the Giant, Walk the Moon, and Oh Land. And she's not touring quite so solo anymore—Flaherty recently added a drummer to the mix.
"I feel like I'm taking the next step," she says. "I'm in the process of taking something that was just nascent and, with the help of a few people, starting to flesh it out a little more. It's been a real year of growth."
Flaherty may write about apathy, but she's anything but apathetic.
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