The Guardian: “Little Dragon: a band on the verge of greatness”

For most of Little Dragon’s performance – a low-key comeback, presaging a highly anticipated new album – they remain more or less invisible. Backlit in blue, gauzed in dry ice, the Swedish foursome are occasionally illuminated from the side. Lanky bassist Fred Wallin’s shadow projects up the brick walls of this former warehouse. You can make out bushy-bearded, ponytailed keyboard magus Håkan Wirenstrand in silhouette. Singer Yukimi Nagano shirks the usual strutting, fretting and spotlighting that goes with being a frontwoman, her sinuous vocals just one of the elements – acrylic digitals, live percussion, deep bass – swirling around. A dancer in a catsuit and large shades turns up at the back, adding her lively shapes to Nagano’s supplicating arm gestures …

… There is an element of frustration to Little Dragon’s tasteful, non-U groove-pop, however. They are very near some kind of greatness; all it would take is some minor concession to structure and focus. A case in point is one of tonight’s highlights: the oscillation unleashed near the end of Klapp Klapp, Little Dragon’s sort-of new single. It’s typical Dragon: a louche bassline leads into a busy on-beat. There are some heavenly noises. It’s hard to make out what Nagano is singing, adding to a sense of impenetrable prettiness. But why does the hook come at the end? You’d want to bang your head against the Village Underground’s exposed brickwork, if it weren’t all so lovely.

Full article link.

Official: Little Dragon to release album number four in 2014

Thanks to Emily Zemler of Rolling Stone we know the following:

  • Little Dragon will release their fourth record during the spring of 2014
  • A handful of tracks feature members of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchesta
  • They will begin extensive touring during the spring
  • A short film may be in the works
Photo by Chris Saunders

Here are a few chosen quotes:

  • “I think when we started we had no vision whatsoever,” singer Yukimi Nagano said. “We just wanted to make the ball start rolling and just brainstorm ideas and see what comes up and then make plans thereafter. I think a lot of visions came through. Our sound is wide – it’s not just one particular style – so we dove into different worlds. New worlds, new spaces we haven’t been to before. There definitely are elements of sonically romantic tracks. It feels like there are different moods and we’re exploring ourselves a bit.”
  • “It’s nice to see your music reflected on another musician [members of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra],” drummer Erik Bodin said. “Especially when they come from the outside and you can see how they interpret it. It’s an honor.”
  • “It seemed interesting to let go,” bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin said. “We’ve never really had the opportunity before.”
  • “In the past there’s no way we had a budget to do that,” Nagnao said. “There’s always been a compromise somewhere. We’re happy with our mixes – all the guys are really diving in and honing their own mixing skills – but there are those people out there who only do this.”
  • “It’s going to be amazing for us, and hopefully for others,” Bodin said. “We’ve been – not tired of ourselves, but we really needed to make new music to energize the whole band. We toured for a while. This is our life and these are my closest people, and we spend so much time together, so giving us some new songs pushes us to the next step. It fertilizes us.”

Wax Poetrics tour with Little Dragon

Written by Allen Thayer of Wax Poetrics.

My first-ever experience with Little Dragon was their second show in San Francisco in 2011, at a small subterranean club on Market in the Castro called Café du Nord, capacity 250. Arriving mid-show, their sound hit me in the chest as soon as I entered the room: bass-heavy, dreamy, organic, electronic, moody, rhythmic, and soulful even though Yukimi and the boys were barely visible on the stage at the far end of the room. Picking up the CD after the show, I was initially disappointed, as I was hoping for more of their live sound. It didn’t take me long to come around to their album, but it left me yearning for their next show.

“We try to make as much noise as possible with as few people as possible,” Erik says, though their live sets steer clear of cacophony. “We try to fill the whole space.” Everyone’s got their main instrument/vocals and then something else to tweak: timbales (Erik), various keyboards/electronics (Fred), yet even more keyboards (Håkan), and at one time Yukimi also doubled on blue-LED-flashing, midi-triggered gongs. “Håkan made them,” Yukimi explains. “He’s had this relationship with electricity lately, and he bought these Plexiglas little things and put them on plates, melted them in the oven, sawed out little circles, put the little midi trigger mics on them. He’s really good at creating stuff like that. At one point, there were also lights in them, but they stopped working unfortunately. It was pretty amazing with blue lights shimmering.”

Touring non-stop for four years will either break a band or take them higher depending on how the members accept the challenge of playing the same music every night in perpetuity. “That’s the mission of our live thing,” Erik says. “We’re restless. We don’t want to do anything that stays the same. It’s simply just because of our restlessness. We get so bored of ourselves sometimes.”

“Co-headlining, that seems like fun,” Yukimi says, diplomatically, about the band’s multiple tours of duty in the coveted yet dreaded opening-act slot. “Obviously, we’re gonna be asked to support bands still, and I’m not down to do that, really. It’s just because it’s a hard slot. It takes a lot of energy. Even if it’s Red Hot Chili Peppers in an arena; on paper, it sounds amazing, but then you’re there with this big echoey sound. I prefer our own show at a club. Supporting is always difficult. It doesn’t really matter on what level.”

“I think we’re done with support[ing],” Erik echoes. “There’s no point in it; I don’t see any point in it. It’s just too hard.” But there seems to be dissention, or a healthy dose of conservative financial planning from Fred: “But at the same time. you have to be realistic. You never know how successful you will be, how many records you will sell, and sometimes it’s the only way of surviving. It’s the reality of it. You’ll probably still make people happy, even though it’s hard. I totally get what you’re saying, Erik, in the ideal world.”

“You can have a robot drummer,” Erik says somewhat frustrated. He concedes Fred’s well-reasoned point, “Of course, but who would it be [that we’d open for]? We did Red Hot Chili Peppers.” They’ve also supported tours for the Scissor Sisters, TV on the Radio, Q-Tip, Big Boi, and Gorillaz. “Bruce Springsteen?” Fred suggests. Erik doesn’t take the bait. “It could be that you need the money, but in the long run, it kinda just diminishes your personal fire, because it’s so draining.” Fred either tries to make a point or doubles-down on his punch line, “What about Justin Bieber? That could be fun.”

Yukimi interjects in with some perspective, “At the same time, it’s something that everyone’s gone through, and most people have done it, so you learn something from it for sure. I think those big support shows are the times where you really get reminded of where you started. It’s that feeling of playing almost for ten people or singing for yourself playing together in the little club with nobody there; that’s the feeling when you have people who are just staring at you like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ or ‘I don’t get this.’ Or you see someone yawning.”

I can’t help but press the issue: “Would you open for Daft Punk?”

Fred, after a prolonged silence: “Who are they?

Little Dragon breathes fire in SA

It may not be Abba, but the fact that Friday night’s show by Gothenburg electro soul foursome (sometimes fivesome) Little Dragon was sold out, proves that Swedish music still makes waves internationally and among South Africans.

The show, at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, formed part of the Adidas Originals Live Performances Series by We-Are-Awesome Events. About 1 700 people braved the rain to turn up at the show and jump to tracks like Ritual Union.

The group was supported by SA DJ Felix Laband, who warmed up the crowd.

Three members of the band, Arild Werling, Yukimi Nagano and Erik Bodin, said during an interview this week that they’d told their agents that SA was definitely somewhere they wanted to play.

Lead singer Nagano said they were influenced by SA: “We look at dance music videos from here, and there was a vibe from fans on Twitter.”

They were also influenced by DJ Cleo’s Ndiya and Professor’s Jezebel as SA dance tracks.

“Music from here feels fresh. The sound has house elements and traditional elements,” said Nagano.

Bodin said that incorporating traditional Swedish sounds into their music was not vital, and they were influenced largely by British and American music.

And Werling joked that old Swedish men made folk music.

They described their trip to international fame as a slow one, but said it was also a privileged one.

Werling said: “In a rich country, it was possible to work on our music and survive.”

Nagano has a soulful voice and she attributes some of her soul inspiration to D’Angelo and his album Voodoo.

“If you like house, you look at everything. Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and James Brown are people I listen to,” Bodin added.

Being complimentary about SA house music, the band are open to collaborations with locals too.

“This is something we get asked a lot and we usually say no,” said Nagano.

“But what is going on here is really cool. I’d like to remix with SA music.”

It is thought that the name Little Dragon comes from temper tantrums Nagano used to throw as a child.

”I think there is some truth in that,” she said, smiling. Source.

Little Dragon lands in SA

When the Swedes are not celebrating their midsummer with crayfish and aquavit parties, they’re busy making “pop music for folks who think they hate pop music” – an accurate description of Swedish band Little Dragon.

Yet the success that they’ve achieved thus far has been reached mostly without radio play. Their fanbase is as eclectic as their music, appealing to the electronic dance crowd, jazz fans and hip-hop heads. Little Dragon come to South Africa this week as a result of a joint collaboration between Adidas Originals Live Performances and photo blog We-Are-Awesome.

Enigmatic vocalist Yukimi Nagano is the soulful force behind the guitarless band joined by drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Wallin and keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand. They’ve been friends since high-school and have since released three albums, self-titled debut Little Dragon (2007), Machine Dreams (2009) and Ritual Union (2011).

The band have had considerable success in the US, being picked up by radio station KCRW in Los Angeles. Last year they performed a headlining tour of the States which included a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. In June, their most recent single Sunshine premiered on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

The band is fresh off a tour where they supported The Red Hot Chili Peppers and played 15 festivals over the summer.

Although they haven’t gone looking for collaborations, Little Dragon have participated in a considerable number over the last few years. They’ve worked with Gorillaz and with Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio. Nagano has featured on tracks with SBTRKT, DJ Shadow and Raphael Saadiq. Recently the band recorded with Big Boi from Outkast and feature on his new album.

Nagano says, “We all love music so much. I don’t even keep up with all the different genres. If we hear something and it makes us feel good, we go for it. We haven’t been actively looking for collaborations, but we’ve always been approached.”

Their live performances take on a jazz-like approach, playing around with the structure of songs, so that no two performances are alike. “We don’t totally freak-out, but definitely as a band that uses a lot of electronic sounds, like to improvise. A lot of bands these days get lazy. The beauty of the vulnerability of being live can easily disappear, so the improv is important. Not maybe as much as going crazy on solos, but rather the philosophy of jazz music of playing together and reaching that high. There are no mistakes, so why not try something different,” Nagano says.

Bodin adds, “It’s a challenge to sample and also bring freedom to the songs so that they can be played with. We love when people get entranced and freak-out.”

Both Nagano and Bodin are huge fans of South African house music. Bodin’s wife is South African and he proudly says that his daughters speak Sesotho. Nagano’s message to their fans, “I’m on Twitter a lot and I can feel the super-positive vibe. My experience of SA has been very different, so I’m curious and excited about it. Hopefully people will be dancing, so bring your dancing shoes.” Source.

Though the band are nearing exhaustion from an intense touring schedule, they’re excited to finally be able to play here. The plan for after South Africa, according to Nagano, is to play a few more shows, and fans should be excited to hear that they will then clamp down and start working on their fourth album.

Little Dragon talk Big Boi collaboration and opening for the Chili Peppers

After tearing up the main stage at L.A.’s Hard Summer on Friday night, Swedish band Little Dragon headed off to Montreal for a gig yesterday at the Osheaga Festival and then moved on to Chicago to wrap up the weekend at Lollapalooza. Three major festivals in three days sounds either like one of those “priceless” Master Card commercials or a radio station giveaway. What music fan wouldn’t dream of rocking the weekend away in three cities?

But the reality of getting from Hard to Osheaga to Lolla means Little Dragon won’t see any music. “We see a lot of good airplanes,” the band’s drummer, Erik Bodin, joked to Rolling Stone in their trailer backstage at Hard Summer.

“We’re really thankful you get it. Most people just say,’Oh my god, that’s so fun,'” frontwoman Yukimi Nagano said. “It’s obviously fun, it’s great, but there’s another side to it.”

Still, the quartet will gladly take the hectic schedule, and not just for the frequent flier miles. It comes with being in demand, which Little Dragon very much are at the moment. They just opened some dates for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and contributed to the new solo album by Outkast’s Big Boi, both very memorable experiences.

Opening for the Chilis brought Little Dragon into unchartered terrain. “It was a new world to explore, hockey arenas, a lot of echoes,” keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand said.

“And then middle America is a bit different than where we usually play, from the major cities,” Nagano added. While they were in different cities playing to larger crowds, even half-full arenas still brought in 7,000 people on most nights, and they found a positive reception. “The crowds were up for it, actually,” Bodin said. There were some opening-act bumps, however.

“There are always some hardcore fans in the front, ‘Where’s the guitar? There’s no guitar,'” bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin said.

They had no such problems collaborating with Big Boi. Nagano contributed vocals to the track “Momma Told Me,” and unlike most features these days, she actually got to work with Big Boi and not just his computer.

“We were in Atlanta and just kind of had a day together, it was one of those rare things where we met and had a vibe,” Nagano said.

Little Dragon might make a collective appearance on Big Boi’s album as well. “We produced one song that we gave to him,” Wallin said. Since it’s not their album and he is unsure if the track will make the final cut, he didn’t want to give away the title.

After all their high-profile collaborations and tours, plus about five years on the road, the band will hole up in September to start work on the follow-up to last year’s Ritual Union. While it’s hard for them to work on the road, they have some ideas and sketches of songs already underway. And they expect to have it out in 2013.

“We try to keep it not having a timeline when we’re creating to not feel stress, but realistically probably next year,” Nagano said of the release date. Source.

Confirmed: Little Dragon will feature on forthcoming Big Boi record

“Last night at a private listening party in New York at MSR Studios, Big Boi showcased several rough cuts from his forthcoming solo album, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (via Billboard). He told listeners that the album would feature Little Dragon, Phantogram, ASAP Rocky, and Kid Cudi, who appears on the lead single, “She Hate Me”.” Source.

Little Dragon & Big Boi

Little Dragon & Big Boi

Little Dragon & Big Boi

Interview: Clash Music speak to Erik Bodin of Little Dragon

How many gigs have you been to in an abandoned fortress? From 6th-9th September Dimensions festival in Croatia will be bouncing bass-heavy beats off the walls of Punta Christo – an eighteenth century citadel. It’s a bit like having piss-up on a National Heritage site, only the dilapidated remains and overgrown walls add a secret rave feel. “It looks awesome,” says Erik Bodin of Little Dragon while in Buenos Aires on a South American tour. “It looks like one of those places that come with a special vibe you can’t take away. I’m very excited about going there.”

They’ll be playing their part in a line-up which collects the best underground electronic acts from around the world and brings them together. Already announced are Carl Craig, Mount Kimbie, Moodymann, and lots more. As one of the only live acts, Eric is relishing the opportunity to bring something different to the festival: “We love house music as much as everyone else but it’s nice to be that odd bird who does something different,” he says excitedly. What are ticket holders in for when they see Little Dragon take to the stage? “They can expect an up-tempo explosion – home made, organic, wholesome, free-range – a big dance omelette!”

The Swedish group’s repertoire has grown increasingly electronic as things have escalated, a change instigated by crowd reaction. “The first album – we were told to put it out basically or there wouldn’t be a deal. I guess we were naïve. We thought we would work more on it. So the first album was a little more chilled out I would say, but then playing live you realise you can’t just be chilled out all the time, people want to party, we want to party. We got tired of ourselves so we decided to step it up for the next album and after that we decided to step it up even more, so maybe we will end up playing some super-fast smurf techno by the end… I don’t know.

“Dance is the most natural reaction to music. We really like those hippy philosophies of getting into one unity and going into a trance. The brain doesn’t have to think as much, you get a good work-out, and you might see some pretty girls too… If you’re single that is.”

The show will be a visual performance as well as having an electronic feel: “We do everything live. We try to always keep things fresh and have an element of fear within the performance and ourselves. It’s good to not always know what’s going to happen,” he explains. Things have been quickly building for the group and their position on the bill at Dimensions reflects this. “We’ve always strived for this. It’s been an amazing journey. We’ve worked really hard so I’d be sad if it wasn’t there but I’m still surprised by it every time I go onstage. We’ve been doing it for such a long time now that it’s part of our lives. We’re constantly on that daily euphoric routine. We’re always searching for that euphoria so it’s hard to think about anything else but when I look at this whole thing from the outside it’s incredible.”

The journey to becoming a world-renowned dance band has been immense, and not without its peaks. “When we collaborated with Gorillaz it definitely felt like things accelerated. It’s nice to see such big crowds knowing your lyrics and singing them back,” he says. Another undeniable step forward was the release of ‘Ritual Union’, an album which propelled them further into public consciousness. “Our idea was to make a very grainy, poppy record. It’s funny how you don’t think there’s a concept to it and then as you look back on it there seems like there was one all along although it wasn’t outspoken. When the track ‘Ritual Union’ came up we realised we has a concept to run with.”

Dimensions has a great sound-system for such an intimate location. Spaces being utilised include a dungeon, a ballroom, and a moat, plus there’ll be beach and boat parties in the daytime. Tickets start at £120. A range of accommodation is available from the traditional camping option to hiring a private villa. Source.

Little Dragon prove they are less puff and more fire

Edinburgh’s Liquid Room is the busiest I have ever seen it. From my position on the balcony, looking down upon the heaving mass of tangled limbs, I get a fairly concrete idea of why some bands develop such God complexes.

Thankfully Little Dragon, the Swedish electro-pop four piece, hold no such complex. Perhaps because of the muted reception to their third studio album Ritual Union, or perhaps because despite being fairly commercially successful, the band haven’t quite ‘made it’ yet, Yukimi Nagano and her boys shimmy on stage and praise the crowd for turning out to see them. Little Dragon capsize the omniscient musician mould and illustrate how in this oh-so-fickle business, the power really does lie with the punters.

Through the Looking Glass is a fairly solid place on which to build, but I have to peer very closely at Nagano to see if she is actually singing. So powerful and pulsing is her voice, that there is no dissimilarity to be found from her studio sound to her performance this evening. Musicians are often criticised for the contradistinction between their live and recorded outputs, but Nagano simply sounds superb. The sonorous notes of her voice explode into the rafters like a firework, and continue to float onto the heads of the devotees long after she has moved on to another resonating note.

High praise indeed from this reviewer: seeing Little Dragon live seems to renew my interest in them. They are not a middling electro pop quartet as first thought, but an edgy, slick, dance act complete with ready-made keneticism and pulsing bass. Add to this mix one heck of a front-woman and three guys in matching white tees – repping their lanky swag like stick men on a mission – and the formula seems pretty much perfect. Source.

Le Baron present Little Dragon

If you don’t love Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon, you are not human — and the that line snaked for about three blocks outside of Le Baron yesterday at 7 p.m. (an early start for a nightclub known for playing host to a bevy of partying Parisians) proves that is the case. For those lucky enough to make it in through the tight door, and then again through the extremely tight crowd packed like sardines on the middle floor of the club, Little Dragon played a hell of a show. “Ritual Union,” check. “Please Turn,” check. “Shuffle A Dream,” check. They even played a surprise cover of the 1984 pop hit “Here Comes The Rain Again” by the British duo Eurythmics. Needless to say, it was a magical evening. Source.