Behind the scenes of Little Dragon and Gorillaz

Here are two very, very interesting videos (brought to my attention by a very kind contributor, Andrew), providing a rare glimpse into the humble nature of creating art and the fragility of the process, too. The glances that tell more than words could, and the light treading over undefined soundscapes.

1:46 – Hakan and Yukimi speaking to Damon Albarn about the “constant fragmentation of everything”. Note: At first I thought this was pretentious rambling, but it’s an interesting concept and possibly true.
2:14 – Yukimi recording vocals for “To Binge,” and Fredrick delicately providing that synth riff that’s so perfectly suits. “I watch the coloured animals cross the floor.”

2:40 – Fredrik and Hakan playing around on some keys.
2:42 – Yukimi picks out the instrumental to “Empire Ants” as a potential song she wants to work on. This is a fascinating clip, highlighting how Gorillaz’s/Damon’s collaborative process truly works. (By the by, nicely chosen track, Ms. Nagano.)
3:11-4:18 – Yukimi provides a layer of vocals over a rough instrumental edit of “Empire Ants”. This is an edit prior to the improvements and creativity brought about by Fred, Hakan, and Erik (who I can’t see in any of the videos), I assume.

Interesting stuff, eh?

I’m heading to California tomorrow for two months, with a slight chance of making the UCLA JazzReggae Festival in Los Angeles. To everyone going, have a great time and make sure to enjoy the event. To those in Tel Aviv tonight, we wish you the same.

Little Dragon and José González: the collaborators

This first video, a performance of “How Low” by José González and Yukimi Nagano in Marfa, Texas, has recently done the rounds on Tumblr, and I thought it senseless not to feature it here as I hadn’t seen it before myself. Also, I thought I’d use this as a way of extending the post into a collaboration article between the band and the solo-artist that is José González. The second video (where Erik and Yukimi provide backing vocals and percussion) is of “Killing For Love” and was shot in Nyhetsmorgon, 2007.

“How Low”

“Killing For Love”

This is an astoundingly moving live performance of “The Nest” by José González, alongside Yukimi who co-wrote this song. And that’s an important thing to note, that this is a Nagano written tune, too. Referring to “The Nest” in a performance in Los Angeles in 2007, José said, “The next song is about nationalism and paranoia.” On the studio version, available on his record In Our Nature or by clicking here, you can hear Hakan provide this mesmerising layering of synthesiser which confusingly grows naturally beside González’s acoustic patterns. Erik also provides percussion throughout the whole record and has toured with José. Here’s another couple of videos, too: “Time To Send Someone Away” and “Abram”. (These videos were produced by Guy Hajaj (of haoneg.com), and recorded and mixed at Mearbel studios in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 11th 2008.)

“The Nest”

“Time To Send Someone Away”

“Abram”

This “Artist Portrait” of José also features video footage of Yukimi and Erik. Have I missed out on any videos or songs or facts? Probably. Help me out.

Yukimi Nagano and Raphael Saadiq “Just Don’t” fail

When those guitar chords hit on opening, does anyone else hear Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me”? Oh, that song gives me goosebumps. Here is yet another collaboration, this time in the form of a vocal appearance by Yukimi Nagano on Raphael Saadiq’s new record, Stone Rollin’, in the shape of track eight, “Just Don’t”.

Yukimi’s drifts in at the halfway point like a ghostly whisper, “I tell you all my secrets / Everythin’ I dreamed of / It’ll be a long list… / I’ll always be your lover / For me there is no other…”, accompanied by a line of keyboard synth that breathes like a stylised saxophone, produced to a clarity not found in much else but Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid. It’s that kind of sound. That kind of impression.

As a Little Dragon fan you may well know that during the early days of Little Dragon Ms. Nagano aimed for a voice and a musical aesthetic closer to the R&B she adored (aren’t we glad the unique sound of Little Dragon was discovered instead?). Well, here we have a realisation of such a role, and further proof – as if our ears needed it – that her voice transcends genres and not only that, but is entirely timeless, too.

As a nod to Raphael, I provide you with an audio-only presentation of the song sung live (without the aid of Yukimi, unfortunately), and it’s a sensational offering. The record is called Stone Rollin’ and if you’ve got some money to spare on a musical investment for this week, let it be that.

Thanks to Julia, too, for brining this song back to the fore of my mind. You’re too kind for your efforts. Hope you all enjoy it. Note: To the band: If you’d like to collaborate with Julian Casablancas or the Strokes as a whole, then you will have completed my life and I can bow out as a satisfied man. Thank you in advance.

Little Dragon (who will collaborate with DJ Shadow) speak to the BBC

Some short words from Yukimi and Erik here, thanks to the investigatory skills of the BBC. There’s some talk about the current state of Gorillaz, an impending showdown with DJ Shadow, their recording processes, and 2011’s Glastonbury festival. Okay, so it’s not in depth, and besides the DJ Shadow snippet it’s nothing particularly new, but it is something and further exposure for the band.

Little Dragon will tonight take to the Digital stage in London for a sold out show. To everyone there, we envy you.

Little Dragon and SBTRKT start a “Wildfire”

Edit: Attempted lyrics here.

Update: “The masked South London producer known as SBTRKT is working on the follow-up to last year’s Step in Shadows EP, and is offering “Wildfire”, a collaboration with Little Dragon, as our first taste from the record. The self-titled album is due June 28 from Young Turks.” – Pitchfork. So we can assume it’s another band collaboration, which always adds spice to the excitement.

So, we have another collaboration for the year of 2011. This time Yukimi has lent her vocal stylings to SBTRKT. The song is called “Wildfire” and as far as I can tell the album is self-titled, so look out for SBTRKT by SBTRKT soon. BBC’s Zane Lowe called it the hottest record in the world (“Great new weird and wonky Hottest Record from SBTRKT tonight. Featuring Little Dragon, ‘Wildfire’ is a great song adapted to the sub. Not the other way around. Which is nice.”) and you can follow SBTRKT on Twitter.

Catchy, right? It needs a few more listens, but immediately there’s a melodic line that compensates for any misgivings. I’m unsure if the rest of the band have played a part in this or not. Soulculture.co.uk say, “SBTRKT’s upcoming self-titled album which will be released on June 28th via Young Turks.”

Also, good luck to the band who play their home town tonight.