The Irish Times feature Little Dragon: “Enter the Dragon”

Swedish four-piece Little Dragon are the band everyone wants to collaborate with. Jim Carroll talks to Fredrik Källgren Wallin about their third album From Gotenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon’s three albums to date have been lauded for the four-piece’s ability to marry off-kilter pop and sublime grooves. They’re also the band everyone wants to collaborate with, as shown by appearances on albums by Gorillaz, Big Boi, Raphael Saadiq, SBTRKT and David Sitek’s Maximum Balloon.

How much do you think new album Ritual Union has benefited from the collaborations you’ve done?

“Subconsciously, I think the collaborations we’ve done have maybe increased our confidence, but the fact that it was our third album also had a part to play. I don’t think a band can get to a third album these days without feeling confident about what they’re doing. The appreciation we’ve received for our music has a lot to do with our well-being.”

One of the interesting things about Little Dragon is how your sound has developed over three albums.

“I think it’s important that we’re always ourselves and don’t compromise. I think there was a point earlier in our career when our music was too experimental but it’s good to see people catching on to what you do without having to change. When we’re in the studio, it’s more about challenging ourselves with what we can do.”

You were on the last Gorillaz album and also their world tour. How did that feel?

“I suppose of all the collaborations we’ve done, the whole Gorillaz thing stands out. That was the first big one and the tour was really brilliant too. It was a big touring party so it felt a little surreal to be travelling around with these people. It was really interesting to play on those big stages. We didn’t have to change much of our set or material to work in those rooms, it all just came together. It was also interesting to play for people who weren’t necessarily there to see you at all.”

How do those collaborations come about in the first place? Do your people get a call from their people and, if the money’s right, you meet up?

“With Gorillaz, it was very relaxed and a lot of fun. We went into the studio, Damon played us a couple of tracks, we picked two of them and did some work on them. At that stage, we didn’t even know if the tracks would end up on an album but they were there! I don’t think there was any pressure, it was just some really nice songs we wanted to work on. The money side of things didn’t come into it.”

So who’s next up to work with Little Dragon?

“We’ve had a lot of approaches from acts who want to, I suppose, get that Little Dragon sound, if you want to call it that. But I think that kind of production work is for the future. There are a few projects due to happen, but I can’t talk about them now. No, not even to you.”

How important has Gothenburg been to you as a band?

“We’re still based in Gothenburg. There’s an interesting scene there. The Knife are from the city and you also have a great band called Studio. Then, there’s the metal scene, which we don’t know a lot about. There’s definitely a lot of creativity and people playing around in studios. I suppose it’s like a lot of places when the technology is so easy and anyone can get access to it. There’s not that many live music places or places for musicians to hang out, though.”

Ritual Union is out now on Peacefrog. Little Dragon play Dublin’s Button Factory on November 29. Source.

Video: Little Dragon interviewed by FBiRadio

I caught this when it was posted moments ago by For The Love Of Little Dragon, so a big shout out to them for the find. Unnecessary sitenote: Yukimi Nagano looks like a f’ing rock star here. The evasive sunglasses worn indoors always do it, don’t they? A certain Julian Casablancas vibe going there, certainly.

“Going from crowds of 10 people in Galway, Ireland…” Oh, man. No one lives in Galway. Even Morrissey had a show in Galway recently which was held in what seemed like a school gym with the smell of chlorine in the air from the swimming pool next door. The east coast is where most of us hang out, that’s where the people are. Well, I’m very glad to see they’ve gone from 10 people in Galway to their next Irish venue having been changed to an even bigger venue to accommodate the demand. The band is growing.

New York’s Metro speak to Fred

Little Dragon may be the quintessential artist’s band. The music that the Swedish four-piece make strikes a nerve with fans, but especially with other musicians. They play conventional rock instruments, but their heavy emphasis on keyboards gives the songs an electronic gloss. Combined with pop and funk sensibilities, the songs sound how Stereolab might if Prince joined the band.

Bassist Fredrik Kallgren Wallin says sharing ideas with other bands is one of his favorite aspects of playing with Little Dragon. The band has collaborated with Gorillaz, indulged in a side project with Jose Gonzalez, and traded remixes with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, which Wallin says was an especially rewarding experience: “It’s a nice way of exchanging energy. It’s not a collaboration, but you can add your flavor or get some new flavors for your own stuff.”

What actually drew Met-ro to the band was other artists talking about Little Dragon. Word of mouth has always been a key to finding the best new music, and when the mouths delivering that word are well-respected singers, it’s even harder to ignore. When we asked Janelle Monae what she was listening to lately, Little Dragon was one of the first acts she mentioned. And Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant, who played this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, said Little Dragon would be a dream collaboration, literally.

“I actually had a dream about playing with them last night,” he said at the time. “I was hanging out at their house and I started drawing something in a sketchbook, and we just started talking. … We were not really collaborating as much yet, but I guess it was coming into formation.”

When we share this anecdote with Wallin, he has a good laugh. “That sounds fun,” he says.

The artwork for Little Dragon’s new album, “Ritual Union,” is populated with snapshots of couples on their wedding day. And the title track explores the idea of marriage with a slight air of fear. Wallin explains the contrast.

“It’s from our family archives of parents, relatives and grandparents,” he explains. “It’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, and a lot of our parents are divorced.”