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Little Dragon Roars

High school buddies and bandmates from Gothenburg talk to us about being musical slaves, going on tour and their upcoming release Ritual Union

The Swedish electronic quartet, Little Dragon return with their third album featuring straightforward catchy pop tunes, continuing their usual trippy sound and dreamy dance-oriented vibes. Their “Ritual Union” LP, released in July, featured their first single, “Nightlight”, before they played Glasto this summer despite their hatred of mud and bad English weather. Here we speak to the eccentric foursome about their latest sounds and Scandinavian origins.

Dazed Digital: You've worked with other Sweden-based artists like José Gonzalez, does Gothenburg have a great density of musicians per square metre?
Erik Bodin: Yeah, me and Yukimi used to play with him.
Yukimi Nagano: Percussion and background vocals. We were more like…
Erik Bodin: … Musical slaves (laughs)
Fredrik Källgren Wallin: In Gothenburg there's a lot of people making music, more than we know I guess.
Erik Bodin: It's kind of isolated. People don't really mingle.

DD: Would you say that your Swedish origins have influenced your music in anyway?
Yukimi Nagano: Maybe in a very abstract deep hidden way. The music is all written here in Gothenburg... So I would say it's more the Gothenburg origin that spiced it the way it sound.

DD: Erik wears a The Radio Dept. cap, are you in touch with them?
Erik Bodin: Oh, Fredrik introduced them to us. He stole a sweater from them.
Fredrik Källgren Wallin: It wasn't like that (laughs). We were in the same apartment when living in Malmö, they were recording there.

DD: Arguably Ritual Union has been your most successful album to date, how have you developed your sound from your last 2009 release?
Yukimi Nagano: It's like a continuation from the other two but maybe more raw and simple. Yukimi is a big part of the new sound. It's very vocally driven.
DD: You’ve recently collaborated with SBTRKT on his latest album; How did Wildfire come about and why did you think your combination was a good fit?
Yukimi Nagano: We've known about each other for quite a while now. He did a nice remix under another name some years ago. When he reached out and sent some beats to choose from we thought that the wildfire beat would be fun to play with. And so we did.

DD: What was it like on the Gorillaz' world tour?
Yukimi Nagano: The experience of playing in those kind of spaces. That was just a challenge for us. Of course, to be a part of that whole group of so many artists that we admire and we're inspired by. Me and Fred we were there as guests of part of the Gorillaz's show in the US part. It's like a big town on the road.
Erik Bodin: We were playing ping-pong with Damon, he was playing his little game for every show, after sound check sometimes.

DD: A few of your songs have appeared on TV adverts, how do you feel about commercialising music?
Erik Bodin: “Fortune” was in a chocolate commercial in Sweden and also in the film “The Kids are Alright”. Commercialising music for us sometimes is weird in a way, but commercials is a way to spread the music.
Yukimi Nagano: It depends on what it is. There are things like McDonald's which is not interesting. You have to look at it from many different perspectives. I guess you can always do something else with the money you get from it.
Fredrik Källgren Wallin: Chocolate makes people happy. (laughs)

DD: Where will we see Little Dragon in the future?
Yukimi Nagano: Hopefully in the studio making more music but before that it will be everywhere from LA, Probably South America, Texas, Atlanta, New York, Glasgow, Pukkelpop, Copenhagen and Sydney!