Little Dragon released their latest EP, Lover Chanting, this month. Now signed to U.K. independent label Ninja Tune, they’ve got a busy few months ahead. The Swedish four-piece, made up of Yukimi Nagano, Fredrik Wallin, Håkan Wirenstrand and Erik Bodin, was initially formed in the band’s hometown of Gothenburg in 1996. Born out of a mutual love for eclectic musical genres, they were in high school at the time. They’ve since worked with the likes of Gorillaz, De La Soul, SBTRKT and Big Boi. Their music is a charming combination of dreamy electronic beats, smooth vocals and an earthy, full sound that sits just on the edge of pop. Excited about their latest release, the band take Cool Brother behind the scenes during the making of the Lovers Chanting music video.
View Little Dragon's Lover Chanting video below.
Where was the Lover Chanting video filmed? It's a beautiful location.
It was in Kent, I believe – the Garden of England! It was only the one day. We got there in the morning and had a lovely English breakfast, then we had an hour of make up and danced. These two lovely boys from Liverpool thought of the concept behind the video. They were spinning on this whole video game idea. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we wanted to keep it creative. Sometimes you make a video and you’re hardly in it, but we asked for really big characters, so it’s not just Yukimi and her beautiful face in this one; it’s all of the rough boys of the band too.
You’re a very performative band in general, aren’t you?
When you realise walking out on stage is a bit of theatre in itself, you realise you can be more than just a band; you can break it up with something you’re interested in, take it further. If you’re super on-point with the delivery and the technical aspects of being a musician, it’s alright to be goofy.
You’re currently touring the States. How’s that going so far?
It’s going good! We’re playing in Brooklyn tonight. We had one show in Boston where we supported Gorillaz too. That was big! Sometimes being a support band can be a bit challenging, but I felt like we really got some love. The whole entourage was such a big circus. I don’t know how many people, trucks and forklifts were there… It’s always a bit of a parallel universe being in America.
I heard the name Little Dragon was inspired by Yukimi having tantrums. Is that still the case, or are things a lot calmer now?
[Laughs] That’s how the band name started maybe, but there aren’t really any tantrums now! She has a gift for being honest and she will let it out – but then once it’s out, it’ll be peaceful. The name is just something that we’ve stuck with.
Well, it’s a good name! How did you get into music?
I think we all started quite young. We all had relatives who were musicians, so we were shown a reality of taking musical risks. We met in high school – so, at that time, jazz was like the fine art of music, and that was the focus. I think after high school, when we didn’t really get any further with our jazz explorations, we took the parts of it that we liked and started to play all kinds of music. We started mixing it up and not caring so much about other people’s opinions. There were a couple of years where we were quite fragile and shy to show our music because we thought it was weird. Luckily, someone heard it and wanted to release it.
And now you’re getting Grammy nominations!
Yeah! The Grammy nomination was very, very weird. It would be stupid not to say that I was mind blown, but my love for music and art is so much bigger than what a bunch of corrupt dudes in the music industry decide. I don’t know, it’s crazy.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
For a long time, it was Jimi Hendrix. He was my main idol. Håkan, who’s the main inspiration for our whole synth sound, grew up playing violins and accordions, so there’s a lot of mixture going on. But Jimi Hendrix was definitely one of my big influences, just due to the psychedelic aspects of it, especially on Band of Gypsys. They play so full on, it’s really inspiring.
And who've been some of your favourite collaborators you've worked with?
It was really fun working with Big Boi, ‘cos we spent some proper time together. It was good because we got into a deeper level. And also around then, actually, we did something with Jai Paul. I don’t know where he is now, but we really admired his music. Jai Paul did this very soulful, electronic, lo-fi music maybe eight years ago or something. It was super deep.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
I think we’re gonna see how this goes. It feels very positive so far, it’s so fun to release with Ninja Tune and they’re so excited. So, I think we’re gonna keep on making more music and hopefully start finishing an album somewhere around next spring. It’ll probably be out in the fall next year hopefully! I feel like we are definitely excited and inspired for new music and to explore and see what’s next.
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