Little Dragon Talk Live-Stream Gigs, Working With Kali Uchis, And Their New Album

Little Dragon Talk Live-Stream Gigs, Working With Kali Uchis, And Their New Album

Yukimi Nagano speaks to Clash from self-isolation...

Moving chaotically around the room adorned in a flowery perspex jacket, Yukimi dances alongside the band, perfectly framed by hand-painted walls and soft pink and blue lighting. Thousands of fans watch, but not a single one of them is in the room.

“Hello and welcome to the Little Dragon headquarters,” she announces as the live stream gig kicks into action.

“This feels like the second best thing after touring, being able to get creative in this situation!” she tells Clash just 24 hours before the virtual performance and the release of Little Dragon’s sixth studio album, ‘New Me, Same Us’.

“It was weird to go out on the road, play three shows and have to head back home. We felt so ready for it. But of course, we were just happy to come home safe.”

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The Swedish four-piece have moved at an unstoppable pace since their very first album some 13 years ago. ‘New Me, Same Us' sees a whirlwind of synths, velvety vocals and the occasional soulful ballad, etching into the long history of the band and their undeniable chemistry.

“It’s crazy, this is our sixth album and we’re still learning things with every release. Times change so much in the music business, it’s not a case of knowing everything by your third album. We’re always learning and making mistakes,” says Yukimi, reflecting on their previous releases. “You just have to stay on your feet.”

But Little Dragon’s consistency to impress plays harmonically to their ever-changing sound and the calming semblance that comes with each release. ‘New Me, Same Us’ is bathed in positivity; something that shines through equally in Yukimi, and something that perfectly exemplifies the band’s idyllic work/play setting of Gothenburg.

“I guess we’re a bit isolated here from a lot of musical sub-cultures that you get more of in the UK. Maybe this is in some ways to our advantage because it’s helped to define our sound”, she says.

Powered by their own gauge on genre-freedom, Little Dragon spent their formative years juggling sounds while denying a sense of belonging to one genre or another. “We met at school, I was fourteen at the time. We took extra music classes and after a while, it dawned on me that we were a band. It was something we always dreamed about but seemed like a far-fetched fantasy.”

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“Our sound has changed over the years simultaneously as we’ve changed as people. I feel like a completely different person to the Yukimi who wrote that first album, and I don’t want people to judge me just based off of that,” she explains. “After we release our music we never really listen to it again. It doesn’t feel like it’s ours anymore so we just let it go out into the world to do its thing.”

Almost three years on the dot since their last album, Little Dragon have continued the momentum with live shows, bringing back tracks which now run riot in the world. “A lot of songs can change when we play them live. They become something different - I guess it’s really about the energy between the crowd and us on the stage."

‘No worries, no worries, no, you’re gonna be alright’ are the opening lyrics of ‘Are You Feeling Sad?’, Little Dragon’s latest single and ultimate track on the new album featuring Columbian-American star Kali Uchis. The song effortlessly finds its way through a spectrum of heartbreak and self-love, backed by an expanse of glittery percussion.

“We’ve never really had anyone on our tracks before, but when it feels right, it feels right. She really compliments the song,” says Yukimi. “We’re used to being on other people’s tracks!” she laughs, alluding to Little Dragon’s endless range of collaborators - from Gorillaz to Kaytranada; Floating Points to SBTRKT.

Yet, the band still prove difficult to categorise. “Any music that comes into your brain inspires you whether you like it or not. I recently came back to an old influence that I forgot about, Leon Thomas. Kind of spiritual jazz, whatever you wanna call it. I find comfort in listening to him.”

With such an impressive trajectory in their musical career, it can only beg the question: what’s next?

“Our next plans are to take things day by day and see where we are at the moment. Oh, and be creative! I love doodling and drawing. There’s a lot of fun homemade stuff you can do and people really appreciate the handmade touch!”

“Hopefully we’ll be able to play for our fans again once it’s safe,” she says, equal measures optimistic and prepared. While the future is uncertain in these unusual times, one silver lining that comes in the shape of Little Dragon’s new album has us singing along in isolation, joyously out of key.

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'New Me, Same Us' is out now.

Words: Gemma Ross
Photography: Ellebn Edmar + Mous Lamrabat

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