Sweden’s Little Dragon spreads its wings
During the latter stages of August, Little Dragon suffered through the kind of routing that would make even the most grizzled tour veteran groan. Playing a few record release shows in support of the brand-spanking-new Ritual Union, the Swedish foursome—coming to Big Sur’s Henry Miller Library on Tuesday, Sept. 6—made stops in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Belgium over the span of four days.
“It was very tight scheduling, but it was also very inspiring,” says drummer Erik Bodin.
“Those shows were really for the fans,” breaks in singer Yukimi Nagano. “The tickets were really cheap, and the fans were really up for it.”
That’s certainly a lot of frequent flier miles. But to hear the band—rounded out by bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin and keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand—talk about the experience, jet lag wasn’t even part of the equation. Deriving a little extra motivation from exhaustion is just one of several peculiar dualities apparent within Little Dragon’s synth-laced dance music.
“It actually is a little bit mystical,” explains Bodin. “We were very exhausted, but there’s an energy in everything we do, so once we’re on stage it’s easy to feed off that.”
In fact, duality is something that the band seems to have an active awareness of. Case in point: in past interviews, Little Dragon has spoken about having a strict “no guitar” policy. However, if you were to ask Bodin about the artist he would most like to work with—living or dead—his answer would be Jimi Hendrix.
“We are a bit mysterious. We say one thing and then go another way,” teases Bodin. “We are more strict with our words than with what we do.”
Perhaps the most bizarre duality in Little Dragon’s world is the lack of attention they’ve received in their homeland of Sweden. It’s definitely an alternative-music-loving country—even the famed export Kent has turned to electronic beats on its past couple albums—so who knows why Little Dragon’s dreamy soundscapes don’t receive the same love they do in the States.
“We just haven’t had that many requests to play shows in Sweden,” explains Nagano. “But in the U.S., [Los Angeles-based NPR affiliate] KCRW has been very supportive of us. We’ve met so many people who have been helping us out in any way they can, people doing press for us, fans offering help.”
In fact, the band’s first-ever sold-out show occurred at the Roxy on Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip. That achievement had been a long time coming, as Little Dragon has existed among the four high school friends, in one form or another, since 1996.
“There was a very specific moment when we decided to get serious,” recalls Bodin, referring to when friend-of-the-band Christopher Berg put out their first 7-inch EP in 2007. “It was a big milestone, someone putting their confidence in us. Up until then we weren’t trying to promote ourselves. We were shy, maybe.”
Putting out that EP—Twice/Test—was the impetus for finally picking a band name, and the rest (as they say) is history. Releasing its debut album later that year, Little Dragon saw a fast ascension to indie favoritism, and has maintained that momentum since.
That said, three albums in, it seems like the band is at a critical point in its career. Do their nightclub-ready beats cross over to some more mainstream success, or are they content to hold on to their esoteric charm? For Little Dragon, it’s all a duality.
Little Dragon performs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Henry Miller Library, Hwy 1, Big Sur. Tickets are $34 in advance. For more information, call 667-2574.