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Little Dragon

Little Dragon

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Monday 19th January, 2015 2:54PM

Early last year Swedish trip hop outfit Little Dragon released their fourth album Nabuma Rubberband, a record steeped in the influences of  Janet Jackson slow jams. The four-piece set to work on the album in early 2013 after a period of touring, deciding to peel back their hectic schedules and take the time to make a more considered set of songs. The result is a shimmering collection of ambient offerings that features string players from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra as well as a guest appearance from Dave from De La Soul, and gained a nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the Grammys. With the group set to appear at Laneway Festival next week, UnderTheRadar sat down to chat with bandmember Erik Bodin about the album and the series of zombie-themed videos it spawned...

Hi Erik, how's your day going?

It’s going really good. I managed to leave the kids at the daycare on time, and now it’s daddy’s freedom.

So not such a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?

No, no... well actually, being forced to wake up at 6.30am feels kind of rock ‘n’ roll in a way. But I don’t have to go to the airport, I just have to feed kids and changes diapers and feed myself and try to be a happy man. But it’s all good.

I understand you guys have your own purpose built studio, is that a relatively new thing?

No, it’s an old thing. I got lucky and I had some musician friends who had a little collective, and they were moving out, it was like 2001, and I took it over from them and eventually all the Little Dragons lived in the same apartment. We turned it into a studio a few years later. So we’ve had our own studio for 10 years or so now. We are very lucky.

Yeah, it sounds like a blessing in terms of being able to be productive. Do you find yourself going in there everyday?

Yeah, we always try and go there and treat it as a 9 to 5 work, that’s the place we should be when we have nothing to do. But, you know, it comes and goes. When you are travelling a lot you usually need a week or two to do the things you missed out on while you were away, but yeah, we try to go there everyday. It’s a very nice place actually. It’s like an oasis in a rainy, cold, grey Gothenburg.

Is that where you you guys hang out and listen to Janet Jackson slow jams?

Exactly, haha.

Nabuma Rubberband
is your fourth album, was there any goal that you set out to achieve with it as a band?

Well, the first goal was to slow down our hectic pace because we had been touring so much and make something really meaningful to us. Not to say that the other records weren’t meaningful, but we were in such a rushed pace and we wanted to slow everything down and that ended up in us making a lot of slow jams. We had always strived for dancier stuff before, but we decided to embrace this slower side of ourselves. I think it comes quite easy for us to do ambient songs. I think we were just aiming to be ourselves, with confidence.

In terms of your role, as the drummer, what does that shift to a slower style mean for you?

It means a lot of time in the kitchen cooking food while the others make music, haha no. When we write music and record we all play all instruments, I play a lot of keyboards and other things. So my role as a drummer doesn’t appear clearly until we are on tour. It goes for all of us, we all play all the instruments.

That must keep things interesting…

Yeah, definitely. I really feel like this record in particular is very representative of all us. People are playing all kind of instruments and it makes a nice mesh of all the things we are.

I wanted to ask you about the video series for ‘Klapp Klapp’ and ‘Pretty Girls’, which is quite interesting in that it's two mini-movies strung together… is there a third instalment on the way?

Ahh, that’s a good idea actually. At the moment there is no plans for a third one but it definitely feels like it could go on for quite some time, the theme of zombies taking over.

Where did the concept for that come from, I see Nabil was involved in both videos in some capacity…

Yeah, we reached out to him and asked if he was interested in making a video, and he really loved ‘Pretty Girls’, but the label wanted to release ‘Klapp Klapp’ as the single. So he said, "okay I’ll make something for both". We didn’t really realise they were going to be a series. But yeah, they went to the Dominican Republic and made a voodoo zombie thing happen. I don’t really know how they made the graveyard scene. I hope they didn’t dig up actual zombies.

Nabil has a whole host of videos to him name including a recent one with FKA Twigs, what drew you to him?

We always wished we could afford one of these big video makers, and he was definitely one of our favourites. The videos we have before have been made by friends or up-and-coming artists, and they’ve been really really good, the ‘Twice’ video still stands out so much. But when you find an artist you really like want to given them free reign to listen to the music and see what they come up with, basically.

Little Dragon are playing at Laneway Festival 2015 on Monday 26th January. Head over here for more details and to see the full line-up.

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