This weekend, Americans (and everyone watching online) will be able to catch Little Dragon kick off a brand new tour cycle with some unmissable sets on the Gobi Stage at Coachella. Not since 2014 have we heard new music from the Swedish four piece but come tomorrow, we’ll have a brand new album in Season High to play with – a release frontwoman Yukimi Nagano is understandably excited about.
“We feel really excited and happy with the music,” she says. “We’ve spent so much time working on it and listening to the songs. When they’re being mixed and stuff, we probably listen to them the most intensively over and over again. At this point, it’s about letting it go and it feels really good. It’s like, ‘Okay – I don’t have to deal with the song unless its with the new experience of playing it live’. It’s about letting it live its life and letting it go – it feels really exciting.”
Tailored dance floor hits thread through and intertwine with moments of layered sonic intimacy and that broad electronic pop sensibility that first endeared Little Dragon to many audiences around the world, on Season High. With Coachella and a slew of live shows in the pipeline positioning the album to flourish vibrantly in the live arena, Nagano has her head very much in tour mode.
“We have been rehearsing for the last few months and we’re about to start touring. We start in LA with Coachella, so it’s coming up!” she enthuses. “It feels really amazing. It’s a lot of fun. I’m more nervous now because it feels so real when someone says they’re going to be [at a show or festival]; it’s like a dream. I’m excited.”
For a band that formed just over 20 years ago now, to still be experiencing the not-quite-real effects musical success can bring is testament to the forward-thinking and boundary pushing nature of Little Dragon as musicians. Sure, they might provide a fully fleshed out live show that is dance party inciting each time, but talking with Nagano about the process of developing an album, it’s clear that with each musical chapter Little Dragon enters, it’s not a process without its unique complexities and challenges.
“That’s how we write, in layers.” she says of Season High and the intricacies of the music. “You maybe will start the song and it will be a very stripped down drum beat and bass and then you discover a melody and then another melody, and then you discover a pad and then you’ve got the vocals and harmonies. We definitely also are suckers for zoning in on tracks and adding little bits and pieces everywhere. It’s definitely made that way – for things to be discovered. Even lyrically, I guess, it’s not always straightforward.”
Comparing their new material and its creation to that of 2014’s Nabuma Rubberband, Nagano reflects on the working dynamic of Little Dragon as it’s continued to develop, despite the band mates having worked with each other for so long.
“It feels different,” she says of the two records. “It [Nabuma Rubberband] was [made in] a different time. We feel like we’ve evolved and tried to do something new every time. Not to try and copy the last record, but we’re still us, so it’s always going to have that thread, I guess.”
“I think it was a struggle, definitely.” she admits, recalling the process behind Season High. “We argued a lot. Back when we made the first album and we’d argue, it was in a way of slamming doors and crying and screaming at each other – fighting. Now, we’ve evolved in the sense that we can have discussions and disagree and get flushed, but we’re still four very strongwilled people. For some reason, it seems like our will just gets stronger. It can be quite challenging sometimes and it has been for this record.”
Having four passionate and driven opinions flying around a studio even now, after two decades of writing music together though, is a great indicator of the creative space a band like Little Dragon still occupies as Nagano agrees.
“That’s how we try to look at it,” she laughs. “Otherwise we’d go crazy and give up! It’s like marriage counselling in that sense; you have to remind yourself that every relationship has problems, even the best ones! We’re still here though so it’s like, ‘Let’s deal with the next one.'”
Season High is released tomorrow, April 14th, via Warner Music Australia.