indieberlin interviews Little Dragon’s singer Yukimi Nagano about the secret of staying together as a band for two decades, career highlights and future plans.
The Swedish electronic music band has been touring around Europe and has scheduled the last concert in Berlin at Astra Kulturhaus on the 8th of December.
indieberlin raffles two tickets to the concert in our newsletter. To take part in the raffle subscribe for our letter and forward it to win (at) indieberlin (dot) de.
Tantrums in the studio
ib: The story tells that your band is named after your tantrums in the studio – is this still true about you?
It happens but not very often, every now and then. I think there were definitely more tantrums in the past.
ib: You’ve been playing together as a band for almost two decades – what’s your secret in staying together and putting up with each other year after year?
We started out just as friends, and we weren’t writing songs. We were just friends and we’d meet and play music and jam out. And it wasn’t maybe until 2005 that we were writing music together. I think that when you have that kind of friendship and connection it definitely helps.
Everyone is also producing and creative so there’s not just one mastermind who makes all decisions. We’re all very
collaborative in that sense and I think that’s an important aspect in being a band. I think none of us is really a solo people, we all like to collaborate together and when you have that joy you experience that joy stronger together than if you were just yourself.
ib: Have you changed as a band along with your career?
Yeah definitely. I mean even though we weren’t a band in the beginning when we first met I was like 14 and a little bit gothic. I definitely feel like I’ve changed since I was 14. And people go through different phases, I guess. You obviously don’t want to repeat yourself.
A busy year behind
ib: You released your latest album Nabuma Rubberband in May. How has your year been otherwise?
It’s been really, really fun. We started with doing some shows in Europe, and then we played Coachella in US, which was really exciting and fun. A lot of festivals in the summer time.
It’s been good to see people experiencing the songs live and singing along the music. I feel like it’s been really exciting.
ib: You switched the label when publishing your latest album. How did the releasing process differ from previous albums?
I think it was different in the sense that we had proper videos and it was quite creative in the marketing side. People were working around us, so that was really fun to see.
ib: Could you describe your song writing process?
It varies from time to time. The guys all produce so I get a lot of beats and loops and stuff from them. I feel like I constantly have all this music to write to and almost like I can’t keep up because they are three people and I’m one.
Sometimes we also try to write from scratch, and I think that’s something we want to try to do more in the future, kind of writing the song first and then recording it. But I think generally with the other records the music has been the starting point because there’s just so much music that they make all the time.
Festivals versus club gigs
ib: You’ve played around the world at various types of venues from festivals to clubs. Which kind of places do you prefer to play at?
It varies. Festivals are fun. Obviously some festivals are kind of dreadful in the sense that it can be really muddy and rainy and uncomfortable. But a good festival is always a big high because there’s so many people and people are there to really have a good time. At the same time there may be a lot of people who don’t know who you are, so it’s really about playing and making an impression, having people discover you and experience you for the first time.
Festivals are different from doing your own intimate show. But I think both of them are good. I enjoy a great festival but also love having a good proper, long set in a club.
ib: Do you have a favourite venue to play at?
Not really. I think it’s nice to come back but it’s also nice to play new places. Every time it’s different and I kind of like the variation. Sometimes a shitty day at a shitty venue ends up being a fantastic show and sometimes a show where everything in the production and everything is clean and perfect ends up being a stiff show.
It all kind of varies, I can’t say that there’s one place that is really perfect, it all has to do with all the circumstances around.
First sold-out show and other big moments
ib: You’ve collaborated with artists like Big Boi and The Gorillaz. Is there some particular highlights in your career that you could point out?
Yeah I think there’s been many highlight through the years. Looking back I think it’s been very exciting to see how the crowds have grown. Coachella this year was fun, Glastonbury was also kind of a big moment. If I look back the first sold-out show was a big moment.
ib: There seems to be a lot of Swedish bands and artists performing and gaining success in Berlin and Germany in general – what do you think is the reason for this?
I don’t know actually. But I’m very proud of it. I think we are very influenced by American and British music in Sweden and I feel like there’s a history of lot of bands coming out of Sweden. When it comes to some really big bands like Abba or Roxette and stuff like that, there’s always been Swedish bands out there.
ib: Could you compare the music scene in Berlin and your hometown Gothenburg to each other – are there any similarities?
I don’t know so much about the music scene in Berlin but I’m guessing that there’s a lot of everything. The club scene seems vibrant with electronic music. I don’t think we have that in Gothenburg in the same way at all. Clubs close at 2 am and, and they probably don’t play as experimental house music as maybe people are used to in Berlin.
In Gothenburg there’s a lot of bands, a metal scene, a lot of bands that are big outside of Sweden, folk music and singer-songwriters.
New stuff on the way
ib: Do you listen to music together with the band mates?
On the bus we sometimes listen to music together. A lot of electronic music and house music, but it varies. Sometimes we get nostalgic and listen to Kraftwerk or Fleetwood Mac or something like that.
ib: Could you tell me about your future plans?
I think the future for us is this coming tour ending in December in Berlin. After that we are playing in Thailand, next year in Australia. Then I think our feeling is to write new music and come out with some new stuff.
ib: Thank you!
Interview by Kiira Koskela
Photos by Marco van Rijt