Little Dragon Talks Teenager Music, Machine Dreams, and the Problem With Guitars

Were you born without an imagination? Then there's no reason to keep using colorless, stock phrases like "synth-pop" to describe Little Dragon's music. With some effort and a few minutes listening time, you'd probably come up with something as quirky, cute, and strangely apt as singer Yukimi Nagano's preferred genre term: "free-range, organic, synth-R&B fruit cocktail."

Shrugging off the standard guitar-centric setup, this Swedish foursome (Ms. Nagano, drummer Erik Bodin, bass player Fredrick Källgren, keyboard guy Håkan Wirenstrand) has already conjured up two albums full of glittering yet murky electronic tuneage -- 2007's self-titled debut and 2009's Machine Dreams -- with a third on its way.

Last week, Crossfade and Yukimi talked about teenager music, random gigs, the old album, the new album, and the problem with guitars.

Crossfade: The official Little Dragon bio begins with the mention of a previous band called Ava. You, Fredrik, and Erik were all members. What kind of music did that band make?

Yukimi Nagano: It was kind of teenager music in a cute way. The name was a nickname of our friend Arild who played keyboards. But we stopped playing when Arild moved to Stockholm.

After Ava and before Little Dragon, did you all continue making music together?

We pretty much hung out a lot whenever we were free from side jobs and random gigs that we had to pay rent.

How and when did you, Fredrik, and Erik meet Håkan?

Right after high school, Erik joined this reggae band where Håkan was playing keys. And it was love at first sight! He moved into the collective with the rest and from then on we were inseparable.

That collective is the Seal Colonie, right? What exactly is it? An artists' residence? A squat?

It's one of many names for our studio. It used to be overflowing with lazy boys and girls on sofas, waiting for gigs or something to happen. Most of the people didn't live there, but we used to. That place is our headquarters. [It's] where all the magic starts.

The third Little Dragon album is half-done, right? How far along is the writing and recording?

All the songs are there. It's just waiting to be mastered. We want release it this spring and we can't wait! It will be called Ritual Union.

In the past, you've said, "We're a strictly no-guitar band." Does that mean Little Dragon is totally anti-guitar?

None of us plays guitar very well, so that's one reason. I guess we just feel like there are so many guitar bands out there. And we haven't felt inspired to have any guitars on any songs. The third album has no guitars. One day after a lot practice, maybe we'll make some kind of a guitar jam. Who knows? We try to stay open-minded!

Little Dragon with Billygoat, presented by Nightdrive. Friday, January 28. Electric Pickle, 450 NW 37th Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 via Call 305-456-5613 or visit

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S. Pajot