Enter the Dragon

Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 00:00

Swedish four-piece Little Dragon are the band everyone wants to collaborate with. JIM CARROLLtalks to Fredrik Källgren Wallin about their third album

FROM GOTHENBURG, Sweden, Little Dragon’s three albums to date have been lauded for the four-piece’s ability to marry off-kilter pop and sublime grooves. They’re also the band everyone wants to collaborate with, as shown by appearances on albums by Gorillaz, Big Boi, Raphael Saadiq, SBTRKT and David Sitek’s Maximum Balloon.

How much do you think new album Ritual Unionhas benefited from the collaborations you’ve done?

“Subconsciously, I think the collaborations we’ve done have maybe increased our confidence, but the fact that it was our third album also had a part to play. I don’t think a band can get to a third album these days without feeling confident about what they’re doing. The appreciation we’ve received for our music has a lot to do with our well-being.”

One of the interesting things about Little Dragon is how your sound has developed over three albums.

“I think it’s important that we’re always ourselves and don’t compromise. I think there was a point earlier in our career when our music was too experimental but it’s good to see people catching on to what you do without having to change. When we’re in the studio, it’s more about challenging ourselves with what we can do.”

You were on the last Gorillaz album and also their world tour. How did that feel?

“I suppose of all the collaborations we’ve done, the whole Gorillaz thing stands out. That was the first big one and the tour was really brilliant too. It was a big touring party so it felt a little surreal to be travelling around with these people. It was really interesting to play on those big stages. We didn’t have to change much of our set or material to work in those rooms, it all just came together. It was also interesting to play for people who weren’t necessarily there to see you at all.”

How do those collaborations come about in the first place? Do your people get a call from their people and, if the money’s right, you meet up?

“With Gorillaz, it was very relaxed and a lot of fun. We went into the studio, Damon played us a couple of tracks, we picked two of them and did some work on them. At that stage, we didn’t even know if the tracks would end up on an album but they were there! I don’t think there was any pressure, it was just some really nice songs we wanted to work on. The money side of things didn’t come into it.”

So who’s next up to work with Little Dragon?

“We’ve had a lot of approaches from acts who want to, I suppose, get that Little Dragon sound, if you want to call it that. But I think that kind of production work is for the future. There are a few projects due to happen, but I can’t talk about them now. No, not even to you.”

How important has Gothenburg been to you as a band?

“We’re still based in Gothenburg. There’s an interesting scene there. The Knife are from the city and you also have a great band called Studio. Then, there’s the metal scene, which we don’t know a lot about. There’s definitely a lot of creativity and people playing around in studios. I suppose it’s like a lot of places when the technology is so easy and anyone can get access to it. There’s not that many live music places or places for musicians to hang out, though.”

Ritual Unionis out now on Peacefrog. Little Dragon play Dublin’s Button Factory on November 29