By Rich Henrich
While interviewing Chicano Batman last week, Bardo mentioned a band he was really excited to see- enter Little Dragon. Somehow, I’ve been under a rock and completely missed this band. I never heard of their music. I knew nothing about them. Ironically, two days later, I was asked to interview the electronic music band from Gothenburg, Sweden. Lead by vocalist Yukimi Nagano (also plays percussion), the band consists of Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Kallgren Walin (bass) and keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand. Together, they make sweet love to the ears like the B-side of a lost collaboration between Janet Jackson and Prince…and that still does not do their sound complete justice.
Quietly rising out of the European underground and climbing to number 41 on Rolling Stone’s list of 50 Best Albums of 2011 before launching their fourth studio album, Nambuma Rubberband in 2014, Little Dragon met critical acclaim with a nomination for Best Dance/ Electronic Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Now, they have come to the desert to release Season High, the band’s fifth studio album with a unique Sound Bath experience at the Integratron in Joshua Tree before their show at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival.
I was fortunate to be able to talk to Hakan Wirenstrad, the band’s keyboardist about the album and the bands journey.
CVW: Is it true you invited people to a sound bath in Joshua Tree for your listening party?
Hakan: Yeah (he laughs a little). It’s not a complete record release but more like a meditation that will transition into a special playlist of both of our old songs and new songs. It will be a fun way to experience the sound.
CVW: Have you been to Joshua Tree before?
Hakan: Yes, we really like it. This is our second time.
CVW: You also played a show Thursday at Pappy and Harriet’s.
Hakan: It was a nice warm up gig for the big show (Coachella). It is a wicked space to play! The desert is just interesting and cool.
CVW: What does it mean for a band from Sweden to play at Coachella for a second time?
Hakan: It’s great to be back. California has become like another home for us. It feels like home. We have been all over the state from San Diego to San Francisco and spend a lot of time in L.A. now.
CVW: When you played Coachella in 2014, you were fresh of a Grammy nomination. What can we expect from your show this time?
Hakan: We are really focused. We are playing more with the technology side of what is possible with the music. We just want to get everything right. Also, the lighting and show are very technical and we are working hard to get so many things right.
CVW: When is your set?
Hakan: Friday at 9:45pm in Gobi
CVW: You have a lot happening with the Sound Bath other shows and prepping for the big show. What are you looking forward to?
Hakan: It’s all to get ready for the big show, of course but it is interesting, you know, to have a listening party in the space for proper sound. The idea was to listen to crystal bowls and then have people in a meditative state before we transition into our record. It will be a slower playlist of our songs.
CVW: Is this a public event?
Hakan: Yes, it’s open to the public but you need to purchase tickets. I’m not involved with that part!
CVW: What is the aesthetic of the band?
Hakan: That is a bit of a hard question…ahh…we are trying to go places, like escapism or like a trance but we want to keep it danceable, too. We like the live show to be a party more than a concert. We want it to be interactive with the audience so everyone has an experience.
CVW: Your music videos also seem to reflect this aesthetic. I love watching them, like little movies packed with complex emotions and visual layers.
Hakan: Thank you. We want to share the moment of our “bubble” around the world, so we can all experience the energy that inspires us and takes us places as well.