This week on Freeform Friday, KCRW is thrilled to welcome Yukimi Nagano, the brilliant frontwoman for Swedish electro-pop headliners Little Dragon. Since their slinky electro-soul debut in 2007, the band has continued to be incredibly creative, with their genre-bending sound warming hearts and dancefloors around the world. Nagano keeps that versatile flow with her exclusive guest set for KCRW — showcasing her influences and sonic identity through songs that tell her life story, both past and present. Read on for Nagano’s advice on how best to listen to the mix for the full effect, who her dream collaborator is, and what track she calls her “happy-pill.”
Yukimi’s ‘life story’ playlist:
There is so much music out there these days. It's endless. I sometimes miss being a teenager — going to my favorite record shop; taking my time to read about an artist; checking out the packaging and artwork of an album; then looking through lyrics and listening before possibly buying something. It was a ritual for me.
These days I lazily enjoy the comfort of just checking out new music and playlists on my phone, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming at times. I have so many different playlists with songs that I like or think are vibe enough. And I'm often multitasking while checking out new music. For my hour on KCRW, I wanted to choose music that has stuck with me. Songs that have become part of my life story and that I always return to.
Yukimi on her dream collaboration:
D'Angelo’s “Voodoo” album came out when I was in highschool. At the same time I met the guys in the band. It was a music high school, and I recall kids talking about the album and how good it was before I had heard it. I had been a fan since “Brown Sugar,” but I was in no way prepared for the “Voodoo” album.
It's timeless and touched me so deeply. It acts as a reminder for me of what it means to be an artist. I choose special moments to listen to this album, and it always gives me goosebumps. “Africa” in particular always brings me to tears. I saw D'Angelo live in Paris before his release of “Black Messiah.” He is on my list of dream collaborations.
Yukimi’s pick-me-up track:
Big Fun - “Inner City.” Erik and Fred [Little Dragon] have played this song a lot when they DJ, and it is like an instant happy pill for me. It's crazy what a mood changer music can be. Honestly, if I'm having a shitty day, I'll put this song on and feel lighter. I’m kind of a homebody, but this track makes me want to be in a club in NYC dancing!
This track pairs well with...
This playlist works anywhere for me, but If I had to make it specific, I would be in the following locations:
“Playground” by Steve Lacy: It would be perfect in good company, on an amazing road trip, driving through beautiful scenery in an epic car
“If I Was Your Girlfriend” by Prince: Dressing up, letting go, dancing on your own at home
“California” by Joni Mitchell: Listen while cooking a delicious meal
“Baby” by Ariel Pink: A weird sunny day, when you feel grateful in love with everything you see on a morning walk through your neighborhood
“Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack: A walk in the rain with this track playing loud in your headphones
“Cloudbusting” by Kate Bush: Sing-along in any blooming field or rose garden
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac: A bit tipsy on anything with your best friends
“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” by Alicia Keys: Light candles and romance with your special person
“American Tango” by Weather Report: Under a starry night in the desert with three grams magic mushrooms
“Africa” by D’Angelo: Listen to this song on your own to be reminded of how much music can make you feel
“You're Gonna Need Me” by Dionne Warwick: Summer party!
“Big Fun” by Inner City: In a NYC club at 2am