Yukimi Nagano embodies Little Dragon’s “guidance words” for new album “Slugs of Love:” “Dance, trance, and romance.”
Video directed by Vice Cooler and Angie Scarpa, all photos by Rommel Alcantara.

Little Dragon: KCRW Live from HQ

Intimate performances, fresh sounds, and candid conversations with a view.

Slugs of Love, the seventh LP from off-kilter Swedish funkmeisters Little Dragon, is on its way to being KCRW’s most played record of the year, and with good reason: It’s a loose n’ lean advancement of their trademark R&B/pop stylings, teasing out the lighthearted mischief they brought to 2020’s acclaimed New Me, Same Us with unapologetic joy and inventiveness. The dancefloor awaits you. 

Alongside Slugs of Love cuts like “Disco Dangerous,” the band stops by KCRW HQ to serve up new-definitive renditions of longstanding faves like “Ritual Union,” “Where You Belong,” and “Twice.”

The quartet also sit down (literally, in a gratitude circle) with Morning Becomes Eclectic co-hosts Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez to break down setting boundaries, locking into euphoric states, and why computers seem so “emotionally dead.” Scroll on for the full chat with members Yukimi Nagano (lead vocals), Erik Bodin (drums), Fred Wallin (bass), and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards).

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

KCRW: We’re going to kick off this conversation a bit unconventionally with a gratitude circle. We’ll begin: Little Dragon, you open our minds to new sounds and music has never sounded the same since we first discovered you. Now you’ll go around and do the same for each other.

Yukimi Nagano: Erik, I'm grateful for your ability to laugh in almost every situation. 

Erik Bodin: I'm gonna cry. I’m extremely thankful for Fred, because he's Fred. He's my bass player. Playing drums and having somebody to play bass with you is a beautiful marriage. So thank you, I love you.

Fred Wallin: Håkan, I'm very grateful for your sonic missionary perspective. And also for your patience with me, as a friend and your support.

Håkan Wirenstrand: Yukimi, I'm grateful for your creativity and that you're here at the same time as I am in this world. Thank you. And thank you, everyone else.







The four of you seem so locked in with each other as you play. Are you aware of these moments as they happen?

Erik Bodin: It's a constant search. It's as if we're under a spell where we are forever searching for that euphoric feeling. So sometimes when we reach euphoria, we are extremely high on that feeling. And If we don't reach it, we're extremely low. It's a roller coaster. And funnily enough, somebody can be in euphoria as the person next to you is having the hardest time ever. It's through conversations afterwards that we realize oh, man, you had a good time. 

More: Little Dragon: Live from the Basement (2017) 

What can you tell us about the overall spirit of the studio environment while making your seventh full length album, the 2023 release Slugs of Love

Fred Wallin: We had three guidance words: dance, romance and trance. And let [saying] yes lead us instead of [saying] no. Because when you're collaborating, you want to go forward.






Are you finding that you have to set more boundaries with folks outside of the band? Finding ways to say yes to each other while you’re creating in the studio, but protecting your energy after the fact when it’s time to share what you’ve made with the world?

Yukimi Nagano: For many years, everyone kept saying that we were “up and coming.” And suddenly it’s like, “are we not up and coming anymore?” It still feels like we are. And in that spirit, you have to take every possibility you get. That's the music business, like you get a chance… take it. But then that element of trying to balance our lives [comes into play] as we get families and everything else … [Staying] balanced while being on the road, it's really hard. And part of it is saying no to stuff. We’ve learned [to do] that, and we're at a point now where all want to venture off and do our thing a little bit. 

One especially notable thing about your live show is that it’s completely live, no tracks. Was that a difficult decision to reach, or was that always a given when creating the Little Dragon experience?

Erik Bodin: It's important to not let the computers run you. Like Prince said: “It’s cool to get on the computer, but don't let it get on you.” As a drummer, I’m extremely impatient because I feel like computers are pretty stupid and I'm dynamic. They don't follow our rhythms, they're not tight, and I think they’re pretty much emotionally dead.

What would be the perfect future for Little Dragon?

Yukimi Nagano: We've talked a little bit about [what we do being] almost like soil. You need to let the soil rest, you can't just be like planting stuff all the time. And we're in that phase where, right after this tour, we're going to let the soil rest a little bit and then we'll see what we can grow out of there. You know, we’ll make it rich and let it be for a bit.

Credits:

KCRW Music Director: Anne Litt
Interviewers: Novena Carmel and Anthony Valadez
Directors: Vice Cooler and Angie Scarpa
Editor / Color: Angie Scarpa
Director of Photography: Dalton Blanco
Camera Operators: Dalton Blanco, Vice Cooler, Barrett Nicol
Recording / Mix Engineer: Hope Brush
Assistant Engineer: Katie Gilchrest
Executive Producer: Ariana Morgenstern
Producers: Anna Chang and Liv Surnow
Digital Producer: Marion Hodges
Digital Editor: Andrea Domanick
Lighting Design: Jason Groman
Art Director: Evan Solano

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