It’s hard to believe, but Swedish electro-pop quartet Little Dragon turns 21 this year. They’re celebrating by releasing their fifth full-length studio album, “Season High” and following it with a world tour that will keep them on the road for most of 2017.
The Grammy-nominated band’s first tour in two years finds them bouncing between clubs, amphitheaters, and a multitude of high-end festivals like Coachella, FYF, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands.
PACIFIC recently got on the phone with keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand while the band was rehearsing in L.A.
PACIFIC: How’s it going?
Hakan Wirenstrand: Good. We’re rehearsing and preparing for everything. It’s a lot of technical rehearsing. We’re making sure everything works.
Congratulations on “Season High.” I think it’s the band’s best work so far.
Thank you. I do too.
Can you talk a bit about making it?
It was like the other records - no plan. And you know, you end up getting into your normal life, routine, and everyday bubble anyway. So some days it goes really well, and some days it doesn’t, but it’s really hard and a lot of work to make an album.
We do a lot of things that don’t end up being that great. (laughs) But we get into a different zone when we make a record - we explore, and we try to find interesting beats and new kinds of music. Then, whatever (singer) Yukimi (Nagano) feels inspired by at the time starts her writing the lyrics.
And we tried to do some things differently this time as well. We tried jamming and stuff like that. And in the end, we brought a producer into the process, James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Depeche Mode), as well as another Swedish guy to help really focus things. And I think it did make this album more focused.
When: 8 p.m. Apr. 16
Where: Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave, North Park
“Season High” sounds like it comes from a band that wants to keep pushing.
Thanks. I mean that is how we feel, though. At least we’re trying (laughs). Hard. No, but we’re not comfortable taking things for granted - at all.
Well, and now it also must seem like a good idea to have brought in producers to help wrangle all the ideas.
I think it was good for us. We’re a bit proud. We wish to do everything ourselves... somehow. But I think we learned a lot. And the music benefits when someone else, outside, is involved.
Even the press release for this album mentions the difficulty of the band’s democracy of ideas. Does that apply specifically to this record, or the band’s process in general?
Most of it we’re pretty good on. We can always fight about the small details, but then, all of a sudden, we can really agree on what songs are going to end up on the record.
For this one, a song like “Strobe Light” had four different directions. We all had different visions of what it should be. And it ended up being not so much at all like any of them. But it’s all in the details.
Some songs have a much more obvious personality. When you’re experimenting, it’s difficult and can feel like the song is being undermined. But that’s why it’s good to have someone like James Ford there. Just to offer another opinion.
And you have to be prepared to win some and lose some.
Exactly. It’s like a family planning their vacation (laughs).
Do you vote?
Yes we do. We make lists with songs and ideas, give points to each, and work it out that way. Puuure democracy.
Hey. Go Sweden!
(laughs) Yes. Best country in the world.
Is it all “Season High” and the tour right now? Anything coming up you can talk about?
We’re super focused on getting things done for this tour right now. My brain is full. But I think we’re going to try to work more on the road this time. And when we’re not on the road, we actually do spend a lot of time in the studio - like every day. So there is definitely more to come.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to email@example.com