By any measure of success, Little Dragon has had an enviable career. Since its formation in 1996, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based synth-pop band has traveled the world over and back again, cultivated a devoted following, and collaborated with its musical heroes, as well as inspired a new generation of artists.
But even in the face of the bandmates' accomplishments and ongoing creative fulfillment, Little Dragon vocalist Yukimi Nagano says they have never felt odd or overwhelmed by the upward trajectory of their career arc.
“We’ve never had that moment where things have changed overnight. Everything has gone very gradually for us,” Nagano says of the two decades’ worth of commitment and dedication underpinning the band. “For us, it's been a lot of touring, a lot of hard work, and a slow growth; we kind of live and breathe it.”
Naturally, they’re not ones to rest on their laurels. Little Dragon is touring in support of its latest LP, last year’s Season High, which will take the band to Revolution Live Thursday, March 15. Season High — which is rife with club-ready tunes such as “Sweet” and “Celebrate,” the latter being one of the best songs Prince never wrote — has been followed this year by the recently released songs “Sway Daisy” and “Best Friends,” both of which will be collected on a 12-inch single to be released April 20.
“We had so much music and so many songs that we wanted to release but didn't necessarily fit into [Season High],” Nagano says of the unexpected releases before teasing what lies ahead. “We're just excited to finally get to share them, and at the same time we're working on new music and, hopefully, a new album.”
Last year’s tour behind Season High also marked Little Dragon’s return to live performances following a three-year hiatus in the wake of its 2014 album, Nabuma Rubberband. According to Nagano, this gap was largely occupied by the recordings and studio sessions that would eventually become Season High, as well as some much-needed time off from the intensity of life on the road.
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“We just wanted to feel really excited about everything, so we took our time,” Nagano says with a laugh. Despite some initial jitters upon returning to the stage, Nagano says Little Dragon’s “expressive crowds” and the act of performing unto itself have been rejuvenating for herself and the rest of the band.
“It quickly became comfortable again; it felt really good actually to be back onstage,” Nagano says. “It's been a part of our lives for so long that it feels like home, even when it feels like it's been a break and it's nerve-wracking.”
Little Dragon has performed at South Florida venues before, dating back to a 2011 gig at Electric Pickle and more recently at the much-missed Grand Central in 2014. Asked about any memorable moments or misadventures she or her bandmates had in Miami, Nagano shares an appropriately eccentric encounter with a man in Wynwood during their last visit.
“I remember we were looking at this beautiful mural, and this man let us into his house that was behind it. I don't know if he was a collector, but he had old cars, old neon signs, and artwork everywhere, and he was sort of this very artistic, crazy man who just totally opened his doors for us, who was like, ‘Hey, you want to come in and look?’” Nagano recounts, laughing. “And it was just so psychedelic in there. It was one of those places that [I wouldn’t be surprised] if he'd recorded or directed videos in his space, because there was just such a vibe.”
Besides their close encounters of the Miami kind, the bandmates also have a connection to South Florida via a 2017 remix of the Season High cut "High." Remixed by California-based producers Michael Uzowuru and Jeff Kleinman, the track also features appearances by prominent Miami artists Denzel Curry and Twelve’Len, who fit snugly alongside Nagano’s soothing vocals and the song’s lush production.
“We're labelmates, so that's kind of how that happened,” Nagano says of Curry’s involvement. The band has also met Curry at several festivals including Coachella, and Nagano describes him as an “energetic, radiant person.”
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“He's a sweet guy,” she says. “That was one of my favorite remixes from that album, so I’m happy that that happened.”
Although the members of Little Dragon are more than comfortable with their fruitful collaborations and acclaim, they’re sometimes surprised by the degree of their impact on their followers, as well as which songs have resonated most with fans. Regarding "Empire Ants" — the band’s 2010 Plastic Beach collaboration with Gorillaz that was many listeners' introduction to Nagano’s distinctive voice and Little Dragon’s creative synth-pop stylings — Nagano was surprised to hear that it’s held in such high regard by fans, much less that it's still talked about eight years after its release.
"Sometimes you feel like music is just eaten up so fast 'cause there's so much of it, and the lifespan of how much music is talked about and listened to is very short these days," Nagano confesses. "You kind of get this feeling like you have to always be getting on to writing the next thing, so it's nice to hear that certain things that we've done resonate in that way; it's always heartwarming to hear that [our music] can have that effect.”