Little Dragon may be the quintessential artist’s band. The music that the Swedish four-piece make strikes a nerve with fans, but especially with other musicians. They play conventional rock instruments, but their heavy emphasis on keyboards gives the songs an electronic gloss. Combined with pop and funk sensibilities, the songs sound how Stereolab might if Prince joined the band.
Bassist Fredrik Kallgren Wallin says sharing ideas with other bands is one of his favorite aspects of playing with Little Dragon. The band has collaborated with Gorillaz, indulged in a side project with Jose Gonzalez, and traded remixes with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, which Wallin says was an especially rewarding experience: “It’s a nice way of exchanging energy. It’s not a collaboration, but you can add your flavor or get some new flavors for your own stuff.”
What actually drew Met-ro to the band was other artists talking about Little Dragon. Word of mouth has always been a key to finding the best new music, and when the mouths delivering that word are well-respected singers, it’s even harder to ignore. When we asked Janelle Monae what she was listening to lately, Little Dragon was one of the first acts she mentioned. And Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant, who played this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, said Little Dragon would be a dream collaboration, literally.
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“I actually had a dream about playing with them last night,” he said at the time. “I was hanging out at their house and I started drawing something in a sketchbook, and we just started talking. ... We were not really collaborating as much yet, but I guess it was coming into formation.”
When we share this anecdote with Wallin, he has a good laugh.
“That sounds fun,” he says.
The artwork for Little Dragon’s new album, “Ritual Union,”?is populated with snapshots of couples on their wedding day. And the title track explores the idea of marriage with a slight air of fear. Wallin explains the contrast.
“It’s from our family archives of parents, relatives and grandparents,” he explains. “It’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, and a lot of our parents are divorced.”