Little Dragon is beat. The soulful Swedish electronic group just wrapped up three shows in as many days, bouncing from Los Angeles' Hard Summer Festival to Montreal's Osheaga Festival to a daytime set at Lollapalooza 2012. As we spotlighted in our Lolla Best Moments of Day 3, the band's mix of punchy, high-energy rhythms and singer Yukimi Nagano's cooing voice caused both furious makeout sessions and bro'd out high fives, a testament to the group's rich sound.
When we caught up with the group at Ultra Music Fest, they had just started formulating ideas for their new album. Now, Nagano, drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Frederik Kallgren Wallin and keyboardist Arild Werling give us an album update, talk recording with Big Boi and explain that Sweden and Switzerland are, in fact, two different countries.
You've played three festivals in one weekend. How are you awake?
Yukimi: We're not. Thank you for noticing that. We're always really grateful when people understand how crazy our schedule is. I'm a little bit overwhelmed. I don't know what to think. For me, I'm just in some cloud in my mind right now. Usually I'm pretty cool, but before you go on and you see that huge amount of people [at Lollapalooza], I definitely had some nerves today.
Erik: You can be tired as hell but as soon as the show kicks in, there's that little reserve in your body.
What's the worst part of the touring cycle?
Fredrik: The decadent snacks [motions to a small bag of Ruffles].
Yukimi: I think it's the fact that you sometimes become a machine. Like you got a 4 am lobby call for the third day in a row and you can't miss your flight. It's like you just press a button. You're not thinking. It's just, "Take the bag. Go out the door. Go down the elevator."
Arild: And don't talk to each other. You might start a fight.
Yukimi: Yeah yeah. When you're hungry and you're tired, just leave each other alone.
Do you have designated "Get away from me" times?
Yukimi: I think you sense it. It's just like an energy flow that…
Arild: …bounces around the group.
Yukimi: Yeah, it bounces off of someone and you go, "Okay. I'll chill."
The Lollapalooza crowd was a mix of Little Dragon fans and other concertgoers who may not know you. How does that affect your performance versus a more intimate show?
Yukimi: The internal experience is different every single night. At Osheaga, it was really dark when we played and it was a party crowd. Hard Festival was a little more reserved. There were fans, but there were definitely people who didn't know us. Lollapalooza was mixed. Our set was in the daytime and that makes a huge difference; sometimes you can go into yourself more when it's dark. But a tiny detail can make you feel completely different. I feel different if I wear something that I'm slightly uncomfortable in.
Erik: I liked the open space in front of us with the mud.
Yukimi: The mud! Yeah!
Erik: That's where the real avant-grade dancers went.
You've been touring for months on end. Have you had any time to think about the next album?
Erik: We're building a new studio now in Gothenburg. We're going to start finishing that up and then get into the zone and just make music with no stress and no timelines. There's not going to be a Little Dragon album this year, that's for sure. We're just out of a record deal as well. After five years of touring, we deserve some time off. [Laughs]
Fredrik: But we love making music. It's what we do every day from Monday to Friday.
Do you have an idea of the direction you'll go in for the next album?
Yukimi: I think maybe we have individual ideas in the back of our heads that we haven't really discussed much yet. For me—three albums in—I have certain songs that are easy for me to write. And you can write that same song a million times and now it's about putting a little bit of pressure on yourself and saying, "Okay. What else can you do or say?" [Laughs] "How many sad love songs have you got?" It's just trying to do something to open your mind a little bit. It's fun to put those kind of challenges on yourself.
Does she speak for the band?
Erik: Uhhhh, no. [Band laughs] No, that's pretty much it.
You recently recorded with Big Boi. Did he show you around Atlanta?
Yukimi: We went to Stankonia and hung out there.
Erik: It was cool. It was Bobby Brown's old studio. It's always fun visiting somebody else's studio because the studio is always very personal.
How will you make the Little Dragon studio more personal?
Erik: This time, we're going to let the sun shine through the window. Before, it was pretty dark and gloomy.
Yukimi: And it was very messy. The new one's going to have painted walls and we'll try to make it nice and keep it clean.
What's the biggest misconception Americans have about Sweden?
Yukimi and Erik at same time: That it's Switzerland!
Frederik: At one festival, someone from America asked us, "So where are you guys from?"
"No, no. Sweden."
"But here, we call it Switzerland." What can you do?