Those venturing to the bluffs of the Gorge for Sasquatch! in time for Little Dragon's set on Friday night will find the Swedish four-piece patrolling the borderline between electronic dance and down-tempo trance-jams. To one side are fiery lakes of club bass and tightly kicked beats. To the other, the placid Sea of Sade (pronounced shar-day), where glacial funk floats in smooth waves of R&B. Little Dragon's fourth full-length, Nabuma Rubberband, was nominated for a Grammy in the best dance/electronic album category this year. Vocalist Yukimi Nagano is a cosmic siren (you may recognize the voice from her work with Gorillaz) who projects her vocals deep into the chasm formed by synth player Håkan Wirenstrand, drummer Erik Bodin, and bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin. Nagano spoke from her apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden. She was drinking tea.
When you were making Nabuma Rubberband, you walked around Gothenburg during winter while listening to Janet Jackson?
I did. I love listening to music in headphones while walking around because it's like giving the songs a visual. I think if you're in a certain mood or state of mind, and listening to music you love over and over in a city, you start identifying the music with that place sooner or later.
What's another city that goes well with a particular album for you? It's time for "Yukimi's Traveling Musical Companion."
Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works is nice on a beautiful day in New York. Especially if you just wanna dream away and let the city rush and hurry by while you're in another bubble chilling. And D'Angelo's Voodoo album is pretty nice to listen to while walking in the Swedish forest.
What music would be fitting for the space underneath your bed? Or under your pillow, where your dreams hide?
Kate Bush, Hounds of Love, under my pillow, yes [laughs].
Do you remember your dreams? What's the last dream you remember? What album would go with that dream?
I dreamed I was braiding a rainbow, and it turned out to be Håkan's hair that we had dyed. I probably dreamed it because the new trend in Gothenburg is dyeing your hair fresh colors like pink and blue. Debra Laws's album Very Special would be fitting.
Håkan has such a sturdy beard. Are there any Håkan beard stories? Does the beard have a nickname?
Yes, it is beautiful. Ice cream gets stuck sometimes. The beard does not have a nickname. It should, though.
Have you ever looked over at Håkan onstage and mistaken him for a rampaging wildebeest?
Did you know wildebeest is not spelled "wildabeast"? They can also be called gnus. Who the hell calls a wildebeest a gnu?
Good question [laughs]. I can't spell, so you're asking the wrong person.
What's Gothenburg like? What do you miss about it when you're gone?
Gothenburg is a relaxed and slow-paced city. It has a nice harbor and some amazing forests and lakes. I love it because it's quiet. My close friends are here, and the studio is our little oasis.
Do you have a favorite Swedish food?
My favorite Swedish food, I'd say, is hard bread with butter and cheese. A classic, crunchy, wholesome Swedish snack.
How did your song "Killing Me" come together? How was it born?
It was born on Erik's computer, first with a live drum take and then a glamorous bass line. Dave from De La Soul helped me out on parts of the lyrics, which was really fun. Before finishing the song, everyone in the band put their touch on it to make it complete. It was mixed by Jaycen Joshua (Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Z). The guys are gear nerds for sure. It had a vibe as an instrumental, so it was stimulating to write to. It had a funky synth feel I loved.
In the lyrics, you're talking about escape. You're no longer with someone. You're on the road. There's a mood swing. What caused it?
Always mood swings. It's a story with personal elements in the mix. It's a breakup song.
And you say you're making a spider howl. How do you make a spider howl?
Pinch it? [Laughs]
Where should I walk around while listening to "Killing Me"?
I'd say treading through the snow in Alaska.
What have you been reading lately? Please pick up the book, open it to a page, and tell me a line from that page.
I'm reading Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks. The first page says, "Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression."
How do lyrics fall into place for you? How do your words arrive?
Sometimes they happen from seeing something inspiring. I try to collect words and sentences that could be used in a song. But mostly, the music dictates the direction and vibe.
Who's your favorite lyricist?
At the moment, Frank Ocean. He makes excellent lyrics sound so effortless. Channel Orange made me want to write better. When you hear music and it makes you feel almost anguished because it's so good, this is what Frank Ocean does to me.
How was it working on Gorillaz material?
So fun. We visited Damon Albarn's studio in London, and we got to jam out.
Since your collaboration with Big Boi didn't work out last time, is there anything in the works with him for the future?
We did two songs together. One is called "Descending" and one "Higher Res."
You're guesting on the new De La Soul?
Yes. We've been friends since the Gorillaz tour. Very excited about their upcoming album. They're so super-creative.
When will there be new Little Dragon music?
We have lots of new music in the making. It's in beginning stages, and it hits on a wide range of sounds and directions. Can't wait for it to get more defined.