You hear a lot about how huge the South African house scene is, but when it’s lauded over by Grammy nominated musicians of this caliber, who have been touring sold-out shows across the globe, the point is really driven home.

“The South African house producers are very good at what they doing, so you feel like, you don’t even want to dare say that you’re even close to making such beautiful music,” says Little Dragon’s Erik Bodin as they prepare for their Cape Town show tonight. “I think the song ‘Summer Tears’ was a little flirt with South African house.”

Little Dragon loves South Africa almost as much as they love discovering eclectic instruments and new sounds, which is to say, a lot.

This is not their first trip to the motherland as a matter of fact. Erik tells Humdrum.TV how this love affair started many years ago, when his uncle returned home from post-apartheid South Africa with a maskanda cassette that has been lovingly replayed over the years.

Since their last sold out tour to South Africa, Little Dragon has been hankering to return to the cult fandom they have amassed in the country.

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Take me back to Soweto

Apart from South African cuisine, the quartet remembers the Soweto crowd with particular fondness: “[they were a] very expressive crowd: very generous; which makes us Swedes blush,” said Erik jestingly.

“We’ve been touring pretty extensively after the last record and it’s been great and intense and fun and we wanted to end it on a high. And the last time we were here was just super memorable and special,” says vocalist and percussionist Yukimi Nagano.

Made up of one part queen and three parts sound nerd, Little Dragon manifests physically in the form of Yukimi Nagano (vocals and percussion), Erik Bodin (on drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (on bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (on keyboards).

Together they make musical candy, continuously burrowing for new sonic gems with restless determination. They like playing with synthesisers and mbiras. She likes writing songs about strong women and vulnerable men, something that comes across quite strongly in their fourth studio album, Nabuma Rubberband.

“I don’t know why,” says Yukimi with an enigmatic shrug. “Just feels like that’s needed,” she continues, perfectly encapsulating the Little Dragon dogma of intuition and creative spontaneity.

Cape Town and Johannesburg fans have one hell of a sonic treat on their way. Little Dragon flourish in a live setting: improvising, playing without a backtrack and sampling all of their sounds live. The music changes along with the journey: so the quartet is sure to present something raw and fresh for the South African crowd. “Even songs that can feel old, kind of evolve,” explains Yukimi of their live performance.

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A new album in the works

For the quartet, making new music is a relief, because it means they have fresh material to play during their extensive touring schedule.

“So we always try and make something we didn’t hear before. It sounds fresh to our ears. But now ‘Nabuma Rubberband’, it feels old. So we’re actually making a new album,” said Erik.

Those are the magic words: but the quartet remains typically tight-lipped:

“We kinda realised when you start doing interviews that when an album is finished, you need to talk about your music,” explains Yukimi. “And I guess music for us, when we make it, is a very gut feeling thing. It’s not so analytical, you know.”

Despite such explanations, we have all tried to classify them. When Little Dragon first began, they wore these classifications with immense discomfort.

“I remember for a while there we were like, ‘Fuck this electronic shit,’” said Erik with a cheeky smile. “’We are an electric forest.’”

 

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