Swedish electro-pop mainstays Little Dragon have been around the block. The four-piece band first formed over a decade ago and in that time steadily rose to become one of the world’s biggest indie electro-pop acts. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, SeasonHigh, we spoke with bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin about evolving band dynamics, love of music and inspiration behind their latest release.
Georgie—You released your fifth album, SeasonHigh, earlier this year. How do you feel about this record in comparison to your previous one?
Fredrik Källgren Wallin—It is different, but it is hard to pin down how. We worked a little bit with a producer for the mixing parts, and we have never done that before. We have also become better at communicating and making decisions. I think we fight less; it’s more civilized [laughs].
G—You’ve also worked on some interesting collaborations with other artists, but these tracks didn’t make it onto any of your albums. Was this a conscious decision?
FKW—It was a conscious decision; it is such collaboration between the four of us. We did have a friend who appears on the first track of the album – he’s an old high school friend, so that was very natural.
G—By not including your collaborations, despite the success of those singles, it can create an authenticity to the music you put out as a band, generating a specific sound fans can identify with.
FKW—You’re right. Less expectations as well!
G—Speaking of collaborations, what was it like to work with Kaytranada?
FKW—People tend to have kind of a romantic notion about collaborations but, funnily enough, nowadays it’s a lot of just sending files! I don’t think we actually ever met him – maybe once after a show – but it was just sending files and some boring communication. It’s not like you meet up and party, unfortunately; maybe that would be more fun.
G—You were nominated for a Grammy in 2015. What was that like?
FKW—Yeah, that’s very honoring. In some ways, it’s positive and negative. The Grammys are just a bunch of people who, you know, have certain opinions. I don’t really know what it says. I guess it’s some sort of recognition by their little club.
G—Little Dragon has stood the test of time and has stayed relevant by putting out five solid albums in ten years. How do you guys keep doing it?
FKW—The love of music, and we have such fun together. We have a pretty solid process. It’s a day job almost – we go to the studio Monday to Friday. Sometimes nothing happens with long periods of drought, and then a good idea comes. What keeps it going is coming up with something new that we haven’t heard before, that we want to hear.
G—That translates into the music that you make. How are the group dynamics after all this time? You mention there was less fighting during the release of your fifth album.
FKW—People mature or evolve over time. Now there are kids and families; it creates a perspective of what’s important. Before, we could have big arguments about sound in a song or a verse. Now we realize there are more important things. Not saying that we don’t care as much, but the discussions don’t make as big of a boom as they did before.
G—When do you feel the most creative?
FKW—It depends. Different ideas come from different moments, but often in the mornings when I’m alone. It can also be a sleepless night on the bus – on the tour bus – in the mind.
G—What was your inspiration for this latest album?
FKW—It tends to be where we are in life at the moment. Some of it is escapism. Erik and I did a lot of DJ shows where you can see how music can have a kind of effect, elevating yourself from everyday boredom or sores. People love to go out, dance, let go and get that high. I think that connection was a bit of the inspiration.
G—Lastly, who is your favorite artist at the moment?
FKW—I really like Chance the Rapper at the moment. Coloring Book is great; it’s seldom you can find an album where you can listen to the whole thing over and over. It’s a good time for music.
Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so I was
Los-Angeles pop artist Billie Eilish began writing and recording music at the young age of 14, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to her. Her lyrics are seasoned with insight carried by a voice that softly and soulfully stretches over dreamy soundscapes. The result is a compelling collection of contrasts, both musically and lyrically, which is on full display on Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada)). Co-written and produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, the Eilish siblings prove they have no shortage of talent. When we spoke to Billie she was on the road and had just begun her North American tour. G—You started singing at the age of 4, what at that time got you interested in music so early on? BE—I started singing before I could talk, and since then I have been singing all the time, every day. Music has always been part of my family, I guess a part of the way that I think, so it has never come as something separate from my brain. Music and my brain are just one and the same. G—Now, at the age of 15 you have a
Allie X began with a vision: of a blank slate. The multimedia electronic pop artist chose the letter “X” to signify infinite possibility – an attempt to strip herself of any pre-existing identity. Yet she feels the presence of multiple versions of herself: good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. “I think I’ve always had this self-awareness of the bad parts of myself,” she reflects. “I remember feeling as a kid like I hadn’t suffered enough, which is kind of a strange feeling. And then I remember in middle school feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to people.” Her self-awareness has only expanded with age: “As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I just feel like I’m watching myself from somewhere else and think, ‘Who is this person?… Who am I, and is it good or bad?’” Unsure of who she is, anything does seem possible. The cover of Allie X’s latest album and full-length debut, CollXtion II, features her literally reassembling herself, slotting cubed pieces of her shin back into her leg. The visual perfectly captures what The Story of X, the name she has given the narrative that arches across all of her creative output as Allie