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.
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad
Since his 2005 breakthrough, Breaking Kayfabe, Cadence Weapon has been an artist to watch. The two-time Polaris Music Prize nominee, writer, producer and rapper is known for his innovative musical style and has made waves worldwide. Following a five year hiatus – which included a move from Montreal to Toronto and a stint as Edmonton’s poet laureate – Cadence Weapon returns with a new self-titled album. Cadence Weapon is armed with furious flows, big collaborations and themes that include dance-party politics and dystopian futures. For his latest effort, the rapper is noticeably more focused and is reintroducing himself in a big way. Georgie caught up with Cadence Weapon to talk about the new album, his musical journey, and the L-word: legacy. G—Your new self-titled album is being called a “reintroduction to Cadence Weapon.” What does that mean? Cadence Weapon—I feel like I’ve matured a lot more and the music really reflects that. There is a reason why this album is self-titled. It feels like a rebirth for me; it feels like my first album in a lot of ways. I feel like the creative process for this album is what I’ve always wanted to do in my career. I was
Using his life experiences growing up in downtown Toronto as a source of inspiration, Langston Francis is on his grind as a young artist discovering himself and the world of music around him. We caught up with Francis on the heels of his debut single release to talk about his foray into music, early influences and his direction as an artist. G—You are still in high school. Do you find it hard to juggle your new music career with school? Langston Francis—It’s challenging. For example, I had two exams in one day, then a show at night and I was feeling under the weather. I have school every day, so it definitely gets hard to juggle things sometimes, but it’s sort of something I just have to take in stride. I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities I have. G—Can you tell us a little about your first single, “FCKD IT UP”? LF—I wrote the song and beat when I was 14. At the time, the song had a certain meaning to me. We ended up finishing the song about 12 months later, after that it took on a whole new meaning. As I grow up and change