Fiery Dragon in cool place
Little Dragon. Picture: Supplied

Little Dragon have recorded in the studios of Damon Albarn and TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. But the Swedish synth-pop quartet prefer to work in the Gothenburg squat-turned-band HQ they've occupied for more than a decade.

"Every time we've been at somebody else's studio, you get very excited about going back to your own studio," drummer/producer Erik Bodin says. "That feeling where you're in a creative space and you can do whatever you feel like."

During an interview at South by Southwest in Texas, Bodin and half-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano explain that the studio started out as a home for a bohemian collective, which was pared back until the four members of Little Dragon remained.

Last year, the group moved upstairs to a less grotty space where each member has their own room to record, plus a shared kitchen.

Little Dragon have recorded all four of their albums, from their 2007 debut to new album Nabuma Rubberband in the century-old building, which Bodin reckoned used to be a telephone exchange.

"It's an oasis with full-on emotions in there," he says. "If it's snowing outside, it might be sunshine in there - and the opposite."

The drummer is referring to Nagano's infamous tantrums, which earned her the nickname Little Dragon. "Not so much these days," the singer interjects.

The Swedes have not spent too much time jamming in Gothenburg since releasing their debut featuring the down-tempo Twice, which was airlifted to hitsville via an appearance on Grey's Anatomy.

Bodin explains that Little Dragon have toured non-stop for the past half-decade, releasing Machine Dreams in 2009 before taking the next step up with 2011 breakthrough album, Ritual Union.

The band took a break to focus on writing a worthy follow-up. Nagano describes the superb Nabuma Rubberband as a sensual, darker and deeper outing, featuring slow jams blending Massive Attack with Janet Jackson. "It's nice to give in and embrace the slow jam side of things," Bodin says. "We had a lot of time, so we could afford to make it sound nice and rich."

While the drummer would skip breakfast to jam with other musos in the early days of Little Dragon - "the living room was the rehearsal space, so I couldn't really go to the kitchen and eat breakfast unless I passed the drum kit," he laughs - these days he records during school hours before racing out to pick up his kids.

Nagano, who admits to keeping far more nocturnal hours, has kept her bandmates in the dark about the meaning of Nabuma Rubberband.

"Yeah, what is that," Bodin asks with a laugh.

"A Nabuma Rubberband is so many things, it can be anything you want," the unhelpful singer says.

One thing is for sure, with more up-tempo songs Klapp Klapp and Paris earning Little Dragon serious praise and buzz in the lead-up to the release, Nabuma Rubberband deserves to be another hit for this unique Swedish outfit.

The West Australian

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