Little Dragon, a quartet from Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, never had more momentum in America than it does now.
Little Dragon’s U.S. label, Loma Vista Recordings, released the group’s fourth album, “Nabuma Rubberband,” in May. The album features an exquisite mix of singer Yukimi Nagano’s silky R&B-affected vocals and her bandmates’ gorgeously atmospheric instruments.
Before the release of “Nabuma Rubberband,” Nagano, Erik Boden, Fred Wallin and Håkan Wirenstrand performed at Austin’s South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas, and California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. They received major TV exposure, too, through appearances on “Late Show With David Letterman,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Later … with Jools Holland.”
Following dates in Dublin and Paris last weekend, Little Dragon returns to the U.S. this week for shows in Texas, the Southeast (including Tuesday at Republic in New Orleans) and a culminating appearance at Terminal 5 in New York City.
“Nabuma Rubberband” is the first Little Dragon album to be released in the U.S. by a domestic record company. The group’s previous three albums were British imports.
“We hadn’t had a proper launch of a record in the U.S. before,” Nagano said during a recent telephone interview. “It’s been really special to collaborate with our U.S. label and see their vision for the marketing of the record.”
Despite Little Dragon’s years of not having a U.S. record company, the group developed an American following through touring and fans’ word of mouth. Just before the release of Little Dragon’s second album, 2009’s “Machine Dreams,” the band played its first sold-out show in the U.S. at the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in California.
“It’s amazing to be getting love from across oceans,” Nagano said.
Native of Sweden though she is, Nagano has an American mother and passport, as well as family members in southern California and San Francisco.
“I try to see them as often as possible,” she said. “Usually, it gets mixed in with some show.”
Nagano’s mother attended Little Dragon’s performance for the Hollywood-based “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show in May.
“My mom was there rooting for me,” she said. The singer’s mother’s broad taste in music influenced her.
“My mom listened to everything from folk music to soul music,” Nagano said. “But in my teens, I really zoned in and listened to a lot of American R&B. I just copied, copied, copied it. I couldn’t do it the way they did it but, suddenly, you make a beautiful accident, where you realize that you can do it your way.”
Early on, Little Dragon was tagged an as electronic music act. But by the time the group’s album debut appeared in 2007, it had outgrown the music the album contains.
“That music was made with no intentions of it being released,” Nagano said. “It was just friends hanging out, expressing themselves, because that’s what we loved to do.”
Nagano and Little Dragon strive to make every recording project a new musical adventure.
“It’s always about not being a copy of what we’ve done before, about trying to find a new kind of language for ourselves.
“For this record (‘Nabuma Rubberband’), we’re just like, whatever happens, happens. Whatever we create that we love is gonna be on the record. We’re not gonna make any sort of boundaries.”