Are You Feeling Sad?
Where You Belong
Stay Right Here
After five studio albums, Little Dragon has established a reputation for genre-blending experimentation, trance-inducing ’80s pop, and downtempo ’90s R&B. For five albums, the band remained faithful to their signature breathy, dreamy dance club sound, but in the three years since the Swedish quartet released Season High, the band has matured lyrically. The subject matter on New Me, Same Us ranges from commentary on the monotony of life to coping with loss of loved ones. “It definitely feels like a personal album for us,” lead singer Yukimi Nagano tells Apple Music during a track-by-track interview for the band’s latest record.
“It started very much as a house track, actually. The demo version of it really reminded me of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack, which is a band that has been a huge influence for us. The song has a deeper meaning about accepting change, which can go for a lot of the other tracks as well. That one in particular is about being able to let go of a former part of yourself and accept the new you in a way. And not being ready to let go of that part of you, the older part of you.”
“‘Rush’ is basically just a song about this feeling of our modern lives and everything moving as a whirlwind, really hectically, and not being able to really reflect on your inner self. In the midst of just being this arrow moving forwards in life, you're filled with feelings of fear and the separation anxiety and all these kinds of things that you maybe can't even deal with properly. It’s about that frenzy of modern-day life.”
“I had this beat from the guys and I really loved it. I had a melody that I was working on and I was just sort of a bit stuck. It was my birthday and I had a mushroom, a magic mushroom. I just had to lay down and close my eyes and embrace what was happening. I just felt this huge amount of pain and sorrow for a person that I had not been able to feel any empathy for. And as I felt all those things, I was like, ‘Okay, let me snap out of this. I really want to write this song.’ So in the midst of that, I sort of wrote the song. It just felt very genuine and like my heart was wide open. I sort of recorded the vocals straight after that with snot running out of my nose and tears flowing. I was just like, oh. My voice was so groggy and hoarse. So actually we recorded it the next day.”
“‘Kids’ is one of our tracks that was very playful and experimental. It's kind of dark and hopeful at the same time. It's definitely a reflection on just this time of individualism. Everyone sort of being the star of their own story and kids growing up into this madness. It has an angelic vibe to it with the synth, but it also has the darkness. It has a lot of mixed emotions, and it kind of was one of those tracks that we felt the album needed. It wasn't that single or anything, but it had that experimental vibe that we love and that we've tried to keep in the band and that's important to us.”
“The fact that we're all from this earth, this planet, this universe together. In that sense, we're every rain, we're the clouds, we're the sky, we're everything here together, but we change form.”
“That started with Fred [Källgren Wallin] singing the chorus and messing with sort of the demo version. I recall him saying that he went out to a party and he kind of just felt like he was seeing it as a very shallow experience where everyone was trying to be something. Sometimes you just feel misplaced in that and you feel like everyone's almost playing roles and following some kind of an invisible curriculum in a way. We need new fantasies to live up to that are more epic than this. My favorite part of that song is the piano solo in the end, because we have a grand piano in the studio right now. We've never had it on any song. Fred had a bit of anxiety because it's not a cheap instrument. It takes all this space and it has this aura around it that is just very serious. He got so excited about having the piano that once it arrived, it put on a big pressure. We were very happy to lighten that pressure by having him sort of let go on that track.”
“Sadness is the space of transition; it can truly lead to something beautiful. So it's kind of a portal where you can heal yourself, where your tears are something that can be something beautiful and helpful. It's something that I've always enjoyed, when the music has a certain emotion and the lyrics kind of contradict that.”
Are You Feeling Sad?
“We have a lot of songs that didn't end up on the album, but 'Are You Feeling Sad?' was just a beat that felt infectious to us and fun. So I didn't have any deep thoughts about it. I didn't sit and explode my brain on what to write on that. It was just sort of freestyling, going into the booth and putting some vocals in. I kind of liked the idea of a dancing song kind of also being a soothing lullaby-ish kind of song, you know? Then with the Kali [Uchis] feature, we were really excited because I just really love her verse on it, so it added something definitely to the whole song. Lifted it up.”
Where You Belong
“It started just guitar and vocals. Not typical Little Dragon, just crazy beat from somebody's computer. The song is about the feeling of losing somebody and when you still have their number in your phone and you want to hear their voice or you want to talk to that person. There's that realization of them not being there, but they're always with you, you know? You close your eyes, you know that they're with you no matter what.”
Stay Right Here
“‘Stay Right Here’ is a love song. Every album is a sort of reflection of where we are in our lives at the moment. I met somebody in my life, someone now that means so much to me. It's kind of literal, even in the lyrics.”
“‘Water’ is also a song that really changed from the demo. It started very electronic and kind of became in the end a song that sounded almost a little country. It's written in a shattered way—I usually just write different sentences that I feel at the moment. It's about time passing and sitting, becoming older and looking out. I wanted to get that sort of feeling of a journey of life, starting somewhere and then ending in another space. You start out in the desert and then you kind of end out in the water.”