meta-scriptLittle Dragon's Yukimi Nagano On New Album 'Slugs Of Love,' Damon Albarn's "Inspiring" Impact & Leaning Into Intuitive Creativity | GRAMMY.com
Little Dragon Press Photo
Little Dragon

Photo: Delali Ayevi

interview

Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano On New Album 'Slugs Of Love,' Damon Albarn's "Inspiring" Impact & Leaning Into Intuitive Creativity

The electro-pop group's frontwoman details how their seventh album, 'Slugs of Love,' expands on the group's synergy and the fun they've had together for nearly three decades.

GRAMMYs/Jul 7, 2023 - 05:51 pm

There's a special synergy and magic that comes from music made by people that love and really know each other. Little Dragon has manifested and expanded on that feeling since they were teenagers.

The spirit-lifting Swedish dance-pop quartet — drummer Erik Bodin, bassist Fredrik Wallin, keyboardist Håkan Wirenstarnd and singer Yukimi Nagano — met at their local music high school, and formed Little Dragon back in 1996. Now, they're back with their seventh album, Slugs of Love, and they're simply having fun.

The LP follows 2020's New Me, Same Us, which saw the band at their most collaborative, working together on all elements of the music-making progress to shake things up. Slugs of Love furthers their ultra-collaborative and experimental impulse, exemplified by the exuberant, silly title track, a playful meditation on the essence of humanity.

Their creative freedom radiates throughout the rest of Slugs of Love, like the sun-soaked "Disco Dangerous," whose funky instrumentals provide a dreamy backdrop for Nagano to coyly exclaim "never ever!" to falling in love. The subsequent track, "Lily's Call," shows another side of Little Dragon, a dark and driving number whose instrumental could fit in a Blade Runner soundtrack. Slugs of Love also sees them reconnecting with Damon Albarn — who they first worked with in 2010 on the Gorillaz's Plastic Beach — on the trippy, shimmery "Glow."

"We feel really grateful that we don't have to compromise ourselves at all," Nagano tells GRAMMY.com. "We do what we love and there are people who are into it."

GRAMMY.com caught up with the Little Dragon frontwoman to chat about the group's lively new album, their longevity as a band, reuniting with Damon Albarn and more.

When I first heard "Slugs of Love," I was obsessed and listened to it on repeat. I love how euphoric and absurd it is. What inspired it and how did the track come together?

The track was first written as just a demo beat and it had that infectious energy from the very start, without any vocals and melodies on it, and it just really grabbed me. The guys always write very random titles for demo tracks because you have to name it something, but I loved that title. And sometimes you get inspired by an odd angle, and the demo title together with the music gave me this image to write to. I painted this picture in my mind of humans being like slugs that are crawling on the wall, and everyone's becoming more obsessed and lazier, but ultimately kind of all needing and wanting the same thing — just wanting to be loved and safe.

It took a few turns production-wise. We tried to play it live and then we kind of returned back to the demo vibe. That sometimes feels like you're going backwards because you're trying too much stuff and nothing's working, but then you realize that the vibe was in the original ideas.

Since you chose "Slugs of Love" as the title track of the album, in what ways do you feel like it speaks to or sets the tone for the rest of the album?

It is just a fun image, so we're playing with that. Our first idea was that we wanted to make a trilogy [of] albums. We were gonna make one that was just romantic songs, one of dance songs and one with trippy forest music. In the end, we decided just to make an old-fashioned album because it was becoming very complicated.

"Slugs of Love" stood out as a track and as a title, and it felt sort of representative to the whole process and that time of making music. It felt like it also represented something a little bit new for us. [Our music] is very intuitive when we write it, whatever feels good in our guts, and then we let journalists and the people describe what it means.

You've said that your last album New Me, Same Us was your most collaborative and saw you working together in a new way. How did your approach to making Slugs of Love compare or differ, or build upon that?

Well, it's all just one long, linear story in a way for us, so [we gain] more experience with and understanding of each other. Sometimes you gotta throw away ideas that you have of each other as well – like you do with a family, with someone always being the little sister.

Sometimes we just have to try to have a blank slate and not get too stuck in the characters we've created. So it keeps evolving and everyone really wants to collaborate. I think we all feel like it's a meaningful process, even though sometimes it's really hard. Everyone is pretty strong-willed in different areas of the creative process so it can get complicated.

When you're on stage, you're so in the moment and your feelings are so big, but when you're watching the show, you're so relaxed and you're just there ready to take it in. And I think that kind of feeling [exists] with the process of making your music, and with the relationship with ourselves. Sometimes it's so serious, it's like the center of the universe — but at the end of the day, it's just music. We can get really caught up in one little detail, but really, we just want to be friends and have fun. 

Being in a band, you have each other's different perspectives. I think it'd be different if it was just one artist in your own head, being your own neurotic self. We're four neurotic egos bumping heads with each other, so we get a little perspective.

I love the combination of the funky, fuzzy, sparkly instrumentals on "Disco Dangerous" with the sort of anti-love love song lyrics and the "never ever!" refrains. What was the spark for that track?

That track was just fun. [We were just] being silly and having fun and enjoying writing music. We love music that has that vibe of playfulness, and I think that kind of translated on that track. But most of all, we just had a good time making it, so I'm happy that came through.

And how did the instrumentals evolve on that one, from the demo to where it is now?

It started as a pretty basic layer of bass and drums. Then I wrote a little part and then more things got added, and I wrote a little more. We weren't sure about this song. Sometimes you want to write a good song, and sometimes you just want to have fun.

It's fun to know that you can release that stuff as well and not care too much. I think we can all get too stuck in the sickness of wanting to create something special and get caught up in thoughts that actually don't really help the process very much.

You reunited with Damon Albarn on the shimmering "Glow"— how did working with him on it inspire or shift the track?

We just chanced it to see if he was into the song, and he was. What we really loved about Damon's contribution was that he was very careless in a way that we found really inspiring. 

When we collaborate with people, we're a little bit tip-toeing, like, "Okay, does this work for you? Is this okay?" And he came in and chopped it up, and added a bunch of new harmonies and a whole new part. I think it fits really well.

When I listened to the song, the visuals I got were very psychedelic; you're in the desert and then you're in the water. And when his part came in, I started seeing these big statues. The music, vocals and everything else he added felt like a whole new scenery which I found really refreshing. It was inspiring [to realize] you don't have to be so careful.

What did you learn from touring with him back in 2010 on the Gorillaz's Escape to Plastic Beach Tour?

The whole experience was a really big impression because there was such a mix of artists on the tour. Fred and I shared a tour bus with Bobby Womack. De La Sol was also on the tour, along with a whole horn band and a Syrian orchestra. There were maybe eight or nine tour buses — it was crazy, like a festival on tour. It was such a good time and a lot of fun memories. 

We traveled the States and the UK and Australia, so it was a good three months. The inspiring part was seeing Damon deliver on stage — he gave everything — and the way that he brought all those different artists together. It created a lot of friendships that still exist.

Speaking of performing, you all bring so much energy and joy to live shows. What does it feel like for you and the band when you're on stage?

That's probably the main reason why we gravitated towards each other, because we admired each other as musicians. It feels like we're all in our element together and it feels natural because we've done it for so long. We know each other's language musically, and we know how to communicate with each other. That's such a special thing. 

You don't really realize that until you play with people that you don't know their musical language in the same way. It's something that we cherish. Of course, you have good shows and bad shows, but the guys still impress me on stage with the way they play because we improvise a lot and we try to take it somewhere. Every show is different.

Is it important to you to change things up on stage to not get bored yourself, or to entertain the audience, or a bit of both?

I think it's some kind of musician's pride. We also love the jazz philosophy of music. I guess it bores us if we see bands and they have a backing track. I think that's where it shows that we're musicians first, and then we became a band. We were all session musicians, and we had these vibrations between us when we were playing and that's what made us write music together. It started there. It reminds us of the core of what we are on stage together.

What do you get out of sharing your music in person? I'm sure it's one thing to get sweet comments from people online, but it must be something to feel people freaking out to your songs.

It's the best feeling. I mean, we don't always get [an engaged crowd]. Any band will know that doing support shows strengthens your backbone because you have to play almost for yourself. So we have shows that are great, and shows that are less good. Every show has its twists, but when the stars are aligned, it's pretty amazing.

You can have moments where you lose track of yourself, and you feel like the communication between the band is just flowing so nicely — you almost feel like it's flowing back and forth with the audience too. It's a bit addictive, actually, to get that feeling, that energy, from a crowd. Sometimes you have a few people that are going off so hard and dancing and giving so much energy that it just fuels us.

"Ritual Union" was such a big track when it came out in 2011. What did the success and buzz you experienced then feel like to the band at the time?

I don't think it necessarily felt like a peak or anything to us because we've always felt like we were on some kind of a verge. But now we're appreciative of it. Just this last summer when we did shows in San Francisco, I recognized hardcore fans from 10 years back, who still come to the front.

At the time, we were touring so much that we almost exhausted ourselves after Ritual Union. We needed a proper break. As a band, when you feel that you're up-and-coming, it's the feeling that you've got to grab this thing right in front of you, but it keeps moving forward — you're just running after nothing.

We had to stop and be like, "Okay, you can prioritize other things and you can say no to shows." We had to learn stuff like that because you can get this FOMO feeling like if you don't grab it, someone else is going to take it and you're gonna miss it.

There's this feeling in industry that there's so much competition, so if you don't take it now, it's never gonna come back. There's so much fear and pressure in the industry that can push a band too hard. It was a very intense time after Ritual Union. But we were getting a lot of love and touring hard.

What came after that pause? What was the thing that was like "this is why we're a band" or "this is what we're actually focused on"?

We still have our studio and we go there pretty much every day. People rent studios for tons of money, and we have a nice homemade one that's an apartment that we made into a studio. That allows us to be able to make a song like "Disco Dangerous" and to be silly in the studio. It's such a blessing to be able to release that and know that people actually want to hear it and dance to it. 

We feel really grateful that we don't have to compromise ourselves at all. We do what we love and there are people who are into it. That's what every artist wants to do, not have to sell out.

Do you feel connected to or inspired by the music scene in Gothenburg?

We have our bubble in the studio. The setup is four studios in one space, so we're definitely bouncing off of each other in that collective space. In a dream world, it'd be a whole building and tons of bands, that would be pretty awesome.

I read that it actually took some time for the band to catch on in Sweden, after the U.K. and U.S. When did that home country recognition finally happen?

I feel like it's still pretty slow here. We're gonna do a show in Gothenburg and Stockholm this fall, it's definitely been growing. We did a few things here during COVID; we were a house band for a really big Swedish TV show. That probably made some people aware, but I feel like it's still growing.

We haven't really invested that much time, either, in playing here. Some bands tour all over Sweden and play all the small towns, but we haven't really done that. You can't really complain if you haven't really toured and promoted that much here. We probably need to play more shows in Sweden. Our first record label [Peacefrog] was in the U.K. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but they were definitely not really focusing on Sweden.

As a band, how do you make sure that you're still having fun making music together and meshing creatively, since you have been doing it for so long?

Most of the time, it's pretty easy. I mean, it's not always gonna be a vibe, but since we go to the studio pretty much every single day, you're going to flow at some point, even though it can take some time. After the summer, you're going to need a little bit of time to warm up before, and you're not necessarily gonna write your favorite song the first day you get in. You just have to just flow with it. 

I think just showing up in the studio every day, being with each other, makes things happen. But how do you make it fun? I think we just have fun together, we don't even have to try most of the time.

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Dance DJ/Producer Dom Dolla
Dom Dolla performs at Lollapalooza in 2023

Photo: Barry Brecheisen / WireImage / GettyImages

interview

How Rising Dance Star Dom Dolla Remixed The Gorillaz & Brought Nelly Furtado Back To The Dance Floor

Dom Dolla had a massive 2023, culminating in his first GRAMMY nomination. The first-time GRAMMY nominee discusses his nominated remix of the Gorillaz’s "New Gold," finding pop-spiration from Nelly Furtado and performing his dream B2B set.

GRAMMYs/Jan 17, 2024 - 02:07 pm

Dom Dolla rang in 2024 on a creative high. 

Last year, the 32-year-old Australian DJ and producer worked with his long-time idol Nelly Furtado, collaborating on her first new music in six years, including multiple unreleased tracks. Their bossy dance floor banger "Eat Your Man" lit up clubs and festival stages in summer 2023 — including several where the artists performed the track together live. But this wasn't the only mountain Dom Dolla climbed in 2023. His latest tune as a solo artist, a euphoric, Euro disco-inspired bop called "Saving Up," was released in October.

To top off a productive year, the artist born Dominic Matheson earned his first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Remixed Recording for his stellar remix of Gorillaz's "New Gold" featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown. It was the only remix that Gorillaz commissioned for Cracker Island, which is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album,  and the Aussie DJ felt a lot of pressure to make it a great one. The Dom Dolla remix brings a sense of urgency and electricity to the star-studded tune, picking  up the tempo to 127 BPM, then speeding up and looping Brown's raps.

After years of DJing and rising in his hometown Melbourne's vibrant club scene, Dom Dolla broke onto the U.S. dance scene with two tech house heaters, "Take It" and "San Frandisco," in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He was supposed to play Coachella 2020, which due to the pandemic, didn't take place until 2022. There, he debuted the big tunes he'd release later that year: the deep and moody "Strangers," with Mansionair, and the '90s house-infused "Miracle Maker," with Clementine Douglas. Since then, he's been on an ever-evolving upward trajectory. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with the "Miracle Maker" producer to learn more about working with Nelly Furtado and the Gorillaz, how a bad bout of tinnitus taught him a helpful studio trick, and where spaceship Dom is headed next. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What was your initial response when you found out you were nominated for a GRAMMY?

A lot of yelling. My manager is a very funny guy. He called me up [after the nominations were announced] and immediately started talking about something else. I challenged myself to write a song a day for a week. So he's all, "Day three, how's it going? You need to punch out a really good one today." I was like, What? And he's like, "A f—ing GRAMMY!" and started laughing. He really bait-and-switched me. I was on a high all morning. Then I flew from L.A. to Miami to play at [Club] Space and later that day I had EDC Orlando. I kept running into members of my team and just heard yelling.

Everyone brought signs to Space. Someone held up this enormous sign, "Congratulations on your GRAMMY" and people [held up messages] on their phones. It was quite a lovely, emotional moment, at such a debaucherous place.

What does it mean to you to be acknowledged in this way by your music industry peers?

It's really special. I started touring America in 2016. When you start touring in a new country, particularly when you're quite green, which I was back then, it's quite lonely. You don't really know anyone. But over the years, as I released more music and was running into people, I really felt like I was kind of gaining people's respect the more music that I put out.

The best thing about the music industry in America, at least in dance music, is if other DJs are playing your records, you're adding value to their DJ set and they respect you for it. That was happening more and more [for me over the years]. So [the nomination] feels like the antithesis of when I first started touring in the U.S.; it's being acknowledged by my peers and being respected and knowing that they genuinely like my music.

Did you ever imagine you'd be where you are today as a DJ/producer?

No way. My goal when I first started uploading music was to hit 10,000 plays on a song on SoundCloud. I think on the third track I'd released, I ended up hitting like 30,000 streams. I screenshotted it and printed it out. And I was like, I've made it. That's it.

It was the same with touring. My goal when I first started producing was to headline the venue called Prince Bandroom in St. Kilda in Melbourne, my hometown. Now we're doing the stupidest venues. [Laughs.] Each year, my manager asks me to write down what my new goals and aspirations are. A GRAMMY nomination wasn't even on the list because I didn't think it would ever be achievable. So now that that's happened, I have to write a new list.

How did you get connected with the Gorillaz for the remix?

It was pretty cool. Jahan [Karimaghayi] is on my marketing team and he's also on the Gorillaz's marketing team. He's a big fan of my remixes and he's always like, "I feel like you'd smash a Gorillaz remix." Apparently, he brought it up and they were like, "Hell yeah, let's do it." He thought he was introducing them to my music but I think someone already knew my stuff. I got sent the parts and it was ultimately up to me not to f— it up, really. [Chuckles.] That's why I put so much pressure on myself to nail it, knowing that it would be the only remix [from their album].

When did you know that the remix was ready?

It was actually a sort of visceral, emotional reaction in the studio. Every producer or songwriter will know there's two modes. One is, I'm terrible. How did I ever succeed in this as a career? I'm probably going to quit after I walk out of the studio. That was the first three days of me working on it. On the fourth day, the mood was, I'm a fing genius. I can't believe I doubted myself before. This s is fire

When you hit that feeling in the studio, it actually doesn't matter if the song comes out or the remix gets approved or if your team likes it. If I have that feeling, I've done it for myself, and I'm happy. The best thing was, I sent it to my team who said, "This is really great." And then I sent it to the Gorillaz and they loved it, so that was some nice external validation.

How did you bring the Dom Dolla touch to that track, which already had three different iconic, quite eclectic artists on it?

For me, it was picking the stems or the vocal sections or the synth elements of that record that I felt I related to the most. That's the way that I always do it: Which parts of this vocal would sound best on a Dom Dolla record?

The reason I don't do more remixes is because it's hard to come across those moments. I suppose the headline would be "finding moments in an existing record that you wish you'd written." If I'm being pitched a remix, are there enough bits in this that I can then rearrange or twist into something that I wish I'd done myself?

How was working with Nelly Furtado on "Eat Your Man," and what was your initial response when you found out she wanted to work with you? 

We were both going to play [Beyond the Valley] festival in Australia and she listened to my music. [Nelly's management] reached out and said she'd been listening to a bunch of my records on repeat. She wanted me to produce some stuff for her comeback, basically.

I'm sure she had a buttload of potential producers sending her demos. So I recorded this little selfie video that was like, "Hey, Nelly, what's happening?" just to prove I wasn't a psychopath. She said I didn't need the video but I was very memorable from that point on. We started messaging back and forth on WhatsApp and writing a bunch of stuff before we even met in person. 

She sent me her ad-libbing over one of my demos, and I quickly changed the subject because I wasn't actually a fan of what she'd sent me initially. I [was worried] I ruined the relationship. She said that was the reason she wanted to work with me, because I'm not a "yes man." I loved the second one she sent me. From then on, we hit it off and she trusted my taste.

We met in person three months later when we performed at Beyond the Valley. After that, I flew to Philadelphia and we got in the studio and started writing a bunch of stuff for her upcoming releases — none of that music has been released yet. That's more like her pop stuff. Halfway through the sessions, she turned to me, she's like, "I'd love to feature on a Dom Dolla record." "Eat Your Man" was written in the space of a few hours; it all came together quite naturally, which was fun.

What was it like for you working in the studio with Nelly, versus what I'm assuming is usually you and your computer? What did you take away from working in this way?

A lot of the time for the Dom Dolla project, I tried to do everything myself. I'd write all the top lines and basically bring in a session singer. I have a very specific vision. [With Nelly,] it was really a collaboration. For me, it was really learning how a lot of these pop sessions happen.  

[Nelly] had one of her best friends, Anjulie [Persaud], who's a brilliant pop singer and writer. The three of us were handing a microphone around that we had plugged into my Ableton. Each of us sang adlibs over this looped beat. I then went through the session and picked all of the little melodic adlib moments that I thought were really catchy. 

It taught me a lot about communicating tastes and being patient. It was exciting for me because I feel like that's the way the pop world works. It's great because it's more creative and more collaborative. "Eat Your Man" we did more my way. It was like, "This is what I can hear. What do you think?" That's why it happened quite quickly. But with her pop stuff, we did it more the traditional way.

Has that inspired you to do more in-studio collabs with vocalists?

Yeah, I've been doing a lot of writing with other people since then. Now I really can see myself doing a lot more production for other people and pop artists or even for bands. I'm confident in my executive production, production and engineering abilities. It's a new muscle that I'd like to develop. It's just hard for me because I'm touring so much and you've got to be in the room. Touring [non-stop] doesn't really leave much in the way for collaborative pop production. I think that time will come but it's not right now.

You brought out Nelly Furtado during your set at Portola Fest and performed with her a few times this year. What has it felt like getting to perform with her on stage?

She's so experienced and has been doing this for so long. I've learned a lot. In pop music performances, there's timecoding and synchronized dancing. DJ culture is like, I'm feeling like this needs to go here now, so I'm gonna full 180 and just throw this on the audience. You don't have to check in with anyone or plan anything. [Nelly] needs to know exactly when this is going to happen because she needs to know when she has to start singing and how much time she's got to dance before she has to start singing again. It's given me a real appreciation for pop live performance and how the pop world does it.

Planning for those sets [with Nelly] has been awesome; she asked me to send her the files from the mashups I did of her records and my records. I went to watch her [Portola] set, which is just her, I had nothing to do with it, and she performed the mashups. I was like, This is so sick. Her manager turned to me, "She's actually been doing this in every one of her shows." I'm over the moon. The dance music influence is kind of rubbing off on her hip-hop, R&B world, which is really cool.

In your DJ Mag cover article, you shared how an experience with hearing loss and tinnitus led you to produce music quieter. How did that change the way you think about production and dance music?

I really had to retrain my ears in how to produce music, but it added a bunch of longevity to my career. Now I can write and perform for years, because I'm always wearing earplugs or writing music quietly. It taught me that if the song's got to be really loud to be exciting, it sucks. People always crank stuff up in the studio. If it's exciting when it's quiet, you want to turn it up because you want to hear it. I think that's a testament to the kind of record that's being written. I always challenge myself to write the most exciting record humanly possible at the quietest level possible, [where you're] itching to turn it up.

It's also a mixing thing as well, because you've got to be able to hear all the key elements of the record quietly too. No matter where it's translating, whether it's on someone's laptop, their phone, their headphones, or cranked up to 120 on their home speaker system, that mix is right. 

How would you describe the evolution or your sound, production-wise and in your DJ sets?

I get so bored so easily. I just want to keep moving [on to new sounds]. The best thing about that is it keeps your audience excited. My last record, "Saving Up," is a completely original record that I want to sound like a throwback sampled disco tune. I've never released anything that's disco before, but I love disco. It's almost like Euro disco, a really fast offbeat baseline. It's jacked up, it's not a traditional disco record, but the elements are still there. Even the stuff I've been writing for Nelly, her pop stuff, I think people will be able to tell that I wrote it and produced it because it sounds like me somehow.

On "Saving Up," did you use any samples or did you just make it sound like it was sampled?

Everything in that record is completely original. I wanted it to sound like a sampled record, so the vocals are pitched up. It's a friend of mine, Clementine Douglas [who is featured on Dom's "Miracle Maker"]. I wrote it with her and some other friends, Toby Scott and Caitlin Stubbs, down in Brighton Beach in the UK. I've always been really obsessed with writing music on my own, doing everything myself from start to finish, and I feel like I've proven that to myself. After working with Nelly Furtado, I was really open to the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of talented people and writing songs as a group 

As soon as I got to Brighton Beach, I remembered that Big Beach Boutique massive rave that Fatboy Slim hosted there 20 years ago. I wanted to write something that sounded super U.K., something that sounds sampled. We actually wrote the song really, really slow, at like 95 BPM or something. It was just chords and hooky vocals and we wrote the lyrics after. To make it sound sampled, we sped it up to 130 BPM and pitched the vocal up six semitones and made it bouncy as f—. 

What's next for you?

I actually have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just kind of hanging on for dear life. I know what I'm doing in the studio and I know what a great DJ set is made of. For me, it's about building upon that each and every time — giving a better DJ performance, creating a better set and writing better music.

I think that's the only thing that's really changing, the shows are getting bigger and more people are discovering the music. Honestly, it's quite shocking. The audience is literally compounding but I'm not really changing anything that I'm doing. I'm sort of doing more of it and trying to up the frequency and learning from the mistakes I've made before. 

Any big goals you're trying to hit, or anything where you're like, Okay, that would fing blow my mind if that happened?

Honestly, I recently did a dream B2B with Solomun in Ibiza. That was really cool. He reached out and I was like, No fng way. I have a good feeling about the next few years, so it's gonna be exciting. 

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

bjork at coachella 2023 weekend 2
Bjork performs during weekend two of the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images for ABA

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7 Mind-Blowing Sets From Coachella 2023 Weekend 2: Gorillaz, Boygenius, Eric Prydz & More

Weekend two of Coachella 2023 was packed with drama and intrigue, concluding with surprise headlining sets from Blink-182 and DJ trio Skrillex, Four Tet & Fred Again.. Read on for the weekend's biggest moments and exciting surprises.

GRAMMYs/Apr 25, 2023 - 05:25 pm

Coachella 2023 has now come to a close. The second weekend of the Southern California mega-festival concluded with another series of bespoke performances that continued to build the event’s reputation as a place where legendary moments become history.

Weekend two was packed with drama and intrigue, led by the last-minute removal of Frank Ocean from the Sunday lineup due to injury. Fans were already buzzing following his controversial first weekend performance, while organizers worked quickly to replace his headlining set. The results were top notch, closing Coachella on a very energetic and celebratory note.

As a result, Blink-182 — who had a surprise set on Friday afternoon of the first weekend — were given a main stage slot on Sunday night, followed by an act to be announced. 

The mystery act didn't remain hush-hush for long, though. Sunday's headliners were revealed to be the supergroup DJ trio of Skrillex, Four Tet, and Fred Again.., who in their brief time playing music together have become one of the most sought-after acts in the world. (So much so that they sold out Madison Square Garden in two minutes after announcing the show.) 

Beyond the Sunday scramble, weekend two of Coachella 2023 brought much of the same excitement as the previous week — replete with more stand-out sets than even the most experienced festival goer could manage to catch. Below, relive seven sets that showcase Coachella’s reign as one of the most popular festivals in the world. 

Wet Leg Encourages Communal Release 

The British alternative rock band only has one self-titled album’s worth of material, which they've been diligently touring around the globe. And yet they still managed to bring a sense of zeal and authentic excitement to their second Coachella set.

Wet Leg's Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers set the example of this energy. Throughout the performance, they shared excitable looks, occasionally dropping lyrics in favor of laughter. Other times, they led the crowd in an epic scream, just for the sake of it. Dave Grohl even showed up to scream with them.

The climax of the performance at the Mojave stage on Friday afternoon was "Chaise Longue," the upbeat rock and roll heater that earned the group a 2022 GRAMMY for Best Alternative Performance. When Teasdale would ask, "Excuse me," the crowd would shout back "What?!" with all their might. Then the rapid fire guitar came in, and everyone in the crowd understood that the assignment was to dance.

Gorillaz Take Special Guests Appearances To The Next Level

Gorillaz last performed at Coachella in 2010 as Sunday headliners, and brought headliner energy to Friday night's penultimate set. When it comes to special guests — a Coachella tradition already ingrained in Gorillaz's music — the group stepped up their game. 

By the third song, the L.A. alternative legend Beck was on stage to sing his feature on "Valley of the Pagans" from Gorillaz’s 2020 album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. From there, more than half of the 17-song set included a guest.

Thundercat came on for his contribution to the title track of Gorillaz's latest, Cracker Island, Little Simz performed "Garage Palace" off 2017's Humanz, and Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, joined Gorillaz along with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble for "Sweepstakes" from 2010’s Plastic Beach. Minutes before his own headlining set, Bad Bunny came out in a mask to perform "Tormenta," his feature on Cracker Island. 

An IRL Bad Bunny collab may have been the ultimate surprise guest coup de grâce, but Gorillaz weren't finished yet. In a touching moment of unity, Gorillaz paid tribute to their late collaborator David Jolicoeur after the surviving members of De La Soul joined Gorillaz for a performance of "Feel Good, Inc."

Eric Prydz Brings Artificial Into Reality With His HOLO Show

If Eric Prydz had decided to simply play a DJ set, he still likely would have landed one of the festival's top booking slots; instead, he brought his HOLO show to Indio. 

This unique live production is known in the global dance music circuit for pushing the limits of visuals in the live space. There are hundreds of videos on the internet heralding its epicness, but those videos don’t compare to experiencing it in person.

Prydz’s closing set at Outdoor Theater on Saturday night was scheduled to begin at 10:20 p.m., but when the time rolled around, the screens remained dark. However, a keen ear could tell that the scene had actually begun; a subtle line emanated through the speakers and, for 20 minutes, kept getting louder and extending in its repetition.

At 10:40, a giant mechanical hand appeared on the screen, as if it was floating out into the audience. With an iPhone between its Transformers-esque fingers, the hand took photos as a wash of electronic music started building. Then as the hand flipped the phone to show an image of the audience on its screen, the first track of the set took full form, and a tidal wave of energy was released from the crowd.

For the remainder of the set, every new song was accompanied by an evermore impressive audiovisual creation. One frame was Prydz himself wearing a spacesuit. Another was a team of spacemen firing laser guns at the crowd. It felt so real that someone probably ducked to avoid the virtual projectiles.

Christine & The Queens Do So Much With Not-So-Much

Coachella is a festival where most artists like to do a lot, but Christine & The Queens demonstrated that you can actually do a lot with a little. 

Production during the Sunday sunset slot at Mojave was minimalistic: two separate platforms on stage, one for Christine and her three-piece band, the other open for use. Like her stage setup, Christine & The Queens' music is generally minimalistic — though Christine doesn't require much to completely enthrall her audience. 

Songs began calmer, exemplified by the use of Red Hot Chili Peppers' alt-rock ballad of "By The Way" as a transition into her hit song, "Tilted." As that steady and simple beat moved along the intensity only increased. Christine threw her body around, ending up on the floor, on the platform, all the while nailing every note with her serenading tones.

Other than her soothing yet powerful vocals and mesmerizing stage presence, Christine was just as much a preacher as a musician. She decried patriarchal capitalism and stood strong in her belief that music is the greatest weapon against it.

"You are not going to surrender!" she shouted as her drummer threw down a high speed solo. 

Boygenius Provide A Musical Safe Space

When the indie supergroup took the Outdoor stage for the first set of Saturday night in complete darkness, everyone was primed and ready to feel all the things. Thus commenced the musical therapy session that was boygenius' Coachella performance, as members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker sang the first few lines of "Without You Without Them" together on a single mic.

"I want to hear your story and be a part of it," the trio sang — their message a call to everyone in earshot, from the audience to the security guards and production workers. 

Although the crowd wasn’t the biggest that the Outdoor stage would see throughout the weekend, the environment allowed for plenty of space for the audience to be with themselves under the stars. Then as the band went through the various moods on their debut album, the record, the audience responded to their energy in kind.

When the trio were rocking out on songs like "$20" and "Satanist," the energy was high and lively as everyone took in Bridgers' towering shouts before returning with their own. Then when the volume came down for the raw, unfiltered honesty in songs like "True Blue" and "Emily I’m Sorry," the people who were shouting before began to gently sway, murmuring the lyrics to themselves word for word, experiencing them on a personal level.

Björk Reworks Her Classics With An Orchestra 

Iceland’s own Björk last performed at Coachella in 2007, when she headlined Friday. For her first Coachella set in over 15 years, the artist returned with a full orchestra that performed original interpretations of her past works.

Backed by the Hollywood String Ensemble and conducted by fellow Icelander, Bjarni Frímann, pleasant indie songs such as "Aurora" and "Come To Me" became operatic epics. The orchestra allowed her to accurately and succinctly reproduce "Freefall," a song from her latest album, 2022’s Fossora, which integrates orchestral composition with alternative production. 

Closing the set, Björk embarked on an exploration of orchestral techno, as Hollywood String Ensemble rearranged her industrial masterpiece, "Pluto."

Visually, Björk satisfied expectations on all levels. Her dress was reminiscent of a spider web, with feathers caught in the adhesive like several birds all flew through at the precise angle. Above the stage, an aerial drone show reacted to her voice as if her tones were literally reaching the heavens.

Skrillex, Four Tet & Fred Again.. Party In The Round

Saving the day, Skrillex, Four Tet, and Fred Again.. took their last-minute headlining set to epic proportions. The trio of DJs performed in the round on the satellite stage, while extra speakers were brought in so fans in every part of the field could bathe in their electronic sounds.

Their set was just a straight party, complete with plumes of glowsticks flying into the air during various drops. Then when they fell other people would scavenge the field and pick them up so they could throw them on the next great drop.

At other performances like MSG where they were the sole act, the trio had as long as five hours to explore all the music they wanted. This time they had less than two, and filled the set with as many bangers as they could. 

Some examples were the scraping dubstep track "COUNTRY RIDDIM" by the rising dubstep producer HOL!, "RATATA," a breakbeat tune supported by a vocal feature from Missy Elliott, and even "Party In The USA" by Miley Cyrus.

But the glue holding together the set were the booming bass tones of UK grime rapper Flowdan. The new trio made new versions of his hook from the massive collaboration with Skrillex and Fred Agan.., "Rumble." 

7 Jaw-Dropping Sets From Coachella 2023 Weekend 1: BLACKPINK, Bad Bunny, Blink-182 & More

The Chemical Brothers All Points East
The Chemical Brothers perform at All Points East 2022 in London.

Photo: Joshua Atkins

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7 Captivating Sets From All Points East 2022: The Chemical Brothers, Gorillaz, Femi Kuti & More

Relive weekend one of the 10-day All Points East festival in London with a recap of seven of its amazing sets, from headlining spectacle to smaller tent swagger.

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2022 - 06:57 pm

All Points East, London’s 10-day long music festival and community extravaganza in Victoria Park, commenced this past weekend, giving music-hungry Londoners some outdoor revelry before the sun recedes behind the clouds with the close of summer.

Gorillaz had the headlining slot on the first Friday of the festival, opening the event alongside diverse and impressive acts like Turnstile and Yves Tumor. On Saturday, Aug. 20, APE joined forces with Field Day, a dance music celebration that’s been running strong since 2007, to host electronic idols including the Chemical Brothers and Kraftwerk alongside notable DJs including Peggy Gou and Denis Sulta.

All Points East continues Thursday through the following Sunday, Aug. 28 with artists like Tame Impala, Nick Cave, The National, and Disclosure. GRAMMY.com attended APE's first weekend; read on for some of the best moments and what you might expect from weekend two. 

Squarepusher’s Intelligent Dance Moves

Tom Jenkinson — better known for his erratic and eccentric electronic music project, Squarepusher — inhabited the tented North Stage for a live performance during Field Day. He is still going strong after releasing his debut album Feed Me Weird Things in 1996 on Warp, maintaining and upholding the intelligent dance music (IDM) genre with a voracious attitude.

While it may seem difficult to dance to Jenkinson’s fast-paced and random hitting breakbeats, he proved it’s possible with contortionist movements on stage. It didn’t matter that Jenkinson had a six-string bass around his chest; he found time to dance as the jittery flashing strobe lights matched the music in quickness and intensity. 

Remi Wolf Goes "Crazy"

California’s Remi Wolf captured the full range of the crowd's emotions on Friday afternoon. She went through the blissful indifference of adolescence with the Sublime-esque alt-rock jam, "Liquor Store," and into raucous female empowerment with the hip-hop soul of "Sexy Villain." Both songs are from her 2021 LP, Juno.

At one point she asked the crowd if they ever felt like badasses before asking in the next breath if they felt like whiny c—. Both queries received exuberant cheers. But the culmination came in her cover of Gnarls Barkley’s hit, "Crazy," an emotion that the crowd was happy to exude when Wolf matched Cee-Lo’s power on the high notes in the chorus.

Fjaak In The Daytime

​​Aaron Röbig and Felix Wagner, who produce and perform in the underground dance project, FJAAK, generally play music fit for the deep hours of the night within grimy industrial warehouse spaces. They often swap between hard-hitting techno and twisting, left field breakbeats, and on Field Day 2022, they brought their nighttime james to a 4 p.m. mainstage slot. 

Devilish beats soared across the fields of Victoria Park as the DJs were broadcast on a triad of LED displays. It was as if they were the lead singers in the various rock bands who would inhabit the same space at different times throughout the event. A complete 180 from where FJAAK is normally found, but they definitely pulled it off.

Femi Kuti Keeps It In The Family

There are certain names that will live on forever throughout the evolution of music, and one of them is Kuti. Since the Nigerian master musician Fela Kuti pioneered Afrobeat back in the late 1960s by combining traditional African styles of music like calypso and Yoruba with funk, soul and jazz, his surname has never been far from the musical conversation. 

On the first day of All Points East, Femi Kuti performed with his own Afrobeat ensemble. Just as his father, Fela, did for him, Femi welcomed his son, Made Kuti, into the band. Made performed the final song of the set wherein he held a note on his saxophone for so long people were taking out their phones to time it.

Highschool In The Quad

Alongside the major stages, APE also had small stages for the rising acts. One of such acts was the indie outfit, HighSchool who performed on the Firestone stage for a quick 30-minute set mostly consisting of songs from their debut EP, Forever at Last

Cordoned in a wholesome nook of the festival near a collection of tables and benches where attendees could rest and eat, the name HighSchool was rather fitting. As the band performed their first-ever set with a live drummer, it felt like one of the times bands would come to play in the quad during lunch in high school.

Chemical Brothers Made Their Own Avengers 

The buzz around the Chemical Brothers’ headlining set at Field was palpable, to say the least. As the sun went down and the other stages closed, thousands of people descended on the mainstage field to revel not just in the music of the U.K. favorites, but in the grand, intricate visual show designed by members Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons.

"Block Rockin’ Beats" opened the set, which was particularly spectacular given Dig Your Own Hole celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022. Classic favorites like "Go" and "Hey Boy Hey Girl" followed soon after. Each track carried with it a unique visual design that seemed to grow more and more impressive and enthralling, but a highlight in that regard was surely "Eve Of Destruction" from the GRAMMY-winning LP, No Geography

In a popular culture where superheroes are becoming increasingly banal, the Chemical Brothers managed to design their own team of superheroes and supervillains that entered epic combat live on screen. Kevin Feige and the rest of the people at Marvel Studios should take note.

Gorillaz Bring Out Tame Impala (Among Others)

Given the nature of their recordings, every Gorillaz show is likely to have a special guest or two. Prior to All Points East, Damon Albarn and company confirmed not one, but nine different guest artists, including Popcaan, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and the Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown.

Yasiin Bey took down vocals on "Sweepstakes" and "Stylo," his two tracks from 2010’s Plastic Beach. Pos, one of the three members of De La Soul, handled his verses (and a rather jovial intro sermon) to the hit single "Feel Good Inc." from 2005’s Demon Days.

Yet even with so many friends coming together for Albarn’s hometown show, there was still room for a few surprises, one of which was Kevin Parker of Tame Impala who performed Gorillaz upcoming single, "New Gold" for the first time ever.

Watch Backstage Interviews At Outside Lands 2022: Phoebe Bridgers, Robert Glasper, TokiMonsta, Thuy & More

U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

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GRAMMY Rewind: 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards

U2 scores Album and Song Of The Year honors and John Legend is Best New Artist against these nominees

GRAMMYs/Oct 23, 2021 - 12:19 am

Music's Biggest Night, the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, will air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

 In the weeks leading up to the telecast, we will take a stroll down music memory lane with GRAMMY Rewind, highlighting the "big four" categories — Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist — from past awards shows. In the process, we'll examine the winners and the nominees who just missed taking home a GRAMMY, while also shining a light on the artists' careers and the eras in which the recordings were born.

 Join us as we take an abbreviated journey through the trajectory of pop music from the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1959 to last year's 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards.

48th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Feb. 8, 2006

Album Of The Year
Winner: U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Mariah Carey, The Emancipation Of Mimi
Paul McCartney, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard
Gwen Stefani, *Love. Angel. Music. Baby.*
Kanye West, Late Registration

After trumping Michael Jackson's Bad for the Album Of The Year trophy in 1987, U2 cleared yet another hurdle by beating out one-fourth of the Beatles, 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year honoree Sir Paul McCartney [http://www.grammy.com/news/paul-mccartney-to-perform-at-2012-musicares-person-of-the-year-gala\]. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, said to be the group's return to the big-anthem classics produced in the '80s, charted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and garnered seven additional GRAMMYs in 2004 and 2005, including Best Rock Song for "City Of Blinding Lights" and "Vertigo." Also making a comeback of sorts was Carey, whose 10th studio release, The Emancipation Of Mimi, won her three GRAMMY Awards, including Best R&B Song for the No. 1 hit "We Belong Together." In 1990 Carey won her first two GRAMMYs, including Best New Artist. For Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, produced by GRAMMY winner Nigel Godrich, McCartney returned to the one-man band style exhibited on his self-titled solo debut, playing nearly every instrument on the album from guitars and keyboards to bass and drums. Stefani earned a nomination for her solo debut effort, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. The album spawned four additional nods and featured her first No. 1 single as a solo artist, the infectious "Hollaback Girl." West's sophomore release, Late Registration, marked his second Album Of The Year nod (he also received recognition for production work on Carey's The Emancipation …). The album topped the Billboard 200 in 2005 and featured the No. 1 hit "Gold Digger."

node: video: U2 Win Album Of The Year


Record Of The Year
Winner: Green Day, "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams"
Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
Gorillaz Featuring De La Soul, "Feel Good Inc."
Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
Kanye West, "Gold Digger"

Rock reigned supreme in the Record Of The Year category as Green Day won for their hit "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams." The track appears on American Idiot, which won the group a GRAMMY for Best Rock Album the year prior and gained them presence on Broadway when it was later made into a musical in 2009. Carey's "We Belong Together" skyrocketed to the top of several pop charts in 2005 and earned her two GRAMMY wins, including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Adding variety to the field was virtual hip-hop group Gorillaz with the viral "Feel Good Inc." featuring De La Soul. The track earned them a GRAMMY for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals and a virtual duet with Madonna on the GRAMMY telecast. Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" scored a nomination with the help of GRAMMY-winning producers the Neptunes. West's "Gold Digger," which features Jamie Foxx sampling pieces from Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman," garnered the 14-time GRAMMY winner a win for Best Rap Solo Performance.

node: video: Green Day Win Record Of The Year

    

Song Of The Year
Winner: U2, "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"
Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
John Legend, "Ordinary People"
Rascal Flatts, "Bless The Broken Road"
Bruce Springsteen, "Devils & Dust"

The second Song Of The Year win for U2, the emotional "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," was written by Bono and U2, and also garnered the self-proclaimed best band in the world a GRAMMY for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal that year, beating out Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Franz Ferdinand, and the Killers. Carey's third nomination in the General Field was co-written with an all-star cast that included Johnta Austin, Babyface and Jermaine Dupri. Making his GRAMMY debut this year was Legend, who co-wrote "Ordinary People" with Black Eyed Pea will.i.am. The singer/pianist's debut studio album, Get Lifted, won a GRAMMY for Best R&B Vocal Album, a trophy that was replaced [link to: http://www.grammy.com/news/legend-gets-a-do-over\] in 2010 by The Recording Academy after an incident involving Legend's nephew. One of the first country groups in recent memory to receive a Song Of The Year nomination was Rascal Flatts' "Bless The Broken Road," written by Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna and Marcus Hummon. The track, previously recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, won for Best Country Song. The final entry, Springsteen's self-penned "Devils & Dust," which appears on the No. 1 album of the same name, earned the Boss five GRAMMY nominations this year, including a win for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance.

node: video: "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" Wins Song Of The Year

Best New Artist
Winner: John Legend
Ciara
Fall Out Boy
Keane
Sugarland

Neo-soul artist Legend, who made two big debuts in 2005 with his first studio album and first appearance at the GRAMMY Awards, picked up Best New Artist honors. Get Lifted also broke the Top 5 on the Billboard 200. Texas-native Ciara, named the "First Lady of Crunk and B" by producer Lil Jon, scored a nod. She also took home a Best Short Form Music Video GRAMMY for "Lose Control." Pop/punk outfit Fall Out Boy received their only GRAMMY nomination to date. The group's 2005 album, From Under The Cork Tree, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. Piano-driven pop/rock group Keane added more variety to the diverse field, and picked up a second nomination the following year for "Is It Any Wonder?" The second country act to garner a nod in the General Field was the then-trio Sugarland, featuring Kristian Bush, Kristen Hall and Jennifer Nettles. The group won a GRAMMY two years later for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal — minus Hall —for the tear-jerker "Stay."

node: video: Carrie Underwood Wins Best New Artist

Come back to GRAMMY.com tomorrow as we revisit the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

Follow GRAMMY.com for our inside look at GRAMMY news, blogs, photos, videos, and of course nominees. Stay up to the minute with GRAMMY Live. Check out the GRAMMY legacy with GRAMMY Rewind. Keep track of this year's GRAMMY Week events, and explore this year's GRAMMY Fields. Or check out the collaborations at Re:Generation, presented by Hyundai Veloster. And join the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.