Little Dragon have always been the outsiders of the pop world. They have tentatively dipped their big toe into the murky lake of pop - high profile collaborations, TV appearances, festival main stages - but for some reason they've never fully delved in. It's indicative of band who's audience, and drive, yearns for something more substantial than a 3 minute orgy with the Dr. Luke's of this world.

Formed back in 1996 in Gothenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon's career path trundled along at a steady ascent for many years. Things got noticeably steeper with their last album, 2011's Ritual Union. It was an album that punched well above it's weight. Steeped in critical acclaim, it allowed the band to tour all over the world for two years. At the start of the promotion for that album, they were playing 600 capacity shows in New York. In June this year, as part of their first tour in support of the new album Nabuma Rubberband, they'll play to 3000 people at Terminal 5. In only three years, that's pretty impressive.

When you listen to their music, you can understand the appeal. It's the melting point at which Electronica, RnB and Pop coalesce. In this climate that might not seems like a particularly original concept but there is something special about Little Dragon. They have a obsessional passion for sound design. Never using a sound which could be easily replicated, always keeping an eye out for something different. They're mischievous with structures. 'Klapp Klapp', the lead single from Nabuma Rubberband, starts with an bouncy acoustic bass line and brisk drum beat before launching into a monolithic synth riff. It's completely at odds with the rest of the track. Why use it? Well, why not? Then there's Yukimi's luxurious voice, slicker than an oil spill. One minute she's alluring, the next she's aloof. A voice you could never tire of. And if we're gushing, we really don't care. Little Dragon are Swedish pop alchemy at it's best.

On the eve of the release of Nabuma Rubberband, we caught up with Erik, Hakan and Fredrik (whilst Yukimi entertained another journo - such is their popularity right now) in a windowless, noisy bar in central London to catch up on life post-Ritual Union and being the outsiders looking in.

Hey guys, how are you?

Erik: We've been good. We've been busy. It's all coming together.

You did a Lauren Laverne session today. How did it go?

E: It went pretty well. We did 'Killing Me' and 'Klapp Klapp' and they went down really well.

Fredrik: (tries to pronouce LL's name) Laur....Lauren...Lauren Laaaavarn

E: Lauren Lavernnnneeee.....

You guys know she was in a band once? They were called Kenickie. Do you remember them?

E: Oooh no, I don't.

Fredrik: Where is that? [NB: possibly a little confused by my accent]

E: Were they good?

They were around in the Brit-pop era. They were no Oasis but they did alright. How was SXSW?

E: A storm of confusion, whatever. It was good though. Very sunny. It wasn't very well organised or anything like that but we had good shows.

Do you get much time to see anyone?

Hakan: No, no. We could have done a little more if we'd been a bit more active but we kinda needed to save our energy.

So you didn't see people throwing up on Lady Gaga then?

(All 3 together): Ohhhhhhh, no no no!

Haha! The look on your faces! It's a bit weird, right?

H: That is a bit weird. I might have to see it first before judging.

F: She's taking it to another a way.

You've got a busy summer ahead of you with the new record, festivals and touring. Is that a little daunting?

E: Noooooo! No it's not really scary at all its....


E: Yeah. It's been a long time since we did a lot of live shows. A year and half ago that's what we were doing all the time and I was kinda missing that actually.

F: It's good to get back in shape.

H: Also it's always nice to develop songs when you play live. You want to be spontaneous but also think about something extra to do.

I think it was 'Nightlight' on the last tour that you used to experiement with and it would turn into an extended 10 minute epic. Is that something you are hoping to do this time around?

E: There are a few songs that have that potential.

H: It kinda depends on the song. Some are really straight pop songs, to be honest, with intros and outros.

When did you start approaching new ideas for the new record?

H: Well we started when the space above our studio [n their hometown of Gothenburg] became free so we built a new studio with a bigger space. It used to be an apartment so its very homely. Each of us got our own room which we decorated....

What décor did you go for?

H: Golden walls. Someone had to do it.

F: Plain white. With astro turf on the ceiling.

Really? How the hell did you get it that up there?

F: That was a big stress. At first I was looking for some carpet to damp the sound. Then when we were at the carpet store and saw it we were like, "Wait a minute, astro-turf, of course!"

E: And what a particular name for such a particular product!

H: I think it's like a trademark thing...

E: Is it?

F: Astroooooo turf.

E: Taarf?

F: TAAARRRFFFFF?!? (laughs)

I saw those videos of the apartment on your Instagram. It appears to be quite a playful environment. Is that playfulness important when you are creating sounds for the record?

E: I feel like our studio is a continuation of a very simple home piece set-up. Where so long as you can connect whatever, it will work. We do also have a tape recorder and stuff but it is like a playground.

F: The other thing is that the building we are renting is on its way to being torn down. We don't really know for sure but there is a threat. We can't really invest too much in it.

How long have you had the place?

F: Maybe 14 years.

So the idea is to sell shit loads of records and buy the place? Then subsume the whole street?

F: Exactly.

What would you pinpoint as the main difference to this album from Ritual Union?

E: I don't know if it is a difference you can hear but its a difference in the making of it. There was a lot of time and no stress really, no deadlines. We just went to the studio and made a lot of music and then piled it up into an album. We had a lot of fun making the album together.

How many tracks did you write in the end?

E: About 20, so double the amount on the album.

F: And many more sketches.

H: But we were talking earlier about how the tracks that don't make it are very important in the development of making a record. You learn by being productive.

Is there anyone that is particularly protective when you guys bring your individual ideas to the group and they start to be pulled apart and developed?

E: I think we all are.

F: It's funny, we can decide together which songs to release but we'll have a real fight about a kick drum. It's that one little thing...

H: At one point Erik got Fredrik's head and held it by the kick drum and forced him to agree with him.

Is that true?

E: (laughs) Yea, I did...

A bit of friendly torture is a reasonable way to sort things out, I suppose? I was wondering whether, given the success of the last album and the usual expectation that each album has to exceed it's predecessor, does that pressure ever come into your mind when you are song writing?

H: Actually we were discussing that on the way here. I get a little bit surprised, maybe because I get very disconnected to things, but when you say the last album was a "success", I'm a little bit detached to that fact so I don't really have an issue with it.

E: There wasn't really a big cloud of stress making this album. We always had big expectations on ourselves anyway so there was no change really. There has always been that pressure from ourselves. You don't really notice the success actually as it was very gradual. From scratch to the end of Ritual Union it was a long [crescendo]. It was very word of mouth.

That's true. I heard of you guys through friends, not in print or blogs. That old fashioned way of earning a reputation through personal recommendations must be quite pleasing in a way?

F: It is. It means you build a natural fan base. Particularly in the beginning when there are less people and so you're selling your own merch and you meet more people.

Ultimately this idea that everything can bigger and bigger is futile anyway. At some point its going to stop. I wonder, does the idea of the 'album cycle' and every thing getting 'bigger' irritate you as artists?

E: It's a good question...

F: Well when we move into bigger venues, there is a distance. Obviously its good to have a bigger audience but if you have a 700-1000 capacity room, you can really feel everyone but when it gets to about 1500, it suddenly gets to a mass point, y'know? It's a totally different vibe, I guess.

E: We are lucky that that's not always the case everywhere we go. We can come from a 300 people show to a 2000 show.

It's funny you mention that actually because I went to see Beyonce at the O2 the other week. It was the first big pop show I've been to and, to be honest, it left me feeling a cold. It felt really impersonal, too big and it lacked that connection between audience and the artist which I think is fundamental to live performance. As artists, do you sometimes feel that coldness appearing?

F: Yes but sometimes you have to grab the audience in a way and when you do, it can get hysteric.

E: I can admire people like Bruce Springsteen. He seems to have a simple set up and doing his thing. It's not like a musical with cues and dancing, or explosions...

True, but I think he still does the thing where he runs and slides on his 60!

H: Yeah! He played near to us and apparently he played for over 3 hours.

He did the same at Hyde Park but they pulled the plug on he was duetting with Paul McCartney. Who would do that?

E: They need to know their place [laughs].

Considering you guys have been around for a while now, I was wondering what is the thing you most hold dear when you think back to all the things you have experienced with this band?

H: It's the overall thing. That we can actually sustain this for a living by playing and creating music. And having the freedom that comes with it.

E: And the friends, the people...

H: And that I can actually go to my grandma and say thing are going pretty well!

E: It also when you come home. I have two kids so when I talk to other parents and say I've been out touring and they are like, "What!?!" It's such an abstract thing. They can't grasp it. They'll be like, "You've really made it, huh?" But I'm like, I'm not sure?

At what point have you made it?

E: I'm not sure. Maybe I have made it? It's pretty abstract but I think its just a big, nice, cosy moment, all of it.

H: Also when your playing a song and people are dancing and singing the lyrics, that's such a great feeling, it becomes more than us.

Are you quite conscious of the environment you want to have at your live show? With the emphasis on people dancing and so on.

F: It has to be be.

H: It has to be a party or something like that somehow.

Were those the kind of shows you went to when you were younger?

H: Well for me I had an upright bass and I played a lot of jazz. I remember I had this show where Erik called me up to play bass because I played jazz music, but normally it was more subdued. But one minute into this song [with Erik] people were dancing and I was like, "Oh shit, this is it. This is why I should play music." This is the main thing, making people dance. That's like the unifying thing between us.

As you're from Sweden, do you ever feel like outsiders looking in when it comes to the music industry?

E: I can relate to that actually. It is what I feel like now when we're in the UK. We're doing this and that, we're at the BBC, but I feel a little like we're just travelling here, that we don't belong exactly here. But I'm looking into the pop world...

F: Yeah especially with radio and TV shows, like, we don't really know that much about it.

That must be quite strange. Like, who is Lauren Laverne?!?

E: Yeah! Who is the hell is Lauren Laverne? [laughs]

F: It's not so obvious.

E: I didn't know she was the singer in Kenickie!

Do you feel like you have to work a little harder to get your voice heard because you are outside what is a predominantly Anglo-American centric industry?

E: Yes but it can also be an advantage. You feel like you don't have follow any of those cultural rules...except the Swedish ones which are sort of boring. I think it is very liberating to go abroad to play because you can overcome the language barrier with music. That's very beautiful really.

Nubama Rubberband is out May 12th.