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Interview: Lucky Dragons – “There is no limit to the wildness”

If one should describe LA-duo Lucky Dragons with one word it would have to be ‘unpredictable’. The duo thrives on the unknown, and their live concerts are notoriously known for including the audience in the most subtle ways. We have talked to Lucky Dragons about the beauty of the unknown, the sense of community in live concerts and improvisation.

How would you present Lucky Dragons to people who don’t know you?
It’s tough to make new friends quickly, but in a sense, that’s what music has to do. That’s what music can be very good at. In general, when Sarah and I play music for people we don’t know, we don’t say anything to introduce it. We put a lot of faith in music’s legibility, its ability to explain itself. On the other hand, taste gets in the way, people already know what they like, so we have to find another approach that speaks to this… we might call what we do something else, something that doesn’t have a system of good and bad that’s well agreed on… better yet, something that doesn’t have a consensus about “reality” yet. We make music that tries to figure out what’s real.

What defines a great concert experience for you?
Babies and dogs. Good food, happy workers, clean floor. Nice speakers. Free and outdoors.

You are wellknown for including the audience, for instance by handing out instruments during your concerts. When and why did you start doing that?
It has always seemed like the natural thing to do. Especially making music that is essentially electronic, i.e. music that when you listen to it doesn’t bring to mind images of instruments or even of people making the sounds… what I want to do when i play it is to enjoy the act of listening along with everyone who is around me. It’s a shared experience. If what we are doing to actually make the sounds is a matter of channeling, filtering, or directing the sound as an independent thing outside of ourselves, we should open this process to everyone who is present. we should acknowledge, respect, and amplify the effect that each person paying attention has on each other person’s experience of listening.

How much is improvisation and how much do you plan ahead of a concert?
We spend a lot of time in advance making a frame for improvisation to happen inside of. It’s a strange approach, like putting all of our effort into building a window just so we can look outside onto a landscape. Making software to play with is a good example of this, either for interaction or to act as a sort of counterpart, playing along with people… this requires thinking about in advance, or else it doesn’t work very well—the better it works, the less you are aware of it. During a concert, especially when there is participation with the audience, it is 100% improvised, like a conversation among strangers.

What is your wildest experience in terms of including your audience?
There is no limit to the wildness. It is nice to be reminded that there are other forces in the room sometimes—attention, attraction, disgust, boredom, love, rage, curiosity, violence shame, fear, loneliness, pride, understanding, empathy… my favorite experiences of including the audience in the performance have always involved somehow bringing together people who spend alot of time with eachother, but have some structural separation—the dying and those who care for them, victims of poverty or violence and those who work to provide safe spaces—people want to touch each other.

You have a special connection to Denmark. Can you tell a little bit about your previous visits here and cooperations with Danish bands and labels?
Yes, special! I can’t put my finger on it. Our friends in Denmark feel like family, for sure… we have been lucky to host a few Danish bands visiting the US, and have known the folks at ESCHO since the beginning of that project. We have been really really lucky to have played the shows we have, in churches filled with flowers, at art schools, swimming in the harbor, on a boat during solstice… every time has been truly unique.

Visit Lucky Dragon’s website here

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