Tonight, Little Dragon will unveil a new project in Los Angeles, in the form of Nabuma Comics: The Story of Little Dragon - A Tumblr IRL, illustrated by Brian Butler (who's known for doing live comic book drawings at concerts). In celebration of their new album, Nabuma Rubberband, which was released last week on Loma Vista, they've also curated a selection of comic books with Secret Headquarters and will perform for fans (who also get a limited edition print of the graphic novel).
If you're in L.A. tonight, May 23, visit the Tumblr IRL experience that's free and all ages from 7 - 10 p.m. at XIX Studios on 3650 Eagle Rock Boulevard. Enjoy the funny, entertaining graphic novel on Tumblr and get to know the origins of this awesome project in our interview with the band and Butler below.
Brian, how did you get involved in this project with Tumblr IRL and Little Dragon? What made you say “yes”?
Brian Butler: I met Yukimi by chance, drawing in my sketchbook at Ultra Music Festival in like 2012. We talked for a little bit, and like a week later she reconnected via email, and revealed that she was the singer for Little Dragon!
We had talked about doing projects since then, and when this opportunity arose with Tumblr IRL, it was a complete no-brainer to get involved.
Little Dragon, what drew you to Brian's work?
Little Dragon: We met Brian at ULTRA when he was sitting and doing sketches during the Kraftwerk show, and we got curious. Over the years we've been working on different ideas for a comic with him, because he really has that natural talent for comics. They're quick and fun somehow.
How did you come up with the concept for a life-size comic strip?
Butler: It was pretty natural. We had the comic in place as the foundation for the IRL event and then imagined how cool it would look to have the band perform inside a big drawing.
Little Dragon: They were mostly Brian's ideas, but of course we gave input on what kind of characters and superpowers we should all have!
How did you decide to interpret “The Story of Little Dragon” in each various scene? What about their music on Nabuma Rubberband and their world or stories in general stuck out to you the most?
Butler: I was given a ton of freedom to get weird with the comic. I began the story with the band performing material from their last album, so that everything happening in the comic could become logic for the band writing Nabuma Rubberband.
I love how the lyrics throughout the new album have a guiding quality. Like they can be read as warning before choosing a bad path, or motivating someone to bounce back. So I wanted to give the band a type of leadership position in the comic. Or maybe it's more like they are accidental proletariats.
Little Dragon: Who doesn't wanna be a comic book character? [It's] as far away from the actual, boring truth as possible, and in black and white, as well.
Brian, all of your work carries humor and what feels like spontaneity, for instance, the “Meanwhile in the Venue…” illustration depicting a crowd of people saying “Dragons,” singing, and trying to crowd surf. How did you work with the band to bring out the fun and maybe even silly moments in their background?
Butler: Thanks! I go to a lot of shows, so while this comic is completely made up, ( I have no idea if Erik even likes pears ) it is rooted in a lot of themes I've noticed working with bands and attending concerts.
Little Dragon, you also did a Nabuma Derby rubberband car project recently, offering your fans a creative task in exchange for the chance to see you at Bonnaroo. What’s made you want to tell your story for this album in these two less traditional yet still highly creative ways?
Little Dragon: We wanted to do something fun and out of the ordinary, and we got help from our hyperactive, genius fun-catalyst, Adam Farrel, who does marketing and many other things at our label, Lomavista. It's always nice to engage people to be creative. Over time, we've always had very creative fans. It's nice to keep them busy!
Brian, what was your favorite part about working with the band to create the comics and the eventual live IRL experience and why?
Butler: The band and their entire crew has been really supportive of the stuff I've been making. I love their music, and it's an honor to be associated with something I admire so much. Plus it's a treat to actually get out here and make something big! I've had the pleasure of working with my good friend and talented artist Kurt Williams to make this giant installation for the band to perform inside. I'm not a stranger to doing big mural work, but Kurt brought it to the next level, by actually building into the space.