Lucky Dragons

Words by Johanna Valdés Photos shot on film by Sarah Bradham in Los Angeles, US

Happiness is a warm gun — what pulls your trigger?
Luke: Things you can do for eight hours or more without stopping, such as sleeping, going for a hike or making music. We played a twelve-hour show a couple of weeks ago and didn’t take any breaks… I couldn’t really use my ears for three days after that. I heard the music on top of everything that was around me.
Sara: I like thinking of happiness as lightness. Achieving lightness is achieving a pace of living that is both thrilling but still mellow enough for you to take time to think. Doing nothing is really important.

What do you do every day that’s mundane but lovely?
Sara: The first thing I do every day is going out to my garden to tend to the plants and harvest vegetables and fruit. Then I ride my scooter to our studio and spend a few hours working on things. After lunch, I read a book. In the evening I cook dinner.
Luke: I like to sleep — I’ll sleep really, really late. Usually at around two ‘o’ clock, I’ll start completely freaking out and running around like crazy. LA is an insane city to try to get around in. The distances between things are so long sometimes so there’s a lot of spacing out and spazzing out.

Tell us about your work den. What parts of your creative process are funkiest?
Sara: If I go to the studio and produce a new sound or a new technique, then that is the best part of my day. But since it’s not every day that you’ll get something usable, the garden is always a reliable source of pleasure and a good time to think.
Luke: Our studio is in sort of a disused strip mall in LA, which is actually a lot more beautiful than it sounds. It has all these trees growing everywhere. On one side you can see mountains, on the other you can see all of downtown. After most people have left for the day and the sun is setting, it’s just really nice, completely quiet.

How do you see the sparks you set off in people with your music?
Luke: In the moment in which people understand that they don’t need to listen in the same way they usually do. If we have an instrument that’s pretty easy to teach someone, we can show them and they can then become a teacher themselves. That’s where power is transferred — when people see that they can become teachers.
Sara: We’re just trying to find a way to translate the connections between people
into sound. One of our instruments works through human contact: you can make sounds
by touching another person’s skin. We’re just taking a person-to-person connection
and amplify it.

You guys do a lot in the way of promoting positivity in all of your projects. What exactly do you do to spread the love?
Luke: We make music that invites many people to come together and make something. It’s almost like gardening: nurturing a project or a collaboration.
Sara: Our favourite shows to do are our all-ages shows with free entry. We play in punk clubs, outdoors locations, museums, galleries. We want to allow space for different groups to overlap and interact. It’s important to have all kinds of people supporting the music, as opposed to a specific niche. We kind of shoot for everyone on the planet.

Do you ever play for your vegetables?
Sara: I sing them a song when I’m gardening sometimes. But the nice thing about gardening is that it is completely detached from my art or music practice — it’s just gardening. It’s the one thing that’s never stressful or business-oriented. It’s just about growing food. It’s very simple.

What are some more really positive things you could say?
Sara: It’s important to have attention for the common, everyday things. It’s all about being connected to the things around you and the people that you know.
Luke: I feel like the ultimate positive thing is to do what’s difficult rather than what’s easy. Then you’re putting something into the world rather than taking something from it.

Lucky Dragons play on 03 December at NEST in Ghent. The show is free for Subbacultcha! Members.