Khruangbin's Global Sound Happens Naturally | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Khruangbin's Global Sound Happens Naturally

Houston group brings together Thai funk, Iranian pop, Jamaican dub reggae, and American R&B



The trio Khruangbin may hail from Houston, but don't expect to hear much Red Dirt country or Texas blues in their music.

Over the course of three albums, the latest being 2020's "Mordechai," guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee and drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson have fashioned a sound that combines music from around the world, spinning together Thai funk, Jamaican dub reggae, Iranian and East Asian pop with American R&B, funk and soul to create a distinctive original sound.

Khruangbin puts on an eclectic "you have to see it to get it" live show. - POONEH GHANA
  • Pooneh Ghana
  • Khruangbin puts on an eclectic "you have to see it to get it" live show.

Finding global music isn't difficult, Lee said in a recent phone interview.

"A lot of it happens naturally, it's what we listen to," she said. "I was in England for four years. By the end of it, I had a little different accent, a different cadence to how I'd speak. You naturally pick up on things that you surround yourself with."

But the key to Khruangbin is not reproducing any of that music, but letting it come through as clearly read influences on the sound.

"We want to be able to go to Thailand and Ethiopia one day, play our songs and have them make a connection with the people there — that they can hear their music, but it's not a copy," Lee said. "We're trying to create something unique and part of that is it can't be just one thing. With 'Mordechai,' we were trying to pull in everything, as much as we could."

Translating the "Mordechai" songs to live performance is a challenge Khruangbin has had to work at, first in rehearsal, then on stage as the group brings its acclaimed "you have to see it to get it" live show on the road for audiences that have steadily been growing larger.

"I had no idea we're considered such a big act to see," Lee said. "The shows, for me, have a special quality. It happens one time. You experience it with all these special moments that will never happen again. Creating those moments is a real special thing for us."

Khruangbin Space Walk Tour
Thurs., July 7, Doors open at 5:30 pm
Hayden Homes Amphitheater
344 SW Shevlin Hixon Drive
$45 + service fees

Add a comment

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews