Khruangbin perform in The Current studio

Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
Laura Lee of Khruangbin performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Khruangbin perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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| 00:24:37
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 24:37
  • Khruangbin - Lady and Man (Live on The Current) 04:18
  • Khruangbin - Evan Finds the Third Room (Live on The Current) 05:39
  • Khruangbin - Maria Tambien (Live on The Current) 03:09

Let's get the big question answered right away. "The name means 'airplane' in Thai," says Khruangbin's Laura Lee. "We were listening to a lot of Thai music when we started the band, and I tried to learn Thai at the time, and khruangbin was one of the first words I learned, and it was really fun to say. And it seemed fitting — because we were listening to Thai music at the time — to name ourselves after what we were inspired by."

Frequently mislabeled as a Thai-funk band, omnidirectionally influenced trio Khruangbin — comprising bassist Lee, along with guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson — are actually from Houston, Texas. In St. Paul for a show at the Turf Club, Khruangbin stopped at The Current for a session hosted by David Safar.

As evidence of their many inspirations, the new album from Khruangbin has a Spanish name, Con Todo El Mundo, and features the hit single, "Maria También," also in Spanish. Not that Khruangbin have lost any love for Thai music. "The first album was inspired by Thai music and the name was Thai, so I think it was an easy thing to write, to say that Khruangbin was Thai funk," Lee says. "But we pull from music from all over the world.

"It's a disservice to those bands from Thailand who are doing really, really amazing work," Speer adds. "That's some of my favorite music in the world."

Althought the members of Khruangbin say that Houston isn't home to a lot of record labels or other music-industry infrastructure, the city has launched the careers of many accomplished musicians. Lee notes that many, many Houston musicians have become highly regarded session players, and Speer and Johnson met one another playing music in the church where Beyoncé grew up.

Plus, in the town of Burton, Texas, is where Khruangbin can find the space — and the barn — where they can record their music. "It's dirt floors, it's a big corrugated tin building; you can open up all the doors," Speer explains. "Usually to prepare for the rehearsals, we'll get all the bees out and make some noise so the little critters can know to find another place to be for the next couple days, and then we just bring in some gear and set it up and that's it."

The space allows the band to be as loud or as quiet as they need to be. It's a farm-to-(turn)table approach to music that seems to be suiting Khruangbin very well.

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete in-studio session.

Songs Performed


"Lady and Man"
"Evan Finds the Third Room"
"Maria También"
All songs from Khruangbin's 2018 release, Con Todo El Mundo, available on Dead Oceans.

Hosted by David Safar
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources

Air Khruang (referenced in the interview)

Khruangbin - Bandcamp

9 Photos

  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Mark Speer of Khruangbin in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Mark Speer of Khruangbin performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Bassist Laura Lee and drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson of Khruangbin perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Khruangbin perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Bassist Laura Lee of Khruangbin performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Mark Speer of Khruangbin performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Laura Lee of Khruangbin in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin perform in The Current studio
    Khruangbin guitarist Mark Speer performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Khruangbin
    Khruangbin are a Houston-based trio comprising guitarist Mark Speer, bassist Laura Lee and drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson. (Mary Kang)

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