Taking influence from 1960’s Thai funk – their name literally translates to “Engine Fly” in Thai – Khruangbin is steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool. The Texan trio is formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums.
Ever since their first rehearsals, Khruangbin have recorded at their spiritual home, a remote barn deep in the Texas countryside. The band listened to a lot of different types of music on the long drives out to the country but their favourites were 60s and 70s Thai cassettes gleaned from the cult Monrakplengthai blog and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk. This had a heavy impact on the direction of the band, the scales they used and the inflection of the melodies; which coupled with the spaciousness of the Texan countryside culminated in Khruangbin forming their exotic, individual sound.
The seeds of Khruangbin were sown when Mark and Laura were invited to tour with Ninja Tune’s YPPAH supporting Bonobo across his 2010 American tour. The tour galvanised the two of them to start making music together more seriously, with DJ – he and Mark have played in the same gospel band for years – the natural choice for drums.
Sharing their first recordings, Bonobo included Khruangbin’s ‘A Calf Born In Winter’ on his 2013 Late Night Tales compilation. Subsequently signed to Late Night Tales offshoot Night Time Stories, ‘A Calf Born In Winter’ was released as a single in May 2014, four track EP ‘The Infamous Bill’ followed in October, with covers EP ‘History Of Flight’ on Record Store Day 2015. Their debut album ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ was released in November 2015 to widespread acclaim. 2016 is set to be an important year for the band and their rising profile with a series of international live dates planned including Festivals in the UK, Europe and US, SXSW and out on the road this May with Father John Misty supporting on his UK and European tour.
“Hypnotic, spacious, drifting soul music with a cinematic dreaminess” -The Guardian “A positive energy” – The Independent “Like a Tarantino soundtrack crossed with Curtis Mayfield. In Thailand” – The Telegraph “Intriguing Thai-influenced funk” – Mojo “A sea of sound that’s lovely to get lost in” – The Line Of Best Fit “An imaginative, inventive and sublime debut album” – Stamp The Wax “An outstanding debut” – Future Music