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Khruangbin APEVicPark270518-29 (27746140997).jpg
Khruangbin performing in Victoria Park, London (2018)
Background information
OriginHouston Texas, United States
GenresPsychedelia, soul, funk, instrumental rock
LabelsDead Oceans
Night Time Stories
  • Laura Lee
  • Mark Speer
  • Donald "DJ" Johnson

Khruangbin is an American musical trio from Houston, Texas, formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Ray "DJ" Johnson Jr. on drums.[1] The band is known for blending global music influences, classic soul, dub and psychedelia.[2] Their debut album, The Universe Smiles Upon You (2015), draws from the history of Thai music in the 1960s, while their second album, Con Todo El Mundo (2018), has influences from Spain and the Middle East.[1] Speer, Lee, and DJ also host "Air Khruang" radio shows on NTS and Facebook Live.[3]


Speer and Johnson met in 2004 while playing in Rudy Rasmus's St. John's Methodist Church gospel band in Houston, Texas. The church employed Speer as the guitarist and Johnson as the organist.[4]

In 2007, Speer met Lee through friends, where they initially connected over a shared love of Afghan music and Middle Eastern architecture.[5] In 2009, Speer taught Lee to play the bass.[6] In 2010, both she and Speer went on tour with Yppah and Bonobo, Laura Lee on bass, Speer on guitar.[7]

The tour galvanized the two of them to make more music together more seriously, sowing the first seeds of Khruangbin.[8] Speer and Lee went to a barn where they developed the bass-heavy, psychedelic sound that became the basis of the band's aesthetic.[8] Upon their return, they asked DJ to join the band as drummer, to play simple break-beats under the guitar and bass.[6] The barn, located in the 300-person town of Burton, Texas, would become the site of all future Khruangbin recordings.[9]

When asked to play their first gig, Laura Lee, who was learning to speak Thai at the time, decided they should use her favorite Thai word "khruangbin", (เครื่องบิน) which means "flying engine" or "aeroplane", as their name.[10] Speer admits that, had they had the foresight to predict the band's success, they may not have chosen a name that was so difficult to pronounce.[6] Though the band's name is notoriously challenging to say, it symbolizes the international set of influences that shaped the band's formation.[10]


After touring with Bonobo, the artist featured Khruangbin's song, 'Calf Born in Winter,' on his 2014 Late Night Tales compilation.[11] The song became one of the most popular tracks on the record, helping create an initial audience[8] for the band's first EP, The History of Flight, and debut record, The Universe Smiles Upon You, in 2015.[12]

Shortly thereafter, Khruangbin were named The Guardian's "New Band of the Week",[10] opening for acts like Father John Misty,[5] Tycho,[13] Chicano Batman and Massive Attack.[14] They also joined the festival circuit, playing a string of festivals like Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, ACL, Outside Lands, Desert Daze and South by Southwest.[13]

In January 2018, Khruangbin released their second album, Con Todo El Mundo.[13] The title of the album came from Laura Lee's Mexican-American grandfather, who would often ask, "How do you love me?" ("¿cómo me quieres?") and would only accept one response, "Con todo el mundo," or in Spanish, "with all the world."[12]

The band has been quoted as saying the title of the record is also a reference to the diverse range of musical influences that inspired it, primarily from the Middle East.[5] Shortly before the release of Con Todo El Mundo, the band also covered Ma Beham Nemiresim by Googoosh, a popular Iranian songstress, for the Artists Rise Against Islamophobia compilation,[15] and created a Tehran-specific playlist on Spotify, in addition to many other city-specific playlists, as part of their Air Khruang DJ series.[3]


The band's musical genre is a hotly debated topic amongst critics.[16] Mostly instrumental,[17] the band's sound has been described as soul, surf, psychedelic, funk,[17] one website even describing them as "electronic."[16] The most commonly used term to describe Khruangbin's music is Thai funk,[16] though the band members themselves challenge the convention of genres, publicly refusing to be pigeon-holed into one particular label.[16]

Perhaps a reflection of their genre-bending sound, the band notably attracts diverse audiences, with fans including Iggy Pop, Haley Joel Osment, and Korean pop star Lee Hyori.They've also opened for Leon Bridges on his recent 2018 tour.[14]



  • Khruangbin EP (2010) 1. Start, You, The End Starts Again 2. The Number 4 3. Kick Drum Receipt #11007
  • A Calf Born in Winter (single) (2014) 1. A Calf Born in Winter 2. The Recital That Never Happened
  • The Infamous Bill EP (2014) 1. Master of Life 2. The Number 3 3. The Number 4 4. The Infamous Bill
  • White Gloves (single) (2015) 1. White Gloves
  • Friday Morning (single) (2018) 1. Friday Morning 2. Friday Morning (Radio Edit)


  • The Universe Smiles Upon You (2015)

1. Mr. White
2. Two Fish and an Elephant
3. Dern Kala
4. Little Joe & Mary
5. White Gloves
6. People Everywhere (Still Alive)
7. The Man Who Took My Sunglasses
8. August Twelve
9. Balls and Pins
10. Zionsville
11. The Universe Smiles Upon You (Continued)

1. Como Me Quieres
2. Lady and Man
3. Maria También
4. August 10
5. Como Te Quiero
6. Shades of Man
7. Evan Finds the Third Room
8. A Hymn
9. Rules
10. Friday Morning


  1. ^ a b "Khruangbin takes fans on a sonic journey to Thailand — and beyond". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  2. ^ "Brownswood Basement: Gilles Peterson with Khruangbin and Lefto – Pre-Worldwide Awards Special – Worldwide FM".
  3. ^ a b "Khruangbin Wants to Take You on a Musical Trip With AirKhruang".
  4. ^ "On Their New Record, Khruangbin Summon Stax Soul, Iranian Pop, and More". January 22, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Rhodes, Margaret. "Khruangbin's Feel-Good Funk Is Undeniable".
  6. ^ a b c "Khruangbin's Mark Speer: Addicted to Reverb".
  7. ^ "Khruangbin – A Calf Born in Winter". May 12, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "How a Thai Funk, Surf Soul Trio Named Khruangbin Found Their Groove in a Texas Barn". November 4, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Lester, Paul (September 11, 2015). "New band of the week: Khruangbin (No 70)". the Guardian.
  11. ^ "How a Thai Funk, Surf Soul Trio Named Khruangbin Found Their Groove in a Texas Barn". November 4, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Khruangbin's Vibrant 'Con Todo El Mundo' Is Drawn From Life".
  13. ^ a b c Oceans, Dead. "Khruangbin Join Dead Oceans – Announce New Album 'Con Todo El Mundo' Out January 26th News :: Dead Oceans".
  14. ^ a b "Whelan's " Blog Archive " KHRUANGBIN".
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d "Who Needs Genre Anyway? The Universal Groove of Khruangbin".
  17. ^ a b Trammell, Matthew (March 30, 2016). "Listening Booth: Thailand's Shadow Music" – via

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