Founded in Houston, Texas, during the early 2010s, Khruangbin is a three-piece made up of Laura Lee on bass guitar, Mark Speer, a guitarist, and Donald 'DJ' Johnson, the group's drummer. Although the band play in subtly different variations, their main influence is Thai funk dating back to the 1960s. The name of the group literally translates from Thai into English as 'Engine Fly'. As well as funk sounds from the mid-20th century, the members of Khruangbin play surfer rock, dream pop and bass-heavy psychedelia in a version of music that is uniquely their own, fusing sounds from different eras and all around the globe.
Khruangbin's career in music
The idea of Khruangbin first came about when Speer and Lee were invited to take part in a tour supporting Bonobo across his North American string of dates in 2010. According to the pair, the touring got the two founding members making music together more seriously with one another, especially when Johnson, a percussionist who shared many of their musical sensibilities, was recruited. Prior to Khruangbin, Johnson had been performing with the same gospel band for years. After offering their first demo recordings to Bonobo, Khruangbin's track “A Calf Born In Winter” was included on his Late Night Tales album; a compilation of 2013.
The trio then went on to sign a deal with Night Time Stories. Soon, “A Calf Born In Winter” was put out as the band's debut single. Released in May 2014, it won the attention of DJs in the UK. The likes of Zane Lowe, Cerys Matthews and Tom Ravenscroft all gave the track airplay. It was also picked up on by DJs such as Gideon Coe and Don Letts. The following year a four-track EP entitled The Infamous Bill saw the light of day. Another EP of cover versions, including a reworking of the music of Ennio Morricone, called History Of Flight, soon followed. Late in 2015, Khruangbin's debut studio album was ready to be put into the public domain. Widely praised in the UK's music press, the LP was given the title of The Universe Smiles Upon You. It was released in November 2015 to widespread acclaim. Throughout the latter half of 2015, the trio toured extensively in the UK.
Thanks to their use of social media, the members of Khruangbin have built up a following in their home country as well as the UK, where the mainstay of their commercial success has been achieved. By 2017, the group had topped various charts on Last.fm, for example, on both sides of the Atlantic. The band played at the prestigious South By Southwest Festival in 2017 and spent much of that winter touring in North America.
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