Khruangbin will perform at the Pageant on December 14.
Khruangbin has not performed a show for over a year. The psych-rock trio from Houston also never performed any of the songs on last year’s album, “Mordechai”, on stage.
So bassist Laura Lee, drummer Donald Ray “DJ” Johnson Jr. and guitarist Mark Speer were heading for a well-deserved rehearsal after this interview.
“We haven’t played any shows with any of the songs,” Lee said in a phone interview shortly before the band hit the road on a tour that will continue into December. “We have to come back after 600 days without playing a show and, for the first time, playing songs that we’ve never played before, not to mention songs that we haven’t played for almost two years. So we rehearsed all week. … We are getting closer.
Khruangbin began with an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, before starting a series of headlining shows.
Khruangbin’s headlining status confirms their status as “the greatest band on vinyl”.
The trio was formed in 2009 by Johnson and Speer, who performed in the St. John’s Methodist Church gospel group, who bonded with Lee out of a common love for Afghan music.
Their sound is created by combining music from around the world, mixing Thai funk, Jamaican dub reggae, Iranian and East Asian pop with American R&B, funk and soul to create a distinctive original sound.
Finding world music is not difficult, Lee said.
“A lot of things happen naturally, that’s what we listen to,” she said. “I was in England for four years. At the end of the day, I had a little different accent, a different cadence than the way I was speaking. You naturally understand the things around you.
But Khruangbin’s key is not to reproduce this music, but to let it pass in the form of clearly read influences on the sound.
“We want to be able to someday go to Thailand and Ethiopia, play our songs and allow them to connect with the people there – that they can hear their music, but it’s not a copy,” he said. said Lee. “We’re trying to create something unique and it can’t be just one thing. With ‘Mordechai’ we were trying to shoot everything as much as we could. “
Johnson said copying songs, phrases or styles might not be seen as lifeless appropriation by listeners unfamiliar with the original sounds, but replicating the work of others doesn’t ring true for him, Lee and Speers.
“When you’re an artist you know when you’re doing something and it’s too referential, it’s not really you,” he said. “We are very aware of this. A lot of people think you go to the studio and jam and that stuff just comes out. This is not the case. It’s done with a lot of thought. Sometimes we analyze every note before saving it. That’s how deep it can get, how microscopic it can get.
Khruangbin has released three albums, “The Universe Smiles upon You” in 2016, “Con Todo el Mundo” in 2018 and “Mordechai”. All were recorded in a barn west of Houston.
“It all starts with bass and drums,” Johnson said of the recording process. “The drums come in first, the bass follows, that’s the base. In terms of the frame, Mark is our singer. Even though he plays the guitar, he performs a voice. The vocal lines are tonal, they create a melody.
“The songs are really simple in that sense. There are the beats and beat of the drums, the heavy reggae inspired bass and the melody at the top.
Translating “Mordechai” songs into live performance is a challenge Khruangbin had to work through, first in rehearsal, then on stage as the band bring their acclaimed “you have to see it to get it” live show to the stage. road.
“I had no idea we were considered such a great act to see,” Lee said. “I am very proud of it. The record is eternal. The shows, for me, have a special quality. It happens once, you live it with all these special moments that will never happen again. Creating those moments is a really special thing for us.