Video: Khruangbin Explains Their Genre-Blending Psych Rock in the Reverb Studio

Here at Reverb, we recently welcomed the genre-bending band Khruangbin into the studio to play us some music and talk with us about their process. A three-piece consisting of drummer Donald "DJ" Johnson, bassist Laura Lee, and guitarist Mark Speer, the group plays funky, soulful, and mostly instrumental psychedelic music that draws inspiration from around the globe, with influences that range from '60s Thai music to technically proficient African players, like the Congo's Franco Luambo and Ethiopia's Selam Seyoum of the ROHA Band.

In the video above, the band takes us through their layered process of building a song, which starts with Johnson's drum loops. Lee builds her bass part over the loop she likes and sends it to Speer, who then cuts together what he likes and builds his part over that. After the developing track ping-pongs between the group members a few more times, the band comes together to flesh out the song and record in the studio, live and without multi-tracking.

"It's like a relay race, writing. But it's nice because we all have the chance to work on our parts sort of individually, and then when it's time to record, we all come together and sit together and play [the songs] and figure out how the parts actually work together, figure out how to build it dynamically," Lee told us, going on to explain that a lot of her foundational bass parts are rooted in the reggae and dub influences that she came up on.

While bass and drums provide a solid, driving foundation, Speer constructs his guitar parts melodically and almost lyrically, as if he's filling the space that a singer otherwise would. "I'm trying to be lyrical about it because we don't really have a singer that sings words. So I'm trying to be melodic like a singer would, instead of thinking about it like a guitar player," Speer explained. "I'm trying not to play the root because [Lee] has to root covered. So if I play the third or a fifth, it kind of implies a bigger chord than if I just played the one."

The band then goes on to explain how the cultural diversity of their hometown of Houston has contributed to their own songwriting and playing, before treating us to a full performance of their song "August 10." Be sure to check it out above, and click here to browse Khruangbin on Reverb LP.


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