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A chat with Khruangbin about their music, their ideal lineup, and Spanish phrases

An interview with a band in its prime, with a Thai name, a Spanish title on their album, that would invite a Japanese psych rock band to their own festival and eats Greek salad alongside a lot of raki.
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One of the hottest names for the past 5 years, Khruangbin basically came to the spotlight, when Bonobo played one of their tracks in his Late Night Tales. With their debut “The Universe Smiles Upon You”, they offered us one of the most remarkable albums of 2015 and managed have the audience looking up thai funk! Last year, in their second album “Con Todo El Mundo”, their soul, funk and psychedelic sound has become all the more cinematic and overwhelming! Their gig at EJEKT Festival 2019 in July was their first in Greece.

We entered the backstage during EJEKT Festival to meet Khruangbin for ten minutes, just before they appeared on stage. Laura, Mark and DJ were in a room full of potato chips and soft drinks, listening to chill-out music.

An interview with a band in its prime, with a Thai name, a Spanish title on their album, that would invite a Japanese psych rock band to their own festival and eats Greek salad alongside a lot of raki.

Khruangbin will appear at Flow Festival in Helsinki on coming Sunday, August 11.

MixGrill: We are not going to ask the meaning of your name or how it is pronounced. Were there any alternative names when forming the band?

Laura: There were no alternative names.

Mark: It was the first and only name. Initially, we just jammed and we really worry about playing out live and once we got a gig we said we got to call us something. So... Khruangbin! Great! Perfect! Done! It was that simple.

Laura: Then we told DJ that that's all we thought the name was. He said "Cool, that's it!". The only thing I'll say is that we wanted to find a name that you couldn't find "something.com".

Mark: Yeah.. like call a band "The Shoes". If you google "the shoes" you will get everything but the band you're looking for.

MG: For sure you won't have that kind of problem cause "khruangbin" and "airplane" don't seem to correlate sonically nor in writing.

Laura: Yeah.. cause in Thai is spelled differently. So when you type it, is the only result you can get. You don't have to put "Khruangbin band".

Mark: And I mean no disrespect to the band called "The Shoes", because they are great.


MG: Your first two albums are called "The Universe Smiles Upon You" and "Con Todo el Mundo". What's the relation between the band and the concept/meaning of universe?

*Laura asks Mark if she can tell the story*

Mark: Go for it.

Laura: I met Mark through friends. We liked each other right away and he gave me a book. That was all I had from him and I really wanted to hangout with him so I found him on MySpace.. cause that was the thing that time. I messaged him and sent him my phone number. Two weeks later I got a text message from an unknown number that said "The Universe Smiles Upon You". So that's where comes from. The second phrase is an expression that my grandpa used to say. He was asking me in Spanish "How much do you love me?". The correct answer is "With all the world" (Con Todo el Mundo).

MG: Do you speak Spanish?

Laura: Un poquito.. so both titles are sort of lovely expressions to say to anyone. I think the sentiment is love in both cases. The universe smile upon you is such a nice thing to hear, no matter where you are.

Mark: I feel like these concepts are really bound with every sort of tradition and dogma.

MG: What is the process of writing your music? Are you working together?

DJ: We work separately. Everybody put their parts individually together and then Mark masterminds everything and does his magic. Then we play it together.

Mark: There is lot of editing, for sure.

Laura: The initial stuff is separate. We all have our introverted parts.

MG: If you were in charge to organize your own festival, which three bands would you contact first to be the headliners?

Mark: Azimuth.

DJ: The Isley Brothers.

Laura: Kikagaku Moyo. And there you have it! That's our festival!

MG: Khruangbin can be described mostly as an instrumental band. Do you see yourself crafting more traditional, lyric based, pop songs or will that alienate the theme of the band?

Laura: Pop songs? I don't think we 'll ever try to make anything specific. Just whatever happens.. happens.

Mark: I don't want to do music that is vocal based. It's not in my interests. I prefer to be instrumental. But I'm one out of three. 

MG: Last but not least. Did you try Greek food? 

Laura: I had a lot of Greek salad. I love it. It's better here.

Mark: Yesterday we went to explore the Acropolis and on the way back we went in a restaurant over there. I had a lot of tsikoudia and raki. I love raki!

Thank you all Khruangbin!

Khruangbin will appear at Flow Festival in Helsinki on coming Sunday, August 11.

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