In an era saturated with bands vying for attention, Khruangbin has carved out a unique space with their distinct musical blend. Mark Speer’s Stratocaster, Laura Lee’s hypnotic basslines, and DJ Johnson’s laid-back rhythms create a sonic tapestry that stands out in the crowded musical landscape.
Capturing the warmth of summer with a nostalgic sound rooted in the countercultural vibes of the 1960s and 1970s, Khruangbin has amassed a global following since their debut album, “The Universe Smiles Upon You,” in 2015—a release often hailed as their most dream-like offering.
As the band continues to evolve, drawing inspiration from various styles, they’ve achieved a rare feat—appealing to both mainstream and hipster audiences. Each member contributes significantly, but it’s Mark Speer’s busy, treble-heavy guitar lines that stand out as the sharpest point in their unique formula. His technical prowess, substituting for a vocalist with captivating harmonies, has solidified his status as one of the most influential modern players, inspiring a wave of imitators.
Speer’s influences extend beyond the realms of 1970s hipster culture. A pivotal inspiration for him lies in the world of classical Spanish guitar, providing the technical and emotional foundation for much of his approach.
During a conversation with The Line of Best Fit in 2020, where Khruangbin discussed songs that inspired them, Speer highlighted ‘Three Marzukas: Adelita’ by distinguished English guitarist Julian Bream—a classical virtuoso of the last century. Describing the composition and Bream’s body of work, Speer expressed, “There are no words for this music.”
He reminisced, “This is just one song of a suite by a classical Spanish guitar composer. I used to listen to classical guitar all the time as a kid. My Dad really likes Julian Bream, and he’s always had a lot of his music on cassette. So on long road trips, he would put this on, and my brother and I would chill out in the backseats and go to sleep.”
“It wasn’t until later in my life that I realised that his music was absolutely amazing. Since then, it’s had such an amazing impact on how I view and work in music,” Speer reflected.
In conclusion, he emphasized, “This tune is a heartbreakingly beautiful melody played on one guitar, with self-accompaniment. It’s all about the space, the beautiful melodies and it’s beautifully played, and that’s, that’s it. There’s so much space here – there are no words for this music.”