Texas Monthly: Khruangbin and Leon Bridges interview

khruangbin and leon bridges by pooneh ghana

For Texas Monthly, I interviewed bassist and singer Laura Lee of Khruangbin and singer-songwriter Leon Bridges about their collaborative EP: Texas Sun. If you remember, I previously interviewed Khruangbin for The Nostalgia Mixtape, and also helped Leon Bridges pull off his rodeo performance courtesy of a very trill surprise from Bun B. Also I co-produced Bun’s “Gone Away” featuring Leon and Gary Clark Jr.

Featured image of Khruangbin and Leon Bridges by Pooneh Ghana.

Check out an excerpt from the story below:

On Their Collaborative EP, ‘Texas Sun,’ Khruangbin and Leon Bridges Pay Tribute to the State That Raised Them

The eclectic band and R&B singer discuss how long drives and their teenage adventures in sneaking out alike informed the album.

Texas is an expansive state, with much distance between its sprawling cities. The amount of time we spend in cars⁠—as well as the moods that experience evokes—is precisely what the instrumental Houston trio Khruangbin and Fort Worth R&B standout Leon Bridges aimed to recreate on their four-song EP, Texas Sun, released last week on Dead Oceans.

That’s especially evident on the EP’s title track—it uses three distinct styles of guitar playing (Spanish, country pedal steel, and psychedelic) to at once nod to the deep palette of genres found within Texas and capture the feeling of a cross-state road trip. And on “Midnight,” a New Orleans second-line-inspired track, Bridges sings of a bittersweet teenage love affair that involved clandestine drives.

Gospel, zydeco, underground Texas rap, country, R&B, and Tejano music are all layered on the album—led by Khruangbin’s Mark Speer on guitar, Laura Lee on bass, and DJ Johnson on drums, and featuring Leon Bridges on writing and singing duties—to produce a sound that’s distinctly of the Lone Star State. Lee and Bridges chatted with Texas Monthly about what went into making the album, their teenage adventures in sneaking out, and music they weren’t allowed to listen to growing up.

TM: Good, good. That was a happy ending to that story. Can you tell me about the ethos behind “Midnight” and how it ties into the EP? 

LB: Well, each song is like a little vignette of some of my experiences growing up in Texas, and “Midnight” is a story of young love. It’s about this girl that I would kick it with back in the day. I was pretty crazy about her but, unfortunately, my mother wasn’t so keen on me kicking it with her, so we would have to kick it on the down low. And so this is basically about making love in the backseat of my mom’s car.

TM: Did you ever used to sneak out back in the day? Like sneak out of your house?

LB: I never snuck out of my house, but I’ll tell you what I used to do when I got off of my restaurant job after hours. I would go over to her house in Poly, which is a pretty rough area in Fort Worth. But she had something special about her, so I had no other choice. 

LL: I think the sentiment of all those years of your life where you’re having that first or second romance, where you’re sneaking around, is part of everyone’s life. I definitely snuck out of the house. I had to figure out how to turn off the alarm system without my parents hearing. I’d cough really loud, like, pretend I was having a coughing fit, and then just disarm the alarm. I remember rollerblading across town to see a guy because I didn’t have a car, so that was the only way I could get there.

TM: Oh my god.

LB: That’s amazing.

LL: [laughs] So, yeah, “Midnight” is that thing and it’s really sweet. But, you know, there is a very Texas-y thing about it in terms of driving your car around the neighborhood. That’s such a thing: making out in a car in Texas.

Read the full story here.

Bonus content: a photo of me and Laura taken by Leanora Benkato.

Sama'an Ashrawi interviewing Laura Lee of Khruangbin at Sugar Hill Recording Studios in Houston, TX on May 13, 2021. Photographed by Leanora Benkato.
Sama’an Ashrawi interviewing Laura Lee of Khruangbin at Sugar Hill Recording Studios in Houston, TX on May 13, 2021. Photographed by Leanora Benkato.