For Khruangbin performances, Laura Lee Ochoa might wear a lace-trimmed catsuit that has outsized feathers, or an incredibly pink fringed showgirl dress with a hairdress or a neon cocktail dress adorned with huge bows, usually with sky-high thigh-boots and, of course, a hairstyles reminiscent of Cleopatra. In the middle of the show, she departs the stage, but then she returns wearing a much more elaborate costume. The style she uses describes in terms of “pretty-edgy-campy”. Whatever she puts on her fans roar because Leezy doesn’t wear the same outfit for the stage. “I’m constantly thinking about what can that we could do in order to attract audiences?” she says. “My clothes are a an element of that.” The real name of Leezy is Laura Lee Ochoa — Laura Leezy is her performance “alter persona” -she’s speaking via an Zoom video call with her home in the state of New York. Khruangbin is just about to embark on the US part of her massive world tour which began with the start of the season in 2021 and will end in December. Lee believes they have around 60 datesin terms of stagewear an impressive logistical feat: “I don’t think anyone has to manage the same amount of transportation and clothing like Khruangbin.” In the call, she’s wearing a simple shirt from H&M as a present from a fan. However, she’s also sporting the Leezy hairstyle. I’m wondering if I’m talking about Leezy or Lee since while she is visible, the fringed wig is off-screen. Do Laura Lee Ochoa ever remove her wig? “In my personal life I have, yes. But when I’m working, I’m always present . . . I discuss Leezy from the perspective of 3rd person.” The sound of Khruangbin could be described as psych-funk with a sun-scorched flavor typically instrumentals, occasionally featuring Lee’s haunted, sluggish vocals. With guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson, Lee builds dub-psychedelic-soul-country-latino soundscapes as vast as the band’s native Texas. In the month of March, they will are releasing Ali the fourth studio album. It is a partnership together with Malian musicians and vocalist Vieux Farka Toure.
Laura Lee Ochoa admits that she’s not as good as a musician, especially in live jamming like Speer and Johnson. “It’s great to be able to add something different to every performance,” she says. “Some of that could be accomplished musically, but it’s not my style. What I can offer is an outfit that is unique.” She’s modest. Her hefty bass is elastic and a part of her sound. Paul McCartney is a fan According the Mojo magazine, he contacted her to express his excitement about her performing on the cover of Khruangbin’s 2021 edition of the track Pretty Boys. Many pop stars sport elaborate costumes for stage — Dua Lipa Lizzo, Lady Gaga. What is what makes the 35-year-old Laura Lee Ochoa distinctive is not just her choice to not wear the same outfit twice but also her job in the role of Khruangbin’s artistic director. Also, of course, her disguisehairstyle that allows her an additional life beyond her famed persona.
Laura Lee Ochoa took advantage of her education in architecture and art to lead Khruangbin’s identity not just in clothing as well as choreography, staging as well as graphic designs. Three of the Khruangbin members sport distinctive styles of dressing -they all wear a distinctive style – Johnson prefers sunglasses and ponchos, while Speer is a suit-wearer and, as Lee hair. “We’re not as sexy as Destiny’s Child, but there’s some cohesion,” she says. The group is managed by a wardrobe specialist and Lee is a stylist, Megan Boyes, to help her find clothes. But Lee’s various roles require a great deal of work. They indicate an obsession with details in the style of Bowie, Kate Bush or Prince. Lee could not have it any different way. “We’re going to take our time with our art because it’s our work as well as our integrity, and that’s what we’re going to do with to do it.
Khruangbin was formed in the past decade and has always been at the forefront of attention and mysterious. Laura Lee Ochoa discovered wigs to perform their first gig. There are few fans who recognize the group on the streets without their costumes. This means Lee “gets to see the two aspects” — both with as well as without Leezy. Tolu Coker, a self-employed British style designer, who collaborates with Khruangbin says she believes Leezy as an exaggerated representation of the artist she has come to know, and not being a distinct persona. “Leezy is merely an improved model that of Laura and the one with a heightened energy,” she says. Lee suggests a second cultural explanation for her inclination to disguise that is that is rooted in her Mexican-American culture. “In the tradition I grew up in, there’s a concept known as”el mal de Ojo” -or the evil eyethat we were instructed not to feed another’s self-esteem or anger because it’s not a healthy thing to nurture. This creates a kind of dynamic which is unhealthy. There’s also that aspect to the Leezy which is on the stage . . . I would not like to go to the restaurant, for instance and then have people take me for granted because I’m on stage , and I’m doing this thing,” she says. Her love of theater dates to her mother’s 1980s and 90s glam office attire. Lee was born in Houston. “My mother was a hardworking woman who worked from 9 to 5 and always had a blazer on and a the skirt that was paired with buttons as well as houndstooth or Polka dots, pink and red things.” This instilled in Lee an appreciation for professional appearance as well as a love old-fashioned, Margaretha Ley-era Escada: power suits with shoulders-padded blazers, heels, as well as pencil skirts. “And the designs — it was quite wild at the time.
Lee was able to comprehend the power of changing costumes through Elton John and she studied Prince’s visual artistryas well and Prince’s methods for dancing and playing guitar simultaneously. If Khruangbin perform live, Lee performs on stage with ease with her feet, stepping through the steps, and playing her bass when she walks. Being forced to walk around in her bass has made her consider costumes in various ways: armholes in capes and the importance of being able move her legs, and the visual impact of a large cape. Did she ever fall over? “I haven’t, and it’s incredible. I’m also confident that it could happen, and I’ll be okay.” The majority of Lee’s stage clothes are borrowed from designers, but she has her own designs and some she purchases for her collection. Lee has collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion. Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini made this year’s Glastonbury outfit, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou have adorned her, as well. She prefers lesser-known brands. “If I’m wearing the larger brands, it can make me feel old-fashioned because it’s the way (she creates air quotes with her fingers) “Giant Designer” was doing at the time. However, if I choose to wear something different, it’s strange. Younger designers are more wild -Bigger bows! More shoulders!” Ultimately, she would like to show “a fun and playful rock and roll which isn’t found in other countries”. After the tour’s end Khruangbin will have time to compose music. Leezy will rest from her stunning outfits as well as a multitude of costumes. “I’m always fighting against her” Lee says. Lee. “On the road, she takes all the luggage space which means I’m being forced to wear basic clothing. Sometimes I’m thinking, it’s not all focused on Leezy.”