Beirut is an American band. It began as the solo musical project of 23-year-old Santa Fe, New Mexico native Zachary Francis Condon, and later evolved into a band led by Condon. Their first performances were in May 2006, to support the release of their debut album, Gulag Orkestar. The music combines elements of Eastern European and folk with Western pop music.
Zach Condon was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico on February 13, 1986. He was brought up in Virginia before moving back to New Mexico. Condon attended Santa Fe High School, where he was a student until he dropped out at the age of 16. He later enrolled in community college, which he attended for a short period before traveling to Europe at the age of 17. He became aware of Balkan folk music. This discovery and Condon's subsequent exploration of world music proved to be instrumental in the development of Beirut's sound.
On his return from Europe, Condon enrolled at the University of New Mexico, where he studied Portuguese and Photography. Condon recorded the bulk of the material used for Gulag Orkestar by himself in his bedroom, going into the studio to finish the album with the assistance of Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw), who became early members of the band Beirut.
On the strength of the recordings, Condon was signed under the name of Beirut to Ba Da Bing! records, and Gulag Orkestar was given a May 2006 release. Condon recruited some friends to play the music live and Beirut was born.
Beirut's first official music video was for the song "Elephant Gun". The video was directed by Alma Har'el. The second video, which was for the song "Postcards from Italy", was also directed by Alma Har'el, and was released later. Lauren Tafuri was the costume designer for both of these videos.
Beirut's second album, The Flying Club Cup, was recorded largely at a makeshift studio in Albuquerque and completed at Arcade Fire's studio in Quebec. The music on the album has a French influence due to Condon's interest in French chanson during its recording. Condon has cited French and Belgian singers Jacques Brel (Belgian), Serge Gainsbourg and Yves Montand (Italian/French) as influences. He also expressed interest in French film and culture, claiming this was his original reason for travelling to Europe. The Flying Club Cup was leaked onto the Internet in August 2007 before being officially released in October 2007. In September 2007 they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.
On April 3, 2008, Beirut canceled a previously announced summer European tour. Condon explained the cancellations in a post on the official Beirut website, stating that he wanted to put the effort into ensuring that any shows would be "as good as humanly possible". Soon after, The Stranger reported that Condon was working on a third album tentatively scheduled for a fall release. This album materialized as the double EP March of the Zapotec/Holland EP, containing an official Beirut release based on Condon's recent trip to Oaxaca (March of the Zapotec), and electronic music under the "Realpeople" name (Holland), to be released February 16, 2009. However, the album became available for purchase on iTunes on January 27, almost a month before the projected release date, and was leaked onto the internet on 23 January.
On February 6, 2009 Beirut made their debut television performance in the United States on the Late Show with David Letterman, performing "A Sunday Smile".
Guest Appearances (Condon)
He also appears on the Get Him Eat Him album Arms Down, on the song "2x2".
Realpeople is the electronic side-project of Condon. It was under this name that Condon made his first (unreleased) album, The Joys of Losing Weight, and the name to which the Holland EP is credited. The Joys of Losing Weight, which was made when Condon was fifteen, can be found only on certain blogs and websites to download, as it was never released for general sale.
Condon has also released an EP, Small-Time American Bats, under the name 1971. Condon recorded Small Time American Bats with his friend, Alex Gaziano playing guitar and adding vocals, when they were both 16 or so (2002). Alex is a founding member of another band originating from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Kid Crash.
- The Joys of Losing Weight (unreleased) (under the name "Realpeople")
- Gulag Orkestar (May 9, 2006)
- The Flying Club Cup (October 9, 2007)
- Live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (June 2009)
- Small-Time American Bats (unreleased) (under the name "1971")
- Calexico/Beirut 7? split single – "The Guns of Brixton"/"Interior of a Dutch House" (November 13, 2006)
- Lon Gisland (January 30, 2007)
- Pompeii EP (February 28, 2007)
- Elephant Gun EP (June 25, 2007)
- March of the Zapotec/Holland EP (February 16, 2009 - Unofficially released onto iTunes on January 27) #87 US
- Cheap Magic Inside* (2007)
Cheap Magic Inside Available only on tour and on the Flying Club Cup website.
In this DVD, you'll discover Beirut's latest album go live : on September, Chryde and Vincent Moon went to New York to film the band play all the tracks from the Flying Club Cup in bars, rooms, parks and even in an ice-cream truck garage.
In the hour-long movie they brought back, Zach Condon wanders alone in Brooklyn and eventually finds, in each place, his band waiting for him, behind a door, on stairs..
This movie exists thanks to the whole Take Away Shows team, it has been produced by La Blogothèque and directed by Vincent Moon.
Technical specifications : 16:9 anamorphic, 4:3 compatible, Color, Run time: 60min, All regions, PAL, DVD 5, Language : English, Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0, All ages.
Live, Beirut's shifting roster generally consists of Condon accompanied by Perrin Cloutier (cello/accordion), Jason Poranski (guitar/mandolin/ukulele), Nick Petree (drums), Kristin Ferebee (violin), Paul Collins (organ/keys/tambourine/ukulele), Jon Natchez (baritone sax/mandolin/glockenspiel), and Kelly Pratt (trumpet/euphonium).
Biography from Wikipedia