By BeirutUpdated Sep 2019
Beirut is an American band which was originally the solo musical project of Santa Fe native Zach Condon. Beirut's music combines elements of indie-rock and world music. The band's first performance…
Beirut is an American band which was originally the solo musical project of Santa Fe native Zach Condon. Beirut's music combines elements of indie-rock and world music. The band's first performance was in New York, in May 2006, to support its debut album, Gulag Orkestar.
Condon named the band after Lebanon’s capital, because of the city’s history of conflict and as a place where cultures collide. Beirut performed in Lebanon for the first time in 2014, at the Byblos International Festival.
Zach Condon was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 13, 1986. He grew up in Newport News, Virginia, and in Santa Fe. Condon played trumpet in a jazz band as a teenager and cites jazz as a major influence.
Condon attended Santa Fe High School, until dropping out aged 17. Santa Fe's proximity to Mexico exposed Condon to mariachi music. Work at a cinema showing international films piqued his interest in Fellini arias, Sicilian funeral brass and Balkan music.
Cordon attended community college for a short period, before traveling to Europe at the age of 17 with his older brother, Ryan. Condon's exploration of world music developed Beirut's melodic sound. Zach's younger brother Ross Condon played in the Brooklyn-based band Total Slacker.
Returning from Europe Condon enrolled at the University of New Mexico, where he studied Portuguese and photography. Condon recorded most of the material for Gulag Orkestar alone in his bedroom, finishing the album in a studio with Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw), who became early contributors to the band.
Ba Da Bing! records signed Condon on the strength of the recordings. Condon recruited friends to play Gulag Orkestar's first live shows in New York in May 2006.
Beirut's first music video was for "Elephant Gun". The second video, for "Postcards from Italy", was directed by Alma Har'el. Lon Gisland EP was the full band's first release, in 2007.