Beirut is an American indie-rock and world music band which was originally the solo musical project of Zach Condon (born Zachary Francis Condon in Santa Fe, New Mexico) and later expanded into a band. The band's first performances were in New York, in May 2006, to support the release of their debut album, Gulag Orkestar. Condon recorded before Beirut was established: when he was fifteen and under the name of Realpeople, he made an electronic record, fashioned after his love for The Magnetic Fields. Condon was a straight-A student until he dropped out at the age of 17 to travel Europe with his cousin in a drunken haze, cavorting and partying with the locals wherever he ended up.
It was during one of these evenings that he was first exposed to Balkan music (notably including the Boban Marković Orkestar and Goran Bregović), blasting from the upstairs apartment. Condon ended up with the Serbian artists all night, going through albums country by country, note for note. The first album under the Beirut moniker, Gulag Orkestar (2006), was the direct result of what he learned that night. While it may sound like an entire Balkan orchestra playing modern songs as mournful ballads and upbeat marches, the album was performed and recorded almost entirely by Condon alone.
He did so on Pro Tools while skipping school in Albuquerque and at Sea Side Studios in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Jeremy Barnes added percussion and some violin overlays. After recording, Condon formed a full band which at times varies in the number of members, from six to ten. Live he is 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).Make Beirut Playlist