Beirut is the name of the band of 22-year-old Santa Fe native Zach Condon. The first official release under the Beirut name was assisted by Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel, A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw); it combines elements of Eastern European and folk sounds. Condon plays the ukulele as his main instrument, having been unable to play guitar due to a wrist injury that prevented his hand from reaching fully around the neck of a guitar.
Though young, Condon has already released a few albums. He recorded under the name The Real People when he was 15, making The Joys of Losing Weight, which is a lo-fi electronic record (ie, generally in the style of 'Scenic World' on Gulag Orkestar) fashioned consciously after The Magnetic Fields. At 16, he recorded an entire doo-wop album that was inspired by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers.
Zach also released a three-song EP titled "Small Time American Bats" under the name 1971. The album was recorded in 2001-2002 and has never been officially released. Condon attended Santa Fe High School, where he was a student until he dropped out at the age of 16 to travel Europe where he was first exposed to Balkan gypsy music, notably including the Boban Marković Orchestra and Goran Bregović.
In 2006, Beirut released two Balkan-inspired recordings through Ba Da Bing, Gulag Orkestar and Lon Gisland, both also available as an expanded version of Gulag Orkestar LP through the UK label 4AD. Beirut has also released other individual songs, three available on Pompeii EP, and the one on a split with Calexico, and one on a compilation for The Believer magazine. While living in Brooklyn, Condon also shot a video for "Scenic World" at the Sweet'N Low factory, and performed several venues in New York and Europe.
The Believer Magazine issue Zach appeared on (June/July '07), featured the song "Venice", which can be heard here.
His first official music video was for the song "Elephant Gun". The video was directed by Alma Har'el.The second video 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.
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).
According to the band's official website, Condon was "briefly hospitalized for extreme exhaustion" in November 2006, resulting in the cancellation of the rest of the tour. The band resumed performing live in March 2007.
In June 2007 they played the Glastonbury Festival's Jazz World Stage, and were widely considered one of the best acts of the festival. Later in 2007, Zach appeared as a guest trumpeter on the second album from Get Him Eat Him, titled Arms Down.
Beirut's second album, The Flying Club Cup, was leaked onto the Internet August 25, 2007 then subsequently released in shops and on internet music sites on October 9, 2007.