Most of us head for the beach on holiday.
Beirut’s Zach Condon flew to Teotilian De Valle in central Mexico to work with the town’s “earnest” 17-piece marching band.
“Sounds are my purpose for travelling,” he said. “I’m going to Morocco this summer just to listen. I travel under the pretense of listening, and never go to museums.”
Though he didn’t belong to any marching bands growing up, Condon, who records intricately arranged Eastern European and mariachi-influenced indie folk as Beirut, said that wasn’t for lack of trying.
“I remember finding my way into a jazz band class once, but I couldn’t cut it and left,” he said. “But (after Beirut’s success) doors have opened up, and I’m now in a position I can seek out other people to assist me and my projects. There’s so many people willing to do it that it’s crazy — I’m used to sitting and making music alone in my bedroom.”
Condon’s bedroom tinkering resulted in 2006’s Gulag Orkestar, which was inspired by the then 19-year-old’s trip to Europe with his older brother. Exploring the streets of Paris, the pair became amazed at the sounds of the city, particularly Balkan bands that made Condon’s “jaw drop to the floor.” Later, his love of France translated into 2007’s The Flying Club Cup, an album that develops Condon’s interest in diverse musical traditions and includes collaborators like Canadian Owen Pallet — just one benefit of living in the music hub of Williamsburg.
“Brooklyn is kind of a caricature of itself … (It seems like) everyone is trying to coax you into their studio for a beer,” he said, laughing. “I never expected Williamsburg to be like that — I thought that was an uneducated guess, but after moving here, you learn it’s kind of true.”