In a typical teenager’s New Mexico bedroom, Zach Condon recorded Gulag Orkestar shortly after quitting college, with some help from local musicians Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw). For him, it was nothing new, having recorded hundreds of songs since he was fifteen the same way. This time, however, a flood of attention followed, as online raves lead to reverential fandom, international acclaim, and a tsunami of interviews, photoshoots and features, as Condon and his newly formed band traveled to Russia, Poland, Turkey and throughout North America and Europe.
Astonishingly, he proved himself as talented a bandleader as composer. New songs were written, album songs reworked, and the band’s shows quickly developed to dramatic heights far beyond its mere months-long existence. This band went on to record an EP, Lon Gisland, in 2007, which marked the first Beirut recordings with the live ensemble. Half a year later, Beirut came out with another album, The Flying Club Cup. Inspired by an obscure photo from 1910 depicting hot air balloons taking flight mere steps away from the Eiffel Tower, an image Zach stuck to the wall for inspiration, The Flying Club Cup is an homage to France’s culture, fashion, history and music.
In 2009, Beirut released the double EP March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland. The first was partly recorded in Oaxaca with the Mexican Banda Jimenez, and a more pronounced South-American flavor. The second EP ‘Holland’ was credited to Condon’s old name Realpeople and consists of five electrotracks.