It was funny to just take a backseat and be like, 'Wow, I might be in this crazy place, but maybe I don't need to understand everything, maybe I don't need to be someone else.'— Zach Condon
The most joyful Zach Condon quotes that will inspire your inner self
I'm not an amazing trumpet player. It's mostly smoke and mirrors. You shake the trumpet and it starts to vibrate in a ridiculous drunken way, or you flop notes at the right time and you don't have to play stuff that would take seven years to learn.
I'm writing songs about New York. A lot of them carry the names of neighborhoods in Long Island. Maspeth, Montauk. I'm getting into the idea of a F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque Long Island back when New York was...New York.
Raucous drunken trumpets and instrumentation tend to guide the way you think.
They can give you a path to follow lyrically.
As a teenager and a young adult, I never felt like my own story was interesting enough to tell, so I always wrote lyrics from someone else's perspective - told someone else's story.
I was a very good student until about sophomore year, and that's when I just became so disillusioned with the whole thing that I just became an awful student. I was still making good grades. But I was cutting class three days a week and faking papers that I got off the internet.
My dad is obsessed with music, so I was raised around this guitar player that really wanted me to be a guitar player.
I'm sure that's every adolescent's complaint about their home town.
When a city is unstimulating, you get pretty isolated.
I think that sonically, music speaks volumes more than words do, and I have always thought that and will continue to think that for the rest of my life.
I write one step at a time, always finishing off the part I'm working on before even thinking about the next part. I need to hear it all together before deciding what goes next. I even mix before moving on...in other words, I write by recording.
I feel like I've met most people I look up to musically. I just want to meet Chef.
I think it's become much harder because I'm more afraid of every step I take.
I'm more aware of its ramifications, I'm more aware of the less creative aspects of music - like the business-side of things for example.
I have tried to write soundtracks, and the main problem with those was that the directors often had in their minds a much stronger sense of what they wanted to hear, than what I was willing to give them, and I guess there was no way to say, "Well why don't you write your scene around my music?" Because that's just cocky and awful.
I put myself in the studio and I really made sure to say, 'Well, if I would normally reach for a trumpet, why don't I reach for the next nearest instrument instead?'
I'm very flash and burn - the first thing that comes to mind is obviously the best idea, and that's because it should come out of a natural place, and if you don't do that then you're writing someone else's music, not your own.
As much as I try to grow as a lyricist, I tend to laugh at even calling myself that, because I think that my actual talents lie more in arrangements than they do words.
I released that side of things really as kind of an introduction to where I came from musically, back in the day when all I had was a keyboard, a drum machine, and a four-track. So I was doing these little synth-pop ditties, and it's how I learned to write.
It feels much more natural to move forward and grow with the instruments I've grown accustomed to. Piano, accordion, brass, ukulele.
It's just not an image I had ever put out about myself - the bedroom synth guy.
The whole thing seemed ridiculous.
I do feel like my music, in some weird way, is probably better suited for cinema than for anything else - I can't really explain, other than I think that music has been mostly inspired often by soundtracks.
The greatest thing about my house was that I was in the far end of it and I could make as much noise as I wanted. By the time I moved out, I had a full-sized piano, two full-sized organs, bits and pieces of a drum kit, and a whole computer set up for Pro Tools. I had this mattress in between the piano and the organ. That was the only walking room.
I think I spent more time on the mellotron than on any other instrument in the studio, and it got to the point where I was like, "Well, you can't write an entire album on this instrument." But maybe I would!
It's funny because you do often read in recounts of very famous albums, people tend to focus on mistakes in really positive ways, and there's certain mistakes of my own that I always do find on every record that I needed to accept. I find it really interesting to talk about. I always write songs at the wrong tempos, and I have to learn to accept that a little bit.
I became very aware of what I was used to relying on, almost tricks.
It's funny because I could feel myself creating a formula and sticking with it and I just told myself, 'That's not me, that's not really how I am, god forbid I have developed a formula - it's music; songwriting.' It's heretic, honestly, in the church of music, so I had to unwind a few tricks in order to get past it.
My thought with harmonies and melodies in general, is that if it doesn't come right away then it's never going to come at all.
I like to think that location, travel, etc, is a launching point for purely imagining.
My dad is obsessed with music, so I was raised around this guitar player that really wanted me to be a guitar player. One of my earliest memories is him kind of forcing a guitar on all my brothers and me. You know, "You have to practice three hours a day!" I hated guitar at the time. I kind of picked up trumpet to spite him.
There was always a unique Beirut sound, it was always there, and so this time I just dove straight into that, instead of daydreaming and wandering.
I tried to go to community college for a while, and it's a funny story.
I walked into the English class on the first day, and they told us to write about what we did over the summer. I can't remember exactly, but I think I walked out exactly at that point and went to the office to ask for my money back.
After so many years of whispery, DIY vocals, there's this new generation of voices that are really starting to burst through the seams.
It's a natural tendency of mine to not even listen to lyrics.
In some ways, I feel like I've been such a dilettante for so many years, just picking up instruments and stretching myself so thin.
I think that there's a proliferation of music that is done entirely in the bedroom for an Internet audience, but there's no way in hell that you could actually kill off a live show, and its importance in the creation of music - it's just impossible.
I dropped out of high school and I tried to go to community college for a little while. I can't be a student. I always hated that lifestyle.
Lyrics are what I tend to tear hair out over and they're where I tend to feel weak musically, if I'm being very honest. It is not something I feel like I know anything about; I would not consider myself a writer. I just want to sing, I just want to sing a melody, I just want to feel a melody, and be part of the song, and everything else is not so important.
I try to shut my brain down as much as possible. And let the melodies flow, if possible.
Often when I find myself listening to music, at least 60 to 70% of it is foreign, so I don't understand a word of it. Melody to me will always be a million times more important than words.
I was always looking outside of myself for stories and ideas and influences and then I kind of realized in 2010, that all of this time, I've developed a "sound." And I've never fully explored it.
It's a weird thing to be nineteen and be in the public eye.
It was a crazy thing, it was a big deal to me, and it changed me in a lot of ways. And now that it's five, six years later, I wanted to look back at that, the start of it all, the excitement and the naïveté about it, and it just fascinated me to reflect on all that.
I love the community and the entertainment too much. I'm used to it - it's what I saw first.
The way Jacques Brel writes a story, getting into the character, bringing out all his faults and qualities in the same song.... Not that I could ever write in such an epic way, but it really is a different way to go about writing lyrics...and I find that quite inspiring.
When a city is unstimulating, you get pretty isolated.
I think, if I had my choice, I would spend all my time in the studio writing, and creating music.
You can never not feel like that, as a working artist these days.
It's funny - time off makes me nervous, but so does time on. At least the pressure wasn't coming from outside.
There is a beauty to touring - to be honest, there's a way that music connects and you really feel the actual reaction of people to the music that you're making, and I feel like if I didn't do that I just wouldn't know, and I don't think my music would be the same.
If every element of the song doesn't come within the first hour of writing, then you're never going to get it - if that makes sense. It's kind of like you need to be in a mental state where everything is so reactionary that you don't double-think anything, and so if it's not immediate then it's probably not going to happen at all, and you should probably toss the song.
I can't work in Brooklyn. Unless I'm completely locked away in a studio, there's just too much distraction and stimulation.
I'm swept along by larger forces out of my control.
In the age of the mp3, you gotta make the package special, something that's worth owning.
When I came back to America, I realized that world music is no joke, it really has a lot to it.