Filed Under:

Dirty Beaches: A Nomad Musician Starts Over (And Over, And Over)

Alex Zhang Hungtai is a musician who has spent his life drifting from home to home. His parents were children of communist China, and since setting out, he's lived in places as far-flung as Honolulu, Montreal and most recently, Berlin.

Under the name Dirty Beaches, Hungtai makes washy, dreamy rock music that often feels nostalgic. Hungtai's whole last album was dedicated to his father; he was inspired after finding out his dad had been in a doo wop cover band during his youth in China.

"What was left of that was only a picture," he explains. "There was no recordings; he didn't tell me what songs they played. It was just a photo that I found."

But seeing his father in that photo was magnetic.

"He was wearing a suit. And he was surrounded by three guys — two backup singers and one guitar player. And he was the one in front, standing in front of the microphone," he says.

The experience moved Hungtai to look back at the rock music of the 1950s and '60s. The resulting album, Badlands, was at once disconnected and intensely personal.

Hungtai's new album as Dirty Beaches is a twofer: a double-disc set called Drifters / Love Is The Devil. He spoke about it with NPR's Jacki Lyden; click the audio link to hear more of their conversation.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Key & Peele' Is Ending. Here Are A Few Of Its Code Switch-iest Moments

From Luther the "anger translator" for President Obama to everyday situations, Key and Peele have always put code-switching front and center in their comedy show.
WAMU 88.5

The Democracy Of The Diner

Whether the decor is faux '50s silver and neon or authentic greasy spoon, diners are classic Americana, down to the familiar menu items. Rich, poor, black, white--all rub shoulders in the vinyl booths and at formica counters. We explore the enduring appeal and nostalgia of the diner.

WAMU 88.5

D.C. Council Member David Grosso

D.C. Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Education David Grosso joins us to discuss local public policy issues, including the challenges facing D.C. Public Schools.

NPR

Windows 10 Rolls Out, Along With Concern Over Sharing Wi-Fi Passwords

The new operating system includes user-friendly features, such as a personal assistant named Cortana. But its Wi-Fi Sense feature has sparked security concerns.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.