Dirty Beaches is the musical project of Alex Hungtai. He creates a musical scope that paints a picture of washed out coasts and endless romantic highways at dusk but also somehow manages to interlace some slightly unnerving feelings of restlessness in there too. It’s as if the music is constantly moving, just like the man himself. We caught up with Alex for a quick chat to discuss the road, live shows and influences.
You’ve been compared to Suicide on VICE, which is pretty cool. I think this is especially evident on track Coast to Coast. Do you think it’s a fair comparison to make?
I think its definitely fair, it is only natural for people to compare because it helps them understand something when they can’t. It’s an honor to be compared to Suicide. The necessity of working alone or with budget cheap equipment lead all of us out there by circumstance, and that similarity in path. Like many others out there like me or before me, since 2005 I’ve been playing alone with tape players, ipods, drum machines as backing tracks, and it doesn’t always work out but you do your best with the cards you’ve been dealt with and blaze right through it all, good or bad. And I think that spirit is inherited in me and other musicians of this generation. We just do what we do.
Your voice reminds me of Jim Morrison, in his most twisted, acid induced frenzied stage, do you think you’d enjoy going into the desert?
I think that depends what the journey entails . No, I do love the desert. Have driven through it many times now through the heartland of America.
I love the concept behind Badlands, it’s like a cult novel Jack Kerouac never wrote. It shows you think about your music a great deal more than most bands. What do you think is the most important part of creating music?
I think I’m gonna quote Jim Jarmusch on this one, I’ve always lived by this rule since 10 years ago when I got my first sampler:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
Your songs capture a love for being on the road, what is it about the road you love so much?
I grew up in many different random cities that have no correlation to one another due to circumstances involving family matters, but I think that residual impact is left within me. I have a hard time staying in the same place for over 3 years, I tend to leave after that. The road takes care of that for me. And you meet the most amazing, interesting, hospitable people to the most rotten, evil piece of shit on earth. You never know who you will encounter on the road. All your support systems are cut off and far away from you. But that’s been pretty much my whole life, since I was a kid, kick starting over and over again each time I move to a new city. Maybe the road exorcises all that shit away from me.
I haven’t been lucky enough to see you live, but what can an audience expect from your shows?
The live show set ups are always changing and evolving, I’ve done most tours on borrowed equipment from each city, so its different each night. But hopefully in the future I will be able to bring my trustworthy Solid State Ace Tone amplifier with me on the road so people can hear the sound I recorded with. Most of the fans I’ve spoken with over the past 4 years are the ones who know that I make weird music and score independent film productions, and I will continue in these ventures possibly until I die. If I don’t write another True Blue, it will be ok because even if I perform a drone noise set in the future, I know there will always be 10 or 20 people there to support me like they have over the past 4 years. LIVE, LOVE, DRIVE. Don’t lose the romance.
Listen to the man himself with Golden Desert Sun, below:
Dirty Beaches – Golden Desert Sun