Dirty Beaches

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Alex Zhang Hungtai
Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beach).jpg
Alex Hungtai (Dirty Beaches) performing in Paris, on February 19, 2012
Background information
Also known as Dirty Beaches, Last Lizard
Genres Lo-fi, no wave, experimental, rockabilly
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboard, synth, sampler
Years active 2005-present
Labels Zoo Music
Associated acts Last Lizard
Website dirtybeaches.bandcamp.com

Alex Zhang Hungtai (born September 4, 1980 in Taipei), formerly known by his stage name Dirty Beaches is a Taiwanese-born Canadian musician originating from Montreal, Quebec. He is currently based in Los Angeles, and releases music under the name Last Lizard.

Dirty Beaches released a number of EPs and instrumental-focused albums on cassette-only labels, before releasing the full-length Badlands in March 2011.[1] Badlands was subsequently nominated as a long listed nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[2] Dirty Beaches has also released singles including "True Blue"/"Sweet 17," "Lord Knows Best" and "Lone Runner," as well as videos, many of them directed by Zhang himself. Zhang has also recorded several original film soundtracks, such as for the documentary Water Park, by Evan Prosofsky.


Dirty Beaches began as a one-man band, sometimes employing sampling, inspired by Zhang's longtime love of hip hop. In addition to his own years moving between countries and on the road touring, films are one of Zhang's influences, particularly those by Wong Kar-wai. Zhang said Wong's movies are "usually about the passage of time, and how in relation it distorts your relationship with everything else in life. The central Dirty Beaches character is a product of those experiences. Of someone traveling long distances in search of something, in exile, misplaced, with no home to return to."[3] Zhang has lived in Taipei, Queens, Etobicoke, Honolulu, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver, Montreal, Berlin and Lisbon[4] among other cities.

Dirty Beaches has released work on record labels throughout the world since his first album Old Blood came out on Montreal's Fixture Records in 2007. Dirty Beaches has recorded and toured with musicians such as Dum Dum Girls, U.S. Girls, Ela Orleans and Xiu Xiu. In 2011, Zhang was able to leave a kitchen job to play music full-time. First touring solo, he then put together a live band with sax player Francesco De Gallo and drummer Jesse Locke. On tour, Dirty Beaches moved away from the sample-based rock n roll of Badlands to embrace a more improvised sound. In 2012, guitarist Shub Roy and electronic musician Bernardino Femminielli joined Dirty Beaches live and in the studio, and they remain members of the band as of 2013.

After the release of Badlands and a number of EPs and collaborations, Dirty Beaches recorded 75 minutes of new material in late 2012 and early 2013. One set of songs, Drifters, was begun at La Brique recording space in Montreal and features Zhang's vocals and songwriting, along with instrumental contributions by Roy and Femminielli and former bandmates De Gallo and Locke. Making use of live instruments- guitar, bass, keyboard, drum machines and saxophones- arranged into original loops, none of the eight songs include any samples of previously existent recordings, a change from Zhang's previous working methods. During the course of recording Drifters, Zhang's relationship of several years ended in Canada and he relocated to the studio of friend Anton Newcombe in Berlin, where he finished the record and also recorded Love is the Devil, an instrumental set of eight songs, in late hours when the studio was not in use.

Drifters/Love Is The Devil was released as a double LP, as well as on a single CD and in digital formats, by the Zoo Music label in May 2013. Dirty Beaches will tour Europe and other regions in spring and summer of 2013. Earlier in the year Dirty Beaches toured the Asia Pacific region for the first time.

In November 2013, Dirty Beaches played the All Tomorrow's Parties festival held at the seaside resort of Camber Sands, United Kingdom.[5]

In August 2014, Dirty Beaches announced his 3rd album, Stateless, which would be entirely instrumental and released in November 2014.

In a series of tweets in October 2014, Dirty Beaches announced their breakup.[6] In early 2015, Hungtai began releasing music under the project name of Last Lizard.


Studio albums[edit]

  • Old Blood (2007, Fixture Records)
  • Horror (2008, Fixture Records)
  • Night City (2010, Night People)
  • Badlands (2011, Zoo Music)
  • Drifters/Love Is The Devil (2013, Zoo Music)
  • Stateless (2014, Zoo Music)
  • Knave Of Hearts (2016, Ascetic House as Alex Zhang Hungtai)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • Chess Music EP (2007)
  • Seaside EP (2008, Fixture Records)
  • Bird EP (2009, Fixture Records)
  • Dirty Beaches cassette (2009, Night People)
  • Golden Desert Sun single (2010, Italian Beach Babes)
  • B Side cassette (2010, La Station Radar)
  • True Blue single (2010, Zoo Music)
  • Solid State Gold cassette (2010, Rose Mansion Analog)
  • No Fun single (2011, Italian Beach Babes)
  • Lone Runner single (2011, Suicide Squeeze Records)
  • Tarlabaşı single (2012, BRONSON Produzioni)
  • Dune Walker single (2012, Slowboy Records)
  • Elizabeth's Theme single (2012, Kingfisher Bluez)
  • Hotel EP (2014, BIG LOVE Records)
  • Neon Gods of Lost Youth EP (2014)


  • Split (2009, Campaign for Infinity) split album with Omon Ra II
  • U.S. Girls/Dirty Beaches (2010, Sibling Sex) split EP
  • Decadent (2010, Campaign for Infinity) split album with Generic Shit, Hobo Cubes & Street Gnar
  • Mae Mae (2011, free download) collaborative album with Apollo Ghosts, as Masterchef
  • The Singer (2011, Soft Power Records) split single with Conor Prendergast
  • Double Feature (2011, Night People/ La Station Radar/ Atelier Ciseaux) split album with Ela Orleans
  • Expressway (2012, Bathetic Records) compilation co-curated by Alex Zhang Hungtai
  • Xiu Xiu/Dirty Beaches (2012, Bella Union) split single for Record Store Day
  • Statement (2012, Clan Destine Records) split album with Slim Twig, Ela Orleans & U.S. Girls
  • Dirty Beaches/Tonstartssbandht (2013, Spacebridge Records) split cassette


  • Practical ESP (2011) directed by Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty
  • The Hippo (2012) directed by J. Asher Lynch
  • Waterpark (2013) directed by Evan Prosofsky

Music videos[edit]

  • "West Coast Bird" directed by Alex Zhang Hungtai
  • "Shangri-La" directed by Alex Zhang Hungtai
  • "True Blue" directed by Alex Calder
  • "Lord Knows Best" directed by Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty
  • "Speedway King" directed by Alex Zhang Hungtai
  • "Lone Runner" directed by Kevin Luna
  • "White Sand" directed by Tsien-Tsien Zhang, cinematography by Christopher Doyle
  • "Neon Gods & Funeral Strippers" directed by Alex Zhang Hungtai
  • "Casino Lisboa" directed by Gary Boyle
  • "I Dream in Neon" directed by Michael Lawrence
  • "Time Washes Everything Away" directed by Loic Zimmermann


External links[edit]