Ezra Koenig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ezra Koenig
Flickr - moses namkung - Vampire Weekend-5.jpg
Background information
Birth name Ezra Michael Koenig
Born (1984-04-08) April 8, 1984 (age 32)
Origin Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Indie pop, indie rock, baroque pop, Afrobeat
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter, teacher
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, saxophone
Years active 2006–present
Labels XL
Associated acts
Website vampireweekend.com
Notable instruments
Epiphone Sheraton II
Rickenbacker 330
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

Ezra Michael Koenig (born April 8, 1984)[1] is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and radio personality. He is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Vampire Weekend.

Early life[edit]

Koenig was born in New York City, and is the son of Bobby Bass, a set dresser, and Robin Koenig, a psychotherapist on film and TV productions.[2] His parents lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan before moving to Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He is Jewish, and his family came to the U.S. from Europe (including Romania and Hungary).[3][4] He grew up in Northern New Jersey and attended Glen Ridge High School. Ezra has a younger sister, Emma Koenig, who is the author of the blog and book "FUCK! i'm in my twenties"[5] and a writer on the ABC-TV comedy, Manhattan Love Story. Ezra began writing music around the age of ten, and his first song ever was titled "Bad Birthday Party." Koenig attended Columbia University, where he majored in English literature.

After graduating he taught English through Teach for America at Junior High School 258 in Brooklyn, New York. Students recalled Koenig bringing his guitar with him to class despite him trying to hide it and his music career. He was described as a "laid-back" teacher who successfully made bonds with his students.[6] In the fall of 2007, a deal with XL Recordings cut short Koenig's teaching career.

Musical career[edit]

Prior to forming Vampire Weekend, he was involved in numerous musical projects with Wes Miles,[7] a childhood friend and current frontman of Ra Ra Riot. Koenig and Miles' experimental band, The Sophisticuffs, has been described as "wildly inventive musical work".[8] Later, Koenig formed the "serious" rap band L'Homme Run[9] with Andrew Kalaidjian and fellow Vampire Weekend band member Chris Tomson, played saxophone for the indie rock band Dirty Projectors, worked as an intern for The Walkmen.[10]

The name of the group comes from the movie of the same name that Ezra and his high school friends made during a school vacation. Ezra plays the main character, Walcott, who has to go to Cape Cod to tell the mayor that vampires are coming. They self-produced their first album after graduation while concurrently working full-time jobs. In 2010, they released their second album, Contra. It reached number one on the US album charts. In 2013 they released their third album, Modern Vampires of the City to critical acclaim.[11]

Koenig provides vocals on the song "Carby" on LP, the debut album of Discovery, a group which features Vampire Weekend keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot vocalist Wes Miles. He's also featured on "Warm Heart of Africa" by The Very Best, "Pyromiltia" by Theophilus London, "I Could Be Wrong" by Chromeo, "Dynamo" by Abd al Malik and singing "I Think Ur a Contra" with Angelique Kidjo in her PBS special. He appeared and provided vocals in the music video for Duck Sauce's "Barbra Streisand". His recording of the song "Papa Hobo", by Paul Simon, is part of the soundtrack for Max Winkler's film Ceremony. In 2013, Koenig was featured in the song "Jessica" by Major Lazer. In 2014, he was featured on "Ezra's Interlude" by Chromeo, as well as "New Dorp, New York" by SBTRKT.

In 2011, a portrait of Koenig was painted by British artist Joe Simpson. The painting was exhibited around the UK including a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.[12]

Koenig performing with Vampire Weekend

At the 86th Academy Awards, Koenig accompanied Karen O, on backing vocals and acoustic guitar for her performance of the Oscar-nominated song "The Moon Song" from the film Her.

In 2014, Koenig did the voice of Ryland on the Major Lazer (TV series) which he was on for one episode.

After the release of Apple Music, Koenig began hosting his own radio show on the channel Beats 1 (which is owned by Apple Inc.) that goes by the name Time Crisis. It is mainly hosted by Ezra, but there are some recurring guests, like Jake Longstreth.[13] They have also had guests on such as Rashida Jones, Mark Ronson, Jamie Foxx, David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, and his sister, Emma Koenig. The first episode was released on the 12th of July 2015.

In 2016, Koenig was credited as a writer and producer on the song "Hold Up" on Lemonade, the sixth studio album by Beyoncé.[14]


  1. ^ Published at 2:00 PM on January 5, 2010 By Nick Marino (2010-01-05). "The Artful Dodgers: Santigold & Vampire Weekend :: Music :: Features :: Paste". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  2. ^ Green, Penelope (2012-07-25). "Emma Koenig's So-Called Redacted Life". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Anthony Carew (23 November 2009). "Interview: Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend". about.com. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  4. ^ "Vampire Weekend: Don't call us white | The Jewish Chronicle". Thejc.com. 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  5. ^ Green, Penelope (2012-07-25). "Emma Koenig's So-Called Redacted Life". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Guanlao, Nicole (2008-06-23). "Vampire Weekend Frontman Ezra Koenig's Students Recall Playing Pranks On The Future Rock Star - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Michael (2008-06-11). "Q&A With Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot - Denver - Music - Backbeat". Blogs.westword.com. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  8. ^ "Look at me, I made a blog: "Reginald's Lament" - The Sophisticuffs". Madeablog.com. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  9. ^ "Video Hits Interview Vampire Weekend". YouTube. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  10. ^ "5-10-15-20: Ezra Koenig | News". Pitchfork. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  11. ^ "Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City Album Review - Pitchfork". Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Breihan, Tom "Ezra Koenig, Matt Berninger, Sam Beam Immortalized in Oil Paintings" "Pitchfork"
  13. ^ "Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig Gets Beats 1 Show". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  14. ^ "Beyoncé Releases New Album Lemonade Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, the Weeknd, James Blake". Pitchfork Media. 23 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 

External links[edit]