While people are still ordering drinks Alex Zhang Hungtai from Dirty Beaches rises the stage. Silently. No introduction – none needed! The Canadian released his album ‘Badlands’ about a year ago on Zoo Music and has been touring ever since. Or should we say still, as the album was inspired mostly by his modern drift. The singer who can call Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls his sister and David Lynch his godfather amused us with a head bopping concert. Applause for his sax player as well, though we feel he should loose the shades with eyes like that. People were enjoying the music so much that the applause came with a delay…As if awoken from a dream. We went for a walk in the dark streets of Antwerp afterwards for a notebook interview.
Interview and photographs Yana Foqué
You are a travelling man. Tell us the best thing about being on the road.
The random encounters, and landscapes.
Do you feel as though being in between places is a necessity for your music?
No, it’s circumstantial. I’ll play with the cards I’m dealt.
What can make you extremely happy?
Eating good food, of course.
Your music can be very subtle, at times almost hypnotic. Listening to your record feels a bit like a drift. On top of that you named the album ‘Badlands’, which gives it an extra cinematic ring to it. How did you decide on the name?
It was definitely in tribute to the American landscapes I’ve driven through.
How far can you go to get a song just right?
Ideas are not forever. If the moment is lost, I abandon the idea.
The song ‘ Coast to Coast’ echoes the voices of the past. The introverted yearning shimmers true. When did you write this song?
Between 2007-2008. The idea came from driving in the night, also as a passenger. Drifting in and out of sleep.
Your music overflows with images. Do you sometimes feel as a character to your own film?
Yes, because I think of that person as a reflection, like staring into the infinity mirror.
Nicest compliment you got on the record?
My mom said “ You are my pride” when she saw a picture of me in the newspaper.
‘Badlands’ is available on iTunes here