I wasn't exactly surprised when Alex Zhang Hungtai told me that he was done with Dirty Beaches. I'd like to think at least part of his decision was based on conversations he had with me (which I was basing on my experiences watching bands like Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, Cults, Best Coast and Wavves "come up" with varying degrees of success and/or failure) about whether he really wanted to be touring 300 capacity rock clubs in the mid west and south for the next decade plus of his life.
If you don't have some kind of engineered instant success (often paid for with someone else's money) a career in indie music means steady touring, shitty gigs and no certainty of anything approaching financial stability. Personally, I couldn't live that way, and I thought it was a fair question to ask Alex since it was clear that tuesday night shows in Nashville playing for 60 people didn't fill him with utter joy.
I also knew that Alex was frustrated by the very fans that his Dirty Beaches persona attracted. He very, very, very much did not want to be the guy who got yelled at to play "True Blue" by frat brothers. I take a more nuanced view of that situation, but as I tell my criminal clients, "I don't do the time." The decision to abandon the Dirty Beaches act essentially meant the end of Zoo Music so far as I was concerned, the actual end came afterwards, but when you have that flash of lightning and then the lightning decides it doesn't want to be lighting, you don't sit around waiting for another burst. The play is to move on with your life, and if something else happens, so be it.
So that is what I did. And while I've had talks with Alex about possibly running a label with him in a similar fashion to the role I played with Zoo Music, he is very much a free agent, with multiple high level indies having various levels of "interest" in him, so I have no idea how that will end up. Alex Zhang Hungtai is going to continue to make music, as Last Lizard and not as Dirty Beaches.