18 Things to Know About Jewish Musician Ezra Koenig

The Vampire Weekend frontman once had a cameo in an episode of "Girls."

If you were on Tumblr at any time during the 2010s, you know Ezra Koenig. Vampire Weekend concert clips, Ezra Koenig fan edits and fanfic and gifs, and tag yourself memes with lyrics that Ezra wrote proliferated on the site. There was simply not a place on the blog site, or the internet as a whole, where you wouldn’t hear about the dark-haired, witty and weird, Jewish Vampire Weekend frontman.

Of course, Tumblr is dead now. (Long live Tumblr.) But people are still talking about Ezra Koenig, especially now that Vampire Weekend will release it’s first album in three years in 2024.

In honor of this momentous occasion, here are 18 things to know about Ezra Koenig.

1. He was born on April 8, 1984 in New York City to a Jewish family.

2. Ezra means “help” in Hebrew.

3. He has a younger sister named Emma. In 2015, she was a guest on his radio show “Time Crisis” and they listened to a cassette tape from their childhood. They almost immediately get into talking about their childhood, but the tape starts around the 2:40 mark.

OK, adorable.

4. In 1986, Ezra had a very extreme reaction to not getting an advent calendar.

5. Ezra grew up in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

“He was one of the only Jewish kids at his school, a fact that caused him no shortage of angst. (Koenig still remembers throwing a fit in first grade when his teacher made the class color pictures of the Easter Bunny.),” Josh Eels wrote for Rolling Stone.

6. He had a bar mitzvah! But he was too embarrassed to invite any friends.

“Fine, we can have a party,” Ezra apparently told his parents. “You can invite, like, Grandma.”

7. He was an English and Creative Writing major at Columbia University, where he met his fellow Vampire Weekend bandmates. This is what he looked like throughout the years:

Ezra Koenig
@arze on Instagram, Pinterest

8. Presented with no commentary, please enjoy “Pizza Party“:

9. After college, Ezra was an 8th grade English teacher.

“It was kind of bewildering, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was 23, which is, you know, certainly a lot older than an eighth grader. But then, in retrospect, sometimes the kids would roast me,” he said in an interview.

10. Vampire Weekend released its debut, self-titled album in 2008.

“Already one of the most talked-about and divisive records of the year, Vampire Weekend’s Afropop- and preppy-inflected debut is simple, jaunty, homespun, and — like the early albums from fellow fast-risers Belle and Sebastian and the Strokes were on their release — one of the most refreshing and replayable indie records in recent years,” Pitchfork reviewer Nitsuh Abebe wrote at the time, giving the album a rating of 8.8/10.

11. He wrote perhaps one of the greatest tweets of all time in 2013.

12. Vampire Weekend’s second album “Contra” came out in 2010. In the song “Horchata” Ezra makes a Jewish reference singing, “In December, drinking horchata, you’d still enjoy it with your foot on Masada.”

13. He once had a cameo in an episode of “Girls.”

14. There is speculation that Ezra Koenig dated writer and actor Tavi Gevinson for a period of time when he was 30 and she was 18. Though she never names him, some think Tavi wrote about Ezra in this article for The Cut. (Trigger warning for mentions of rape and sexual abuse.)

Ezra has been in a relationship with Rashida Jones since around 2015. They have a son, Isaiah, born in 2018.

15. “Modern Vampires of the City,” Vampire Weekend’s third album came out in 2013. “MVOTC” has explicitly Jewish religious themes, including in the song “Ya Hey.”

“It’s a song about God. Over hand claps and plinking pianos, Koenig seems to address God directly, wondering why, if he’s there, he doesn’t reveal himself,” Forrest Wickman wrote for Slate. “‘Through the fire and through the flames,’ he sings on the chorus, referring to the burning bush through which God shows himself to Moses in the Bible, ‘You won’t even say your name/ Only ‘I am that I am.’ The title of the song, too, seems to pun on that enigmatic Hebrew name for God (of which ‘I am that I am’ is a translation).

16. Listen to him break down his most iconic songs, including one he contributed to for Beyoncé:

17. Ezra and fellow Jew Danielle Haim sing duets on multiple tracks of “Father of the Bride,” Vampire Weekend’s fourth album.

18. Vampire Weekend’s fifth album is called “Only God Was Above Us” and seems like it might have some religious themes.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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