Ezra Michael Koenig (born April 8, 1984) is an American musician, singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Vampire Weekend.
Koenig was born in New York City, New York, the son of Bobby Bass, a psychotherapist, and Robin Koenig, a set dresser on film and TV productions. His parents lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan before moving to Glen Ridge, New Jersey. His family is Jewish, and came to the U.S. from Europe (including Romania and Hungary); Koenig had a Bar Mitzvah. 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 "F*CK! i'm in my twenties". He began writing music around the age of ten or eleven, and his first song ever was titled "Bad Birthday Party". Koenig attended Columbia University where he majored in English.
Prior to forming Vampire Weekend, he was involved in numerous musical projects with Wes Miles, a childhood friend and current frontman of Ra Ra Riot, along with friends Dan Millar and Andrei Padlowski. Koenig and Miles' experimental band, The Sophisticuffs, has been described as "wildly inventive musical work". Later, Koenig formed the "serious" rap band L'Homme Run with Andrew Kalaidjian and fellow band member Chris Tomson, played saxophone for the indie rock band Dirty Projectors, worked as an intern for The Walkmen, and was an eighth-grade English teacher in Junior High School 258 in Brooklyn, New York. In the fall of 2007, a deal with XL Recordings cut short Koenig's teaching career.
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.
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 brief 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 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.
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 movie Her.