L.A. Plays Itself / YACHT / YACHT & David Lawrence / 2015
Jona Bechtolt: We’ve lived in Los Angeles for about four years, and after living here for a few months, we started noticing production signs all around town for different filming locations. And it was so interesting that they were uniform, that every single sign was exactly the same no matter what part of town you were in.
It came to us initially as an idea to do a text-based poem using location signs. But we got this opportunity to take over the Getty for their Friday Flights series, and we were like, “Oh, that’s perfect. Let’s do this.” It was a weird joining of forces. Our album was completed around the time that we got the Getty offer, so then we thought, “This should be for one of the songs, a song that we wrote about Los Angeles.” It made perfect sense. The stars aligned and the idea was born for it to be the lyrics of the song.
Claire L. Evans: Also, we learned about what those signs were all about from the documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself.” It made a lot of sense to us. One of the things that we really love about living in Los Angeles you have access to the means of production more than in other cities, at least in our experience. So when you see something like those signs, it’s like a mystery that you can get to the bottom of, and because they’re so uniform, we realized they all must come from the same place.
One thing we find so fascinating about this city is how self-referential it is and how, when you live here, you’re totally surrounded by all these visions of the city’s presentation throughout history in film. Even if you’re new here, there’s still something familiar about it because of the light, because of the color of the sidewalks, the things that you have collectively experienced through the entire history of film and television. It’s comforting and alienating at the same time.
We wanted to something with “L.A. Plays Itself” that would speak to what the song was about and would be a direct connection to the city of Los Angeles. We wanted L.A., the city, to play the song, literally, so we decided to tie it to traffic patterns. Uber has a public API that — essentially it’s not about Uber for us as much as Uber’s API being a really good metric for traffic in L.A. By bonding it to that, then we allow Los Angeles traffic patterns to literally play the song for viewers, and for us that’s a nice way of connecting the city to the music that inspired it. ➡︎
As much as 80% of those bright yellow signs are manufactured in Los Angeles by JCL Barricade Co., which has offered the signs since 2001.
Before that, it was common for location managers to make their own signs, sometimes by stealing L.A. city "No Parking" signs, flipping them over and writing their production names on the back, JCL Barricade owner Jim Morris said.
"Everything used to look really sloppy," he said. ➡︎