Dezeen Music Project: in the first of a new series of stories about music videos, creative duo Joe Stevens and Nicolas Randall discuss their movie featuring a group of street dancers spinning signs to the beat of Daft Punk's new single, Lose Yourself to Dance (+ movie + interview).
Stevens and Randall, co-directors of Los Angeles firm Randall Stevens Industries, filmed a group of dancers that gather once a week at a suburban Los Angeles park in North Hollywood to dance whilst spinning and flipping advertising signs.
The final video, called Daft Signz, features four male dancers performing dance tricks using boards that have the words Lose Yourself to Dance written on them.
Photography by Nicolas Randall and Joe Stevens.
Here's the full interview:
Kate Andrews: Tell us about the project.
Joe Stevens: Nic had recently moved to Los Angeles so things which Angelinos [native or inhabitant of Los Angeles] often come to ignore, or carry jaded perceptions towards, still held for him that magical air of possibility. That’s a pretty great state of mind to be in - to see a place with fresh eyes. Nic remarked a couple times about sign guys and the uniqueness of this sort of low-end roadside human advertising.
It's a profession with so little respect that it’s become an off-the-rack punchline for sitcom writers. Originally we had a few ideas for incorporating song lyrics in ways which were typographically appropriate to the various classic sign genres.
Then one day Nic and I drove up to North Hollywood and met the guys you see in the Daft Signz film. From the minute we saw them it was a no brainer. These guys aren’t a punchline. They’re the best in the world at what they do. They’re true artists.
Kate Andrews: Can you tell us more about sign spinning?
Joe Stevens: Guys holding ads on street corners is part of the wonderful visual litter that is LA. But for the most part it’s not something you’d call challenging or imaginative. It's usually just a guy holding a sign.
But there is a small crew of devotees who have elevated this job to an incredible form of creative expression. Pulling in influences from freestyle skate, kung fu, b-boy routines, street performer acrobatics and more. If you are driving through LA and are lucky enough to see somebody rocking it at this level, you will for sure stop and stare. It's absolutely mind-blowing.
Kate Andrews: How did the Daft Punk music video come about?
Joe Stevens: In the US these days the budgets for music videos are so low, and few are actually made anyhow. The economics are problematic, yet a great music video can still create a massive impact.
Meanwhile you have these incredibly artistic and professionally produced efforts where the artist and record company sometimes weren’t even involved, or involved in a very limited capacity. They get shared around. They turn people on to the music. Maybe it’s a new paradigm.
Kate Andrews: Will you be producing more films like this?
Joe Stevens: We're always on the lookout for projects involving youth subcultures and music. Opportunities to celebrate young people doing something creative and unexpected. And ways to bring these stories to the world with a unique visual sensibility. Expressionistic documentary filmmaking.
Our previous film profiled a crew of Trinidadian teens who jerry-rig massive stereo PA systems onto rusty old BMX bikes and prowl the streets of Queens. I can’t tell you what the next thing will be. But we have fun making this stuff and hope you enjoy watching it.