Dave Smallen - "Happiness"


August 6, 2009

Dave was the first out-of-towner I've done that didn't have a suitable place in LA to shoot at, so there was a bit of a giant question mark as to where we'd film this. We thought it'd be cool to do it on the streets somewhere, but that meant finding a place without too much street noise, where the cops wouldn't shut us down, and where there'd be enough available light. And of course, somehow have it be distinctly Los Angeles. Literally the day of, we still hadn't decided on a place.

Dave and my paths have crossed a number of times by one of those strangely coincidental mutual friend things. I first saw him play years ago when I was still in school, as the front-man of Street To Nowhere, which has since disbanded (somewhat along with the Capitol Records / Virgin merge). The Oakland native is now playing under his own name, releasing his latest album one song at a time (as digital downloads with his own artwork attached), and in the process, bouncing around from San Francisco, to New York, and back again. His songs have always had an authenticity to them that's rare in popular music today. It's not just the earnest lyricism, loaded with emblematic autobiographical spells, but it's the way in which they're so delicately woven through the melodies, coercing you into actually listening to the words. Like all the greatest songwriters, Smallen is a storyteller at heart.

Unfortunately, there isn't a better story to how we came about the location. It was just one of those, "of course!" moments when a mental-note in the back of my brain chimed in. I'd driven by the location many times and thought, "hey, that'd be a cool place to do a photo-shoot." And where better than mid-Wilshire in the middle of the night? But seriously, the Chris Burden installation (outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) couldn't have been a more beautiful and perfect location. And thankfully, the security guards were chill with letting us shoot there.

Chris Burden's "Urban Light" sculpture is a permanent installation at LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036

Find out more about Dave Smallen @ myspace.com/davesmallen

Camera: Elliot Glass & Allen Kelley
Sound: Elliot Glass
All Rights Reserved. Member of Ocean

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