The Band Explains: The Bergamot - 'L.A'
The Bergamot chat to us in depth about their thoughtfully crafted cinematic visuals for L.A,, which explores the theme of women’s mental health.
Where was the video for 'L.A' filmed?
Los Angeles, CA and Three Oaks, MI. This project was one part collaboration, one part compilation, and two parts creative ingenuity haha. More on that later.
How does the video connect with the song?
There are many great songs about heading out to L.A., but few about leaving. The video and song captures the energy of a young woman “Elle” departing L.A. away from the glitz of the Hollywood elite and romanticism of the struggling artist.
L.A. as a culture embodies a certain brand of material wealth and ‘social stature’. Selfies taken from poolside luxuries, in expensive cars, majestic landscapes mountains and all painted with one broad stroke. With industries from the morally ambiguous adult film industry to the swarms of T.V. studios. Over the years the city has grown, juxtapose that with the current crisis levels of mental health issues and suicide rates, and the city itself becomes almost haunting.
I think L.A. is an amazing place, don’t get me wrong, but I refuse to accept 100% of what it represents. So I wanted to challenge that space. A space where dreams don’t come true, where people are taken advantage of and treated like a commodity. To look at what is left when it all falls apart.
Jillian: Every time I go to L.A. I sense a great energy between the darkness and light. This push and pull is a product of L.A’s constant comparison culture. This comparison complex has created so many mental health issues which are becoming the focal point of our generation. Being a highly sensitive soul, I can relate. I often feel totally overwhelmed and anxious after being in L.A. for just a few days. As an artist living on the road in this millennia I know how important it is to encourage other women who struggle from anxiety and depression to know they are not alone. And we can learn to overcome this but we must rise together, talk honestly and work to shed light on the truth through songs like L.A.
In a recent Bloomberg article, I had read about how young woman’s suicide rates have begun to spike. The article continues that the spike in suicides has also correlated with a larger portion of relationships moving online. That these impressionable young women are struggling with “The Comparison Trap”. These young and impressionable minds are a sort of “Canary in the Coalmine” for society at large struggling with our new reality - one of less human interaction and more automation. All the while the L.A. elite seem to continue to push a narrative that is actually damaging young women.
There is so much happening at the fringe. I am fascinated by the fringe - issues that society at large tend to ignore - usually until it’s too late. So much is actually happening while people sit around debating how they feel or what laws we need. Young woman are committing suicide, depression is on the rise, insect populations are being wiped out by humans at alarming rates, and the world just moves on. The artist must stop and examine these fringe topics - to the highest degree. Never knowing where it will take you, but pushing forward on the hope that it can spur a meaningful conversation about hard topics in this world.
Our new album “Mayflies” is named after one of the most vulnerable insects on the planet. I think stories like the Mayfly and that of Elle - embody some of the most difficult challenges that our generation faces. Climate change and mental health. L.A. attempts to put someone in the shoes of a young woman struggling with mental health.
Do you have any behind the scenes stories you could share with us?
Before I go in depth on this one, I have to say I am a believer in the fact that the music video is an avenue to explore the songs intention visually. It is a facet of the musical experience for the listener and helps to get people thinking about the deeper meaning. So it is important, but always secondary to the music itself.
So basically, we blew our entire budget making this album. Yet, we wanted to make 8 music videos. Alas, this is where we had to get crafty.
First, music videos are notoriously expensive. Not only that, but I had dreamed up a video depicting a cinematic journey of Elle as she departs L.A. in line with the production of the song. However, money is extremely tight right now and we don’t have much budget for any production more or less a big cinematic one.
Over the last few years I have been teaching myself Adobe Premiere and other software suites for making music videos. Solely for the purpose of creating 8 music videos this year to accompany every single from our new album - produced by Matt Wiggnins.
For the L.A. treatment I started doing research and I discovered a site called FILMSUPPLY and started looking into some of their FREE footage for joining. I discovered some footage that really had the vibe of what I was hoping to capture in the L.A. video and starting putting some pieces together.
For every email address, you got 3 free videos from the site. So I had our entire label - and any other willing/additional email sign ups, and get 3 free videos. This helped to create the baseline of the video by establishing a character “Elle” in her condo as she is contemplating leaving.
I was worried that FILMSUPPLY was not going to let us use the footage - at least in the manner that we had done it. So I contacted them directly. I told them our story, and of our copious amounts of debt we have as a band, and they agreed to let us use the footage. We were at a show in West Virginia and we all danced around the hotel room. We did it! We never could have done this without them. We were so thankful!
However, the intial free cuts were not quite enough to tell Elle’s story. At the time we were staying at an apartment in Three Oaks, MI about an hour outside of Chicago. We had hit a stall in the storyline for the video and had to imagine what the end of the video needed. The main issue - we were in Michigan and the video is shot in L.A. so I grabbed our camera on a summery midwestern day and Jillian filled in as an actress for the final scenes depicting Elle’s final departure. I love how you can create some magic with music video’s. But shhhh…. It’s our secret!
So this video is Jillian’s debut as an actress! Can you find her?
Could you tell us about the ideas/ themes/ imagery used?
The video opens with a young woman sitting alone on a dock at daybreak. The brooding and contemplative feel of both the song and the video at the opening is contrasted with the lush Hollywood sign and the skyscrapers of downtown L.A. This juxtaposition depicts a dark undercurrent to the Los Angeles idealism. Somewhere between the lavish lifestyles of the wealthy and the romantic minimalism of the struggling artist, there is a story of just someone in the middle. Lost on their life journey and leaving a city that no longer represents opportunity but rather a burden on someone’s mental health.
Is there a message the video is trying to convey?
By seeing someone else struggling with their own mental health, I hope that people, and young women in particular, can see that they are not alone on their journey. It is O.K. to not be O.K. I hope this video can start a conversation about how people are feeling mentally. Our full on digital migration as a culture has had some strains on the human psyche and relationships. In the end, we only have each other.
What do you hope people take away from watching the video?
Art and music is the beginning. Burrowing into places where others are afraid to go, can’t go, or don’t won’t to go. As an artist I go there to start a conversation. A conversation that can hopefully help people begin a meaningful discussion about the future. I hope this video will give people a sense of empathy for those who are struggling through difficulties we never imagined when the internet and social media was invented. We created this and we must participate in finding the solution - one person at a time.
Interview feature by Karla Harris