West Coast

Album: Ultraviolence (2014)
Charted: 21 17

Songfacts®:

  • This ode to a guy and the western US seaboard was the first cut to be released from Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence album. The singer debuted the track live in an a capella version at The Chelsea in Las Vegas on April 11, 2014 after debating whether to play the song onstage with her band, saying: "Just up to the chorus? No? I'll just sing you a little bit of the verse without the band."

    Del Rey played the full version for the first time at California's Coachella festival two days later.
  • The breathy song was co-written by Del Rey with Rick Nowels with whom she also also penned the Born to Die tracks "Dark Paradise" and "Summertime Sadness." The singer also composed "Young And Beautiful" for the Great Gatsby soundtrack with the San Francisco songwriter.
  • The production was handled by Dan Auerbach. The Black Keys vocalist won the 2013 Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work on his own album plus those of Dr. John and Hacienda.
  • This was recorded live with a band and Del Rey singing. Auerbach told the BBC that she sings live on 99% of Ultraviolence. "There was a seven-piece band playing in the live room and she's in the next room with a handheld microphone singing live," he explained. "It was very different from her first record."
  • The song's music video co-stars the tattooed model Bradley Soileau, who has appeared in several other of Del Rey's clips including the ones for "Born To Die" and "Blue Jeans." Asked by Fader magazine why she has used him so much, Del Rey replied: "I like Brad because I respect him that he's free enough to use his body as a canvas. He has a quote about war written across his forehead. I like that he knew that alienated him from society in a way that he couldn't work regular jobs."

    "He made a conscious decision and manifested it physically that he was going to be on the periphery," she added. "I like what that symbolizes."
  • Born and bred in New York, Del Rey later moved to Koreatown on the edge of Hancock Park in LA. Asked by The Sun about the inspiration for the song, Del Rey replied: "That track is inspired by being here. I just started spending the more and more time here. After touring I would be back in California, which is really unusual because I'd be in New York is so long."

    "Being in Los Angeles is where I felt like the record was starting off," she continued. "It was west coast-driven. Though it actually enhanced my love of New York as well, which was good because I was trying to get that loving feeling back for New York."

    "I was there for ten years and every time I go back I have this nervous felling," Del Rey added. "Being in Los Angeles calmed me down when I was making the record, I felt really good about bringing this east coast flavour into this West Coast sound, having this little amalgamation."
  • Del Rey recalled to Radio.com: "'West Coast' as a demo sounded really different, and I never felt like it got where it was supposed to be until I met Dan Auerbach. I was telling him that I was really interested in…that my heart was in jazz, and my mind and my roots were in jazz and that I wanted to make a record that was sort of this mix of beautiful jazz undertones and a West Coast fusion, kind of inspired by the Eagles and the Beach Boys and this sort of Laurel Canyon revival thing that was happening in the '70s. So I went to Nashville and he reproduced 'West Coast' and yeah, I don't know…I loved it."

    "Dan said that everything on the record, all the songs have this kind of narco-swing," she added. "So whereas the beat and the verses on 'West Coast' were really direct, the chorus naturally slipped into this half-time beat. I just remember everyone at the label being like, 'God, it's getting slower at the chorus?' And we were like, yeah!"
  • The video also co-stars celebrity tattoo artist Mark Mahoney, who appears during the scenes in the convertible. As well as Del Rey, Mahoney has tattooed some of Hollywood's biggest names including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

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