Downward-facing dog: Whole Foods Rapper talks about “Yoga Girl”
Inspiration has a funny way of finding Dave Wittman.
After turning a trip to the grocery store into one of this summer's biggest YouTube hits, the “Whole Foods Parking Lot” rapper spotted his next subject—“Yoga Girl”—while at work at Santa Monica production company Elias Arts.
“I consider myself to be near the epicenter of the west side yoga scene and culture because of the foot traffic,” surmised Wittman, a 37-year-old professional composer and amateur rapper. “You see these over-caffeinated, luxury car-driving people swerving into the parking lot and cut you off. Then they walk into class. Just like with Whole Foods, there was a lot of ridiculousness to point out.”
Uploaded on Nov. 27, “Yoga Girl” approaches its subject with a creepy glare, a knowing wink, and a nod to late 1980s hip-hop, specifically LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” The video has already garnered more than 200,000 views, and perhaps more telling, according to Wittman, roughly 50,000 shares on Facebook.
“I think he sums up American yoga pretty well,” posted @ElenineProductions in a top comment on YouTube. “He satirizes the lecherous dudes hitting on yoga girls as well as the self-righteous, over-sexualized ‘yoga hotties’.”
The true secret to Wittman’s success lies in his production company Fog & Smog, an entertainment collective that also features DJ Spider, film editor Jake Pushinsky (J-Pusha), MC “Barney Kook,” better known as George Wooley, an executive producer at Yahoo.
The Daily Dot recently caught up with Wittman and Woolley to talk Whole Foods, their recent Hyundai commercial, and why YouTube represents the Wild West.
Daily Dot: How has life changed since “Whole Foods Parking Lot?”
David Wittman: The most notable change is that my fiancé, who is now my wife, has had enough of my looking at the computer in bed. That’s been officially nixed: No more laptop in bed. That’s the most profound change. We all do these various endeavors for a living [in the entertainment industry]. It’s been a really fun and novel thing for all of us to see the response and to see the communities respond to it. But we haven’t quit our jobs and moved into a condo together or anything.
DD: Given how many commercials you’ve scored, what was like for you to be working on the other side of one with Hyundai?
DW: It was a completely different experience. They’re coming to me for the creative direction based on the persona, as opposed to a post-production score.
DD: You really took your time in releasing a new video. Were you worried about a sophomore slump?
George Wooley: To be honest, we did have second single syndrome for a while. We had some cool ideas but chose this direction because it’s a little bit different, thematically and stylistically. … Part of the original inspiration came out of a line from “Whole Foods”: “Some girl in yoga pants is looking at me funny; I’m just trying to find a decent pinot noir for under 20.” That seemed like a whole other part of this west side culture that we could focus on and extrapolate into a more universal, American yoga experience.
DD: Going into it, what sort of expectations did you have?
DW: I think we knew going into it that it wasn’t going to as ubiquitous as “Whole Foods.” We were hopeful the yoga community would respond well to it because it is in good taste. It hasn’t gotten as many clicks in the first week as "Whole Foods," but it’s been received favorably, even by real serious yoga practitioners. Hopefully we can continue to build a brand as a production company, a comedy group, and as a think tank.
DD: Last time we talked you said that you didn’t consider yourself a rapper. Are you practicing now?
DW: Absolutely not. If anything, I’m getting worse.
DD: Have you been invited to be in the YouTube Partner program?
DW: We have. We’ve discussed it. We’ve also been hit up by tons of different people that curate channels and say that we’ll split 50/50 get us higher CTMs and all these terms and things I’m learning about. The questions is do you want your fans, these people that are enjoying your music, to have to sit through an ad? I personally hate that.
GW: What doesn’t appeal as much about the YouTube Partner program is that tendency towards click-twitch, fast create a bit of a disconnect. Hopefully there’s a happy medium there.
DW: We’re still figuring it out. We’re really trying to keep the having fun part at the forefront of our motivation. That takes energy and effort to do that. There’s no real telling where this could lead. What if we came up with some sort of variety show or own online network? We’re all super fascinated by this emerging forum. It’s like the Wild West, how people make money with content these days.
DD: What advice would you give to aspiring YouTubers?
DW: I’d still consider us to be aspiring YouTubers! Don’t try to think in terms of what’s going to be popular. ‘It needs a cat’ or whatever. Too often people start trying to reverse-engineer things that have worked.
GW: It seems really obvious—but if you’re trying to go out there and do something cool, make sure you think it’s cool first. Then go forth.