Lucy Dacus & Jasmin Savoy Brown On Bringing “Night Shift” to Life, 5 Years Later
A conversation between the friends and mutual fans (and now, co-stars).
We should all be thankful that Lucy Dacus is diligent about keeping a journal. It was within those pages that she discovered that this month marks the five-year anniversary of the release of “Night Shift,” her fan-beloved, always showstopping single from 2018’s Historians. Since then, the song has taken on a life of its own — not only does it remain Dacus’s top-played song on Spotify, but it also happens to be the go-to sing-along song for the cast of Yellowjackets — something that Dacus only learned after striking up a friendship with the series’ star Jasmin Savoy Brown on Twitter. When Dacus had the idea to shoot a video for “Night Shift” five years after its release, Brown was the first person she called.
Directed by Jane Schoenbrun, the filmmaker behind 2021’s We Are All Going to the World’s Fair, the video, which premiered on March 8, sees Dacus as a hotel employee who stumbles into a fantastical Halloween party, with Brown cast as a wayward guest. The clip, shot over two days at a remote hotel in the Poconos, also features a blink and you’ll miss them cast of costume-clad cameos, including Phoebe Bridgers, Liza Anne, E.R. Fightmaster, Carmen Maria Machado, Frances Quinlan, and more.
Here, the friends catch up over ZOOM to share how the video came together, exclusively for NYLON.
How are you both?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: Better now.
Lucy Dacus: I'm about to head to New York right after this.
Dacus: Jasmin sent me her promo schedule for this week and it's pages and pages long, down to five-minute increments.
Brown: That's not even everything. That doesn't even include personal stuff. I just got my pap smear for the first time in five years.
Brown: It was important.
Lucy, what brings you to New York?
Dacus: Obviously we're talking about the “Night Shift” video, so we're going to do a premiere of that, but Jasmin won't be there, which is sad. I am going to go see Jasmin walk the red carpet at the Scream premiere. I got my outfit together yesterday. I'm so excited.
How did you guys first meet?
Brown: Well, we were mutual fans, which is so cool. You tweeted about [Yellowjackets] and then I followed you on Instagram.
Dacus: I tweeted, "Yellowjackets is good," and then Jasmin, along with many of the cast, were like, "You don't understand, we all sing ‘Night Shift’ together."
Brown: This is so full circle. “Night Shift” was my most played song of 2021. It's one of my favorite songs of all time. And as the cast of Yellowjackets, we were obsessed. On late overnight shoots, we would sing this song at 2 a.m. together, screaming. So when the Lucy Dacus said, "Yellowjackets is good," we died.
Dacus: Group death. I was just not expecting y'all to come out of the woodwork. And then Jasmin immediately DM'd me and was like, "If you want to hang out, I'm in LA." And then was like, "I have Covid right now, but when I don't have Covid."
Brown: I have no shame, maybe I should have more. But then it was a while until we actually connected. It was at your show outside of London in 2022.
Dacus: I played a church in April of 2022, Jasmin just bought a ticket and showed up.
Brown: With one of my best friends. I was like, "I mean… if you want to play ‘Night Shift.’"
Dacus: I wasn't going to, because it's weird to do solo because it's loud. But I asked everybody in the crowd to sing along and it was actually so beautiful. And with this lofted chapel ceiling, it was like a choir. It was definitely a good idea.
Brown: It was a spiritual moment in my life. Then we just kept meeting up in random cities. We hung out outside of the church. Then was Montreal next?
Dacus: I think it was LA next.
Brown: Oh yeah, LA on that fun night.
Lucy, how did you come up with the idea to release a video for “Night Shift,” five years later?
Dacus: Back when we put the song out, I had the idea. We didn't have money for a music video at the time, or time to make it. I was like, “Maybe I'll get around to it.” Then I didn't think about it for years. I keep a journal and I keep a calendar, and I noticed that it was going to be five years. I was like, "This could be cool." I like making things not as part of a promo schedule. It's a fun thing. People already care about the song.
We first started to think about different directors. I’d heard about Jane and I know that they like working with musicians. Actually, Jasmin had been telling me that she was going to be in some movie, but didn't tell me any of the names involved, and then couldn't be in it for some scheduling reasons. Then I got on this call with Jane, and Jane was talking about an actor that had to leave their movie. Then I put it together that Jasmin and Jane were pining to work together and had missed this opportunity to do so. So I was like, “Why don't we just make this happen?” And then I saw you in Vancouver when I was on tour. We went to dinner and I was like, "Would you want to be in a ‘Night Shift’ music video?" Jasmin screamed, and then I was like, "We're going to have to kiss." And then she put her hand over the table and we shook hands on it, which I thought was good.
Brown: So many stars aligned and it was really so magical that this opportunity came and then there's this epic video out there. But also now I — and I think I can speak for both of us — have a really special new group of friends, a group that's really important to me. Our little group chat name is One Hard Nip. I won't tell you why. We're just going to leave that there. I love my five hard nips.
Dacus: We all hung out. It was a two-day shoot at this love hotel in the Poconos. We all kind of fell in love and stayed up really late after it wrapped and bared our souls. I definitely watched people pair off and hold hands and look each other in the eyes and be like, "You're amazing." People who didn't know each other in the slightest just really connected. This was shot in December and we've already made an effort over the past two months to see each other… We all kind of feel like it was a before and after. I don't know, something really important for our lives and we'll all know each other forever now.
Brown: It's very special. I don't know if you know this, but thanks to your music video, Carmen and I are taking out a podcast that we're pitching.
Dacus: Wow, amazing.
Brown: In fact, if anyone wants to buy a podcast where Carmen Maria Machado and I interview people about sex, call my agent!
Dacus: Carmen's amazing. There were all these other folks in the video that I'm just a fan of. Francis Quinlan plays the lion, but has so much makeup that I feel like you can't tell that it's them. And they were overheating constantly. I was like, "You don't have to do this." And they were like, "No, I'll do it." It was a really go get ‘em atmosphere.
How did you recruit everyone?
Dacus: I asked Jasmin, because that was an important part; everyone else, I was just like, "Are you around?" I texted a bunch of people and asked them to ask their friends to come in costumes. I texted Phoebe really late in the game to be a witch. People just came in from all over. I felt overwhelmed the whole time that people were coming together to do this. I guess people had spent time with the song and it mattered to them, to see that manifesting in this co-creation of something. I mean, I could easily get emotional talking about it. I never dreamed that it would come together like that.
Did you have this Halloween fantasy concept in mind when you first dreamed of the video five years ago?
Dacus: No, I didn't have a concept. I think in my head it was always working at a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Krispy Kreme. I don't know why. With one of those little hats. That's the setting that I had in mind. But this concept is Jane's. They pitched it and I was like, "This is fucking weird and I think we have to do it." Reading the treatment, I was like, "I can't believe that you came up with this. This isn't going to make sense to anybody." But then I was like, "I just trust you to make it beautiful." And they totally did.
Do you think it was easier for you to let someone else's vision drive a song you wrote because it's five years removed at this point?
Dacus: When I'm introducing new work, I want it to be from me, and I've directed all my music videos other than this. But since this already existed, it felt like there was room to play. I don't have to do a world building exercise, which is what I try to do with records.
How was shooting and staying at this love resort in the Poconos?
Dacus: Jane went on a location scouting mission, but when we got there, Carmen for instance, was like, “I've always wanted to come here. I grew up seeing commercials for it.” It’s a kinky, reignite the flame type of place — like heart shaped tubs and champagne glasses.
Brown: Mirrors on the ceiling.
Dacus: Circular beds, saunas. Jasmin and I both had suites that were extremely decked out.
Were people excited to get back into costumes on day two?
Dacus: I think everyone was remarking, "Why does this feel like me? Why am I getting gender euphoria in a flying monkey costume?" And then when we all got out of costume, it was like, "Oh, this is what you really look like." It's when you meet people in a certain light. Maybe that's why it was easy to get to know each other because it was like this you could be anyone feeling.
What were both of your personal best Halloween costumes?
Brown: When I was, like, eight, I was the Walmart happy face. You remember that? I had the little cane and I danced for everybody, and I was like, "Sales!" I was a weird kid.
Dacus: That's really cute. I don't know why, but you doing a little song and dance with a cane kind of makes sense to me. I'm not thinking of my best, but one year I was athletic — like the concept of athleticism — and everyone was freaked out as if it was a scary costume, because I'm not athletic at all. I came in with a racerback tank and leggings and tennis shoes and a towel around my neck and a ponytail. Especially in high school, that was really not who I was. So people freaked out.
Brown: That would be you to do a concept as a costume. That's so musician of you.
Dacus: Annoying, also.
Jasmin, who was the first person to bring up “Night Shift” on the Yellowjackets set?
Brown: Jane [Widdop] who played Laura Lee. I think it was a long car ride to set. And it was like, "Sorry, I just want to belt this song really quick." I don't remember how it came to be, but now there's videos that exist of Jane and I sitting on the window ledge of Sophie Thatcher's apartment in Vancouver, just screaming that song to all who could hear it on the street.
Do they know about the video?
Brown: I told them immediately. I invited all of them because Lucy said, "Invite anyone who wants to come be in the video." But we wrapped for winter break the day before. Right? Didn't I fly out right after work or something?
Dacus: You were filming the day before, yeah.
Brown: So no one could make it.
Dacus: Didn't you FaceTime at dinner? Didn't you try to group FaceTime the whole cast?
Savoy-Brown: Oh, yeah. Did Liv [Hewsen] pick up? Liv usually picks up.
Lucy, are you angling for a cameo on Yellowjackets now?
Dacus: Oh my god, no. I would say the answer is no, I am not angling for a guest spot on Yellowjackets. But I will be watching and I love it. We had talked about me coming to set sometime, but that didn't come to pass.
Are you a horror fan?
Dacus: I would say I really was in high school, then I started to be more horrified of actual life and I didn't really want to take in more terrible images. My nightmares were getting really bad, but now I'm kind of back into it. I just watched X recently and I thought that was good. I do love all the Scream movies. I watched them with my roommates. I watched your Scream movie right after we started talking because we were doing a movie marathon and it timed out that Scream 5 was next. I was like, "Wow. I was DMing with this guy!"
You both have so much promo coming up, between this video, the boygenius record and tour, and Scream and Yellowjackets. How do you prepare for something like that?
Brown: I've gotten into yoga. Right before 2022 ended, I promised myself I would do yoga every day this year, even if it's just five minutes. My crazy six weeks really began this morning, and I overslept by accident. I only had time to do five minutes. But luckily, Yoga with Adriene has a couple five minute yogas. So Adriane is getting me through this press circuit.
Dacus: I wonder if she knows…
Brown: How many lives she's saved? How many celebrities?
Dacus: boygenius is trying to do the least amount of promo as possible so we can save our souls. We're just trying to find ways around that. I'm actually not that worried. Phoebe, Julien, and I are getting good at keeping each other accountable. It's way easier to defend ourselves when we're also defending each other, and how we’re spending our time and our energy. I'm not actually super worried, but I'm also really excited about the record. Jasmin, have you heard it yet? Did I play you the whole thing?
Brown: No, but I’d love to. I have the three songs that you guys released last month on repeat. Send it my way.
On that note, I’m going to let you guys go.
Dacus: I want to say one more tidbit, which is that we only listened to “Night Shift” like a couple of times while we were filming — usually during music video [shoots] you hear it hundreds of times. But Jane put on “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis. So in the end scene where Jasmin and I are kissing, I just think that's playing.
Dacus: Well, Jasmin, bye. I don't know when I'll even have time to talk to you other than this interview. See you on the other side.