The new video for Lil Yachty's "1 Night" didn't necessarily break the internet, but it did perfectly distill it. Featuring an impressive number of memes, enumerable GIF-able moments, cute animals, and a cast of familiar faces plucked of Vine and Instagram, it seemingly arrived ready to go viral.
The video the brainchild of Josh "Glassface" Goldenberg and Rahil Ashruff, who together make up the production company Goldrush. Friends since high school, they've made similarly out-there videos for OG Maco, Rome Fortune, Tunji Ige, and Ab-Soul, with Ashruff acting as producer and Goldenberg handling the editing and FX.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Goldenberg told The FADER that this project began with a tweet. "Yachty got in touch with us," he recalled. "He sent us a tweet saying he wanted to do a video with us, and then I think a month went by. After a month of not talking about it, I reached out to Coach and was like, 'We have to shoot this video ASAP.' Then I think it happened a week or two later. The whole process was pretty fast."
In all, it took one day of shooting—half spent on a boat, on a chilly early spring day; and the other half spent in front of a green screen with a wardrobe rack of nautical attire and accessories to play with—two weeks of editing, some heavy Google Image searching, and minimal back and forth with Yachty and co.
Below, Goldenberg and Ashruff describe their valiant attempts to make the most viral-ready video ever, explain how many memes is too many, and reveal that there was a puppy cast but cut from the final product.
How did you come up with the idea for the video?
Josh Goldenberg: We initially had a slightly different idea—basically, Rahil heard the song and he felt the video needed to have a karaoke vibe to it—and then saw how viral Yachty was, so I suggested we make very meme-able, GIF-able material. It seemed like shooting in front of a green screen, just getting shots of Yachty having fun, would be very shareable content for people to see.
Rahil Ashruff: The karaoke element is there—it's kind of ambiguous, but it's supposed to be kind of like a karaoke screen, but a futuristic one—but it's more about being a piece of digital media for people to share than being a full, fleshed out concept.
What did Yachty think?
Josh: He loved it. He had seen a few other videos we had done—OG Maco[’s “U Guessed It”], Rome Fortune's "Four Seasons," that's one of his favorite videos. So once he saw the treatment, he was really into it. I don't think he had any changes, really.
[The video for Jay Z’s] “Big Pimpin’” was one reference I sent to them. We were initially going to have Yachty drinking champagne and pouring champagne for the girls on the boat, but Coach was like, “He's 18 years old.”
Where did you get the boat?
Rahil: It's hard to rent a boat in New York! What I learned is that boats don't really go out until April 1, and we shot the video before April, so that was tough.
Josh: The boat captain called us when we were on the way to shooting and was like, “Is there anyway we can shoot tomorrow? The water is super choppy, we might tip over.” But Rahil had a flight the next day, so we only had one day and we had to shoot it.
Rahil: That was the first time we met Yachty face to face. He was freezing—oh my god, it was so cold.
Josh: My actual very first interaction, when I met him on the shoot, he was like, "Yo, I remember when I reached out to you guys when I was in high school." And I was like, "Wasn't that like two months ago."
There are a lot of familiar faces in this video—
Rahil: Shabazz is the person who put us in touch with all these girls, so she should get the credit for helping us out with the talent.
Josh: There's Vine people, like Lean and Cuisine, but then there's also SoHo fashion kids and there's definitely a lot of internet people in it. Yachty is friends with a lot of those people, but I think it was also definitely expressed that we were trying to make something that would kind of go viral and that people would want to share. Incorporating a lot of cameos, you are going to get a lot of people in the video who are going to share clips of the video, so it definitely made sense.
Staring down the green screen, how do you decide where to start? What to add?
Josh: It was pretty daunting, because there were so many moments. But once I got into it, it took me two weeks to edit and add all the visual stuff. I did it in layers: I did a cut in just pure green screen with no background, then I created some different layers to put into the backgrounds, then I did an additional overlay—I kept adding layers to it as I went, and it just kind of came together.
Rahil: [We did] a lot of Google image searching to find the right images.
Josh: Honestly, I'm not super tuned into memes so I asked a lot of people about what they thought would be funny in this video. The only thing Yachty specifically asked me to add was—there's a shot of this guy doing like a super fast dab. He's a bigger guy, he has red sunglasses on and a polo shirt, and he does a hyper fast dab. He texted me specifically to add that shot: "Just make sure to include him doing that super fast dab." And I was like, "Alright, I got you." But aside from that, they basically just let us do whatever.
Was there anything you added, and then decided it was too much?
Josh: We went through certain memes that didn't make it into the final cut. We had a Barack Obama one that I thought was hilarious, for when he says, Baby, I got shit to do, and it was [set to a picture of] Obama on the phone. They weren't into it. I made a Jesus meme, for when he says, You'll be calling out to Christ, but that didn't seem right. I'm not even going to talk about the Cosby one.
Rahil: There was some slight hesitation with the Jay Z one, but I think we all loved it. And then when Yachty saw it, he loved it too.
Josh: And it's all in good fun. Yachty is a positive artist, so even including stuff like that, I think people perceive it in the right way. He's not trying to say anything negative towards anybody, he's just kind of including Jay Z in the video, not calling him out or anything.
Where did you find that Kitten?
Rahil: The kitten, that's Craigslist; you can find anything on Craigslist. It was adorable, we gave it to Yachty.
Josh: The idea was, obviously kitten videos are the most watched thing on YouTube, so by incorporating an adorable kitten—we also had a puppy that didn't really get much play in this video—but just incorporating cute animals, we wanted to hit every possible aspect. Fire on all cylinders.
So the goal was to make the most shareable video maybe ever.
Josh: I don't know if we want to expressly state that, but it pretty much was. Entertaining and re-playable video is probably a better way to put it, because saying you want to make a "shareable" video doesn't sound very organic.
Rahil: We definitely put a lot of thought into this, but the goal was just entertainment overall.