Erm so Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die album shoot was done in Watford?
My whole life has been a lie
When Lana Del Rey dropped her debut album Born To Die back in 2012, she was selling the world the American dream. The record was a soaring blend of hip hop beats, vintage orchestras, film noir and sleazy Hollywood glamour and the whole LP radiated stars and stripes.
Skip to 2021 and we get a plot twist. It’s come to the attention of the internet that a major chunk of that Americana was created in… Watford.
The fact that this iconic photoshoot for Born To Die was not done in Los Angeles but at a random bungalow in Watford, England pic.twitter.com/b5aVNw1JFz
— Todd (@ToddR_) May 6, 2021
After the above tweet started to gain traction, it piqued the interest of a TikTokker who decided he had to drive to Watford and investigate to find out if the iconic pictures really did hail from the town – hardly the typical location for a major label recording artist’s debut album pictures to be shot in.
@itskieranarmitageI VISITED LANA DEL REYS BORN TO DIE HOUSE😄 #new #lanadelrey #borntodie #house #foryou #fyp #chemtrailsoverthecountryclub #lanacult♬ Video Games – Remastered 2012 – Lana Del Rey
Kieran Armitage tracked the bungalow down and did a side by side comparison with the house and the picture on his phone and proved the tweet true – and even got a glimpse through the window at the retro furnishings that matched up with another picture of Lana inside.
No one was home when Kieran tried to ring the doorbell, but luckily for fans he went back to the house to try again, resulting in a part two that revealed even more info:
@itskieranarmitageReply to @chriscomumh PART 3 COMING – I WENT TO THE LANA DEL REY BORN TO DIE HOUSE🤠 ##new ##fyp ##GARNIERMASKMOMENT ##lanadelrey ##borntodie ##foryou♬ original sound – kieran
This time, Kieran got to speak to the owner of the house who showed him the vintage green truck Lana poses with in the shoot still in her garage today, and showed him the exact moments of where Lana stood back in 2011.
As well as this, the owner gave him Lana Del Rey’s retro sunglasses, now broken in half, as a keepsake. She also spilled that Lana allegedly performed for the whole crew.
Before Lana’s breakthrough hit Video Games blew up, she had made several music videos on YouTube, including ones for Video Games, Born To Die and Blue Jeans. All of these future Born To Die era singles got new, big budget music videos after Del Rey’s fame skyrocketed, but the original versions still can be found online. The owner of the house shared that Lana shot scenes for the Blue Jeans original video outside the Watford house and inside her truck.
In a part three that delves deeper into Lana’s creative vision for the cover, Kieran expresses his wish that the owner of the house be treated respectfully if other fans also want to make the pilgrimage to the bungalow and that people don’t pester her and respect her privacy.
@itskieranarmitageReply to @santisworldtour PART 3 – I WENT TO THE LANA DEL REY BORN TO DIE HOUSE🤠 ##new ##fyp ##GARNIERMASKMOMENT ##lanadelrey ##borntodie ##foryou ##lana♬ original sound – kieran
Okay, but… why the hell was Lana Del Rey in Watford?
Well, that’s the mystery. Nobody really knows. She moved in with her then manager Ben Mawson in London in 2010 after the release of her record Lana Del Ray AKA Lizzy Grant – an album that was pulled from shops once she signed with a major label to release Born To Die as her first big debut LP. Lana Del Rey has said she then lived in London for a few years, and the photographer she worked with on the shoot, Nicole Nodland, is London based. There’s a gallery of pictures Nodland took of Lana in Watford over on Lana’s wiki.
Born To Die is an era defining album that’s been the go to coming of age record for so many of our generation and really ushered in a new age of female lead alternative pop, such as Lorde and Billie Eilish. Speaking as a huge and lifelong Lana Del Rey fan, being from the UK and learning that the cover of an album that important to you and so many of your peers was taken here feels strangely emotional – and makes you feel that bit closer to an artist who’s talent and iconography usually feels so many miles away.
But, still… WATFORD!?
TikTok footage courtesy of @itskieranarmitage
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