Behind The Scenes Of Our Favorite Lady Bird Scene

Photo Courtesy of A24.
Close your eyes, and imagine you're inside a scene from Greta Gerwig's Oscar-nominated movie, Lady Bird. It's Thanksgiving break and you're with your sorta-boyfriend, your best friend, and a random kid from theater class. You all meet up to smoke (bad) weed, and then go to a concert at New Helvetia Coffee Shop, high for the first time. It starts. You're giddy. You're wearing a beanie. You're Lady Bird-ing it up! And then you see him. Him! That kid from Xavier with the floppy hair and permanent grimace. He's playing the bass with his band, L’Enfance Nue, and looking more nonchalant than ever. You aggressively bob your head — you know you're in trouble.
That right there is one of my favorite scenes in Lady Bird. I think about it a lot — almost as much as I think about Lady Bird's mom, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), breathlessly giggling, "It makes me laugh!" while handing her husband (Tracy Letts) the cheesiest Christmas gift. It's perfect. And I needed to know more about this playful scene and how the fictional band L’Enfance Nue came to life. To do that, I spoke to Adam Brock, the 29-year-old musician and composer who was called on to join the film at the very last minute. Brock, who admits he was unfamiliar with Gerwig's films, accepted the challenge and ended up creating an instant classic: "Fred Astaire."
I called Brock to hear the backstory behind my favorite song and ringtone (kidding — no one has ringtones in 2018, but mark my words this would be mine), and what it was like to be part of Lady Bird's crew, even if only for a day.
Refinery29: How did you first get involved in Lady Bird?
"I work for a company that mainly does music for commercials and my boss, who also works in music supervision, did the music for Frances Ha. She recommended me for this job and it was kind of a last minute thing because they needed a song for that scene. They had somebody lined up, and it didn’t really work out so it was a very quick turnaround and I was kinda scrambling. My boss recommended that I try to write something for it."
You said that it was a bit of a scramble. What was the timeline that you were working with to make this song?
"Well, first they were thinking about using a song from a band that I played with, but they wanted it to be rerecorded to fit that scene, so my bandmate and I decided that it wasn’t in our best interest [to do that]. So then they were like 'Well, can you write a song?' So I wrote one. They needed it the next day so I kind of wrote it that night, and sent it over the next day. It actually went pretty smoothly and everyone was happy with it. It was a rare and nice experience, having things go as planned."
Were you given any resources or materials or anything from the script to show you what they wanted?
"They described the scene a little bit, and told me it was a period piece, which is funny to think about now that the ‘90s are history. They told me they wanted something that made sense for high school kids to be playing in a coffee house at that time. They also told me that one of the stars, Kyle, who Timothée [Chalamet] plays, is kind of this cool badass rockstar so they wanted something with a little teenage angst. Other than that I didn’t have much information, but that was enough for me to get what they wanted."
Did you have a song or two in mind when you were writing it?
"I revisited Weezer and Nirvana for some '90s guitar rock inspiration, and other stuff that I liked when I was in high school."
Were you in a band like that growing up?
"Yeah I was. Bands kind of cycle through different styles that they are interested in, but that was definitely one of the phases of my middle school-slash-high school rock band — that kind of alternative rock sound. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane and revisit that material."
How old are you?
So you weren’t that age in 2001-2002 — you were younger than that.
"Yeah, that was Greta’s high school time period. But [I listened to] that style of music, starting with the grunge stuff and moving through the more ‘90s alternative pop rock."
What was the reaction [on set] when you first played the song? Were you guys playing it live in that scene?
"No. I recorded it in Portland, where I was living at the time, and had a friend play drums on it. They did have an idea of the instrumentation in the scene, so I tailored it to for that. I mixed it to make it sound like it was being played in a crappy café [laughs]. But then when they shot the scene, they played it over speakers and we just pantomimed. The other fun part of the job was teaching these wonderful actors, who had never picked up a bass or played keyboards, how to convincingly fake perform on them."
How long did it take to teach them that? I feel like that’s a fun thing to pretend to be doing.
"It was really fun and then you realize their job is to convincingly portray things that sometimes are not what they would normally do. I mean — you saw the scene — they really look like they know what they are doing, maybe better than me. I was just on set for the day, so we had a couple hours to run through stuff, like showing them how to hypothetically make a sound on the bass, and here's who you would hold it."
Was there any backstory for the band? Did you make the band name for it?
"There is a name. It’s 'Naked Babies' in French — and that was Timothée's idea — L’Enfance Nue."

They told me it was a period piece, which is funny to think about now that the ‘90s are history.

Timothée made it up?
"Maybe it was an inside joke, but I had no idea about that [before I got there]. I just showed up and they had posters and that was our name."
The song mentions Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers — is that an inside joke, too? Or do you just love Old Hollywood? Or were you imagining that was the kind of pretentious stuff they [the characters] would have been into?
"That’s a good question. That was all me and I don’t where it came from."
You were just inspired at the time.
"Yeah, I don’t really know. Songwriting is always funny, and sometimes you have a pretty focused idea, and other times stuff pops up and you follow a little trail. I didn’t really know anything about Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, but then I did a little research on them and they had a pretty cool story. That was interesting to model a love song after."
I know you were only there for an afternoon, but did you have any idea that this movie would become this big, and you would have a pretty significant part in an Oscar-nominated movie?
"I don’t know if it’s significant…"
It’s kind of an iconic scene.
"I feel really lucky and honored. I am not an actor, so it is not something I have pursued, but if you’re going to be in 30 seconds in a movie, it might as well be a really cool Oscar-nominated one. But I guess I honestly didn’t really know Greta’s work, but since then I have become a big fan. I think people who were involved knew that she was doing great stuff. I think everybody might be a little surprised at how well it has been received."
After seeing it, do you relate to one of the characters the most? Are you a Kyle, Danny, Jonah, or... you?
"I’d probably be me. I thought Kyle kinda got a bad rep. At least he was pretty upfront about everything it feels like… but I thought they were all great."
Yeah there really were no villains, but I guess Kyle was the most…
"How many times have you seen it?"
I have seen it four or fives times, I think.
"Whoa. A few people have emailed me and said, 'Yeah I’ve seen it like six times.' That is really cool that it is catching on."