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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Viral video created by UCD law students sparks pride in community

It looks like the small town of Davis has a new anthem. It’s reminiscent of a song you’ve heard before – but without references to giving “Knicks and Nets high fives” or being the “city that never sleeps.” And despite the absence of large gleaming city lights, it’s all about the subtleties in living with a Davis state on mind.

With over 50,000 views on YouTube, 18,000-shared links on Facebook and appearing on multiple news sources, the music video parody “Davis State of Mind” has created quite a buzz.

Alex Pacheco, a graduating student at UC Davis School of Law, came up with the idea of creating the video for the school’s annual talent show.

“I really like performing and I hadn’t done anything for Cardozorama, although each year I wanted to,” Pacheco said. “This year was my last chance to make it happen. I figured the best way to do it was to do a parody video and [Alicia Keys’ and Jay-Z’s] ‘Empire State of Mind’ naturally came to mind.”

Pacheco teamed up with fellow UCD School of Law students Daniel Watts and Steve Stratton to create the recording and basic concept for the video. In addition to writing and rapping the lyrics, Pacheco played the piano line for the track. Pacheco joined Stratton in the recording studio to layer the complete track with drums, bass and backing vocals. Singer Jennifer Coombs provided the vocals on the chorus line.

“We ended up doing it all in one night. I went there in the middle of the week and we took the general track,” Pacheco said. “I talked to my friend Steve Stratton who did all of the production for it. So all of the audio took one night and the next day we came in and mastered it all in one session. I was really surprised.”

The production process was relatively rapid – the video took just one day to film. With the help and a cameo from law professor Edward Imwinkelried and student volunteers, the video captures the essence of the community, specifically the law school community, in Davis.

“I think some people got very defensive about the song,” Pacheco said. “What they don’t understand is that law school aspect of it. Law school is a very insular community; we all know each other to the point where everyone is in everyone’s business. There’s a large element in law school like cabin fever, I guess you can call it.”

But undeniably, the video has expanded past the law school community.

The video pokes fun at Davis with lyrics like “middle class in the middle of nowhere.” The video features clips of various attractions associated specifically with Davis, such as Cafe Bernardo’s infamous ‘Wiki,’ Robert Arneson’s Eggheads and Unitrans double-decker buses.

Despite the references to Davis’ small-town nature, the video has sparked a profound sense of pride in students and has been well-received by the community overall.

“I think it’s popular because it’s fun and it speaks to all the different memories many people have of Davis,” Coombs said. “Of course we’ve been really flattered by all the positive feedback, but it is also really incredible to be part of something that is bonding the community in a positive way. A bond that has continued, and will continue well past the college years.”

There is little doubt that the video has been one of the more memorable things to hit Davis in a while. On a national scale, “Davis State of Mind” was entered into Above the Law’s national video contest and placed second behind Boston University of Law.

“The fact that this video is considered a success proves that Davis really is one-of-a-kind,” Watts said. “Only in Davis would a video with 30,000 views be considered ‘viral.'” The mayor of Davis posted ‘Davis State of Mind’ on his Facebook wall, which is pretty cool. I polled the political science class where I’m a teacher’s assistant, and at least half the class has seen the video. They had no idea I was on the team that made it.”

This year, Cardozorama was renamed to Aokirama in memory of the beloved law Professor Keith Aoki who passed away last month. “Professor Aoki was an artist and a musician himself,” Watts said. “He was supportive of all students’ creative endeavors and cared about us students as people, not just as future colleagues in a law firm machine. He had a great sense of humor and sprinkled his lectures with pop culture references. I think he’d have gotten a big kick out of ‘Davis State of Mind.'”

Go to youtube.com/watch?v=Pzztu9xxd9U to watch “Davis State of Mind.”

UYEN CAO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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