Artists of Theory: Josh Roberts
Josh Roberts. Photo by Daniel Luxford
Interview by Isaac McKay-Randozzi
Inspiration, stoke, fire whatever you want to call it is like a virus. It can worm its way into the most unusual places and infect those it comes in contact with. The more prone the individual is to anti-social and risky behavior, the more likely that person is to be completely infested. Our shared activity, the reason you are reading this right now is one that is flourishing in your system. Some who have a full blown case of Skate Rat have developed a secondary infection. One that either heightened an already existing active sickness or awakened a dormant creative fever. One such person; a poor soul in one the most remote cities on the planet ‚Äì Perth, Australia has been dealing with a duel diagnosis of severe infection Mr. Josh Roberts. To alleviate his symptoms he has taken every opportunity to travel to different curves of the earth to roll and document others that are infested with this all consuming malady.
His first independent effort, Domingo became an instant classic and a sought after DVD for collectors of hard copies. It sold out on the this site in a relatively short time for a production of its size. Since then we have fortunate to view his work as the Butter Goods main filmer and his collaborations with Magenta. His second solo effort, Domingo Vol. 2 while having a familiar feel to its predecessor shows a progression in both his filming and personal editing style. The flow from edit to edit is smoother and the segues from one section to the next have a unique cadence, that while familiar is something new. Currently, he is editing the footage and film from a Butter Goods trip to Barcelona. But we won't have to wait too much longer to see his work in the next Magenta productions that are currently being edited by Leo. The first slated to be released later this month. What comes next for this young lad is anyone's guess but be assured that wherever he points his talents the end result will inspire and feed the Skate Rat in us all.
Josh films Jimmy Lannon in France. Photo Hugo Snelooper
You recently turned 30 on a trip with the Magenta cats, in Dubai, Spain and France followed up with a trip back to Spain with the Butter crew. Had you ever doubled up on trips like that?
Yeah my 30th was in Dubai. It was great the boys took care of me. I remember we were staying in a hotel in Dubai and the night before we were out skating late....ended up sleeping til 5am or something. I get a call to my room at 6:30am waking me up with someone from reception wishing me a happy birthday. Who calls at 6:30am to do that? Then not long after someone is knocking at the door with a birthday cake for me. The trips weren't that close back to back. I had a month or so in between trips so it was fine. Last year on the Magenta trip during the summer it was a bit like that though. We were in Paris for two weeks, then a week in Bordeaux, then back to Paris for a night then straight to Amsterdam for another two weeks. It's kinda fun though you can get a lot done like that. I don't really mind how each trip is set up but it's usually nice to have a little time in between to recharge.
Josh filming Glenn Fox in Dubai......Photo Dave Manaud
Will you be editing them both? I know Leo and Vivien like to edit Magenta's footage?
As far as Magenta stuff goes, Leo is heading up that one. He knows how to edit videos and proximity wise it's just much easier depending on the project. I trust Leo with all that anyway, he's nice with it. I edit all the Butter Goods videos though.
How do you feel about someone else editing your footage? Do you like the editing process?
I don't really mind too much, as long as i know whomever is doing it knows what they're doing. Another perspective is always interesting, seeing how they interpret it. But yeah i usually prefer to edit whatever I've filmed. You're close to it and you have a feel for it. I do enjoy the editing process. It can be different all the time though however it can be quite time consuming.
With Domingo and Domingo 2, you have a very specific editing style for these films that looks and feels different from the rest of your work. How much of this was intentional, or was it something that just worked out in a natural way? Intentionally natural?
Intentionally natural could be it.. haha. I guess the first Domingo had a particular style, I just wanted it to flow. Domingo 2 being the sequel sometime later I wanted it to be in a similar vain. As far as the rest of my work, It depends on who it was for. Whether it's Magenta or Butter or whoever, everyone has a different vibe to bring and I try to tailor it to that style or feel. That being said i still feel like you can see my own style in there. It's fun to mix things up a bit.
Modern footy capture techniques. Photo by Ben Gore
I really like the intro music in Domingo, where did you find it?
I can't remember where I found that tune, I felt it wasn't very well known at the time and as soon as I heard it I knew I wanted to do something with it. It had a good feel and felt right for what I wanted at the time. It was a band called Demon Fuzz, how awesome is that for a name? Accompanied by an equally awesome album cover.
That wasn't your first dance with the boys from Gaul. How long have you known them?
I first met some of the guys in 2012 when Leo Valls, Jimmy Lannon and Koichiro Uehara came to Perth and we worked on Crossing The Perth Dimension. It was really a fun project to work on with those guys and the crew here. I think I met the rest of the gang awhile later. I've been lucky enough to work with them ever since.
Your connection to the Butter Goods Clothing Co. has been even longer, how did you become their de facto filmer?
I've known Garth and Matt who do Butter Goods for a long time. We used to work and skate together. Things just naturally went that way when we started making the videos. We wanted to have a cohesive feel to everything we were putting out. I knew all the riders well and it was a good fit. I want to support my dudes doing good things and they have the same attitude. It's really nice being able to work with your friends. They trust me and I trust them, it's a good situation.
What do you think is the best skate video/film ever made?
I've always loved Thomas Campbell's A Love Supreme.
What was the first skate video you saw?
To be honest i can't really remember. Something local more than likely. I remember seeing 411's, Cliche's Europa and Blueprint's Waiting For The World. I really loved WFTW.
Was there a video that, after watching or during viewing, made you want to make one of your own?
I don't think there was one specific video that made we want to film, but i remember the Static videos definitely inspired me with the whole aesthetic & the type of skaters etc. It showed a lot of what i liked/felt about skating.
What was the first camera you filmed with?
The first camera was my parents big old brickish VHS camera. Every time you filmed something you would have to rewind over the non makes to make all the tricks go together.
How long after did you get a VX?
Around 5 years later. I was beyond stoked. Before that I had some Sony mini DV handycam I was messing around with.
What about that camera and format compels you to use it? Wouldn't it be easier to go HD?
I've just always loved it. It's a great looking camera as well as everything it produces. It handles well & there's a bit of history there. Something about it is just skateboarding to me. I'm not against HD I just prefer the latter. I feel the HD frame size and the fisheyes don't look as good to show skateboarding. There are always exceptions though, it depends on who's behind it.
You have featured a decent amount of super 8 film in your films, what attracts you to that format?
The nostalgic element perhaps. I've always loved the look and feel of it plus they're easy to use. I always wanted to have another element in there to compliment the rest. I like things that are old.
Josh 5-0's in Dubai. Photo Dave Manaud
Why put out hard copies of your videos?
It's nice to have a real thing you know? It exists... Something you can always pick up, look at the artwork. Like a record or tape. It's sick. I haven't done that with everything I've made but i still think it's important. Tangibility.
What has been the hardest part about getting people to see your work?
I don't really worry about that side of things too much. I just put out my work through whatever outlet I can at the time. People who want to see it will see it. It helps to have things come out in the main online media outlets I guess, more people see it that way.
Do you aspire to do video work outside of skating?
I'm open to the idea of it. Filming skateboarding has just taken up so much of my time over the years that I never explored that route fully. It's something I will look at doing more in the future I think.
So when we started working on this interview you said you'd like to put something special together for it. So what is it that we're about to see below?
Well originally I had something else in mind and I ended up doing an edit of Glen instead. This came about because Glen is doing some album artwork from a good friend of mine, Kuzich. He showed me a song he made which ended up being the one in the edit, and I thought it made sense to just work on that instead. I feel the song fit Glen's personality. So I pulled some footage I had of him from various projects and just made something fun.. I love Glen's positive vibes so yeah it just happened that way. Love a good collaboration with your mates.