What better day than a sunday (“domingo” being the spanish word for “sunday”) to treat you with an exclusive Josh Roberts interview revolving around the recent release of his longtime-anticipated independent video “DOMINGO 2″ ?
Perth-based australian author of not just the first (breakthrough) “DOMINGO” (2012), but also older local productions & filmer of Magenta’s “Crossing the Perth Dimension” project was kind enough to sit with us, dissect & discuss inspirations & aspirations, traveling the world & meeting new people, current & future endeavors and more generally, his enthusiasm for skateboarding and its documentation around the globe altogether.
(“DOMINGO 2″ available for purchase in DVD form from us here)
MINUIT : May you please introduce yourself ? Where you are from, what is Perth like and what’s your history in skating ? (ie. when did you start, what were your original motivations and influences, first videos you looked up to ?).
Josh Roberts : Ok so my name is Josh Roberts… I’m from Perth, Australia. It is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 2.02 million. Perth is one of the most isolated major cities in the world. Perth has a relaxed atmosphere, it is close to the ocean and has beautiful beaches. It would be a great place for a vacation. It has a small downtown area and suburbs that go deep in all directions.
As for my history in skateboarding, I began at the age of 13. The first skate videos I was exposed to were Cliché’s “Europa” & Blueprint’s “Waiting For The World” – as well as a couple of local videos. At the time, “Waiting For The World” had a huge impact on me – just the whole feel of it, the skaters, the music… everything really.
The local videos also had a similar impact, as it had some older guys and featured the local scene ; it was always good to see what was happening in your own city.
Josh Stewart’s “STATIC” videos also had a huge impact on me, especially “Static II” & “Static III”.
MINUIT : Most skaters from the newest generation know you from your first Domingo video but those who know of your former works (pre-Domingo) are few & far between. May you please expand on your history with filming skateboarding, making local videos and maybe even review your past work in retrospect ? Always dig it to hear the artist’s side on the evolution of their own work.
JR : I have made a few different homie videos before the first Domingo video. None of which at this point I am very happy with. Looking back, I feel like they were lacking, concept-wise. This is in hindsight, mind you, so I feel like I can’t get too bummed about it.
I feel like it’s hard for any film maker/artist/whoever to be completely happy with their work. But it’s all a learning experience and I was having fun at the time so I don’t dwell on it all. I’m still thankful of those times.
MINUIT : Do you feel like the first “DOMINGO” made for a departure from your former works ? Had you been exposed to different influences in the meantime ? What prompted you to make a short-but-sweet independent video all by yourself back then, what were your perspectives and how did that happen ?
JR : Well in a way I guess ; I always had ideas in my mind of how I wanted to show things on video, but it took time for me to work out how to do that. People here were not so interested in portraying skateboarding in this way and I was so sick of the usual approach, it just made me bummed on skating.
So I just decided I was going to put everything into the way I thought about making a different video with my friends that felt the same or just wanted something different and fun. I wanted it to be short, something you could watch before skating and not get bored of. Get the buzz and get out.
I mean, I was always being exposed to new influences all the time and the mainstream side of things was getting further & further away from what I felt skateboarding should be like. The birth of Magenta Skateboards definitely had a great impact on me. I could really feel what they were trying to do and bring something new into skateboarding for those who sought an alternative to what was going on, as well as Morita’s “OVERGROUND BROADCASTING”. When I first saw that, I was blown away by some of his concepts and ideas.
MINUIT : How did the release and positive reception of “DOMINGO (1)” influence your approach and life choices (ie. travels) as far as making a possible sequel ? Or was it a natural evolution maybe ? Did you have in mind to make a “DOMINGO 2″ from the get go, or did you just end up naturally stacking clips which eventually turned into a new, defined project ?
JR : As far as my approach is concerned, even from before the video came out, it really gave me a feeling of freedom to do whatever I wanted and to not conform or care about what people thought. If people didn’t like my stuff I really didn’t care ; it just wasn’t for them.
“DOMINGO” the 1st (2012)
In terms of traveling, I had always wanted to work on projects elsewhere & experience what the world has to offer – I still do. It’s an ongoing thing.
After “DOMINGO”, I worked on a few different video projects with likes of Butter Goods, the local shop Beyond Skate & Magenta Skateboards ; during this time I thought about doing a sequel and was just waiting to have the time to do it. It was never meant to be a full-length video, I was aiming for something short like the first one but things just ended up that way.
But yeah that’s why there was a few years in between videos, I was working on a lot of things for other people.
MINUIT : Although Domingo 2 starts in Perth (as expected from the masses due to your past history with documenting Perth skating), the last part goes to SF heads filmed on location, what prompted such an unexpected artistic choice ? Did you want to pay some sort of tribute ? Is it supposed to be an open door to future Domingo projects (which would then expand your work to documenting skateboarding worldwide) ?
JR : When I decided to go to SF in what I think was 2013, I had just made the decision to go ahead with making the second “DOMINGO” video and it turned out that the footage from this trip was the first stuff filmed for the video.
I had been invited to come out there by Leo Valls and it was a great opportunity to skate and connect with the crew out there. At this point I didn’t have much of a direction for the video – I was just collecting footage.
Looking back on that time now, it has definitely opened the door for future projects and ideas. The crew there was very welcoming and we all understood each other through skating & our ideas. Things are more or less easy when everyone has a similar thought process towards skateboarding.
Skipping ahead, working out how to put the video together with different footage from different places was difficult. But I figured I would make it like a journey from one place to the next with the people I encountered.
I think trying to expand my work to document skateboarding worldwide has just been a natural progression really, it is difficult to be satisfied all the time with what you’re doing and you’re constantly searching for new ways to be inspired and progress with what you’re doing in a personal way.
MINUIT : What is your stance on ‘skate localism’, in that, how do you think it is possible to document skateboarding as a universal phenomenon throughout the world (à la Morita with “OVERGROUND BROADCASTING”) without losing your identity, do you feel like that is possible ?
With projects like “OVERGROUND BROADCASTING”, the upcoming MINUIT or “SOLEIL LEVANT” for instance, & at a time where getting around the globe has never been so cheap (ie. low-cost flights, social media to get in touch with people…) do you think disregarding social boundaries is linked to the future of documenting skateboarding ?
JR : I definitely think it’s possible to document skateboarding globally without losing your identity, I think the way Morita & Magenta have been doing it has shown that. Not trying to put themselves on a pedestal but instead doing the opposite, going places, connecting and skateboarding with locals and involving themselves personally – all while having their own approach to skateboarding.
It has a much more substantial quality to it and people can really identify with this.
This is something I have also tried to involve myself in and it’s basically just a positive thing to do. It’s powerful. It makes you feel good and the feeling is usually reciprocated.
I think that disregarding social boundaries is always a good thing and is a part of skateboarding’s future.
With all that said though, money is always going to be a huge part of the equation. You just need to find ways of figuring it out… But yeah, it is something I would like to continue to do.
MINUIT : I know you recently came to France (Bordeaux, Marseille) and Italy (Milan) and also almost (!) made it to Croatia, all within the past few weeks… I’ve also seen a lot of pictures of said trips floating around on social media with the hashtag “Dimanche”. Is this a new project you are working on ? May you please tell us a few things about it ?
JR : Yes, I recently traveled to France and Italy - Bordeaux was where I was based for most of the trip.
“Dimanche” was suggested by Leo as it is the french word for sunday, keeping it cohesive with the “Domingo” style. So the edit from that trip will be aptly named “DIMANCHE”.
The idea for the new project was to go to France and meet up with Leo again, to catch up but also work on a new “Domingo” project involving all the crew. The project was filmed in Bordeaux and Marseille & features too many good heads to mention individually but with main appearances from Leo Valls, local OG Seb Daurel and Aussie legend Morgan Campbell who was along for the ride at the beginning of the trip.
It was a truly wonderful experience spending time with everyone I came in contact with. Epic vibes. Skating isn’t just about tricks and sponsors, there is so much more out there that needs to be experienced. Hopefully with the videos I can get that feeling across.
MINUIT : Finally, what were some of the most fun times you’ve had while filming for Domingo 2 or your upcoming projects, any trips on particular you enjoyed ? Which aspects of each trip (especially the ones to western Europe) struck you the most (culturally) and how do you feel like that resonates with europeans coming to visit in Australia, do you think they experience a similar kind of culture shock as well just in reverse ? Or do you feel like skateboarding kind of helps integrating and disregarding differences from the get go, no matter where you’re from and where you end up finding yourself geographically ?
JR : Too many good times to mention, skating and filming at home in Perth with my crew is always great.
Being in Melbourne and doing the same with Morgan and the crew there was also a blast. There is something about Morgan Campbell, it’s hard to describe but anyone that has met him will understand. He has a certain energy about it him, you’re always going to encounter something awesome, have a good time or an adventure with him. Happens every time. Not mention being the biggest 41 year old skate-rat I’ve ever met and still skates harder than most. I’m really proud to have collaborated with him on my last two projects.
SF of course was great, tons of new friends were made and the city is something else. Being in the hills and looking out at all the houses is an amazing sight.
Then comes Europe, France as I had already mentioned was great – new surroundings, language, history. It feels good to be out of your comfort zone to some degree and to just be. Italy was the same, shout out to the Chef Family and all the crew in Milano !
Culturally the language barrier in Western Europe was one of the main things that was apparent, not speaking the language the same way the locals do makes things pretty interesting. You need to find ways of communicating when you can’t speak French or Italian well. A great experience nonetheless, roles reversed and Europeans coming to Australia, I think the culture shock is still there but maybe not quite as much perhaps… I feel they are usually able to speak English better then say i French. Skateboarding definitely helps this situation though for sure. You’re always learning from people in these situations and you’re given a lifeline basically to help you through it.
Thanks heaps Josh for doing this !
“DOMINGO 2″ available for purchase in DVD form from us here.
Extra Josh Roberts interview for Free Skate Mag here, feat. the intro & Alex Campbell‘s part from “DOMINGO 2″ !