We caught up with our friend Josh Stewart in this exclusive interview as he gets stuck into a new project…
Interview by Jacob Sawyer. Two stops to London Bridge. PH: Pepsi
Josh Stewart has been in the game for years, skateboarding for many moons and picking up a video camera two or three years after starting. He has since made many independent productions of his own volition, often against his and his accountants better judgement. In this brave new world where the internet calls the shots and hard work and a creative bent are pitted against floods of disposable clips Josh is once again intending to buck the trend. We found out that a fourth video in the Static series, once just a notion, is set to become a reality and thought it only right to catch up with Josh as he embarks on another labour of love…
Steve Brandi – Frontside 5-0. PH: Josh Stewart (he takes photos too)
Yes Josh, what’s going on in NY at the moment? How are things at the Theories of Atlantis headquarters?
What’s happening Yakob? To be honest I can’t tell you much more than what’s happening in my office over the past few weeks. Things have been crazy at TOA HQ.. My friend Cory who usually helps with shipping has been gone for two weeks. So I’ve been like one of those one-man-band dudes you see in cartoons. Packing boxes with one hand, answering emails and phone calls with the other, editing with my face, designing t-shirts with my knees and filming Static 4 with my toes. It’s been a real gas. Can’t complain though.
Your online store is full of products which cater to the thinking man, do brands like Palace, Polar and Magenta have a receptive audience in the States?
2 years ago I was teaching shops about Palace, Polar and Magenta and barely able to sell through tiny numbers of each brand. But all 3 brands have done an amazing job at getting themselves noticed and now it’s like a cult movement that’s growing every day. It’s rad to see good brands and good ideas get appreciated.
In New York? I’d say that Aaron Herrington has been a serious force in NY over the past year. If you haven’t heard of him you will soon. Really dope style and puts a lot of energy into finding his own spots. Another rad young skater in NY is a 5Boro am named Jordan Trahan. Another one to look out for. On the other side of things I think Hopps is doing some really rad new video stuff that we’ll hopefully get to see this year. And Peter Sidlauskas of Bronze “56K” and “Caviar” fame is working on something new and everything he does is pretty great. And then Jeremy Elkin, video maker originally from Montreal who did the Poisonous Products video is working on a new offering for 2013. And his work captures NY better than almost anything has in a decade. Really excited to see that.
Dustin Eggeling. B/S nosegrind revert PH: Pepsi
People like yourself, Lev from Palace and Pontus Alv from Polar have distinct visions of how things should be both from a film makers perspective and also from the angle of what would please you as a viewer. All of your projects as individuals fill a void. You are all similar in a way although your tastes are different. Would you agree with this, and with this comment in mind how do you feel about the state of skateboarding today and how do you feel you fit into it?
Haha, holy crap, that was like 9 deep questions wrapped into one. Well, let me first say to be lumped into the same category as Pontus is quite an honor. Dude is like a human tornado with death lenses, paint brushes, editing software, skateboards and quick dry cement all spinning into oblivion. His video work, especially In Search of the Miraculous and Strongest of the Strange are masterpieces. And Lev’s first Palace intro piece set to The XX was so simple yet so powerful. I was jealous as all get-out when I saw that thing.
So I appreciate the comment and take it as quite a compliment. I agree that our tastes are different, but it’s more our aesthetics are different. I think we all appreciate and like similar things, but we all have our own distinct styles. And I won’t speak for myself but I will say that the styles of each dude have been very influential over the past couple of years. You need only look at the latest 10 videos popping up online to see that the VHS aesthetic is being tapped like an oil field in Iraq. I honestly hadn’t seen much in skateboarding that impressed or inspired me for some time.
But I’d say that the past couple of years have shown a growing amount of quality, interesting work. And I think there’s a lot of rad stuff on the horizon. Not only that I’m seeing a significantly growing amount of support for the good, meaningful stuff. Skaters want to support other skaters and original ideas. The only thing I’m worried about is how quickly everyone jumps on an original look and/or idea. So I think we’re going to keep seeing brands, video makers, skaters changing and morphing their styles in order to stand out. Lots of copycats out there.
Between those 3?………shit, Static 2 most likely. Working with Puleo wasn’t exactly rainbows and ponies. I mean, actually, filming with him was fine. But the editing process hit DEFCON 5 a few times. I’d have to say that Static IV has definitely been the toughest of all though. I’ve been working pretty much full time through the 5 years we’ve been working on this video. So trying to balance out filming into my life has pretty much meant that I have no life. But fuck it, I’m a nerd, I have no business going out and being social. I’m better off working on projects in my spare time. I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.
Word on the streets is that Static 4 is still a work in progress. Is this true and how is it taking shape?
Haha…..well, if you’ve ever gone to a skate video premiere you should know that EVERY skate video is a work in progress up til a few hours before the premiere. So yes, Static IV is still VERY much a work in progress right now.
Have you settled on a list of people who are going to have parts?
Haha….well, you’d think that after 5 years I would have that figured out right? Well, I’ll just say that I think there’s not enough mystery left in the world these days. We all see 20 magazine articles on every video before it premieres these days. So I’d prefer to keep things a mystery so that maybe some people will go to the premiere and will actually be surprised and excited about what they see unfold on the screen.
Kevin Tierney. pushing (we can confirm he has a full part) PH: Pepsi
Will it contain old footage, for instance stuff you got on the last trip to London?
I was pretty inspired by a project filmed/edited by the Japanese phenom Takahiro Morita called “Overground Broadcasting”. He travelled the world and filmed for the video for over 7 years. And what resulted is one of the sickest video projects I’ve seen in a decade. He proved to me that good footage is timeless. Obviously some stuff will have to hit the cutting room floor. But there is a lot of stuff in Static IV that is 5 years old. Fuck it though. These skaters are notorious for not coming out with footage ever. So there’s no way I’m gonna throw away good shit just because it’s a little old.
How much information are you willing to divulge on the subject?
I’ll just say that I’m going to do the best I can to make the best video possible. And in my eyes good footage is timeless. Unless someone is wearing a wife-beater and a Muska beanie or something and it’s obvious that it was filmed in 1996. Otherwise, I don’t care. With a skater like Quim Cardona a good clip of him is worth it’s weight in gold. There’s no chance in hell I’m not gonna use something just because it’s 4 yrs old.
Quim Cardona. PH: Pepsi
Does this mean that trips abroad are going to be part of your schedule?
Well, they HAVE been part of my schedule in the past. I’ve flown to London and Paris at least twice for this project in the past. As well as flown another filmer out to help me get some extra footage. But still there needs to be another trip. So, if what you’re fishing around for is a commitment from me to come out and film you in London this spring, I guess what I’m saying is……are you busy in April?
Joleon Prssey and Daniel ‘Snowy’ Kinloch. PH: Josh Stewart
Was the transition from using the VX to HD an easy one?
No….I hated it. Still hate it. HD has it’s proper applications. But when filming skateboarding you just can’t get around the math of it. 1920 x 1080 limits the vertical viewing area of any fisheye lens you use. So you simple can’t get as close to the action as you can with an SD VX-1000 with a Century fish. So there will always be pros and cons of both, but it still frustrates the shit out of me to film HD. But, like I said, it has it’s applications. Depends on the project.
You’ve always been a skate rat. What or who influenced you to start filming? Did it ever feel like a sacrifice? I imagine you in some filming situations being just as hyped as whoever you’re filming to skate the spot….
Of course…..but I’ve been filming since I was about 13. The two seemed to always go hand in hand after my 2nd-3rd year of skating. But I always put skating first. Even when I started working on my first full-length projects, skaters would often have to wait around for me to get some skating in before picking up the camera. It has always been a tough issue for me. Because almost every time I’m skating there are skaters waiting around for me to “get it out of my system” so that we can move on and I can start filming them. I mean can you imagine that every time you skated there was a stop watch set counting the seconds away while skaters sat and watched you with anxiety on their faces that they weren’t getting to film? Not too cool. So, my solution to this has been that for about the past 10 years I skate by myself pretty much all the time. It’s almost like meditation. I’ve missed out on some of the best spots in the world because we had limited time and I was there as “the filmer”. But I am realistic in those situations. I know my role. But I really have a chip on my shoulder from being treated differently for being a “filmer“. People forget that I’ve been skating for 25 years, or they simply just don’t care. Self-centered pricks. Fuck em all. I skate better alone anyways. No pressure environments make for nice skate moments.
What videos have you seen over the last couple of years that stood out for you?
Well, as I stated above, the first Palace promo was inspiring, and Pontus’ video offerings always get me really stoked. They have an energy to them that is hard to place but it’s something that all of us seem to feel. I dug Jeremy Elkin’s “Poisonous Products” NY video last year as well as the Bronze video “56K”. Just anything different gets me stoked these days. I think we’re beaten over the head all day with countless online edits so the token format has just gotten pretty hard to stomach anymore. And some of the most unique stuff is coming out of the Japanese scene these days. I can’t get enough of the videos that come out of there. Especially anything with Morita or Shinpei. They took “east coast” skating and turned it flipped it on it’s head. They’re killing it.
Keeping the dream alive. PH: Pepsi
We got to meet Jeru the Damaja when he was here in London, we mentioned the Static videos and he was hyped. You must be stoked with that affiliation and how down he is. Are you guys constantly on the phone?
Haha…..not exactly. I hired him to play the Static III premiere in NY. It was pretty legendary for me to have that happen. One of the raddest nights of my life. Packed big theatre in NYC for a Static III premiere and than an after party with Jeru singing “And I can rock a rhyme until STATIC”
Are you troubled by any new conspiracy theories? Is there something we should all be worried about?
Haha…..well, I just don’t know what to believe anymore these days. Pretty much, if I see or read it on the mainstream news, I’m already pretty much convinced it’s a lie and try to figure out what the motive is behind that lie. Like all of these crazy gun incidents across the US recently. I’m sorry, I’m sure everyone thinks I’m bat shit crazy but I don’t buy any of it. I don’t doubt that it’s happening but I have read about countless operations where our own government staged events or instigated events into happening in order to serve their agenda.
The list goes on and on but with the amount of convincing stories I have read up to this point just about the things they were doing in the 1960’s, I can’t even imagine the shit they’re up to this day and age. So I question everything. So much so that I kind of just ignore it all now. It becomes an unhealthy obsession. I have had friends who just went in too deep and never came back. I’d like to still be able to function in society. So I stepped back a little bit. Even though I still am of that mindset. Conspiracy maniac for life.
To round this up, what kind of time frame are you working with, when will the video be out?
Patience, patience…..you’re gonna give me performance anxiety. How about this…….I promise that it will premiere in 2013. Is that enough?
See you in London ?
Ok, ok……you can have a Static 4 part. Are you happy now?
Thanks to Josh Stewart for his time and for dedicating his life to the cause. Find out more about this procect here JOSH STEWART STATIC IV INTERVIEW