Troy West Gypsy Life Interview. I met Troy earlier this year in Hannover at the awesome 2er spot for the first ever Builders’ Jam. Troy was there to premiere his epic video Gypsy Life to a hyped crowd of drunkard Europeans and to pick up some trowel skills, and consume his own weight in BUM beer.
We recently acquired his awesome video, that we’ll be releasing in a few parts so as to keep you coming back and also to keep you stoked on skateboarding. Troy is one such stoked person so please make the time to read what he has to say for himself and then get watching the first instalment.
I suppose it might make sense that we start by asking you somethings about the Gypsy Life video.
So, maybe explain a little about what your video is and how it came about?
Over the past few years skateboard films have become big- budget, scripted productions. This, and the addition of Hi-Definition cameras, has contributed to the films losing their character, feeling and more importantly their spontaneity.
In 2011 I decided to carry an old point and shoot camera with me at all times, to document the day to day skateboarding and street happenings of my friends, people I met whilst living in Barcelona and travelling through Europe, Asia, U.K., Mexico, U.S.A. and Australia.
So [using] the low-fi format helps you get more interesting clips, or do weird things just follow you around?
Ha ha. Well everyone sees crazy things, whilst travelling and in normal day to day life; I’ve just adopted an obsession for capturing these things to show to my friends around the world. It’s nice to show people the ‘you had to be there’ type stories that you run into; and I suppose it makes them feel like they were living the adventure with you.
What other formats did you film Gypsy Life on then, any more professional kit? And was mixing it all up ever a problem? I know with some filmers it’s all [the same] or nothing [at all].
Yeah, it’s a cocktail of all sorts. Some friends ended up passing me a few extra little things they wanted in their parts that were filmed on phones, VX and whatnot. There’s actually even a few HD clips in there, don’t get my wrong I’m not anti HD, the main thing was that I couldn’t carry a VX or HD camera in my pocket at all times. I love capturing the random little things that happen, and they seem to happen in a split-second, when you least expect it. For example you can’t be running around in a fight were there’s flying headbutts and asking someone to help you adjust the white balance. Besides that, a lot of people don’t expect that you are filming when you’re using a little point and shoot photo camera so you get a more relaxed and natural clip.
Not to downplay the skating, there’s some awesome shit in the video, but can you give us a few of your top random clips you filmed?
The fight was by far the most wild thing I filmed, ducking and weaving from headbutts, bottles, dogs, sisters throwing punches mixed with Austrian Thomas’ ridiculous English accent made for a wild story. Long story short, basically 4 guys were beating up an old, fat Sammy Baca look-alike and we kind of went in to break it up. But, of course, I wasn’t much help with one hand, so Thomas tried to take action, haha. I also enjoy the clips of the general characters that you run into on the street, these people shape the character of a city and it’s nice to film them in their day to day state in their sometimes un-natural environment.
And what about anything awesome you missed/wished you’d got?
I went to a protest about the declining political situation in Barcelona, the city erupted into full blown anarchy with people torching police cars, smashing all the bank windows, ATMs, blocking roads and alleyways in Barri Gotic with huge burning bins. In the end it turned into a full blown war with the riot police, they were shooting people with rubber bullets, beating men and women, young and old, with clubs, and tear gas clouded the streets; it was just a wild situation to be caught in the middle of. Not that I get off at seeing people suffering, its just good to capture that and show people the harsh realities of our modern state.
But you didn’t film it?
No, this was a little before I started carrying my camera with me all the time. I did get some really wild photos though and my friend Liber actually gave me a clip that I ended up using in the video – the clip is of a big guy attempting to smash a bank window with a metal barrier. The activists understandably get pissed with you if you get too in their face with the camera. A few of them that day actually tried to smash my camera and even one let of a firecracker in my ear.
This event actually prompted me to NEVER leave my little camera at home ever again.
And back to the skating then: How did you go about figuring out who had sections? It’s a pretty eclectic mix.
I had an apartment in Barcelona and a lot of friends were coming to visit so naturally I just filmed things with them when we were cruising around. When I travelled I also just enjoyed filming with the friends I was staying with or who I met along the way. I just put the crews together and used a song that we’d have listened to on the trip or what not. Basically I wanted everyone to have a little part with their best stuff as I didn’t have a lot of footage only usually being with the person for a short trip.
So pretty organic really. Will you keep filming as long as you keep travelling?
I guess so. I didn’t expect to get such a positive response and I’m happy people enjoy watching my spin on things. This year I haven’t been in one place for more then 10 days since April, filming for the next video. It has kind of felt like a job at times this year, so I’m actually looking forward to going back to Australia and helping my dad work in the bush for awhile. But I don’t think ill be able to leave the camera at home. Even when I’m back in Oz now it feels like in travelling because I’ve been living over here for a while.
So we should keep an eye out Gypsy Life 2: Bushman edition?
Ha ha! Yeah, it will be a mix of the insanity that is Europe meets australia. I filmed my old man catching snakes and doing tree surgeon work in contrast to people who drink their own piss in Europe, for example. I’m also hoping to build a self-sustainable home in the forest with my brothers and maybe have some thing with that in the next video. The DIY movement and people behind it that I have met in Europe have inspired me so much and I hope to try and take it another level down in Oz. Wish me luck!
Endless thanks to my wife Mary Jane, Liberto Fillo, Macaroni Distribution, Papayo, Ma & Pa, Daniel May, Jason Dowel, Niels Rost, Rees The Piece, Thomas Fuchs, Alex Pasch and to everyone I met a long the way!