If by chance, you live under a rock and you haven’t see Sonic Souvenirs, do yourself a favour and watch it. Right. Now.
In a surf world populated by Vlogs and claims, there’s nothing we adore more then Mr Feburary and Mr Neville, leading lights and dare we say – steering the ship as it should.
So when the stars collided over Vans latest project, Sonic Souvenirs, a visual ode to the poetry in motion that is Mikey’s surfing and the sounds that inspire him, we had to know more. And knew no one better to fill us in on the deets, than Mr Neville himself.
Borg! What’s happening mate how’s life treating you in Aus?
All is well. I miss travelling and seeing my friends but we have been doing pretty good through the pandemic here in Australia.
What’s been new?
I have a sick channel bottom twin thats pretty spicy. But just spending time with the family and working on some fun projects.
So let’s talk Sonic Souvenirs, how did it all start off?
I did a trip to Fiji with Mikey over a year ago and was really hyped on how he was surfing his bonzer in 6-8 foot waves. Nü Rythmo was sick too. But I think we naturally enjoyed hanging out and working together on that Fiji trip. Then when Vans gave him the green light to work on a project he came to me.
We heard India was penned for the first location?
Yeah we did a fair bit of prep around anchoring the concept in India. Then covid hit. Thanks to Vans for supporting us both and making the project happen given the complicated situation. I still really want to shoot something in India.
How’s working with Mikey? A great man and one very close to our hearts!
So humble. Almost too nice…trying to get his feedback on things haha. He has a unique and beautiful style that I think is still evolving and for me it was surfing that I wanted to watch. That’s a big reason for saying yes to the project. I was genuinely stoked to watch him surf.
Did you manage to get over to SA?
Nope, Project all remote via zoom. Whatsapp and email.
Talk us through the production challenges?
Fucking hard trying to direct a movie from home. I’m a surf film maker, more of an observer and really like to candidly capture the trip unfold but not in a doco sense, more a very observational sense. So it was tricky trying to convert that aesthetic to the video crew. I want you to feel like you are more on a journey. A fly on the wall. That was the hardest part for me and the part I miss about being on trips, is really leaning into things that happen around you and not trying to force something that feels too weird.
Was it challenging directing from the other side of the world?
The timezone was an absolute stitch up. But fun. Mikey would be caffeinated and I’d be winding down over a wine. Then hours of footage would land in my lap. We tried to be very considerate in what we were shooting to save just shooting everything and I’d board scenes, shots and try to be pretty clear but also give the guys some freedom to do what they do. It was a fun challenge and Sonic Souvenirs is its own special film because of these limitations we were faced with.
Do you see a cultural shift in surfing from the iconic Modern Collective full high performance vibes that at the time, and still to this day for any 25+ year old set the bar of ‘this is freesurfing’ pendulum swinging to the alt – craft renaissance à la M Feb?
Mikey has flourished in a time where I personally think, maybe I’m just getting old, but surfing isn’t just all about performance. My earlier films were all about the biggest hammer. That was what we were into. When everyone is pulling big shit you kind of start to look around for a point of difference. The type of surfing you enjoy and relate to might be a resurgence in style, power, flow, board experimentation, and Mikey is one of the best to watch that style of surfing. He can still pull full rotes but I would way rather see him fly down the line and lay down a massive carve on a twinny. That shit gets me psyched.
Do you feel that kind of surfing is more relatable?
100%. It might be a different audience but its’ definitely relatable to me right now. I’m always asking Mikey what he is riding. Just looks so fun.
A major part of your films, has always been the music. From Stranger Than Fiction, Modern Collective, Listen Now Misty Dawn and beyond we’ve always been coy fans of your impeccable choice in music – for you personally, how interlinked is music and surfing?
I antagonise over soundtracks. In film, music can do amazing things. Lift a scene, let something breath a little more, get you psyched, make you cry. It’s incredibly important.
Did you manage to sneak a lil J bay shred? We’ve heard your down carve is the stuff of legend…
Ha. I wish. I just sat in my edit suite day dreaming.
What can we expect for the future episodes of Sonic Souvenirs?
It’s a pretty open brief thanks to Vans. Definitely aiming for me and Mikey to hit the road together and really push the next ep. Somewhere exotic, deeply rooted in music and culture.
Any prems in the pipeline? We know you love it…
Online baby. How times of changed.
After this and No One Knows Me Like The Ocean, is this a return to the surf game for Mr Neville?
I guess. I think I’ll always explore making surf films, but has to be for the right reasons.
Might wax the channel twin up. I’m surf psyched right now.