Camel Skateboards have just finished their first full length offering. Over the last few years Camel has produced more garms and various blog style content showcasing the newer generation of Liverpool Skateboarders. With Dominic Chambers and Josh Higgins at the helm behind graphics and content, the crew embarked upon a full length project “Capers” that focusses mainly on Jordan Leadbetter, Andy Davidson, Charlie Birch and studded belts. We sat down with Dom to get an insight into the filming process for this project, discussing Huel, local non-skateboarding motivators, dressing like action heroes and early 2000s tunes that will still be active on a 15 year old pre-smart phone.
Interview by: Guy Jones
Firstly, congratulations on this amazing offering! Am I right in saying this is your’s and Camel’s first proper video release with parts? How long was the process?
Nice one la, glad you like it. I hope some other people do as well (laughs). Yeah this is the first ever full length video I’ve filmed either for myself or Camel with parts. I was quite nervous to do it. It took forever like (laughs) it was like a two year process because whilst we were filming this we were also doing stuff for Lost Art, such as the New Balance Numeric collab shoe. There were some other things, some of the people in the video were filming for other projects as well. I had to take a few months out as I wasn’t too well, so there was a bit of a rush towards the end, but we got there. Hopefully the next one won’t take as long, but if it does it’ll be an easier process. I’ve filmed these boys for other things but the main three are Andy (Davidson), Jord (Leadbetter) and Charlie (Birch), in something where I’ve been the sole organiser for a video project with the ideas and concepts behind it. Hopefully I’ll take what I learnt from this video into the next one, because I feel this has taken a few years off my life with the stress (laughs).
The name Camel has numerous connotations in Liverpool, but one thing I was made aware of was that archive clip you have of Cammell Laird, which was a touch! Where did you find those older clips?
Yeah as you say the word ‘Camel’ definitely has a few connotations in the city of Liverpool, one of them being Cammell Laird which is based over the water (Wirral). I thought that there had to be something from over there, a graphic we could use in the video, so I just got deep on the internet searching for Camell Laird graphics, Cammell Laird promotional videos. I don’t know why there was a promotional video but there was one from the 50s I think and the video talks about this little offshoot of the world and Liverpool. I just thought it was a great start to the vid and it worked well to be honest. Especially it being called Cammell Laird and the intro clip of Charlie saying ‘Capers Laird’ in some weird Birkenhead voice (laughs). It all came together perfectly, it wasn’t planned.
Relating to the above of past and present; there’s a good balance between classic spots no-one’s hit in years and some more recently created numbers, was this a conscientious decision to highlight old and new terrain?
Yeah regarding the spot selection it definitely was an intentional plan, we wanted to mix some of the old historical spots that have been hit by some of the biggest legends to come through the city in with some of the new spots. It was important to show historically what Liverpool is and pay homage to legendary spots, but also show that this is a new generation of kids, there’s new spots and new ideas. We’ve had people film some great videos over the years and think the most recent videos have been Oli Birch and Isaac Peltzer’s videos but they were probably 4/5 years ago, if not longer. Since then there’s been new spots, plenty of new things that have popped up in the city. So not only is it a good opportunity for people to do new tricks that are NBD, but it’s also a good way to hopefully showcase to a greater audience what the city has to offer, because I feel in recent years Liverpool hasn’t had as many people come through than it used to have. But we’ve got some great spots, great history and hopefully… hopefully (laughs) we’ve done a good job of selling that to an audience.
What inspired the song choices (which are banging by the way) and is it a hint that maybe there will be a Camel trip to Magaluf in the future?
The song selection was something I was most worried about, especially at the premiere. I said to Mackey, Luke (Fletcher) and a few others in the shop like Vaughan (Jones), “I’m so paranoid that people are gonna be like ‘Why the fuck has he used these songs for?'” A lot of the music was early 2000s club land, electronic euro dance, shitty happy electronic music. Because we’re from Liverpool, that’s what we all had on our Sony Erikson Cyber Shots and Samsung flip phones when we were kids. We grew up on that sort of stuff and I’ve always loved it. The other music selection is still electronic based, so stems from those earlier songs, but is maybe a bit more niche.
And definitely yeah, we’ve already been speaking about it – a little trip to maybe Ibiza or somewhere. And we need to do a little video in Wigan, get all the Wigan Pier tunes in there, more Pleasure Rooms tunes, really represent the north and Liverpool. I feel like I’ve heard a lot of electronic tunes represented by a lot of UK companies in skate videos, but not the stuff we grew up listening to in Merseyside. So for the next one, if you thought there were a lot of mad tunes in this one, the next video is gonna be even madder (laughs). We might even make the full soundtrack just Charlie (Birch) and Jordan (Leadbetter) MCing over some horrible Pleasure Rooms tune, which would be sick.
Ratio wise, how many clips with a studded belt feature compared to without and how would you feel about a Camel x Loosey (Jordan Taylor’s company) collab?
Yeah (laughs) the studded belts have come back hard, definitely with Jordan. Although I’m not sure what Jordan’s studded belt does though because, by the looks of the clips, it’s definitely not keeping his trousers up. I can see those River Island boxies on display in nearly every clip. But we’re definitely bringing it back to the courts (primo scouse mosher hang out sot) in the 2000s, drinking vodka and LSV Energy in a bottle listening to My Chemical Romance. I’m definitely down for the collab, so hit us up if you’re keen Jordan lad! Let’s get a little rasta colour studded belt or something horrible going. Maybe neon colours to match the club land aesthetic.
I feel you picking up the camera has motivated a lot of people to get gnarlier clips than they would, say, for the gram. Did you see a shift in people’s motivation once this project got momentum?
Yeah definitely. I felt at the start of the video, because a lot of the people in it haven’t really filmed for a proper full length, I was getting very angry, shouting at people for using some of the best footage for Instagram clips. But more towards the latter half of filming I feel like everyone got on the crunch time, grind mode and everyone was trying to stack as many clips as they could. It was definitely pushing Andy (Davidson) and Jordan (Leadbetter), who both didn’t know it, but had a bit of a rivalry going on. Each time I’d go filming with one of them, the other would be like, “What’s he done, what’s he filmed?!” And the same when I’d see the other one, “What’s he filmed?!” They’re best friends again now we’ve finished filming. It definitely encouraged them to do their best, and that’s what’s sick about videos; it means you push the most out of yourself and that’s what’s good about real full length videos as opposed to Instagram clips, you want to make something that you’re proud of. And all the boys, girls, everyone in the video definitely did make something that they’re proud of and really push themselves, everyone in the friends section as well, and I’m so, so hyped on what everyone achieved, it was sick.
Swaying back to the subject of garms, I admire the vest/heavy denim outfits reminiscent of any classic action hero. Name 3 (or more) benefits and they can be as silly or serious as you like.
When it comes to the action hero outfits, I think once again Jordan (Leadbetter) takes most of the responsibility for this because he’s recently got heavily into the UFC. He’s at the spot drinking Huels, doing workouts, and I think he’s got the vest on to show off those big arms if I’m honest. That’s the number one benefit of it so far. I think the big shorts and the big pockets are just for Jordan (Leadbetter) to stuff all his bottles of Huel in. So listen, if that Steven Bartlett is reading this, get us on a sponsorship, send us a box of Huel please because we’re drinking more Huel than we are water. Also we’ve gotta have them vests on because unfortunately the city of Liverpool doesn’t get much sunlight so we need to catch as much vitamin D as possible. But once again Huel fueling the vitamin D – Steven, send me a box mate.
What were some of your personal highlights?
Probably the biggest highlight was a good period where we’d get a couple of clips and we’d go, “Yeah sound that, we’ll have a bevvy tonight.” Justifying going out and getting bladdered, going the Chinese karaoke twice a week and making everyone listen to me do Love Story by Taylor Swift. That was sick. And to be honest just watching everyone getting the clips they wanted and seeing their reactions of them hyped on it. The entire process of it all, all of us as a crew just learning what it is to make a video, what it is to be a company, just the entire thing. Not to sound too cringe but it was just a sick journey, I loved it. We all hated each other at points but we’re all best mates again now (laughs).
Any non-skate locals/characters you encountered during this project you feel deserve a shout out and any funny stories whilst filming?
Yeah I wanna give a shout out to John off Bold Street, he’s a local homeless man. We sort him out with food and money every time we see him, we’ve sat down with him and chilled quite a bit. I’d see him all the time after filming and he’d always mention “Are you still on that fucking skateboard lad, you’re too big for all that.” But he’s a good laugh, he’d always brighten people’s mood after skating and be lingering around the Merchant pub so he’s a legend. So if you see John walking around, he’ll sometimes have skateboarding clothes on, make sure you sling him some money, he’s a top lad.
I think one of the maddest people we met was when Charlie (Birch) did the front smith at the ledge at Hyde Park, there was just some fella having a bevvy, just sat on the ledge and he took it upon himself to teach Charlie how to do a front smith on the ledge, and Charlie corrected him multiple times that he was demonstrating a boardslide not a smith (laughs). Every try he’d go, “Charlie, you’re jumping at the wrong space mate.” Shout out to him because if he didn’t give the advice, Charlie might not have landed the trick.
I loved all the graphics that featured in the edit, who was behind them and did you have much influence on how you wanted them to look?
Tha’s Josh Higgins who does all the graphics, artwork and everything for all the Camel stuff. He does Camel with me. He’s the biggest legend and he’s not even a graphic designer by trade, he’s a guitarist. He’s just the best and we have a similar vision of what we want it to look like – very colourful, 2000s poppy, euro dance, bright, happy stuff. Some skate videos can be too serious, or too much of one genre. We want it to be playful, fun, Liverpool, but not to say it’s not also got serious qualities. We live together so I can say to Josh, “Lad, do a graphic with these crazy colours, with his and that.” You know, give him the worst description out there, and he’ll go, “Alright sound.” He’ll take his laptop to his room, come back like an hour later and he has like 10 different graphics. I’ll look it like, “How the fuck?” It’s like he got the image out of my brain without me using the right words to describe what I wanted (laughs). I feel like we grew up listening to the same music and being into the same stuff so it’s so easy to translate to each other what we want to do. Because he’s my best friend it’s fine to be honest how we feel about output, but most of the time it’s bang on what we both want.
The premiere in Lost Art was amazing and I feel the whole scene was super proud of what you and your fellow Camel-ites achieved. Usually people sit back and relax after this, but I saw you out filming the next day followed by you making a mission to the Big Smoke. Are you mad or highly motivated?
Ah nice one yeah, the premiere was one of the maddest nights of my life. I had a vision that no-one was gonna show up (laughs), but people were piled out into the street watching it the shop was that full, it was crazy. I really appreciated it. I’m so hyped for everyone in the video and what they achieved. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported us, and if you couldn’t make it but like what we’ve been doing or shown an interest so far a big thank you to you as well.
You know what I thought the same thing, my head’s gone. I said to everyone after this video that I was gonna chill for months. The next day I was out on missions filming all day. But I’m easily hyped to be honest with ya, and I’m crazy as they come (laughs). Our friend Vilma (Stål) was over from Sweden and she was only meant to be over for two days for the prem, maybe film a little bit, but we just got hyped. It was sick seeing her and she was just stacking loads of footage so it was like, fuck it (laughs). Me and her were like, “Should we just go to London?” So we went out to London filming and it was sick. I say this all the time, I’ll go to London for a day and end up staying for two weeks. I can’t help myself, I said we’d take a break but now that it’s finished, if anything it’s made me want to do more filming rather than take a break.
What’s next my mate?
We’ll find out what people think of the video, hopefully they like it and I don’t have to go back to being a primary school teacher. But nah, we’re so hyped on it and it’s time to take the boys out of Liverpool and get on some trips, go to other cities. Obviously still stick to our roots but take the lads and the girls to different spots. We’re also gonna focus heavily on the clothing and the board aspect of it, so keep your eyes peeled, there’s gonna be lots of decks and clobber coming soon and it’s all gonna be heavy because Josh is jocking the graphics. I’m also hearing from Dave Mackey that we need to do some collaborative work with Lost Art, so look out for some Camel x Lost Art skate content coming soon. Maybe by 2025 I’ll have learned to have a little chill, but I love it too much and I love getting active.
Camel Skateboards – “CAPERS”