Josh Simpson is a skater and filmmaker based in South London.
His artistic skate edits capture the lines and bangers of his crew at a series of well-known and lesser seen South London skate spots from the viewpoint of his lens. From watching them you see he’s crafted a solid creative standpoint and a strong perspective on how he presents his films and passion for visual aesthetic.
But one of the main things you’ll notice from them is that Josh rips on a skateboard. He can seriously shred street and transition. He’s got an all-round knowledge of great skating – from documenting his talented friends tricks to fully throwing it down himself – so we had to find more about him, his films, creative process and skateboarding.
So on the day of the release of his latest edit Cold we caught up with him to chat about the video but then we had a longer conversation about his previous releases. We were hyped on his films and opinions on skating and creativity, so we asked him to join The No Comply Network.
We are stoked Josh is now a member and are looking forward to see the films he will create in the future.
Read his member interview to discover how he first got into filmmaking, the stories behind producing his edits – Endless Blue, Perseverance 2020 and Cold, why he likes shooting on Super 8, the meaning behind his abstract series Life as I Know It, the hardest thing about filming skating in South London, Southbank, Kyle Wilson, Zach and Adam Delarue, Mile End, passing time over Lockdown, his thoughts on creativity and skateboarding, Billy Wells, photography, The Gravesend Crew, shredding ledges, his favourite skaters, spots, videos and photos of all-time and more.
Read The Josh Simpson Interview below to find out for yourself
I was originally born in London but moved to Medway in Kent when I was 7 with my mother and brother.
Right. Where do you live now?
Now I currently live in Brockley in South London.
So when did you first see skateboarding?
My first time seeing skating was through the Tony Hawk’s games; I used to skate when I was really young, around Year 4-5 in school, on a shitty Argos board. My friend’s mother used to take us to the local indoor skate park unit 1, but then I stopped and didn’t get back into it till I was about 15.
I was at a party and my friend Max Watson, who I didn’t know at the time, outed me for wearing some Osiris snakeskin Hi-Tops when I didn’t skate at the time – I got the typical “why are you wearing those shoes when you don’t skate?”. I swear the very next day I started skating again.
When did you first get a skateboard?
My first proper skateboard was from my best friend at the time, George Read.
He had this The Firm deck which was water logged and really bust up but it worked and I was stoked.
I then remember driving all the way down to SS20 from London with my dad to get my first fresh setup.
What setup did you get?
I had a Soy Panday Landscape deck, black and yellow Ventures, Bones wheels and Bones bearings.
Where did you learn to skate and who was in your crew?
I first properly learnt to skate around Medway where we had one skate park at the time called ‘Jacksons’; I personally hated it but it was all we had.
My original crew was myself my friend Max Watson, Laurence Yorke, Jacob Nicholson and Jesse Pollock, they started skating before me and called themselves HTM – which stood for Hold Tight Medway.
The Medway skate scene was popping, though I just didn’t know about it until I got a little older and met, now one of my closest friends, Nathan Staples.
He was a bit older than us and widely known to be the local legend. He just seemed to know every skater in Medway and pretty much single handily pushed the entire Medway skate scene to what it is now- I owe a lot to him! He would organise trips to London and just really looked after all of us.
He went on to film 3 full-lengths with the Medway skate scene under the name ‘Durobrivae’;I had a first part in the 3rd installment, check them out if you haven’t managed to; it’s a really good look into our scene and the local crust.
Shout out to Nathan Staples I always said I would pay my homage to him if I ever got an interview!
I’ve always had an interest in film. I started making films properly at university. I studied art but concentrated heavily on film and installations.
I used to do this series called ‘Life as I know it’, documenting my life as a subject matter looking at family relations, skating, partying and how they all relate to one and other.
What was your first camera and what do you use now?
I think my first camera was probably just a Sony Mini DV, nothing special but I now film on the HPX.
Endless Blue starts with street antics but it’s also got some heavy tricks, what was the idea behind making it?
‘Endless Blue’ was my first proper installment of my attempt at making skate videos.
I never really wanted to make the generic ‘Nike SB’ type video, that wasn’t my style.
Coming from an art background, concentrating heavily in film and creating the ‘Life as I know it’ pushed me to try and give more to my videos.
I knew I wanted to incorporate more than just skating in my edits; I try to encapsulate my life experiences and the experiences and challenges that we all face with growing up.
That’s why you will see a lot of shots like the opening scene because they are the things we see in day to day situations- trying to find beauty within the norm; especially as skaters we spend most of our time on the streets interacting with the outside world simply ‘growing up’.
Favourite clip from Endless Blue?
It’s going to have to be the FS Tail Flip out as that clip is one of those moments in skateboarding that just seem to go down almost magically.
How have you passed the time during Lockdown?
I have been trying to juggle skating and filming and working to survive! During the first Lockdown I was trapped in Kent at my mother’s house after I had lost my job at the time. I was supposed to be moving back to London but of course everything got put on pause.
However, I did manage to eventually get back up to London just when the weather was getting better and stayed with my friend George Cocks. He had been in London living by himself so he let me stay at his rent-free as I had next to no money and had to live off universal credit at the time.
We then started filming our second video: ‘Perseverance 2020’. We were going out skating hardcore everyday and just stacking clips with the crew.
It was such a unique experience at the time because there was nothing to do apart from skate; it was our motivating light against the backdrop of the bleak 2020 summer. My friend Billy Wells eventually moved into George’s as well, it really was starting to become a little skate hub.
It was also during this time that the tragic death of George Floyd occurred and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement followed.
Being a black man these events struck a personal chord and I was utterly moved by the support from my crew; as shown in the video, they attended marches alongside me and continued to throw our all into backing the movement!
I wanted to make sure I captured the inspiring mood of the marches in my video, alongside the struggle and restrictions of the pandemic.
Of course at the forefront of our videos is skating, however, coming from an art background I have always valued the importance in highlighting matters outside of skating so that people can watch it and relate – it then becomes something unifying that a variety of people can enjoy.
How did you start to film with Billy Wells?
I met Billy at Clapham through my friend James Moyle.
We actually filmed a little park and street edit that same day and have been close friends ever since!
He originally started filming me; we released a few edits on his HI-8 that got shared on ‘SIDEWALK’ at the time under the name ‘Not even’ and ‘English ‘Beauty’- check them out!
What’s your favourite trick by Billy?
God there are so many… he did the craziest manual tricks in ‘COLD’ and ‘Perseverance 2020’, but for me it has to be the FS Tail Flip out at Catford ledges in ‘Endless Blue’.
It was the middle of winter, the camera had died and I remember being like, “You’ve literally got one try left”, he then just does it so perfectly – I personally think it was the best one I’ve ever seen.
Everyone just went absolutely mental! It was one of those crazy moments: there’s just a feeling unique to skateboarding that seems to always happen and can only be lived by yourself and your crew!
What’s the hardest thing about filming in South London?
The hardest thing about skating South London is the constant battle you seem to have with some of the locals at spots.
We were skating Deptford ledges last summer in Lockdown, and we got into some beef with a local, he was calling people up to come and steal my camera- I was like fully going to fight this guy!
The funny thing is the whole argument started from some miscommunication. I saw them the next day as I was leaving my house to go and skate but luckily things had chilled out and there were no further issues, but yeah, that seems to happen a lot in South London.
Where’s your favourite spot to skate in South London?
It’s hard to pinpoint my favourite spot to skate in south London.
I predominately skate ledges so I’m always swayed by a good ledge spot, however I particularly like Ritzy Cinema because of the bike rail you can hit. I think that’s a real stand out spot to me.
What’s your favourite edit you’ve filmed so far?
I just think because of how much effort went into the process of making it and the memories I made from it with my crew I am going to have to say ‘Perseverance 2020’.
I feel it really just voiced what we were all going through at the time! I will always have a special place in my heart for all of my edits; they are each a look back on a shared experience between my friends, so of course I love them all and me.
What do you like about shooting in Super 8 film format?
I’ve always loved the aesthetic analogue equipment; it’s something that can’t be recreated digitally, so I would say that’s what I like about Super 8.
What is your series ‘Life as I Know it’ all about?
‘Life as I know it’ is a series in which I looked at my own life as a subject matter, tackling personal issues such as family, friends and just the struggles and joys of life in general.
There is a certain beauty in the fact that life is a universal shared experience, but our everyday moments all differ so greatly from each other.
The series was my way of capturing this and sharing them to the public!
They seemed to get a good response and people managed to relate to them and that’s always a positive.
I actually managed to finish with a 1st at my university because of one of these films, something I never envisioned myself achieving.
What’s been the best thing about making it?
The best thing about making them is immortalising a moment, one I now have the ability to look back on and will be able to share with my friends and family when I’m older.
How did you start to shoot photography?
I started shooting photos when I started University. My mother bought me my first camera from Brick Lane market: it was a Yashica T4.
What’s your favourite thing about skating Mile End?
Again the sense of community, when I first went to Mile End. I wasn’t accepted straight away – I had to earn my stripes it felt like.
Seb Tabe and Wilson (R.I.P) were the first people I really got speaking to and really felt like they were people I could call my friends at the time.
However as the years have gone on and I have got better l now officially feel like I can call myself a local, even though I don’t go as much as I used to.. But yeah once you’re in you’re in and everyone’s your friend and everyone looks out for everyone shout out to M.E.M!
R.I.P Wilson R.I.P Banjo.
Favourite trick you’ve seen go down at Mile End?
So many tricks! I actually can’t pinpoint one specifically. I really like seeing someone do something you wouldn’t expect them to do!
My friend George Reilly Switch Tre flipped the grom gap and I was mind blown!
Hadi did a Kickflip down it the same day too. That was so sick because he completely stepped out of his comfort zone.
Then of course pretty much anything Kyle Wilson does there is amazing – I literally watched him come up there, the progression rate was crazy.
You are in the Gravesend Crew, what’s the crew about?
Gravesend is our crew, we’re just in the beginning stages of getting it going but hoping to take over the London scene soon!
Its just the homies, it’s hard to say who’s officially in, we’re always skating with new people, but watch out for that, we’ve got some gear on the way.
What are your thoughts on skating, creativity and film?
They all go hand in hand, I feel some edits lack a sense of creativity sometimes and they end up becoming quite flat.
There was a point when everyone was trying to recreate the Strobeck or Johnny Wilson video, which is cool if that’s what you like…
However I feel that if you want people to be able to watch your video and know you create it like how they do for Strobeck or Wilson then you have to put your own essence of individualism on it, that’s how they became the stand out filmmakers they are today.
I hope when people watch my videos they know it’s by me as that’s what I aim for, I want them to know that Joshua Simpson created that otherwise it just becomes another video that is lost in the abundance of skate videos that are out there.
My good friend Shane Regan drilled that into me so it’s always something I’ve always aimed to achieve.
Your latest edit Cold is sick, what’s your favourite trick?
I really like my friend Gregs AKA Macgregor Marshfield’s FS Tail Flip out and FS Nose Switch Heel out at Parliament Square!
Greg always kills it and drops hammers on hammers look out for him he is on the come up!
How did the BS Powerslide shuvit on the block go down?
Ah yes! Benji Saxby, that was my second time ever meeting him he’s a ripper!
Going to be getting more clips with him soon, it didn’t even take him long to be honest – again, another person to watch out for, that whole South West-West London crew kill it!
What was it like filming George’s No Comply down St Pauls 8?
You know the funny thing is that’s really nothing special for George Reilly.
He was trying to Nollie Heel it after and he was getting so close! That trick was more just an introduction for what’s to come.
George Reilly is a GOAT and I live with that GOAT. So we have some real hammers coming soon.
Do you have any upcoming releases in the pipeline?
Working on some stuff, we just released an edit and I want the next one to hit hard, we have got something in the works but that will be in the coming future.
In-between now and then I might drop some ads and small bits with my friend Dennis for @g.r.a.v.e.s.e.n.d
What upcoming skate videos are you looking forward to?
The new INTERCEPTOR video dropping by Ben Davies AKA @Vxben anything by him is sick. Check that out at @interceptor02.
Watch out for videos by my friend Shane Regan he and his crew, they’re over in New Zealand killing it – shout out ARCADE.
Who is your favourite skate photographer and why?
My hometown friend Max Watson, a naturally gifted artist and photographer, I just wish he would put his stuff out there more.
Where’s your favourite skate spot in your city?
I used to love Elephant and Castle ledges but unfortunately they’ve been resurfaced.
I also really like the stage to bike rail a Gillett Square in Dalston; it’s such an obscure spot that you don’t see everyday.
Where’s your favourite skate spot in the world?
Copenhagen Basketball Court!
Do you have a favourite photo of all-time?
Probably the photo of Jason Dill in front of the World Trade Centre that was literally the embodiment of capturing a moment in time.