097: Demi Taylor/The Road Not Taken

Demi Taylor, London, September 2019. Photo: Tozer

“You’ve just got to go for it. I don’t like the feeling of treading water, I like the feeling of moving forward. However that comes.”

Ahead of the forthcoming London Surf Film Festival, I caught with an old friend for episode 097 of the podcast. I’ve know Demi Taylor for years and have long admired her questing, creative approach to life, whether through her prolific writing, or the festival she’s been organising with partner Chris Nelson for the past nine years.

In that time the London Surf Film Festival has quietly become one of the most essential dates on the UK calendar. There’s a spirit of wry celebration about it that sums up all that is great about surfing, and UK surf culture in particular.

Photo: Tozer

So with this year’s event coming up, I thought it was high time I sat down with Demi to find out the story behind the festival, and also exactly how she carved out such an fascinating, influential career for herself.

It’s a great story, driven by what Demi characterises as a spirit of ‘hopeful naivety’. She’ll scoff, but it also an object lesson in how it is possible to create the career you want by being steadfast in your goals and consistently brave in your decision-making. Listeners are perennially fascinated in finding out how guests ended up with such singular careers in such an unpredictable industry, and Demi’s story is a brilliant example.

Demi Taylor. Photo: Tozer

I had a blast chatting to Demi, and can’t wait for this year’s festival. Hope you enjoy the conversation:

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Show Notes

  • Busy London trips.
  • Home in St Agnes.
  • “If you’re from the sea, you will eventually need to come back to the sea”.
  • Memories of the eclipse from a car park.
  • Demi’s ‘demise’ in to the world of surfing.
  • International childhood.
  • Wanderlust.
  • The infamous party train.
  • Quicksilver’s heydey.
  • Being a woman working for a sports PR agency.
  • “Cash washing around”.
  • First commissions.
  • Freeride Magazine ahead of its time.
  • Boy meets girl on press trip.
  • ‘Surfing Europe’.
  • ‘Storm Riders’.
  • Quitting jobs.
  • News of 9/11.
  • “A lot of people questioned what we were doing”.
  • Blind belief.
  • Pre-influencer life.
  • Lonely Planet rejection.
  • Working with Footprint.
  • The great Alan Murphy.
  • Snowboarding the World
  • Skiing Europe’.
  • Mountain Biking Europe’.
  • ‘Mountain Biking Britain’.
  • Lengthy process of putting a book together.
  • “It’s amazing what being in your early twenties and not knowing any different will do for you”.
  • Keeping spots secret.
  • “You don’t want to damage the thing you love”.
  • Cold Water Souls’.
  • Surfing Britain’.
  • Surfing the World’.
  • Seeking new challenges
  • “The best ideas come from the kitchen table”.
  • The film festival is “like a live magazine”.
  • Finding the right venue.
  • ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’.
  • “You have to have a value to what you do”.
  • Turning blind confidence into actual confidence.
  • Supporting British surf culture.
  • The Shorties.
  • “In the UK, we’re quite shy about coming forward”.
  • The Shaper
  • Chasing Zero
  • Live soundtrack this year.
  • Tan Madonna
  • I Knew Jack O’Neill
  • Writing a feature film.
  • “Storytelling is what we do”.
  • Scriptwriting.
  • ‘The Ripple Effect’.
  • “You’ve got to do the work you want to do next, not what you’ve done before”.
  • Making decisions.
  • Mat surfing.
  • “I like that feeling of being slightly out of control”.
  • ‘Satori’.
  • ‘Translate’.


People Mentioned

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