The Mind Behind "SK4TERDIE": An Interview with Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor Hippy Hop Gravette 2000 Header IdeaWhen Gravette rolls up, Matt hops out     Photo: Akahai

Writing and producing a skate skit that’s actually funny is a herculean task in itself. Matt Taylor’s videos are full-length productions packed with solid bits, sound effects, lightning-quick transitions and precise comedic timing. They aren't just silly sideshow stuff either; he and his friends fuckin’ rip too! After the premiere run for his fourth video in the Skaterdie series, we had to get Matt on the line to talk about humor, skating, advertising pitch men and what happened when everything got too cool.

Influencers, props, pros, poems and more collide in Matt's wildest ride yet

Congratulations, Matt! I imagine Sk4terdie was not the easiest editing feat. How long has this video been in the works?
I started filming in March of 2021, and I got most of the skate clips through 2021 and a little bit in 2022. Most of the silly stuff wasn’t until later. I started editing towards the end of 2021 and would just go in big chunks. It was stop and go because I work in advertising. So I’ll get a job and be bogged down where I can’t touch it for a long time. But basically, when I moved to LA from Portland in March of 2022, that’s when I really started working on it a lot. I finished at the end of October.

That's the reality of making a skate video as an adult with a cast of fellow adults. Let's go back to the beginning. Where are you from?
I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. Well, the Nashville heads will get mad at me if I say that. I’m technically from a little town right outside of Nashville called Gallatin. The same place that Jake Wooten is from, shout out.

I Interviewed him. He’s a great guy.
I grew up skating the same park that he did—the Gallatin skatepark. We used to skate his uncle's barn. They had a little mini ramp in there.

So you must have the second sickest front threes in the game?

MATT Taylor QUote I Was Thinking Everybodys Gonna Hate It 2000
Matt Taylor Herbert Walker 2000Matt and Herbert, always down to clown     Photo:

When did the Skaterdie series start?
The first one I made in 2014. I really don't like that one. It's so bad. But it started when me and my friend Herbert Brown had a friend with a camera he wasn’t using. And we're like, can we just film skating on it? Just to make a dumb little video, you know? And in that video, I kind of made fun of some people in town. I was living in Chattanooga at the time. I was thinking, Everybody's gonna hate it and be mad at me, but they all seemed to like it. So I was like, I kinda like how that felt. I got a little addicted to it, and the second one is where I started to make it more of a thing.

Herbert Brown Fakie Manual 360 Flip 750 Herbert elevates the technical level of the video with a switch nose manny 360 flip

I talk about this idea of the ripping shield, where if you're going to make a funny project, you gotta get a couple bonafide rippers in there so that people can't just say it's all a joke. Herbert Brown seems like he provides some of that. You've also got circus sounds and this editing style you’ve developed is just so frenetic and it’ll make you dizzy if you’re not ready. It seems like it’s spawned from some Adult Swim influences like Eric Andre and Doug Lussenhop. Is that where you got some style inspiration?
Yeah, and also so many years of just finding weird videos on the internet. Doug is a huge influence on me, but it’s from a bunch of different shows and just a mash-up of a bunch of different things that I really like. Like, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, it's this British comedy from the early 2000s with purposefully really poor framing and bad audio takes. I just really like that. There's a bunch of different shows that I kind of pull from, I guess. But the circus thing, I don't really know where that actually came from. I think in the third video I tried little pops of it and I just thought, I want a whole video like that. One example is in Dee’s part in Skaterdie 3, I did one of those cut-out transitions and every time I showed people, they seemed to react. So I just wanted more of it.

Hoola Hoop Hippie ttamdude photo Locs 08Pump tracks and hoola hoops make their way into this low-impact, high-concept production     Photo: Taylor

Do people know in your regular life that these are the videos you make? Let's say you're talking to a big company like Verizon for some ad work and then the people find out that what you're actually passionate about is making some of the wackier skateboard videos on the market. Have you had to deal with that?
Honestly, you'd be surprised. It gets me a lot of jobs. I'm not doing it for that reason. This isn't skating, but I made this little hot dog video. It's a dumb video on my website. It’s like me throwing hot dogs in the air, and that video that I made in about two hours has gotten me so many jobs.

Better than any resume workshop, follow the heartwarming journey of one man's quest to find a hot dog stand

They see you know how to get eyeballs!
It might be that they’re thinking, Oh, this is what the kids like. But it's funny, because people will be like, We just love the goofy stuff that you make. It's so fun. Anyway, can you help us make this really boring corporate brand video like that? I swear to God, that happens to me all the time, where I'm like, How did you look at my website, and you want me to make that? I mean, I’ll do it! I just don’t understand how that works.

That’s amazing. So you’re not laughed out of the room.
I have all my professional work on one page of my website—and it’s alright stuff—and then like a “goof” page where I put these videos. Nobody ever says anything about my professional page. I've literally worked on huge campaigns and nobody cares as much.

So you have all walks of talent in your cast. The video opens with Herbert Brown who is amazing and it closes with Dee Ostrander, who we all know. With Dee you acknowledge the level of his clips, but with Herbert and others do you ever talk to them about how they feel having their hard tricks in a “funny” video? Is it a hard sell?
It's pretty easy with Herbert. He was there from the beginning. He's 100 percent down. David Gravette also is in it. Usually, they’ve seen what I make so they’re down to be in it. Let's be honest, if you go look at Herbert’s other parts, they're way better than the one in my video. He’s so good. I don't live near him, so I’m not constantly out getting his best stuff. So even still I’m getting some B clips. My ultimate dream would be to have some really serious skater or some part that is coming out that's supposed to be a bomb part that they for some reason would let me just go hog wild with. Everybody's really looking forward to it and I put a bunch of wacky shit into it. I want to do that at some point in my life.

Friends Assisted Table Top Air Skating into the street, you gotta have spotter, same goes for Noa Yates when he tweaks over table tops 

We gotta get you a Pedro Delfino part one day. Earlier we touched on Doug Lussenhop aka DJ Douggpound. People probably know his editing work from Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show and The Eric Andre Show. He's an actual skater. How did he come to be in the videos and tag along in Barcelona?
I mean, I've been a fan of his for a long time clearly. I think he just saw one of my parts—not one of the Skaterdie videos. I’m friends with Big and people at Fancy Lad and I think they reposted it or something. And from that, he followed me. I saw he had a ramp. I was like, What’s up? Let’s skate! I thought it was gonna be like a one-off skate thing, but then we ended up being good buds. He kind of convinced me to move down to LA, which was cool. We just have similar tastes, so we’re friends. As far as Barcelona goes, we were on the same softball team earlier this year and I was talking about how I was about to go to Barcelona with a couple of friends. And he just straight up was like, Oh, can I come? Less than a week later, he booked a flight and we had a blast.

Matt Tayloer Doug Lussenhop And Crew BCN 2000From the softball field to the Barci streets with DJ Douggpund and company     Photo: Pack

Well, it makes sense you guys would be in cahoots. So in the video, it’s not just tricks and sound effects and goofs, but there’s a narrative throughline from an LA influencer. He speaks the language of promo codes on TikTok. Why did you make this character carry us through?
It's just that world is so funny to me. It’s just the most absurd reality, in your face all the time. Honestly, a lot of that comes from me working in advertising. I do a lot of campaigns for different companies and there’s just always this guy that’s like, Yeah, it's pretty fuckin’ dope what we're doing over here with Reese’s Pieces. I don’t work for Reese’s but, you know? There will just be a guy wherever trying to explain why he's so sick. I don’t wanna reveal them, but I had three people that I was sort of blending together to make this character.

There's this strange phenomenon where these people make their money off talking and wearing things and getting you to look at other things. They will say almost nothing but they’ll be talking for 45 seconds or a minute, and there's no clear opinion expressed or point made. They’ll go on about how “I work at the intersection of art and culture.” Your guy had so many lines that captured that. Did you write the script alone or with a team of friends?
I have a team of about 25 writers. No, I wrote the bones of it and a lot of the specifics, but my friend Logan Corcoran helped and he does not skate. One thing that I'm really big on is trying to include people that don’t skate. One of the funniest things you can do is get the perspective from someone who doesn't do it, because they just don't know the culture. So you get really funny words and phrases. Like the guy who takes us through Skaterdie 3 is my friend Walker Mallory and he doesn’t skate at all, so everything he says is just pure nonsense. But that one's a little less put together than this one. So my friend Logan Corcoran helped me write because he just has a funny way of wording things.

MATT TAYLOR Pullquote Its Just The Most perfect LA Douchebag Looking Place 2000
IMG 6106Commit to the bit     Photo: Akahai

You have some pretty remarkable locations in the video, including one that plays a role in the final plot point. But the backyard overlooking LA and Venice beach are exactly where you’d find these kinds of people. How did you source locations?
Well, the Venice Beach thing is pretty on the nose of that. It was the hardest to film at the Venice skatepark. I was getting laughed at so hard because I just looked so stupid, like posing and literally standing on the ramps. I just had to pretend I was that guy, because you can’t smile. You have to just commit to it. And the other location, is just my house. I live with three other people. We learned in LA that once you go past three bedrooms, you can pay the same price that you pay for a one-bedroom apartment but just get a nicer house. When I was moving down here, someone was moving out of the house and my friends already lived there. So when I saw it, I already had the idea of the influencer guy, and I knew I had to do something there. I mean, we can see the Hollywood sign from our house and it's just the most perfect LA-douchebag looking place.

You made a pretty epic My War in the video. How did you get Knox Godoy and Geoff Rowley to be part of it?
Let’s be real, it’s pulled from other sources. I’d have to find the documentary of Knox talking, but my friends showed me that and I just thought it was perfect. Who doesn’t love Knox? And he’s just saying, “How you gonna take the ‘pact in those?!” with the most Cali bro accent. Just those were ripped, though.

Skater Die Back Tail 2000A posed back tail, or pure radical talent from Shane Powell?    Photo: Zvejnieks

You’ve got a significant Dee Ostrander part in here. Was he going filming for Skaterdie or was it scraps from filmers’ hard drives?
My friend Cameron films a bunch of stuff of him and then there’s a lot of Beagle footage. Cameron is one of my oldest friends from Nashville and he kept saying he was going to send me more footage of the whole crew, clips for the friends section and stuff like that. I had the video mostly edited at that point. Then randomly one day, Cameron just sends me four WeTransfer links, like Dee footage, Dee footage, Dee footage, etc. And it’s almost 25 minutes of stuff. I asked him why he sent me all of it, and he just says, “I don’t know. I thought you could do something funny with it.” It was nice to have a fresh thing to make from scratch since the video was mostly finished. One of the last things I edited was Dee’s part. When I was watching it, I'm like, It's good, but I mean, let's be real, we’ve seen his parts. So I was at the end and I thought it would be really funny if their FU Crew Hangout watch-along show was watching and talking shit about Dee. It was a delicate line, because you don't want to roast him and say, “You suck now!” I wanted it to be more like, You're clearly way better than that.

Dee Oastrander Ollie Over 5050 UCI 750If you're throwing away an ollie over to 50-50 at UCI, you know you're good

Your premiere strategy for the video has been interesting. I went to the New York premiere and it was like getting sent on an undercover assignment. I had to find a secret DIY comedy venue in Gowanus, Brooklyn and the invite said “Don’t share the address.” It was really awesome in the end but way different than just booking a theater.
So I did five screenings, Chattanooga, Nashville, Portland, LA and New York. Every single one had some element of an opener or a comedic thing. I wanted the tone to be set right. I don't know that many people in New York. I felt weird about showing it because I’m not really in the skate scene there. But I hit up my friend Sarah Hennessy saying, “I want to do a stand-up/skate premiere thing in New York. Would you be into that?” And she got stoked and was like, You gotta do it at this DIY venue. And then she connected me with the guy to make it happen.

And for the record, I loved the event. I am usually not very amused by much skateboard comedy. I put up a guard if I know someone’s like, I'm going to tell you a joke about skaters or if it’s like bedframe tweets. But you had  Patrick from Pod About List and the lineup of acts before the vid was exceptional. The room was filled and everyone was getting laughs.
Trust me, if anyone was blown away by that night, it was me. I had the lowest expectations because I'm like, Who the fuck am I coming here? I do not have any reason to come out here. I'm just being self-indulgent or something. I thought if 20 people showed up and we had a little comedy event, it would’ve been a success. But it sold out, and how that happened, I have no idea. Everybody that was involved in the show was looking at everyone else like, Those are your friends, right? We have no idea where they came from, but there were skaters and comedy people and it was all over the place, which I thought was really cool.

Matt Taylor Bin Portland 2000One man's trash...     Photo: Akahai

Jake Gross Crooked Grind a prop for Jake Gross to crooked grind on an infinite loop

Yeah, I’ll have to track it down but one act had a full-on Powerpoint about how skating leads to delinquency and being a bad boy. It was quite good.
Yeah, I was laughing hysterically.

So that brings me to a broader question. Skating is sort of inherently a funny act, plus we constantly are talking shit and taking the piss out of things. But skate skits are historically pretty bad unless you’re Grant Yansura. So why do skating and humor usually end up being so cringey?
That's a hard question to answer. I definitely noticed when I first started that skaters were really funny. I don't know if that was just a Nashville thing or if it was everywhere. They were all funny around me and I wasn’t really the funny guy. But something shifted at some point in skating. It's always had this like, We're cool sort of attitude about it, which I've never really cared for.

Matt Taylor Pullquote I dont like the idea of people being cooler than others 2000
matttaylorhipppiThe rare and refined hippie jump up the curb, Matt's always a step ahead    Photo: Odiorne

Yeah, the attitude and humor is like a sarcastic, Nice pants comment when you see a clip.
I don't even know how to put my finger on it. There has been a shift into primarily wanting to be cool, which I’m just so anti-cool. I don't like the idea of people being cooler than others. It’s so weird to me. But to be like elite or something is just a mindset I don’t understand. Skating is so weird because you can see it play out, just by looking into the skatepark. You can see the people who think they're fucking dope or whatever. But Fancylad always does funny stuff. I feel like they’re good. But I don’t know whole lot of others off the top of my head. If you know, please send them to me! I also kind of feel that way about comedy in general. It’s not very good a lot of times, but when it is, it’s so sweet. I guess that makes whenever you find something good that much sweeter.

Yeah, and then on top of the elite cool types, you have soy-facing YouTubers or people with Theater-kid energy. It’s a bit of a cringey sandwich. I just think it’s bizarre with how silly skating is at its core, that there are so few people who do the jokes well.
We're going to the playground and going, I can slide down the slide better than you can. That’s what we’re doing, like, I can jump off the swing and do a rotation.

It's that we have good clothes when we go to the playground, or that we can hold a backpack while we do it. You’ll see people can put in hours of work, talent, drive and harness their competitive nature to get a clip that is the culmination of years of attempts leading up to it and then they'll put a little barf emoji in the caption. Detached irony is often the only humor we get. Which people use to make it seem like they don’t care about skating that much. I think that you've done a fuckin' amazing job at actually being funny. The skits are well-written and the sounds work. What is next after Sk4terdie?
I have other ideas for a fifth one, if I decide to make a fifth one. I also don't want to commit to making another one because it's so much work. Me and Doug always are talking about stuff that we want to make, but I think I want to make shorter stuff. I want to have an idea and get it out without having to make all these decisions. Finding music for a video is the worst thing known to man. You’ll find something you think is perfect and then it just doesn’t work. That’s every editor. But I definitely want to make a bunch more skate-related things that are maybe a little smaller.

I think that's well-adapted to the times. Everyone I meet that knows about Skaterdie loves it. I think with the momentum of this video should also get you some new fans. You should take pride in the video. It’s quite an accomplishment.
Thanks, man, appreciate it.

IMG 6106Onto the next....     Photo: Webb
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