The first interview in Bike Life, a new documentary directed by Dan Emmerson with creative collective Somesuch, is with an elderly resident disgruntled by the kids who ride motorbikes through the streets of Cardiff, Wales. "We've reported them to the police," he says, but then pivots to not having a problem with sensibly riding bikes, as it keeps the kids out of trouble and from becoming "huge [and] fat" by using "the bloody computer."
This sets the tone for the three-minute short, which depicts Daniel Commander and his crew of cyclists as passionate, mischievous motor athletes looking to break out of their dreary locale and into a global audience via social media. The crew's road shows are condensed into a bullish pace, their performances soundtracked by stellar new songs from Mall Grab and Peder Mannerfelt. Running at about the length of an average trailer, Bike Life is an exhilarating peek at the moments both large and small that make a local subculture special.
Dan Emmerson spoke in proud and intrigued language when describing Britain's youth culture in an email to The FADER. “Britain is the best at youth cultures. British youths have always taken inspiration from overseas. Young graffiti writers from Wolverhampton in the 1980s would imitate the styles from the Bronx in the same way that British mods in the 1960s would take inspiration from their Italian counterparts."
"I'm fascinated by how much of a role social media now plays in forming these subcultures and tribes," he continued. "It's now possible for a kid who lives on the outskirts of Cardiff to feel a sense of belonging to a scene that started in Baltimore. In an area where there is little to nothing going on, bike life gives them a purpose and keeps them out of turning to crime and hard drugs.”