Kai Neville’s Music to Make Movies to

A lesson in impeccable taste.


All photos by Nate Lawrence

It’s hard to deny that Kai Neville‘s had a profound effect on surf media as we know it.

Coming of age in the golden age of the surf flick, Kai went on to direct some of the more meaningful offerings that pre-cursored the demise of the traditional form. After a period as Taylor Steele’s understudy, Kai released his first solo project Modern Collective¬†in 2009. The movie went on to become a cult smash, and while it might seem a little dated and a tad ridiculous on revision (for those with selective memory: these were the days we wore skin-tight pants, stripey scoop neck tees and jewellery, and as the d-floor shaking soundtrack reminds us, listened to electro) all and sundry thought it was the coolest thing surfing had ever scene, myself included, and it undeniably changed the way that we consume surf media. Kai became the poster boy of surfing’s digital revolution; a worthy title.

Kai, Jay Davies and Dane Reynolds.

From then on, Kai’s gone on to become a force in the surf industry, making generation-defining movies such as Lost Atlas and Cluster, and founding the magazine What Youth and sunglasses brand Epokhe. If there’s one factor that’s connected his films, it’s impeccable taste in music. Even Modern Collective, with it’s synth and bass-heavy score, features the more tasteful and enduring tracks from a period that was very much of its own time. The soundtrack to Cluster¬†alone is a diverse and exquisite playlist.

The Japanese set of one of the defining sets of Kai’s movie. JJF in ‘Dear Suburbia.’

Rather than getting Kai to pick a few tracks from each of his films, we figured that we’d get him to take us on a journey through the songs that were apart of his life when he made these iconic movies. Some featured, some didn’t. All the same, it’s 26 tracks that do not miss a beat. Perfect for a long solo drive or drowning out the office noise pollution.

Click here to download Kai’s playlist.

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