I spent almost 20 years as a location audio mixer and was lucky enough to travel the world and meet some very interesting people. Five Questions With is a regular interview series where we get to ask five questions to adventurous DemerBox owners. Up first is the intrepid Frenchman Bas Pot. Enjoy!
James: Bas, we’ve never met but we have a lot of friends in common from the film and TV production world. Tell us a little bit about what you do for work and how you go into it.
Bas: I come from an adventure guiding background… having spent the 90’s developing adventure trips in remote locations around the globe. In 97 a chance meeting with Mark Burnett led to me being involved in eco challenge adventure race (designing and operating the mountain bike legs of that race for the next 6 years) Through those races I came into contact with a bunch of adventure TV cameramen, sound guys and producers and there was no going back… more and more adventure TV shows were going off to remote locations and needed guys like me to facilitate them with everything from location selection to logistics and safety… and so my ‘career’ was born! It has led to over 20 years of adventures in the worlds mountains, deserts and oceans, but most of the time I am asked what I do I tell people I am a glorified nanny… taking care of big kids with expensive toys in extreme environments...
James: I remember seeing very cool photos of you replacing the shingles on your roof a few years ago. Tell me about your amazing home and how you managed to tackle such a massive project
Bas: I spent 23 years on the road, in over 100 countries, moving from one adventure to the next with no house, car or permanent possessions. The last 5 of those years with my wife and last two and half with our new born son Callum… so when we finally 'settled down’ it was always going to be somewhere special. Our place is an old farm at the end of a 5 mile single track mountain road in the French Pyrenees. The idea is simple… to create a mountain retreat where we can pay back into the world the great hospitality that we have received around the globe. We moved in 7 years ago with the birth of our 2nd child and we are about 4 years from completion… Fortunately work comes in fits and bursts… which is perfect for me as I go away and earn money then am able to take long periods of time off to work on the renovations and development of the project here… it also helps to have a constant stream of visitors from around the world coming to help! Having never before met anyone from further afield than neighboring Spain our 84 year old neighbor has now welcomed folk from over 20 countries and 5 continents into his house for aperitifs!
James: You have been to a lot of countries. Where are some of the most memorable places you’ve been? Good, bad or otherwise.
Bas: I actually travel more for the people I meet than places I visit and after 30 years of travel through over 125 ‘countries’ political borders become less and less relevant and you realize the world is made up of human populations that basically desire the same things… but back to the question… memorable places...so many! Personally I love mountain deserts more than anything else… the Hoggar Mountains slap bang in the middle of the Sahara are incredible… more accessible and probably my favorite mountain range is the Cordillera Huayhuash in northern Peru, it is such a compact range of mountains with a load 6000m peaks each one fantastic and alluring in its own right. I love Iran, and honestly it is the most mis-represented country in the world… the impression the media gives us of it is so far from the reality of what you find there. People there are incredibly generous, hospitable and welcoming regardless of where you are from.
James: How has DemerBox fit into your life? What’s your favorite DemerBox feature?
Bas: We have come so far with portable music and for me the DemerBox is the ultimate solution to travelling with tunes. I have always travelled with music… back in 1989 that meant a walkman and 15 cassettes…constantly dealing with battery issues and by the end of a 6 month trip the walkman would be full of dust and dead, most the cassettes ruined or traded… and I could never really share the tunes with those around me… Now… well my DemerBox goes with me everywhere… last week we where in the gulf of mexico on a 70 min speed boat transfer while filming whale sharks for Natgeo and it was pumping out tunes and we skipped over the waves, this week its hanging of scaffold as I renovate one of our barns… next week it will be rocking out a remote party far from electricity with 50 locals gathered up in the mountains celebrating the end of another great summer…
Favorite feature… now you have me thinking…
Obviously I love that it is fully waterproof, but one thing that is never really mentioned or highlighted is that it is also dust proof… for me dust and fine sand are responsible for fucking up far more of my electronics than water. I tend to store my most precious and important electronics in my Demerbox while on expeditions and have a number of custom foam inserts and leather cases for different configurations… sat phone, gps, EPIRB etc… but equally i love the ease and security of arriving at the beach and just throwing everything my pockets… car keys, money, phone etc… into the DemerBox…
Its durability really is legend and an incredibly important feature for me… and I really have pushed it to the limits… its been transported on the back of a camel in 48C heat then the next month been left outside of the tent buried in snow at minus 10… actually one of the funniest moments was waking up in camp one winter morning in Montana while shooting Dual Survival to 12 inches of fresh snow… everything was buried and we had left the DemerBox outside playing tunes to us as we went to sleep… now where the hell was it? It was quickly found by pressing play on the iPod (Led Zep - Ramble On if I remember rightly)… a night out at sub zero buried in snow and of course it was ready to rock, it literally shook the fallen snow off it with vibrations!
On the other hand that memory makes me think that maybe my favourite feature is battery length… recently I went off on a week long trip and forgot to take the charger… listening 5 hours a day I was still enjoying tunes on my drive home from the airport!
But on reflection having said all that at the end of the day what really counts for me is the quality of sound, my wife has the Bose SLIII, which is phenomenal sound quality (as you would expect from a company of such size, history and reputation) and the DemerBox is easily a overall match and for certain tunes (e.g. Brass Against the Machines cover of Wake Up) it walks all over the Bose…
James: What interesting things do you have planned for the future?
Bas: My wife and some friends have recently started an alternative school in our region and I am really looking forward to being more and more involved in that. Education really is the key to changing the way we are living on this plant and the path they have chosen really strikes a chord with me. I have had an incredibly fortunate life, pursuing my passions, having a great time and making a living out of it to boot. Now its time to share those experiences with the next generation and hopefully inspire a few to pursue their own dreams with joy and abandon.
I am also looking forward to going walking with Lions in the Luangwa National Park next month… if the Lions are not forthcoming not for the first time I will pulling out one of my old tricks to get their attention and draw them out for camera…I stick the DemerBox in the long grass and play an old lion roar recording from the BBC archives!!! It works overtime and no matter how big the Lion I know my DemerBox will survive the encounter.