Snowboarding, Surfing And The Culture Of Yesterday
Bryan Fox explains the motivation behind his latest project.
Boards. Water. Slopes and speed. Snowboarding and surfing are born from the same simple formula. But somehow, their cultures found a way to grow apart. They spawned different industries. Different ideals. Different concepts of how things should work at pretty much every level.
These days, though, things are changing. There are more snowboarders taking an interest in surfing and more surfers taking an interest in snowboarding. And suddenly, the cultures seem closer than ever.
Bryan Fox’s latest project, Yesterday, is a good representation of that. The film features three road trips in three different countries, a lot of pure snowboarding and even one quick wave. I called Bryan to ask him about the fusion of snow and surf and what we can learn from it all.
And as far as the riding goes, his overall message was resounding — just because something is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be highly enjoyable. And now enjoy the interview below.
Tell us about Yesterday.
BRYAN FOX: I wanted to keep it simple. Whenever I put out content, my whole goal is to make people want to go snowboarding. Yesterday is the sum of three different road trips, so I guess I wanted to inspire people to go on road trips with their homies and have some fun.
How were the trips?
Each of them was cool in its own way. In Japan, we rented a van in Sapporo and drove up the coast to Rishiri Island. There were no hotels or restaurants open, so we slept in the van and would eat, charge batteries and warm up at a gas station. Oregon was cool because we climbed Mt. Hood and camped near the top, then rode down and went surfing. And in New Zealand, we had a full plan but then Yoder met a guy hitchhiking the first day who happened to work for a heli-boarding company and offered to hook us up. So we literally changed all of our plans and did that.
The film has a really surfy feel to it — you even put a wave in there. Is that what you were going for?
Yeah, in a way. I can say that we intentionally didn’t put any real tricks in it. We wanted to see if we could make a short film just riding down the hill. And according to most of the people I’ve talked to about it, it’s coming across in the way we hoped: simple. I think it’s cool that people are calling it surfy.
What inspired that?
Probably some of the super-tech shit that hinders snowboarding culture from moving forward because it’s so acrobatic. That stuff is crazy to watch and I love that it exists, but it seems like they’re trying to make snowboarding a viewer-oriented sport instead of a cool activity that people can participate in. And there’s no culture that comes with that. There’s nothing for people to identify with. So I wanted Yesterday to sort of be an antithesis to all that.
Do you feel like snowboarding and surfing are getting more similar?
There are definitely more people doing both now. I think a lot of ideas are crossing over, too. I have this line of boards with Nitro called the Quiver. The concept is to have options that you’re meant to ride in different conditions, which is a complete rip-off of surf mentality. And I think snowboarding culture is becoming like surfing in the sense that you can age with. You can have fun and love it without having to do crazy shit. That’s one of the coolest things about surfing. A 70-year-old can enjoy the ocean just as much as a 12-year-old. Now, more people are realizing that you can be old and have a great time just riding a board down a mountain. I love that.
How are snowboarding and surfing alike?
They relate a lot more to each other than either of them do to skating because they’re both so dependent on weather occurrences. It keeps you way more into it because it’s futile. You have to go when it’s good because it might not be good again for a while. It’s like a human nature hunting thing — it makes it more rewarding.
What about in terms of the actual feeling?
Riding power can be somewhat similar, but people try to compare more than they should. There is something about riding natural terrain though — it’s real spur of the moment. You can’t plan what’s going on and you have to react instantly. There are times when you end a wave or a line and are like woah, I can’t believe that actually worked out.
In surfing right now, wave pools are getting popular and people worry that the sport will become routine-based and suffer as a result. Do you think there’s a parallel there with snowboarding?
100%. Parks gave us an era of all these crazy robot kids in snowboarding. They might have a board on their feet, but what they’re doing is more like gymnastics than anything else. Now there might be a generation of weird jock kids in surfing. I don’t know if it will hurt the sport though. In the end, it’ll probably just inspire the other side more. That’s what happened in snow. It gave people a reason to say fuck that, that’s not my culture and push things in the other direction.
How has your appreciation of snowboarding changed over the years?
You go through phases. Sometimes you get bored with it, then you get rejuvenated — it’s like a relationship. But right now, I enjoy it as much as I ever did. With all the fucked up things going down in the world, it’s good to have activities that enable you to fully check out, to be in that moment and not have to think about anything else.