A Conversation With Phil About "A Bicycle Tempo"
For those of you who aren't familiar with Philippe's past video projects or edits, we'll give you a bit more context before jumping into this interview...
Phil has always been committed to push the boundaries of his imagination and has a unique view on snowboarding. A couple of years ago, he and his brother Émile released a crazy edit on his DYI backyard snowboarding turf setup. I had never seen something like it - a mix of creativity, humour and pure raw talent on a snowboard.
Summer Turf Snowboarding 4
Phil has since moved his crazy ideas to the streets and released a couple video parts in the past years. His latest: The Bicycle Project, a 100% DIY snowboard video in which he and his brother even made the music for. The idea for this project was to create a snowboard video while generating the smallest ecological footprint possible. For this reason, the team built some trailers to put behind their bikes to carry their gear from spot to spot during the frigid winters of Québec.
The Bicycle Project
Coming into the 19/20 season Phil and his crew will be releasing their latest video; A Bicycle Tempo.
Here's a chat I had with Phil about his latest project.
Tell us about A bicycle Tempo. Where does the name come from and what’s the idea behind the project?
We hear it really often, the world is moving too fast. When you ride your bicycle everything is slow, you can enjoy the view, the city noises, the nature noises, you can enjoy human contact at every stop you make, you have all the time you need to focus on yourself and how you feel. At the same time, everything is going fast enough.The kind of fast that allows you to do everything you need in a day, going to work, grabbing groceries, visiting friends. With the bonus of staying healthy and sleeping well. This video has been built on a bicycle tempo, moving fast enough to be productive (locally) and slow enough to appreciate it!
Based on the reaction you gave me when I talked to you about our manufacturing process and our 100% recycled binding boxes, I could tell that the environment is something that you're really passionate about. Who else is supporting you right now and why do you work with them?
Of course, it should be our main priority! Every effort counts! We need to move fast and make real efforts. No time for trying to recycle and letting the tap run while brushing your teeth. We need to work hard in a way that we will feel destabilized. Change is scary, but after a while it will be the best thing we will have ever accomplished as a society! For the brands who helps me with snowboarding there’s Niche, Environmental Clean Gloves and my local board shop 5-0. I’m associated with them because I believe they are making real efforts.
During a call we had in February you told me that you were trying to come up with some new tricks for this video. Not new tricks for you, but NBDs (Never Been Done tricks) for snowboarding in general. How did that go?
I think the main goal for any snowboarder is to do all NBD’s. The thing is, what really defines an NBD? Almost every trick in every part is new, because nobody wants to do something that has already been done. I’m talking about the same trick on the same spot. But a real NBD to me is a new trick that has never been landed on any features in any ways OR a combination of a trick that could have been done in the past, but never with a really specific type of spot. For example, the ender of the Bicycle Project last winter. A bunch of people have done some belly slide and a bunch of people have done some bs wallride, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone belly sliding under a fence to bs wall. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I watch a lot of snowboarding, but I don’t know everything.
Now that I’ve established what’s an NBD to me. I might have 3 this winter. Maybe they've been done in some parks. I don’t know. I don’t really watch park riding.
I remember you mentioning that you never visited any resorts growing up. What was that like? How did you get into snowboarding?
I’ve learned how to go down a hill in a resort and tried some 50-50 on rails. But, at the age of 15 when I really wanted to learn how to ride rails, I was too shy at the mountain. So, I built a backyard ramp that would look like a street set up and I spent so many hours on it. Crazy amounts of hours! I would have been rich if those hours would have been paid haha. Every year or two I try to connect with park riding, I would go once or twice or not at all. I never fully enjoy myself. I don’t like being watched when I’m trying tricks, it makes me uncomfortable and snowboarding is all about confidence.
What do you do outside of snowboarding? Are you passionate about anything else, as much as your are about snowboarding?
Nothing comes close at the moment. I think agriculture is really on the edge to kick in. I also like rock climbing and playing tennis, but snowboarding consumes me in a way nothing else will ever consume me.
What do you think attracts you so much to snowboarding?
That’s a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. I’ve realized that from the beginning until the Bicycle Project I was doing it mainly for the valorisation that I was getting from the regards of others. I was choosing my tricks to fit in, I was editing my parts to fit in, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get a certain quantity of tricks, not even tricks that I loved just tricks for tricks. Snowboarding was bringing me a lot of anxiety. Witch is completely wrong and a great way to hate it. At the end of 2016 it got to a point where I really wanted to stop filming. At the same time, it felt wrong to quit when I still haven’t filmed something that I was really proud of. I said to myself how could you send a message to a maximum of persons that we need to move and change for a cleaner planet. I wanted to do more than what I was doing for myself for the environment, so I’ve decided to make it happen trough my snowboarding.
This is when the Bicycle project has born. This project gave me so much inspiration. I made it for me and Emile before everyone else. With our music, our values and our vision of snowboarding. When I watch this video even though it has been a thousand of times, I feel my arm hairs rise. This is what attracts me to snowboarding, creating a video that will bring me emotions.
Can we have a sneak peak of what's brewing in that mind of yours for the upcoming season?
I’d like for sure to start my own farm soon! For snowboarding I’ll keep it secret.
Are you considering building a summer snowboarding turf setup on your farm?
Of course! If I have no hill, it’s a no brainer, yes. Especially when I have my own children who are old enough to snowboard.
A unique thing about your videos projects is the fact that it's all filmed in Québec City. Obviously if you're commuting on your bicycle, it's hard to go to other places but is there another reason why you and your crew strictly film in Québec? Do you have plans to head on snowboarding trips elsewhere or move to a different province or country in the future?
Yes, we only film in Quebec City. Even if we take the car we are not going far. Like you’ve said at the beginning we want to create snowboard videos while generating the smallest ecological footprint possible. It’s tempting sometimes to go to some other places, but Quebec City has everything we need and I don’t plan on filming anywhere else. There are still so many spots, but the challenge is to find some that aren’t a bust. Two of my best ideas this winter have been destroyed with kick outs, those would have brought the video to another level, but you know how it is.
How do you find new spots? Québec City is a Mecca for street snowboarding, which attracts people from all over the world to come to film. It must have become pretty hard to find new spots throughout the years for that reason.
I find a lot of them riding my Bicycle. Also, I think I’m not interested so often with the same kind of spots people want to board. People are looking for big stuff. When I have big spot ideas, I send them to Mammouth Durette. He did two of them this winter, I filmed him for those, prepare yourself it’s absolutely insane.
By looking at your past project, we realize that you keep your crew pretty tight-knit. Who do you have helping you out during the winter? What do you like about working with them?
My Brother is the main pillar behind everything I do. He’s so patient and talented. I also have Benjamin Larue who faded out a bit this winter, but still made it to a couple of spots. He’s been our partner for 5 or 6 years and we’ve done some crazy stuff together over those years. It’s always comforting when he’s at the spot, he really understands my vision. I have Olivier Dion who’s there pretty much half of the time. He is busy working, because I know he’d be there all the time otherwise! He is the coolest snowboard geek. I have William Letourneau who’s also busy working, but makes it as often as he can. We grew up in the same little street! We used to play all sorts of games. He’s the funniest, even when I’m mad about my trick not working, he would tell a weird joke. We also have Samuel Dumont Levesque and Joe Gravel - they’ve come to help us a couple of times and they are awesome! Thank you guys, you are the best!
Do you have any special thanks you would like to make?
Thanks Max, for that interview! Thanks Niche, Fix, ECG and 5-0 Boardshop.