Jake Kuzyk interview

During the second year of filming for two year project, Encore, Jake Kuzyk joined the Deja Vu crew, an easy addition to the group of Quebecois due to his copacetic sensibility for executing tricks with an adherence to both creativity and perfection. Jake's snowboarding is proper by definition, whether this Vancouver-based boarder is dropping in the city or in the backcountry, his tricks are always deliberate, considered, and a deft combination of individuality and archetype. In his segment in Encore, Kuzyk susses out street spots that offer plenty of opportunity for technical riding on a large scale. Two-story creepers to redirects, big close-out back ones, squared up lipslides and frontboards--every shot is loaded with Kuzyk's easy style. As Jake spends the current season stacking clips for the Vans Snowboarding movie, we're stoked to drop his Deja Vu full part to tide us over until his new section comes out. Even more, Jake sat down with friend and filmer Jake Durham to talk about filming for Encore, what he's been up to this winter, and his experience behind the lens (creating the Antisocial skate video), which is as intricate as his time spent in front of it. It's a conversation between homies, so watch Jake's part and then get some insight into what he's been up to, because regardless of medium or location, Kuzyk is a snowboarder who sets a standard that we enjoy watching and re-watching, we aspire to emulate, and mostly, we appreciate, always looking forward to what this Winnipeg native does next. - Mary Walsh



Jake Kuzyk

Quebec. p: Oli Gagnon

Jake Durham: I’ve never really done an interview before. And I think I’ve only been interviewed, like once, so…. I wrote down a bunch of questions. I was just going to start off with this one, because I think this question’s pretty sick.

Jake Kuzyk: OK, OK. (laughs)

Name, age, and sponsors.

(laughs) OK. Full name: Jacob David Kuzyk. Middle name, David. My age is 26 years old. Birthday: May 1, 1990. K2 Snowboards and bindings, Vans boots, shoes, outerwear and apparel, umm, Howl Gloves, Ashbury Goggles, Drink Water. I think that’s it. That’s it.

Where are you from and where are you currently living?

I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba, central Canada and I live on the West Coast in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Jake Kuzyk

Do you get to snowboard and film much in Vancouver?

Normally we don't, ever. I filmed here a little bit seven years ago or something. But this year it has actually been really cold, so we were filming here in December a little bit. Harry Hagan, Darrell Mathes and Aaron Blatt actually came up here for a little bit, which was really sick. They all stayed in my tiny apartment. It was pretty sweet; we all just drove around and there was actually enough snow to do stuff, so that was cool.

That’s sick. How long did it stay around?

Literally until now. There’s been snow until right now. It just started pouring and is really warm as of today. It’s been off and on throughout the winter, but there’s been snow on the ground, like a foot in some communities.

Watch Jake's full part from Deja Vu Encore.

Jake Kuzyk

Quebec, Canada. p: Oli Gagnon

That’s sick.

I’ve been away. I went to Montreal, but part of me wishes I had stuck around. It’s hard though. It’s hard to get a consistent crew going when it’s kind shady temps and it’s like not that good of snow.

Did you have stuff that you had in mind to film there?

A couple things. It didn’t snow for five years, so I stopped looking. And then when it did snow, I kind of went into panic mode and just really quickly started watching a bunch of old snowboard videos and looking through my old photos. I came up with a couple things and then went out and it was actually pretty successful considering, I think.

The footage you filmed in Vancouver is for the upcoming Vans video?

Yeah. It comes out when the Vans video comes out. I think that’s…December. I don’t actually really know, I’m the wrong guy to ask. It comes out at the end of this year.

Jake Kuzyk

Nice. And how long have you been filming for that?

We filmed for it all last winter and also the starting of this winter, so, I guess that would have been 2016, early season 2016 and then now, 2017.

Jake Kuzyk

Jake Kuzyk

p: Aaron Blatt

Jake Kuzyk

p: Oli Gagnon

Jake Kuzyk

p: Oli Gagnon

Have you been with the same crew the whole time filming for that video?

It’s actually been pretty mixed up, which has been sick. I think I’ve filmed with every single person who’s going to be in the video, with the exception of a few. We’ve been jumping around quite a bit. Sometimes we’ll go to cities with two crews and we’ll all be together for at least a little bit. Last year, we were all in Japan, like ten of us or something, for about two days and it was pretty fun.

Are you excited for any specific person’s part in the video?

I’d say Dan the most, I think. His part’s going to be really..I don’t know how to explain it. It’s going to be really like, honest—is that the word? I don’t know. He just goes filming and does whatever he thinks is cool at the time, doesn’t like overthink it or anything and just does it usually pretty easily, so the clips are all very casual. And the tricks are obviously really nice. He has really nice style. So, I’m excited to see that.

Yeah, I don’t think Dan has a trick list before each season starts or any anxiety.

I think I’ve seen him scared one time, ever. Or even show some sort of being slightly uncomfortable at trying a trick, like maybe once.

Yeah. You recently made a skate video for Antisocial Skateshop, which was super sick.

Thanks.

How long did you film for that?

We filmed almost three years. I’d say two-and-a-half years.

How do you balance that with filming snowboarding in the winter.

In the winter, I didn’t do anything. When winter came, I wouldn’t work on the Antisocial video at all. I would completely stop. We wouldn’t even film anything, because there wasn’t really anyone else filming for it. So, we’d go through periods all winter where nothing would happen and then the next summer would come around and I’d try to meet up with everyone as best as I could and keep filming. It was kind of hard. Everyone in the skate video moved away from Vancouver, kind of right when we started it and they lived in in different cities throughout Canada at different points, so that was kind of hard. But, it didn’t really affect the times where I would be filming for my video part in the winter. Maybe a little bit in the summer when we’d be trying to do extra snowboard trips to places, that was when it was hard, because I’d want to go to Hood and everything else, but there’d also be trips planned to Montreal to film for the Antisocial video. So, that was kind of a juggle. Definitely busy all year-round while I was doing it. Really busy.

Do you ever get any of your skate homies to go snowboarding?

Yeah. Because the winter’s been so good here and there’s snow on the ground and really cold, everyone is excited to go snowboarding because they can’t skate anyways and a lot of them grew up snowboarding. So, this winter’s been sick. I got pretty much all my homies to go at least once or twice, some of them even a bunch of times. It’s so sick. They’re so fired up. For me, it’s really fun. You’re going snowboarding, and they’re really excited and it makes it super casual.

That’s tight. Let’s talk about your Déjà Vu part. The Déjà Vu video was a two-year project?

Yep. But I only filmed for it the second year of the two.

With that video, did you kind of bounce around with everyone or did you have a crew for that?

The crew was kind of small, I think it was eight people. There wasn’t good snow in a lot of places so, we stuck together for the most part, all the filmers and all the riders in the same place at the same time. For most of the winter we did that, pretty much. So, I filmed with everybody at least once, but a lot especially with Will Lavigne, which was sick. Will is the shit.

Jake Kuzyk

Hell yeah. Yeah I think we ran into you in Boston, at dinner or something and there was like a huge table of all you guys.

(laughs) Yeah it was kind of crazy. It was hard to plan when you have that many people in one crew, but it worked out.

Are there any stories behind any of the shots you got?

The last clip I do a boardslide on a flat bar and then pop it onto--I don’t even know how to explain it—sort of a quick landing on this pad and then drop again, kind of like a cliff. When I was doing that, it was really early in the morning and we were trying to beat the hours at this grocery store because it was in the parking lot and it was really, really busy for some reason. There were like a million cars that always parked there. So, we go early with cones and vests and everything and everyone’s there helping. Colton and Harry are filming seriously backcountry-style from so far away. And I’m dropping in at this building that’s above the spot that’s even further away where I can’t even see Harry. So, Ben Bilocq is on this middle shelf-thing signaling to me and then to them. It’s really windy and now the cars are coming because the store’s open. It was really, really busy. They had to stop cars a bunch of times because I just couldn’t stop; I was flying through the air. And on the try I landed, cars almost got in the way, but they stopped them, but then Harry looked up and a car almost backed into him in the parking lot, so he jumped out of the way and missed filming it. So, that’s why in the movie there’s a cut kind of from one angle to another before I land it--because Harry almost got hit by a car while trying to film it and Colton was the only one who got it.

Jake Kuzyk

p: Aaron Blatt

Jake Kuzyk

p: Aaron Blatt

Damn.

It was one of the most hectic tricks I’ve ever done in my life. I would get kicked out from the top thing and then be back up there twenty minutes later and they’d kick me out again. And then I’d be back up. It took like fifteen minutes to get to the top every single time. It was pretty ridiculous.

It looks super fun riding through the parking lot when you land it.

Yeah, that was tight. The parking lot was on a hill and Colton was all the way on the other end.

Yeah. Did you get to witness any of Dillon Ojo’s slams?

(laughs) Every single one, I think. That year he only did eighteen things and he took seven slams every time he did each thing. He had like twelve clips and he would slam every single time he tried anything. And it didn’t matter, he would just get up and keep going and then the next day do it all over again. That was so nuts. I don’t know. That boardslide at the end was crazy. It looks like he smokes his face on the ledge in the first slam, too. I don’t even really remember if he did or not. Dillon is crazy. He doesn’t do that quite as much anymore.

Yeah. (laughs) That was my last question.

Chill. Just roast Dillon for the last question.

Yeah. Actually, fuck it, I’ll ask this. Who had your favorite part in Encore?

Hmmm, Louif for sure had my favorite part. Dillon, too, but I like Louif’s a lot. I just like how all of the spots generally were natural speed. I like how he still has a lot of street stuff but it’s like, he’s actually snowboarding a lot, you know? And you get to see it. The way they put it together, you get to see how all the stuff he’s hitting is pretty technical with the roll ins. All the drop ins are natty and so high tech. Some of the shit that he built for speed, I remember just being like, “Holy.” This one spot, he made this like insane pyramid out of pallets. He had to hit a full-on tabletop first to hit a spot. So sketchy. His ender, the up into the wall, he built like a rhythm section to get speed for that thing.

No winch?

No, no, no. I don’t even know how much winching he did in that part in the end. Maybe the first year, but I think the second year he totally stopped.

That’s tight.

Yeah.

I guess we could just wrap it up with that.

Yeah, I think so.

Jake Kuzyk

p: Oli Gagnon

Jake Kuzyk

p: Oli Gagnon