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Keeping It Cool

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Few snowboarders are as dialed in as Darrell Mathes. He carries a style all his own — confident, careless of outside opinion. His sponsors are among the most desirable brands a rider would want to be associated with. He has his own production company, Videograss, through which he and his fellow founders have managed to put out one of the most anticipated videos of the year. He has a new accessory company with a growing team. The sum of all these parts? There is pretty much no downside to being Mathes. As the new shred season starts to rear its ugly head, we linked up with the Portland slayer to find out just how he's been able to hook himself up with arguably the best life in pro snowboarding, how fresh Videograss is going to be and why he will always think contests are wack.

What was your favorite thing you did this summer?

We had a premiere in Portland for Videograss and it was sick! Pretty much everybody that filmed for the movie flew in on a week's notice. We had Mikey [LeBlanc], Keegan [Valaika], Spring Break Jake [Jake Olson-Elm], Aaron Biittner, everybody except Justin Bennee, and we were so surprised by how many people turned out. It was one of the sickest nights. We all partied, had the after party at my house, stayed up till 5 a.m., cops came twice to my house, neighbors left like three different notes telling me that I need to calm down, blah, blah, blah. That was definitely the highlight of my summer, seeing all my homeys in my town, all stoked on the video.

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I want to snowboard as long as I can and I'll snowboard until my body crashes.

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Perfect segue, then ... would you say Videograss is the major thing on your plate right now? Has it been your top priority?

Yeah. It's been taking up most of my time this summer besides skating and snowboarding once in a while. I always wanted to be a part of a video, and to be able to work with Mikey LeBlanc and the Hakkers and Justin Myer, who's been killing it for us -- I think it's time for this video and time for me to put my time in. This is going to be my seventh video part, or something like that. I've been in and out of all these other production companies and now I realize that this is my opportunity to be a part of something that I think is sick and goes down in the way I think snowboarding videos should.

Do you think this is the raddest video you've been in?

Yeah! I tore my meniscus so I wasn't able to start filming until January. But besides that, I think what I got was unique, and I tried to go for some things that I hadn't really done before. I think that riding with Justin Bennee and Aaron Biittner and the rest of the dudes in the movie, I had a different perspective and tried to mix it up a little bit. I'm not really into watching my own video parts, but this year I can watch it start to finish. The music and the editing that Justin Myer does is, I think, the best editing out there so I'm definitely psyched on it.

It's still more or less rare for a rider to have so much input on both sides of a film project, and like you said, you've been filming your whole career -- can you take me through the process of breaking out and figuring out a way to do it on your own?

It all started with the Technine videos, and Cole Taylor was the one that got me into filming and showed me the ropes. For him to help me out and show me how to film a video part and know what people will expect and this and that, I straight up learned more from him than I have from anybody else. I filmed with Cole for three years. After that I filmed with Kidsnow Productions with Mikey, and that was a step up from the perspective of having to grind and work your ass off and work hard to pull off my part. I was riding with guys like Jon Kooley and Justin Bennee and all these guys who are super tech and hard workers, so that was really cool.

Then I went to Mack Dawg. It was really rad to film with him because my whole life I wanted to film for Mack Dawg Productions, that was like my dream since I was a little kid. So to be filming with the best company where everything is completely on point, I really had to learn. From Technine to Kidsnow to Mack Dawg is a really wide spectrum and gave me the perspective of seeing filming on all different levels. It also gave me a really cool opportunity to realize that I know what type of movie I want to see and I know what I think is cool. So to work on all three different types of movies, I think that helped tremendously.

I read somewhere that you felt to a certain extent that Mack Dawg was "over it." Can you tell me what you meant by that?

It was kind of falling apart. It was rad filming with Dawger, he's one of my homeys and it was awesome getting to film with him, but it seemed like they didn't have anywhere else to go. They'd been doing it for so long and they'd been killing it so that it got to the point where I think it was a good time for them to end, to leave on a good note where Mack Dawg was Mack Dawg and he was the sickest. I think it was just a good time to move on and a perfect opportunity for me to do something else. I had an opportunity to film for the People crew, and they are probably the only other crew I would film with, but I just thought, "Dude, this is perfect timing and the world needs a video like ours." I think videos these days are kind of weak; there are only a handful keeping it legit.

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We all partied, had the after party at my house, stayed up till 5 a.m., cops came twice to my house, neighbors left like three different notes telling me that I need to calm down, blah, blah, blah.

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What do you think are some of the things that you have in this video that make it different?

One thing is that everyone who filmed for the movie is totally skate influenced. I think a lot of snowboarders are skate influenced and they look up to skateboarders. I personally like the Baker videos and stuff like that, and all of us are just a little bit different than the average snowboarder. We all have different personalities and we're all just stoked to snowboard. We don't have the dolly shots, we're just trying to keep it as raw as we can with lifestyle and that skate-oriented look to it. We don't try to do those crazy mountain views or try to get all artsy, we just try to keep it entertaining. You gotta think about it, only 10 percent of people that watch a snowboard video actually get what a switch nosepress or a switch boardslide is, so I think that for the other 90 percent, you have to keep it entertaining. That's what we're trying to do.

What are some of your favorite parts?

To be honest with you, it's the first movie where I don't want to skip a part. We even have a girl's part with Laura Hadar and Desiree Melancon, and it's the most funny and entertaining part and kinda switches up the whole video. It's rad, we'll put girls in our movie and we're down for it. Also the new upcoming dudes like Jake Olson-Elm. Nick Dirks has my favorite part. You get a lot of ups and downs throughout the whole movie that keep you entertained.

Are you already working on the next one?

Yeah, with just the feedback we've been getting from people, they're all like, "Dude, you should make another movie." So we already have some new riders lined up for next year and some new ideas for us to make Videograss even better. It's cool that High Cascade is gonna give us a session next year — it's awesome and will really help promote the movie too.

Can you see yourself eventually not shredding in movies but just being a behind-the-scenes dude?

I don't think so. I want to snowboard as long as I can and I'll snowboard until my body crashes. I have too much fun. I like being in front of the lens. And I like shredding -- that's why I snowboard, and more than anything else it's all I still think about and it's all I want to do every day when I wake up. Maybe down the line but for now I can't say. I just want to keep shredding.

Speaking of being in front of the lens, how come it always comes up in articles that you are the best-looking dude in snowboarding? How do you feel about that?

I don't pay attention to that crap, or care, or even really think about it at all, to be honest with you. I just try to be a good example, if anything. I rock whatever I'm stoked on and if kids are psyched on it, then that's sweet, you know?

So it didn't bum you out that Louie Vito got on "Dancing With The Stars" and you didn't?

Hahahaha! I just saw that! That's crazy, I was trippin'. Nah, I'm not mad at all. I'm psyched for Louie!

You didn't fire your agent over that?

[Laughs] Nah! You know, I saw Louie up at High Cascade and he seemed pretty intense about the Olympic thing, so I don't know how he'll have the time to fit both in.

Do you ever get approached by crazy outside-of-snowboarding opportunities with big money that you have to think really hard about?

Not really. I have been approached by certain clothing companies or outerwear companies that would have paid me a lot of money, but it wasn't worth it. Even though it was a lot of money, every sponsor that I have, I'm truly stoked on and want to support them until the day I'm done with snowboarding. But nah, I haven't gotten anything crazy like "Dancing With The Stars" or anything like that.

Now that you mention sponsors, how did you get hooked up with WeSC?

I was in Breck preseason two years ago, and I always remembered that Jussi Oksanen rode for them and Jussi's always been one of my favorite snowboarders, and we were on a chairlift, so I said to him, "Damn, dude, you ride for WeSC? That would be totally sick." He was kinda like "yeah, yeah" and didn't really say anything on the chairlift at all. Like two days later, I get a call from Sweden and they say, "Yeah man, we spoke to Jussi and would be psyched to get you on board." I was tripping, dude. It was right when my contract was up with Ambiguous, and I love them, but WeSC was exactly the style I was into. Sure enough, we came to an agreement and they sent me the biggest box of all time. Then I was really trippin' cause everything was super sick. I really like the Superlative Conspiracy concept and how we are all different people, artists, skaters, snowboarders, DJs, etc. I like the whole perspective of it. Just to be a part of it is really cool.


You've got another project you're about to drop too, right? Masa?

Yeah, man. Me and Chris Prosser have been boys for years and I've been down for Chris since day one. I always wanted to do a side thing with him, so we would always be brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of each other. He came up with the idea and said to me, "Why don't we just make sick-ass neck gaiters with a sick-ass team?" Right away I was like, "Dude, I'm totally down for that." Cause everybody needs a neck gaiter and nobody's really put together a solid team and done it in a cool way. Plus, with neck gaiters, you can get these sick-ass riders 'cause it's not going to conflict with their other contracts. So we got Andreas Wiig, Kyle Clancy, Doran Laybourn, Nima Jalali ... it's gonna be good. The feedback I've gotten so far is that people are hyped on it. We should be in stores in December.

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I never really had that competitive feeling where I wanted to roll up to a contest and be like, 'I'm gonna win this,' you know? That's the last thing I'm thinking about. I'm thinking more about getting laid.

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Are you still hating on contests?

Man, to me snowboarding is about having fun. This is just from my point of view, but when I show up to a contest I don't have fun. Straight up. I have anxiety attacks, I get nervous, and I don't perform well in front of people. Also, I never really had that competitive feeling where I wanted to roll up to a contest and be like, "I'm gonna win this," you know? That's the last thing I'm thinking about. I'm thinking more about getting laid. I don't want to win and I think that's the main reason why I never cared for contests. There's only a couple I go to, like Shakedown, because I think it's tight and they have the best after party and everyone is just down to have a good time. If you love to win contests then whatever — I'm just not into it.

I just think people and companies and stuff are too into contests because they have more media and it's easier to promote brands at a contest. But snowboarding didn't come from contests, it came from the roots, from dirtbags that were just psyched, and I hope people don't lose that. It scares me that everybody is all about these contests. That's another reason we made Videograss, to make sure videos stay alive and fresh. I would much rather be psyched on a solid video part that I worked on all season long than third place at some contest. Videos show your personality too, who you really are as a snowboarder; that's something you can never get out of a contest.


To that end, what do you think about the Olympics? Do you think it helps or hurts the sport?

I think overall it's positive because it can bring the average Joe over to snowboarding to at least try it out, but there are also things I don't like about it. You know Louie [Vito] and Danny [Kass] are going for it and I'm down for them. We need Danny to make it because the dude has a good perspective and a good outlook on snowboarding and the way he presents himself is cool. I don't want to mention names, but some of the other dudes are just not that rad, and in a way I think they are almost hurting the sport. I think some of the guys that will be in the Olympics just don't represent snowboarding the way it should be represented ... but that's just my point of view.