The Jed Anderson Interview: Be Individual

Before reinventing himself as one of the best urban snowboarders in the world, Jed Anderson used to be a contest kid riding for Forum. He used to sing in a hardcore band. He is a sponsored skater, and a self-proclaimed social media addict. Most of all, however, he is an extremely individual personality, who is not shy to speak his mind. After an epic season filming for the Nike snowboard movie we called him up in his hometown of Calgary, Canada, where he usually spends his summers.

Hey Jed, it’s kinda the off-season right now. What do your summers usually look like?
I usually go to Mt Hood for a little bit, but usually I just go skateboarding, go on a few trips with friends and whatnot. I will probably try to go to Mt Hood for at least a couple of days. It’s a pretty awesome place. But if I didn’t have a sponsor or someone to help me with the tickets I probably wouldn’t go; just because it’s so expensive. And then if you don’t have a hookup with a camp you have to ride in the public park. It’s still pretty cool but they put a lot of effort in the camp parks. You want to be able to ride the actual camps.

Right now you’re in Calgary?
Yeah.

A lot of North American media seem to have a problem with you not moving to some bigger or more trendy place.
Yeah! I don’t know why! [laughs]

Our European readers probably don’t know much about Calgary anyhow, so can you tell us a little about it?
Sure! I grew up here in Calgary. I’ve lived here since day one. I think I just like it so much because I have a lot of cool friends here and I think there are a lot of cool places here. I think it just has gotten a bad rep, but there’s actually a lot to do. I mean, in the summer I love it. It has two rivers where you go swim, a big skate park – a lot of kids are into skateboarding. There’s always shit going on. It’s not a big city but everything is pretty central. I grew up knowing I could ride my bike just anywhere. And it stays light super late, which is fun. And then in the winter it’s not a bad place to live, either. It gets really cold but I always go snowboarding so it’s not so bad. And we have an airport here and you can fly directly to Europe. It just makes shit easy. I am not opposed to moving, but there’s no point, really. It’s pretty cool. Where are you based at?

The Onboard office is based in Munich. I guess that’s somehow similar: It’s not the biggest city, but its location is quite good, not too far from the mountains, and what some people might call boring others will call mellow.
Yeah, exactly!

50-50 on the slides in Edmonton. Photo by Andy Wright

Your circle of friends consists mostly of people who are not into snowboarding, is that true?
I think that is something that has shaped my snowboarding. Because I have never been around snowboarders. I have when I was younger but lately I don’t hang out with snowboarders when I’m not on a trip. It gives me a different way of looking at things when I am on a snowboard trip. It opens my eyes and I look at things in a different way as opposed to always being around people who talk about snowboarding. It honestly makes me really grateful for what I have. Some of my friends have just shitty jobs and are barely able to pay rent. A lot of snowboarders who are sponsored have it pretty easy. I have it pretty easy, but it makes me really appreciate my situation.

As a kid you were on this full-on pipe riding contest track. How come you got into that in the first place?
I didn’t really know much about the filming side of things. So I was just grateful to go to all those resorts and do contests on the weekends. I had a great time doing that. But when you are about 15 you start to become more of an individual and do things in another way. I didn’t like the idea of being judged in a contest anymore. I started watching snowboard videos. That part of it appealed to me a lot more. You can pretty much do whatever you want. Put music to your snowboard part or whatever – create a project from a whole season rather than just going to contests and being judged by people who sometimes don’t even snowboard. I got over that and wanted to be more of an individual.

I’ve read that from that time onwards your dream was to have shots published in snowboard mags and film a video part.
When I first saw video parts I wanted to be on legitimate trips. I just wanted to film a video part with a real production company. That was my goal. When I was about 16 that was all I ever wanted to do.

You’ve had all of that by now: You’ve had shots published, you filmed with Videograss, you’ve released an online video part last year. What keeps you going these days?
I look at it from the creative side of things. I feel like artists or musicians: They always know that they can do something better than before. That’s why I keep doing it. I actually watched some of that Nike part of mine, and I hate that part now! I’m like ‘Oh, I could have done this, and I could have done that!’ Over the years you look at things differently. You want to continuously progress. It’s almost like chasing something. I am always looking for that perfect part, it’s something that I want to happen, and I get closer and closer. The whole thing is a learning process, but I think that’s an interesting part about it.

While you are talking about the creative aspect of filming a video part, it seems an increasing number of production companies are struggling or have already disappeared. You yourself had your last video part released online. Is this development something that worries you?
It is definitely a bummer. I remember waiting every year until a DVD came out and walking out to the store and buying it and having the actual DVD. I still love doing that! It sucks that the internet is doing that, but it’s something that’s so out of snowboarders’ or skateboarders’ hands. It’s just the way the world is going. I wish it wasn’t. I worry about kids growing up and not appreciating videos so much. Because now you can go online and there are the most amazing video parts coming out, but people forget about them so quick.

Sometimes it feels that no matter how good the stuff is you put out, it will get lost in this constant stream of new content.
There’s just way too much video online. You can go back three years, and the biggest videos then were things like Sunday in the Park. That was so cool, because kids would wait for those Sundays. But for me there’s not that much good content online now. I like the Lick the Cat videos. Those are still awesome, but I think kids don’t appreciate it that much, because they can go to a computer every day and log on to a website and there’s gonna be something new. It’s overload.

But then, we have to run a print mag and a website, and we have to make things appear fresh and interesting every day. I find that quite hard, because a lot of times content is quite similar, everyone follows the same formula, and even brands sponsor a similar type of snowboarder. I don’t think you can be classified as a type, you’re pretty unique in what you’re doing. Do you follow a plan? Do you try to be different?
Thanks for saying that, I really appreciate it. I guess it just kind of happened. It’s just the way that I grew up, the different experiences I had that moulded me into where I am. I didn’t really plan it, I never thought about it. I just try to do what sounds right to me. I always try to live that way. It’s not easy, like not being recognised in the way you want to. But with the people I was surrounded by growing up and the people I am surrounded by now I just take everything that I want and use everything to the best of my knowledge and try to snowboard the way that I would like to see it. Most of the people I look up to are people like that. They are individuals.

Backside Nosepress on a stockholm double kink. Photo by Lucas Nilsson

Can you drop some names?
I really look up to people like Mark Gonzales. He’s definitely been one of my main heroes. The way he is skateboarding… He is totally an individual. He’s rad. There’s a lot of people who meet him and think he is some weirdo guy. I just appreciate people that are themselves. If I meet someone and they’re being themselves, even if I don’t like them I can still appreciate the fact that they’re not trying to be whatever, do you know what I mean?

There’s this cliche phrase of ‘Keeping it real’. A lot of people use it, but I think the basic meaning is just ‘be yourself’. In the boardsports business, a lot of people seem to put on a fake image. Would you agree?
Yeah, I think so, too. But it’s not like that just in snowboarding and skateboarding, it’s just in the world in general. People wanna be liked. I guess it gives you a good feeling to be liked or wanted. It’s hard to be yourself, because a lot of times it’s different from what is accepted or not accepted by the general population. I’m for sure still learning and it is still hard in a lot of situations to speak your mind, but I try to be that way and I’ve always had a lot of respect for people who are that way.

Coming back to brands and who they sponsor. Why do you think it sometimes feels like they are not backing the entire diversity and the fun of snowboarding but support a lot of contest riders and generally do what seems a safe bet?
I don’t know. As far as the contest thing goes: I think it is important for many companies to make a lot of money. There’s a lot of people they can reach through X Games and whatnot. I have so much respect for those snowboarders that can do all that stuff and are progressing things on a technical level, that’s pretty insane, but I think there are still companies that are embracing the diversity, like Ashbury, Videograss, stuff like that. They are showcasing different styles of snowboarding. But for many companies, it all comes down to money. It sucks, but snowboarding is a pretty huge sport. It’s weird, you’ve got to have a lot of money to start snowboarding. It’s an expensive thing to do, and snowboards are expensive to produce, so there’s so much money behind it that a lot of companies seem to get caught up in that.

Snowboarding should be all about fun, but at times it feels it’s turning into a regular sport, just like tennis or hockey. Would you agree?
Snowboarding is pretty young as an activity. Even if you compare it to skateboarding with stuff like Street League. I look at some of the video productions, and that’s so much different from the Olympics or the X Games. It’s like two different things, even though you use the same kind of board. It’s definitely weird, but at the same time – if people enjoy doing that then I don’t care. For me I’ve got nothing to do with that so it doesn’t really bother me too much.

Of all things you could have done you decided to ride for Nike, and that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Why did it make sense for you?
I snowboarded for a bunch of different companies throughout my “career” or whatever you want to call it. With a company like Nike, it does come with a bad rep just because it is such a mega brand. But everyone who works there and the opportunities they are allowing me to do… they are supporting me in exactly what I’ve been saying before: Being my own person and making my own decisions. I have been with companies before where they told me to do certain things. With a company like Nike, if you are one of their “athletes” or whatever, then they are pretty much supporting you fully in whatever it is that you wanna do. A lot of other companies can’t offer that. That’s pretty much why I feel it’s a good decision for me. It is very stable. This is my job, so to speak. There’s so much more stuff relevant than just the money. I know what people think: “Oh, he just went with it because he got more money!” It’s totally not like that. If they actually met the people who work at the company and talked to them, they’d realize it’s a super positive thing. I was definitely the same when I started snowboarding for them. I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted to do. I just wanted to ride for a core brand. But some core brand can’t allow you to do what you want. Nike allows me to be an individual and are supporting me with that 100 percent. I can’t see how that’s a negative thing.

Do you get to hang out with the Nike snowboard team a lot?
Oh yeah! I have been on some trips with Justin Bennee and Austin Smith. And it was funny, I was on a trip with Ethan Morgan and Halldor [Helgason]. I never thought I would go on a trip with those dudes. When I was younger I wouldn’t have been so sure of going on a trip with those guys, but it was awesome! It’s interesting to look back and to see that there is maybe that part of me that used to be a little more judgmental what with what type of snowboarders you’d meet or hang out with. But they were super cool.

The past season you have filmed for a Nike movie project. Can you tell us a little more about that?
It’s gonna come out in fall. I’m pretty excited. It’s two different videos. One of them is just the classic snowboard video with video parts. Not sure exactly who got spots. But then there’s another movie that Per Hampus [Stålhandske] is working on. It’s more of a documentary style, behind the scenes, it’s kind of showing the other side of snowboarding rather than the contest side of it, just showing how much work gets put into it. And that’s more of a documentary film, and I can’t wait to see both. I think the one with the video parts is called ‘Never Not’. That’s pretty much all I know.

In some of the photos on these pages you can be seen hitting backcountry jumps. How did that come about?
What I did when I grew up was ride everything. I was on the mountain all the time, snowboarding in powder, building and hitting little jumps. I always wanted to go back to that. But I don’t have a snowmobile. Then the opportunity came up to go to Austria and it was pretty mellow, pretty safe. Pretty much shit happened just like that. Joe Carlino and I decided to go on a trip to Austria for a week and build some jumps. It worked out pretty well, we got a lot of days with sun. It was pretty much the ideal situation for my first trip jumping.

Is this something we’ll see you doing more in the future?
Yeah, I’d definitely like to go back to Austria, or somewhere in Europe and hit jumps. I love hitting jumps. In North America you have to have a truck and a flat to be able to do that. It’s not something that I was willing to invest that much money and time into. But if I have the opportunity to go somewhere where I can hike I’d definitely like to keep doing it. It’s pretty fun.

If you like Europe, it sounds like the perfect place for you to come back to.
Yeah, if you compare it to Whistler, they wake up at 4.30 in the morning and then they race to the spot, because there’s so many other crews out there. You drive for hours, and then there might be another crew already. In Europe it’s super mellow. You get up at 8.30, go to the mountain at 9, take the chairlift up and hike for maybe 45 minutes, build a jump and hit it. That’s maybe four or five hours and then your ride out of it. It seems a lot more organic. It has more the vibe of being on a trip to a city. You’re getting up and going to a spot, you go snowboarding, and then you go home. It’s not as crazy.

Sami, our photo editor, claims that nothing beats riding a perfectly shaped pipe in perfect conditions. Would you agree?
I don’t think I would. I really like small shitty resorts that have a rope tow or something and are open maybe at night. I really like doing that shit. That’s probably my favourite thing, just doing really fast laps. Also, I just like any powder day, that’s obviously very fun. I mean, halfpipe is really awesome, too. The big halfpipes now are too big for me, but a small slushy halfpipe is always super fun, I agree.

I think we’ve covered it all. Thanks for you time, Jed, and looking forward to seeing you over here in Europe soon.
Awesome man, thanks.

Sponsors: Salomon, Nike, Ashbury, Stance, Protec, The Source