Thanks to obsessively curated soundtracks and memorable personalities, Videograss films have amassed something of a cult following in the snowboarding world. One of the best psych songs I've ever heard came from a Videograss part, so I caught up with VG co-founder Justin Meyers to find out how he pulls so many legendary tracks for his movies.
So how did VG become what it is today?
JM: Videograss started in 2008 out of the need to make a snowboard video the way we wanted. Nima Jalali, Darrell Mathes, Lance/Mike Hakker, Mikey Leblanc and myself teamed up to make it happen. It wasn’t that the other movies out there weren’t what we wanted, but more so we just wanted to control the entire process from riders to music to editing.
"Matching little random magical moments from behind the scenes stuff and putting it to the perfect part in a song is the most satisfying feeling when editing."
Since we connected over the Outer Limits/Jake Kuzyk mini-part, can you tell us what that song means to you and how you found it?
JM: I can’t quite remember, but I think I found that song on an old 45. Before you could find anything and everything on YouTube or the internet, I would find some rare tracks on vinyl and a couple times I actually recorded the record with my camera straight from the vinyl and it was super low budget but almost gave it an even better vibe.
Videograss is known for featuring old psych and garage rock gems. Where do you find all these songs?
JM: Long before starting VG, I’ve spent countless hours digging crates, surfing the web, and trading songs with friends. I’ve always kept an arsenal of songs I call “the vault” that I could use in the Sunday In The Park web series and after that the High Cascade recap videos and such. When starting Videograss, I had a decent sized vault built up. Nima Jalali is also to blame for some of the garage vibes. He’s a garage junky. He's contributed a few songs over the years.
Anytime someone contributes a song to the vault I add their name to it and make sure to get their approval before using the song. I’ve sent people songs before just for listening and it ends up in their edits and that’s a real kick in the nuts! So I try to extend the courtesy for “the right to veto” on any submitted songs.
"The snowboard industry loves to celebrate the nerds and spit out people like Jed who don’t conform and have their own personas and styles."
What inspires the soundtracks you create for Videograss films?
JM: I’m usually a sucker for songs that are fun to edit to. Something that has a lot of character with good drums and not too repetitive. Mostly, when matching a song to a part, I try to use something that fits with that certain person’s personality and style.
Which rider is the most fun to edit and find a song for?
That’s a toss up between Nick Dirks, Gus Engle, Jake OE, Jonas Michilot, or Jed Anderson. They all end up having so much personality in their parts that just fit so well with the right song. Matching little random magical moments from behind the scenes stuff and putting it to the perfect part in a song is the most satisfying feeling when editing.
What’s your take on Jed Anderson not riding for sponsors anymore?
Ya, it’s a shame, I still talk to Jed often and maybe we will see him return one day?? I think he just got fed up with the current state of snowboarding and lost financial support to do it for whatever reasons. The snowboard industry loves to celebrate the nerds and spit out people like Jed who don’t conform and have their own personas and styles. Not any particular brand’s fault but there’s a lot of guys that get slept on that actually made snowboarding cool. Guys that get tossed like rocks that just seemed to be such obvious gems like Gus Engle, Jonas Michilot, Nick Dirks, Layne Treeter, Jed, the list goes on. Guys like that should have been put at the top in my opinion and celebrated for their uniqueness. I would say it’s a scenario where you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, but I don’t think the industry even realizes there is something missing.
What’s your favorite Videograss soundtrack and why?
JM: It’s hard to say. All the videos sort of blend together for me, but I think the first three had some good tunes. “Videograss”, “Bon Voyage”, and “Shoot The Moon”.
What goes into making a soundtrack for a snowboarding film and what’s the hardest part?
JM: A LOT of hours digging and hunting for songs. I easily spend more time finding music than I do editing the parts. As far as an entire soundtrack, I just like to build flow. Start out heavy, mellow out a bit, then pick it up again, mellow back down, then hammer it home. Just laid out in a way that keeps you entertained and no two songs back to back that feel similar. Also I strive to stick to the rule that if it was in a skate video or snowboard video then it is off limits. I always research as much as possible to avoid ABU(already been used) but it happens to the best of us, when a song slips through and we find out it was used before. (you don’t sleep well on those nights)
What’s your favorite song part of all time and why?
JM: Heath Kirchart’s part in Sight Unseen. Nights in White Satin by The Mood Blues. Heaviest shit ever!!
What’s one track you’ve always wanted to use in a film, but never have been able to for whatever reason?
JM: I’ve got this song I’ve been saving for the right part, and I try it every year and it just doesn’t fit. One day soon I will use it, but I have to keep it in the vault for now. If someone ends up using it before I do, I would be devastated.
What filmer out there constantly inspires you with their edits and song choices?
JM: Jake Durham more times than not has used a song that makes me jealous and wish I had found it. Same goes with Tanner Pendleton, Colton Feldman, Hayden Rensch, and Butters. Those guys always find good music, and I can tell they had fun editing the good tracks.
"He’s sent me many, many, many songs that are absolute garbage, but then randomly comes through with the best track ever. "
How much say do riders have over the song for their part?
JM: It depends on the rider haha. Most of the guys I would say it’s 100% their choice because I trust their taste. Jake Kuzyk will always pick his own song these days. He knows what fits his footage best. He was still young and not fully tuned back for that Outer Limits track so I didn’t give him the choice then, but now he 100% picks his own. Jake OE on the other hand is hit or miss. He’s sent me many, many, many songs that are absolute garbage, but then randomly comes through with the best track ever.
What new music have you been listening to lately?
JM: I’ve been liking some of the new stuff people are putting out, but more so just for listening, not using in a part. For edits lately, I’ve been hunting through some old foreign tracks. Some 60s/70s music from Peru, Iran, etc. Also, I like researching more and connecting band members to other more obscure projects that might not be known. I’m trying to stay away from known songs, just because it’s always fun to offer up a band someone hasn’t heard before. I’ve dug up some good ones I will have to keep top secret and in “The Vault”.
What’s next for you and Videograss?
JM: I have been working on a project by myself this past winter. Moving forward I’ve been putting endless thought into coming up with something fresh and exciting for next winter. The last few years marketing budgets in snowboarding have shrunken, forcing me to work with either a smaller crew or solo. I really want to get back to working with a creative crew and work towards a common goal. Snowboard videos are so much more fun when taken on as a collective.