The Surfersvillage Interview
Surfing’s premiere nomad, filmaker, photographer & producer
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 April, 2015 - Few surfers have surfed all seven continents. Kepa is the premiere surf-adventurer who, of course, scores wherever he goes. We’ve seen the clips of him getting barreled in exotic and remote corners of Africa, South America and Asia. But it could be argued that getting barreled is second to connecting with the larger things in life.
The moments that happen with Kepa in the non surf-porn destinations make his clips mesmerizing: Surfing with penguins in Antarctica, rolling with a tidal bore in Alaska, or getting lost in the desert of Africa, Kepa is willing to put himself out there like few others have or ever will.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just came back from a trip to Latin America, through the Brazilian Amazon and Perù the last few months. Now I am spending a few days at home editing all my stories. I am the actor in my movies, but also the filmaker, photographer, producer… I do everything by myself. Right now, I am editing a video on the Pororoca tidal bore in Amazonia.
You’ve been in some really remote areas with no one around for miles. Share with us one time you thought you weren’t going to make it out alive.
I had a really hard time in Alaska. I was in a remote island exploring with a friend that I meet, a surfer/bear hunter from Chile named Nico. We were walking through the mud and we soon realized that we were in quicksand and both our bodies were sinking down into the earth. We walked for so long, out in the middle of nowhere, just full wildness, and as I am lighter than Nico, I was making my way faster to the shore. I wasn`t sure if I was gonna make it but, then I checked back and I realized that Nico was in really big trouble. Luckily we both made it to the shore.
What is one common human thread you’ve discovered that runs through all people everywhere you go?
Well, I travel basically focused on getting barreled. That’s what makes me go so far. But on the way to these waves, especially if you are alone, you discover that human beings are amazing. All we see on TV and in the news about the world is sad stories, but as you travel the world with a backpack, you realize that there is always someone to give you a hand, to help and share. Regardless of race, social class or country, there is always hospitality, and that gives me hope.
What don’t we see on camera during Kepa’s adventures?
A lot! In the end, there is only a few minutes that make up a clip, but behind the scenes there is months of traveling: Airports, loneliness and happiness. Charge all the batteries all the time in remote places, steal WiFi through the African cities to upload the videos... But as a human being, I try to keep and show the best moments.
Any message to the kids out there who want to become Kepas?
I think there is a big mistake in our society that we seem to all have to follow the same paths, and that starts with the education of our kids. But I think the options out there are endless. I would tell the kids that I tried to make my dreams come true and that is the most valuable thing. To live a life that you are proud of. But also tell the new generation, that doing this takes a lot of work and passion.
What is that you do professionally that you are most proud of?
I feel very lucky to travel the world. For the personal experience, but also to share the experience, and If I would at least inspire one person, that would be enough to be proud.
Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment (punching frozen meat and then running up the stairs of the Capitol, music blaring).
Hahaha.... I think my biggest Rocky moment was while I was walking through the wilderness of Alaska with my surfboard, a gun and a bear spray, talking loud to the bears and telling them to get away and that I was a dangerous 5`4 tall human being. I only needed to have “The Eye of the Tiger” during that scene.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
I always dreamed about climbing in another life. That`s my other passion. I love mountains. But I would have no problem selling shoes in this life if I had to. That would be another adventure.
Kepa's YouTube channel.