Where are you now?
LOUIF: I'm at home, 20 minutes north of Quebec City.
You've probably been at home more this season than you have in a long time. All things considered, do you feel like it's a blessing in disguise being your first year as a dad?
LOUIF: Yes and no, because Mom had her maternity leave until the end of winter. So, we were ready for me to do a lot of snowboarding and just do shorter trips and longer breaks between trips. But we did get a good winter here, so I was able to do a good chunk from home. I'm at peace with the current situation, getting to spend a lot of quality time with Thomas and witnessing a lot of his evolution that I would have otherwise missed.
Was Thomas's name influenced by Tommy Gesme?
LOUIF: Late night crosseyed Tommy, no. Switch backside 270 Tommy, maybe. No but seriously, not related. We were just looking for a classic, simple short name that you can't mess up and that has a fun short version. Choosing a name is so weird, and honestly now when I see his name printed, I'm like, "oh wait, I don't even remember how we ended with this one."
How is the backyard coming along?
LOUIF: The rail section is completely buried. I usually ride it with the homies late fall, early winter, before we start filming and going on trips. After that I usually don't really touch it unless it's a special occasion--like a session during the holidays or something. And then, normally we would dig it all out and ride it again in the spring time when we're pretty much done with filming. But, with this current situation, my motivation to ride it solo is a little low. Plus, I'm definitely not trying to get hurt. But I think I will end up digging it out because I'm feeling more and more like I need to stimulate my abilities before the snow is gone.
Seb Picard in Lou's home playground. Home lines.
LOUIF: As for the Asmo glades, that is up in the woods behind. I just have eternal trimming to do. I'm basically trying to clean up a 100+ year old forest, with lots of dead wood everywhere. I'm just laying all the sketchy branches or stumps flat on the ground, filling up holes and making little bumps and features. This is a never ending process but it's already come a long way. I think in a couple of years it will start looking pretty good.
LOUIF: As for the bike trails, I have two sections that meet up into one. This is also a never ending process, because you have to keep maintaining them as they get weathered. Plus, you can always upgrade them as you learn to ride them. I don't think I'll ever get bored.
Lou's Backyard Glades Pow surf party.
Theoretically speaking, if you had to choose only pow surfing or only snowboarding for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
LOUIF: Part of me would want to say powsurfing, because I feel like I can challenge myself on mellower terrain, and growing older and doing it behind the house. Sometimes with snowboarding, I feel like I need something very challenging in front of me to feel excited. Like I need to do it at the top level to feel satisfied. But then in reality, powsurfing is actually limited to certain conditions and terrain, and with a snowboard you can access so much more and do a lot more air and everything. So thank god I don't have to make this decision. I really like both for different reasons.
Do you have any creative outlets that you've been exploring while chilling at home?
LOUIF: I got to make two drawings with Thom las week, but he was mostly trying to rip the paper and throw pencils on the floor, haha. Most of my creativity goes toward thinking of how to organize our life and our backyard. I've been gardening the forest behind a bit, making house improvement projects, been cooking a lot, playing with Thom inside and outside. I'm looking forward to when he's a little older and we can actually do some art and construction projects together. But yeah, I have very little time to myself and most of it goes toward resting.
How old were you when you got your first snowboard, and how did that come to be?
LOUIF: I was 11 or 12 I think. My brother and I grew up sledding as kids, and eventually we ended up with plastic toy boards. We had two versions, one with slide in bindings and the other just had a string attached on the nose. Around that same time, we were introduced to skateboarding. Then for spring break, we went to get rentals and lessons for like 4 or 5 days straight and we got hooked. I think the Christmas or next birthday we were getting real boards.
Did the switch turn on right away, or did it take a while for you to really fall in love with the lifestyle?
LOUIF: Yeah, for all I can remember, it was on. Whatever I could find on TV that had snowboarding in it, I would record on VHS. And then I got some videos and I would lay on the couch and watch over and over until the tapes started to wear out. Video games, too. CoolBoarder 2 and 3. Anything related. We had a trampoline for a minute that kept practicing snowboard tricks on. I was into other sports and some other things, but never as much as snowboarding.
Snowboarding is as much about friendship as it is riding. Who did your crew consist of growing up, and when did you guys start getting recognized?
LOUIF: The crew quickly became: Ben Bilocq, LNP, Nic Sauvé, Will Lavigne, Frank April, Phil Jacques, Max Baillargeon, Alex Cantin, Greg Desjardins, Charles Gagnon, and more. We got recognized outside of Quebec after we were in Bandwagon, around 2005/2006.
Do you still ride with those guys?
LOUIF: Yeah, we have a group text and we go ride with whoever is available at the resort every now and then. During the holidays we try to line up one big night ride with everyone.
What's it like riding with Mammouth? Does he motivate you to keep jumping down shit?
LOUIF: It's always great being out there with him. He's a very unique guy with lots of positive energy and solid values. And yes, it's inspiring to see him jump down a building onto a rail, and then go work a night shift and meet him at the next spot the next day. Definitely keeps me in check. Only this year he started driving. He used to travel by bus to the spots with his shovel and board in hand. Such a good example of full dedication.
Speaking of dedication. You washed dishes and turned lifts in Whistler back in the day. How long were you there for, and what was your motivation to leave and focus back on street riding?
LOUIF: Back then we started going in the summer, to ride the glacier and Camp of Champions. We would always come back to Quebec during the off season. I never spent a full year there. It was always months at a time. I spent like two winters there, but it was never my home. So, it was more about coming back home to family and friends more than for street snowboarding. Around that time, I started traveling a bunch left and right, more and more every year, and it felt like I could just travel to where I wanted to ride.
Of all the team trips you've been on, what was the best in terms of group vibes and comradely--any funny stories that stand out and bring back fond memories?
LOUIF: Many come to mind. The Team Vacation RV trips were pretty epic. Also, every Fall we would do a catalogue shoot trip and they were all pretty sick. When you had Jed, Chris, Scotty Arnold, and Java in the same room, it usually was good comedy. All the stories that come to mind aren't really shareable to the public...
You've filmed all over the world and you've distinguished yourself as a pioneer of creativity when it comes to spot choices and locations. What is the most unique place you've traveled to for filming, and what made it so unique?
LOUIF: Georgia, Lebanon, and Petropavlosk-Kamchatka are my top three. All super unique and different. I think Kamchatka takes the cake. It's on the ocean, volcanoes all around on the horizon. Rusty, ran down, colorful, old soviet architecture, militaries everywhere. A really cool place, very remote, and sick backcountry apparently--but we didn't touch that.
For Blindspot, your brother came with you guys to shoot photos in Georgia. What's it like to be able to work with your brother on a project like that?
LOUIF: It's great because I grew up riding with him. At the very beginning, it was just him and I. So to share moments like this on a special adventure 20 years later, doing what we love, it's pretty incredible. When we come back home and sit with our parents we have these stories to tell them, or not tell them--it's super cool. I feel lucky.
What is the most dangerous non-snowboard related situation you've been in while traveling?
LOUIF: Could be when Java, Nick Dirks, Jarad Hadi, and I got taken into custody and questioned by a militant group in Lebanon. Locked in an unidentified building, in the middle of Beirut. By far the most uncertain situation I've ever been in. But, then again you never really know where the actual danger is. Maybe, one time I was driving home and almost got run over by a semi at a red light, and didn't even notice....
Where did you travel to this winter, and how were the conditions?
We went to Hokkaido for most of January, there was less snow than usual when we first got there, but after a few days we figured out where was good and we ended up having classic Hokkaido conditions for pretty much all of our stay. Then I went home and filmed there for most of February. I teamed up with Seb Picard and Tony Drolet and we doubled crew for a bit. There too, we got great snow conditions for Quebec. After that we were looking to go somewhere. Going back to Japan was on our radar, but then things were heating up over there with the virus, and Europe wasn't good, so we decided to start filming in the Quebec area again. We went up to Chicoutimi area and after a week, things started getting serious here so we all decided to call it and go home.
LOU, SEB, & FRIENDS
When filming in 16mm, you have more pressure to not only land tricks, but land them quicker. How does this effect the choices you make when riding and filming?
LOUIF: I've been getting more and more into these spots that you only get to hit a handful of times. Usually, because it has a natural landing or an untouched portion of it that makes it what it is, or even sometimes make it rideable. Otherwise it becomes a hellride. So, those types of features go hand-in-hand with 16mm. You just prepare mentally more and then when it's time to go, you go for first try. Which isn't something we're used to in street riding, but its obviously like that in the backcountry. But, we also roll with digital cameras so if we find more conventional spot that requires more attempts, like a follow line or something, we'll go digital.
Most people would recognize you for your disciplined use of natural speed and your unique spot selection itself, so let's talk about those. Your riding has evolved over the years into something distinctive, often combining powder and manufactured structures. What inspired you to explore this route?
LOUIF: I've just been naturally drawn there, through the process of what I've been doing and trying not to repeat myself, and explore new avenues. I think it's my way of combining my favorite elements of snowboarding into one. That, and as far as I can remember growing up and watching videos, I would always react strongly to backcountry tricks that had an element that I could relate to--road gaps for example. That, and I think part of me is trying to replicate my constant daydreaming. When I'm in the car I'm, dreaming of riding on roofs and cars and just about anything this world is made of. Manmade structures in a wintery hilly area make very unique features and I'm obsessed by them.
Speed. You've pretty much completely abandoned anything that assists in generating speed outside of natural, ambient terrain. In an older interview with Snowboarder Mag you mentioned that in Beacon you wanted to portray the riding in a way so that each clip flowed together like one long line. It seems like that approach has caught on, with other riders and filmers embracing that same philosophy. Are you stoked to see people adopting these methods? Do you feel like it provides a better sense of inclusivity for the audience?
LOUIF: Yes, I'm for sure very happy to see similar approaches in other videos. Whether it was inspired by Beacon or not, to me it's just way more digestible and makes you want to go out and snowboard more. You just have more of the motion and flow in your head while and after watching it. I think most people who aren't so trick-oriented relate to this more. Some people who are more about just the tricks might not care so much. I don't know. Personally, I enjoy seeing turns and riding now, but I don't think I did as much 10 years ago, maybe even less than that. I used to skip parts, and now I go back and realize how sick they are.
With natural speed being such a critical component to your riding, are you maniacal when it comes to keeping your board waxed?
LOUIF: Not maniacal, but I definitely like to keep it nice and smooth. If I damage it at a spot or something, I'm for sure fixing it for the next day. I have my repair kit with me in the car whenever we're out there. I don't have any crazy tech or fancy wax though. I just like to keep it nice.
What's the most frustrated or angry you've ever gotten at a spot?
LOUIF: I can't think of one in particular, but I definitely can get loud and will let out some swear words or punches in the snow. I think it's usually because I scared myself with a bad attempt. I'm not frustrated because I didn't land it perfectly, but I'm mad at myself for messing up and not doing what I had visualized. Weird to explain, but I think it's mostly an expression of fear. My most recent one was a at a spot with a fresh banked landing, it was pristine with a nice little lip at the top. I landed first try but "rolled the windows down", so I went again and messed up second and third tries, and bombed the landing. Then I got fourth try but did something weird again. I was so pissed. Then, for the fifth try I didn't really have a good spot to land. I remember being angry about myself during that whole session.
Through your videos, and just being in the car with you, you've been a great source of music discovery. What's been on your playlist lately?
LOUIF: I really haven't done much research lately. I've been revisiting stuff I used to listen to about 20 years ago, and it's had a pretty sick effect on me, bringing back energy from the past. Like older video soundtracks and stuff. Like late 90's and early 2000's punk.
You're a very articulated and intelligent guy. If you weren't a professional snowboarder, what would your dream occupation be?
LOUIF: The one that comes to mind right now is farming. Some small scale, responsible farming. So many things I'd like to learn and master. And, I feel like there is room for creativity and craftiness. It just seems fun to use your hands and brain to work towards something so essential.
Do you have any words of wisdom for younger kids who are getting into snowboarding?
LOUIF: Find friends who enjoy it as much as you. Surround yourself with the right people. Leave your judgments at home. Keep an open mind. I really recommend getting out of the park and finding your own features, try to shape jumps, side hits, rails or picnic tables or whatever--I highly recommend incorporating a little bit of a DIY approach. I'm not saying don't ride the park, but every once in a while, build your own thing. You'll train your eye for things and your creativity and your riding will get much deeper than if you depend on someone else making features for you.