Mike Basich has been in the world of professional snowboarding for almost two decades. From major contests, traveling the world ten times over, to months on end in Alaska, he’s done it all. Never one to be big into the film side of things he’s found a place among David Benedek’s crew. Taking the opener in last year’s 91 Words For Snow, and putting in work on their upcoming project, Mikey B. is still searching for the ultimate snow wave—he’s like Boaty from Point Break for Christ’s sake.
So exactly how long have you been snowboarding?
My sister and I started the winter of 85-86, took a couple runs in our boon boots and that was it. We were hooked for life. Turned out to be quite the detour.
Back in the day, it seemed easier to become a professional snowboarder, what kinds of things did you have to do to get into the game?
You could say anything got you in the game. You had a choice; you could get things rolling by winning or just straight up breaking stuff. I’ve never been a competitive guy but liked competing, at least back then. And I ran with more of the drunken crowd so I had a mix of those two. Traveling the world with Andy Hetzel, Shaun Palmer, Damian and Dana, Matty Goodman, and Brett Johnson and trying to stay in was a hard thing to do and stay in control. I wouldn’t change a thing. My Sister kept everyone in control to some degree.
As you came up, what were some of the things sponsors asked from you to continue representing them?
My first big contract after the Kemper hay day was with a European company. I traveled a lot, I mean a lot. One year I went to Europe thirteen times, and Japan four times, all within twelve months. That was the life for a bit. Mostly sponsors asked you to compete or show up for a shop demo. I started to not ride very much. That changed though. I lived in Utah then. The airport was close, and the mountain was close—snowbird was my half pipe training.
Many people think of you as the older of the Basich’s, but your Tina’s little brother. Who got into shredding first?
Both of us started at the same time. My sister got out of high school three years before I did so she was the driver, and helped me travel the world for the first time. She’s helped me with sponsors, contracts, and holding it together.
Let’s fast forward into what you’re doing presently. How did you meet up with David Benedek, and his whole crew?
I’d been driving to AK for a few years and I had no crew to go with one year, so I asked the Robot Food crew if I could tag along. It was their first time up there so I knew they were going to be lost. But that was the start of spending time with some of the riders. David and Christoph (Schmidt) seemed to get the addiction to AK. They drove up with me that year, and soon realized it’s not just about snowboarding up there. The next year they wanted to capture what it’s like to drive to AK, so 91 Words For Snow started off with what my spring is like every year. And soon to be is another 91 Words, which I’m looking forward to working on. We’ve been getting some stuff done but taking two years to make take two.
Did you enjoy working on 91 Words For Snow?
I would say yes, but at the same time it was the first someone asked me to be in their movie. I’ve really never had a video part. It was always “Oh lets film while you’re at a contest or something. It’s a lot of work, and for AK there isn’t much time. That year I went to AK in January, to film some stuff and check it out. It was damn cold, really cold and it’s really hard to ride in -35 F. But all in all, I’m really stoked that the movie was made. It told a lot of story’s that don’t get heard. Their needs to more movies like that. There’s so much more to snowboarding then riding down the hill.
This year you boys have been working on a new project. Tell us a bit about it.
Yeah, since 91 Words came out late, we’re taking two years tto make another one. We had a lot of the stuff done this year but much more to add next year to it. It’s nice to not be in a panic to finish the movie in one year. We did some heavy adventuring in AK this spring, and plan to continue it more this winter.
I have a few photography questions. How did you get into shooting photos of yourself?
Honestly I did it for one photo. I wanted to take this photo I had in mind but wanted to take it my way. So I spent $600 on remotes, and took my van to the desert to take a photo on a rail I built in the sunset. From there on it seemed to keep bringing more ideas and projects to the table. So that was the start. I really want to capture what I can on film what it is like for me to snowboard, that is what this is all about. Creating something that speaks who you are with snowboarding. My photographs are my words for those who care to read them—to show what I see in snowboarding.
Does your action self-portrait photography become a selling point when your looking for sponsors?
Yeah it has, but that came about after hearing for years, “We just don’t have the budget. So I started pitching myself in a different way. More of, “Well if you don’t the budget I’ll supply you with photo’s of your riders and you can pay me as a rider/photographer from your photog budget. I’m probably saying more then I should here, and I’ll probably piss off some photographers, but all in all, I’m still here to snowboard. Photography is just another art form for me.
Over the years, we have seen you create a clothing line called 241. How did this materialize?
I started the company in ’91. I started it because I saw myself getting paid to wear other peoples clothing, So I decided to start something of my own, It’s been underground for along time, and at the same time I’ve been going full force in Japan with it. I have some of the best people there is to work with, to create badass outerwear. The stuff is made really well. This year I am bringing it to the states online and will be in some shops, but keeping it low key. I really want to keep my focus on making some cool stuff. This year you’re going to be seeing my photography on a lot of the stuff. You’ll find it at 241-usa.com this fall
Do you run the company solely by yourself, or do you have other people involved?
In Japan I have a group of people who run the show there. I head over there a couple times a year. Over here in the states, I run the show out of my warehouse I am fixing up. It’s cool; it’s about 3000 square-feet. It’s where I do my photography and other projects like my electric car, but 241 is about to take over most of the area. I have a couple people to help with shipping and stuff, setting things up so we can all stay on the mountain when it snows.
So what are your future plans with 241?
I like making clothing and with mixing it up with my photography, I think I will be doing this for a while. I have a piece of land in Tahoe, which is becoming a backcountry lab for my clothing; I call it “Area 241” now. So with testing the clothes out in my backyard, which I am finishing up my cabin there as well. I think that will be the future for 241.
And your future plans with snowboarding?
To take snowboarding to another level. It’s why I snowboard in the first place, to out do myself. Talent wise and creatively, to see what I can learn from it. I’m setting up my summer this year so that I have nothing more to do than go out, ride, and test myself. I think I’ll be taking on a few more projects like the heli drop. Maybe I’ll jump the Great Wall of China. (Laughter) Just kiddin’. Think that one looks way crazier on a skateboard, nice one Danny.