Fri, Jun 8 2012 4:00 am |
Zach Krejmas is one of the first riders I met upon moving to Long Beach a few months back and quickly became one of my favorite guys to ride with and be around. He’s super laid back, easy to talk to, down for a mission, and kills it in his own unique way on a bike. Getting to know him more as time went on and learning what he’s all about on a bike, behind a camera, and in life, I learned that Zach is pretty content with keeping it simple, but with strong direction and focus.
As a rider, Zach no doubt kills it. Only a few short years after guys like Ian Schwartz and Eddie Cleveland reinvented pegless, technical street as we know it, Krejmas has taken a serious influence from them to a whole other level, but it never looks like he’s biting their style. He’s certainly helping hold the torch of brakeless/pegless street and bringing it into the future in that regard. Behind the lens, Krejmas is doing it right. He’s studied film but he’s studied BMX and skate videos at the same time. If you did a survey of “film students” that are into making BMX videos, it’s safe to say that most would cite outside influences of the filming world as their main influences, but Zach still maintains that the classic 4×3, SD style is right for BMX, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be straying too far from it in the future. It’s easy to be dazed and wowed by rapidly changing and new technology, but Zach keeps it classic and has a strong philosophy behind it.
To keep this decently short, Zach’s got it going on. He’s a well spoken guy, insightful, and opinionated, but not in a hard headed or stubborn nature that the BMX world is so quick to pride themselves on these days. Plenty of people in BMX have strong opinions, as does Krejmas. However, he’s not shouting; but making waves by working hard, working well, and forging his own path. Yes, plenty of people are doing the same–but when everyone around is shouting about it, it’s the quiet and humble ones stand out the most.
How long have you lived in Long Beach for?
Like four years now. I moved here to go to school pretty much. At first, my friends would come down on the weekends to ride and then eventually I was like, “I know this dude [Jeff ] Zielinski lives here that shoots for a magazine, I have nothing to lose by e-mailing him, maybe I could just session and meet some people that way. I e-mailed him and he hit me up like a week later and just invited me to some session at the Firestone ditch; the 605 ditch, and pretty much from there, every weekend, every Sunday he’d hit me up and we’d go out on some mission. And shortly after that, we started talking about making a video…
I didn’t know you lived here for so long.
Yeah…I lived here before the whole “scene” moved here. I knew there was a downtown area, and that there were more spots here than where I lived…I lived in the high desert, everything was real spread out…there was stuff to ride between all the schools and all the businesses, but you had to drive everywhere. So I was stoked to move here and I figured there was a scene, but there wasn’t that strong of a scene until about two or three years living here. Pretty much a year and a half ago, the Kink dudes and the OSS dudes all moved out here. I definitely got lucky.
That’s pretty wild. It seems like now, Long Beach is sort of a hub and that there’s a lot guys that just come here because there are so many people here…
It’s become that way…I didn’t know what was really going on until I moved here.
What’s your hometown like?
It kind of reminds me of Arizona. That’s the only other place I’ve been that I can say it’s similar to. It’s cool, it’s really spread out. It’s the high desert so it’s dry, it gets hot in the summer and shit. It’s also really windy though, so it makes it shitty; you can only ride half of the time. And you pretty much have to drive to every setup. But there’s some sick stuff out there for sure.
Do you feel there’s good stuff all over the West and Southwest? What is it about the region that just seems to have the best stuff to ride, the architecture?
I’d say, the older architecture styles at least…even the new spots that have popped up in Los Angeles are still dope. It’s definitely different there than in Long Beach. Every city has its own vibe I guess, each place has its own spots that are really unique I guess.
What’s the riding scene like back where you’re from? Do you guys ride on apartments and garages and houses like everyone seems to do here?
Not so much, no [laughter]. I feel like that’s an alleyway thing though. Cause there’s just low garages, coverings for everything…cars, trash cans…
What do you think about the plastic pegs taking off?
I think it’s cool. Definitely. It opens up doors for more spots to be ridden, and that’s always a good thing.
Did you ever run pegs?
Not really…I mean, maybe when I first started riding for the first six months, but I never got to learning a proper smith grind, you know? All I could do were just feebles and I just ended up taking them off. I had brakes for a while, definitely some KP influence actually [laughter]. Then eventually took off the brakes about six years ago.
When did you put the freecoaster on?
Also like five or six years ago.
Do you ride much with Eric Bahlman?
Yeah. He’s from Arizona, he’s sick. He definitely kills it.
Was he on the Stranger trip you were just on?
Yeah, we went to Arizona, I went out there for a few days; a long weekend. I kicked it with him and Bobby Kanode. They both run freecoasters actually. Different styles for sure though, they do their tricks in a different way. But yeah, Bahlman kills it. He’s going to be around here during X-Games I think…definitely going to kick it with him and maybe film some stuff for the Stranger DVD that’s coming out this summer.
Nice…who’s going to have footage in that?
The whole team, I would think. I don’t know if there’s going to be many full sections, but I know everyone already has footage for it.
Who’s going to be putting the whole thing together?
Rich [Hirsch]. Although Charlie was talking about trying to be a part of the editing process in one way or the other.
Yeah, he’s definitely got his own way of putting a unique twist on things.
Definitely [laughter]. Combining those two editing styles…Rich showed me some of the stuff he’s been doing and it’s f****** awesome.
It’s been a while since Rich has put together a BMX video, so it’ll be sick to see what he’s got going on these days…
And this is something that he’s going to put everything into, ’cause it’s his first actual bike company. I’m definitely stoked on it.
And Stranger has a freecoaster out? Are they working on one or has it officially dropped?
Yeah, Charlie’s got his, the Coastersaurus…it’s definitely solid. I’m pumped on it.
It’s pretty wild how it seemed like everyone was putting on a freecoaster for a minute, right when Ian Schwartz was killing it, and after he dropped his Sunday Up Up and Away section, it went away for a minute…
…and now it’s coming back. Ian was definitely an influence, one of my favorites of all time. He’s a great rider.
Who else are you into, across time?
I was super into the Lotek mixtape when it came out…I always liked people who rode more simply but buttery smooth, people like Eddie C and Chase D, definitely Bob Scerbo and Russ Barone too, he’s one of my favorite dudes to watch. I didn’t exactly think that deeply into it at the time but part of why everything they were doing looked so good was because of its simplicity. I also was super into Dan Cox and Bruce Crisman, in addition to Ian those three are like the freecoaster power trio [laughter].
Outside of BMX, what influenced your riding growing up? I know you said you skated for a while…
Well, I definitely jumped my 16 inch Schwinn around before anything, but yeah, I definitely skated for a number of years when I was real young, and I get the feeling it always made me feel more comfortable riding my bike in the streets as opposed to at the park or trails. I think it was actually influenced by playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater which came out in 1999. So I probably skated from then until about 2002/2003; that’s when I got super into music and playing guitar. Then I moved with my parents across the desert to the Victor Valley when I was 13 or 14, and that’s really when I started riding BMX again. It’s funny how everything sort of came full circle for me in regards to riding bicycles.
How did you end up living at the OSS House?
I went through a few different living situations over the years, going to school here at Cal State, and I was living with three other dudes in a three bedroom..two of them were sharing a room and it was an old apartment too, so it was pretty small. I remember I was hanging out with the OSS dudes on the daily; riding all the time, chilling over there, and they had a room that was going to open up and it just seemed to make sense. The room would be bigger, it was more spacious…I was chillin’ over there, it was cheaper too, so I said, “f*** it, I’m gonna move in here.” I would have people to ride with all the time…it was fun.
Did you live there at the same time as Garrett Reeves?
Actually, it was him that moved out. He moved out as well as Rich Hirsch, and that’s when I moved in as well as Tony Neyer. So I never really lived there with him, but I was chillin’ with him before he moved out.
Did you film with him at all before this edit that you’re working on right now?
I filmed one clip in his Lotek section actually, I filmed an angle of a clip with [Mike] Mastroni’s DVX’s.
When did you start working on this current edit?
It’s been about two months.
What kind of videos were you into growing up? Aside from the Lotek mixtape of course…
The first Animal video, the Tomorrow We Work promo that was on Video Google, then the actual video of course…but the first video I remember being into was Fit Puerto Rico, more or less. It was just sick. [Bob] Scerbo and [Brian] Wiz[merski] did it so it had a good vibe…it was kind of documentary style but it was cool…definitely all the Road Fools videos…all the old Props…but really the Mosh video, So Freestyle and the Lotek Mixtape also, they got me into editing in general…but So Freestyle….It was really good, it all flowed together really well. Rich did a really good job blending all of the sections together. There’s a funny story about Corey Bohan getting legitimately pissed about them putting him racking on a rail in the video…
Do you ever get a chance to work on projects with Rich, or does he sort of do his own thing?
I’ve given him clips to edit, or just given him edits and he makes a thumbnail for it or something. We did a two day trip up to Los Angeles with a few of the guys on the team and we went to some schools…I think he had Mastroni film all of it and helped out a bit and then edited it, and it turned out pretty cool. And he helped us get to Arizona and stuff like that.
It’s crazy that Rich doesn’t film much any more.
He’s just been busy running two companies, and now he’s working at Primo/Tip.
Is that how you ended up on Stranger, just hanging around with him while he was living at the OSS house?
More or less. Actually, no, he did that Grassroots thing back in the day and I’d made a video from my local high desert scene. That Tom Smith kid, who lives in Austin…he was visiting the desert and he filmed a section for it, my friend Jake ended up on Grassroots…that’s initially how he was down to hook us up. Through that, the OSS dudes, and obviously Z…
Did you have a strong scene back home?
It was tight knit actually. There were a lot of dudes that rode; we had some dirt jumps; there were a lot of “dirt jumping heads” I guess you could say, but a lot of cool, good people for sure. But, more or less, it was me and four other friends that would go ride street more often, try to film little edits and eventually I made a couple short videos.
How long have you been riding for?
Um…well, I had a 16 inch bike when I was in elementary school. I jumped dirt jumps across from my house and shit…and I was young then, not even ten. Then I skated for a while when I was in middle school. Really, when I was in eighth grade was when I got a Nyquist complete bike, broke every part on it over the course of a year and had to replace it…so it’s been at least eight, nine years I would say.
That’s about where I’m at too. Are you older than me? How old are you?
And you just graduated college…well, quasi-graduation [laughter].
[Laughter] I walked, but yeah, I’m pretty much almost done. Just one more semester.
Are you gonna stick around Long Beach when you’re finally done with school?
It depends. If I get a well paying job at some post production place and don’t want to commute into Los Angeles every day, I might move more into that area. I definitely see myself staying on the West Coast for now…but it’s hard to say, you know?
Have you traveled much outside of the West Coast?
Yeah, I’ve traveled to the East Coast a bunch, I’ve got family out there; both my parents are from out there and live there right now, so I’ve been out there…Boston, the rest of Massachusetts, a few places.
You ever bring the bike?
No. Every time, it’s just family stuff. I don’t end up bringing my bike cause there’s not really time for it. Although, I’m going there this summer for almost two weeks and I’m thinking of bringing my bike. There’s a skatepark a town over from Hartford, where my parents live, so I’m thinking of bringing my bike….I could also possibly hit up Craig [Passero] or Charlie [Crumlish], they’re out that direction…
It’s pretty crazy how you went to film school yet still stick with the VX.
Yeah…I mean, a lot of it is that I haven’t been able to afford a new camera, but I definitely do prefer the 4×3 aspect ratio. There’s also just something about SD footage, especially the VX series…I think it comes from watching skate videos when I was twelve…just how they were filmed, that style they filmed I would say…I think the HVX and the Xtreme Fisheye looks good, if you do it right and know how to film properly, it looks good. You can even use a DSLR for fisheye and it works. Navaz has done that pretty well, but obviously he’s got a lot of skill to make it work.
There’s something about the VX that people are drawn to, it’s hard to put a finger on it…
It’s just the aesthetic of it; just the colors and the feel of real day colors…it’s hard to explain. But really, it’s the aspect ratio too, especially with the fisheye usage.
Yeah, HD always has some sort of excess on either side of the frame.
Exactly. I think the aspect ratio is even more important for BMX than skating, cause the person is even taller. You need that space. But with 16:9, with that excess space, you can show a whole gap and hardly even need to move the camera. But with 4×3, you can get underneath someone more…it’s cool. I think fisheye looks better 4×3, but then long lens looks awesome 16×9. I really want to see the Cult video, cause I know all the fisheye is 4×3, but a lot of the long lens is HVX. I think there’s still going to be some long lens VX stuff, but there’s going to be a lot of long lens HVX. It should be good. I’m interested to see how it’s all put together. It should be awesome.
You mentioned that you were pretty into skate videos growing up…
Yeah, where I grew up there’s a skate shop called Pharmacy and guys that now ride for Baker and Emerica kind of came up through that…Bryan Herman is from the same city I lived in, so he rode all the same schools as us. I think he’s a little bit older though, I think he was already established by the time I started riding, but I’d always watch the old Pharmacy shop videos and try and find spots.
There’s three cities out there, Victorville, Apple Valley, and Hesperia all in the same area, so between all the schools, parks, and businesses, there’s almost 30 square miles between each one…everything’s spread out. Everything’s spread out until Barstow. You ever been?
Barstow…it’s this old, desert city, I swear there’s so many methheads out there. It’s on the way to Vegas, on the 15 Freeway going out there. There’s a lot of good street out there too. So there was everything we had around us and then we could make trips out there. But we would drive down to the Ontario area…San Bernadino and Riverside were also around an hour. Now that I live out here, it’s sick going back to all my friends in the desert and ride those spots, because it’s so different.
Did you have older guys to sort of lead the way and show you how to ride street, search for spots and all that stuff?
No, not exactly man. The dudes that I started riding with and looking up were street riders, but they definitely preferred dirt and park and the older they got, they just didn’t ride street quite as much. It was more or less me and my friends that just got bored and went and rode street. For whatever reason, we were all more stoked on it.
Do you search a lot out here in the Long Beach area?
I used to search a lot more, when I felt I had more time…I mean, I always keep my eyes open, if I’m ever going to some random spot to eat or whatever I have to take care of…I used to go out on my road bike a lot and cruise. Lately though, it seems like every time I go out it’s to ride, or to film, or just running around and taking care of shit…
Just living life in general…who do you usually ride with these days?
Definitely Z on the weekends…Mastroni and Adam [Grandmaison]…Tony Neyer…Eric L, been cruising with him a bit…just a lot of random people all the time, never consistently one crew. It seemed like at first, I would just ride with the same few people. There weren’t a lot of people. Now, I live with so many riders I just sort of roll with certain people one day. I was riding with Bostrom a lot, but then he got busy with Built to Shred, building ramps for other contests, but he says he’s getting back in a week and won’t be so busy and wants to try and film some stuff. It’s as if you ride with certain people for a length of time and then it ends up phasing out and you end up riding with someone else. You stay in contact obviously and still ride, but you know how it works. It’s always random.
How did you end up getting into filming?
Skate videos back in the day. The video that really got me into filming was So Freestyle. Just the way that Rich put it together, just faded it all together, it made me think about how it was edited more than other videos. So that made me want to get a camera and start f****** around with that.
What kind of camera did you end up getting?
First camera was the Canon Optura…just a little prosumer thing…it’s got some weird, in the middle technology that was like one chip, but it somehow processed them separated, but it wasn’t a three chip camera…but I made two videos with that camera for my local scene.
Would they have been considered full length? Did you release them as a DVD, or how did you do that?
I made some DVDs, we had premiere parties and stuff like that, it just took a while to film full sections of people. Everyone had like two minute sections; they were pretty short. One friends section…they were like twelve or fourteen minutes long. It was all super fun, just looking back and watching.
We continue talking and I bring up making a series of scene videos, one of which ended up having a random Brett Banasiewicz section in it, based on the random friendship we had with him due to living so close to him…
That’s kind of how I feel Z and my video is going to be, just so random because Long Beach and the LA area is so transient, people coming in and out…the friends sections in the video are going to be some of the best sections in the video in my opinion…they’re not going to skimp at all. I’m not trying to hype it up, but…normally a scene video, the friends section is full of obscure riders that not a lot of people have heard of. And there will be riders like that in that section, but there’s a lot of riders that are just random pros, like Scotty Cranmer clips that no one was there to film, when I was around while he was shooting with Z.
It seems like you guys never go out and film for it, it’s like someone does something sweet and they do it again to film it. There’s no missions or anything.
Yeah, that happens a lot. It’s like someone f****** around at a spot and riding it in a way that it’s never been ridden before…it’s good to document that. At least that’s what I kind of like to do.
Is that how you try and ride too? Just using things in a way that no one has really thought of before?
No, it’s never something that I’ve tried to do…I’ve never gone out and thought about how I ride, per se, until certain people labeled me as being a “setup rider”…but in a way, I do embrace that school of thought…I’m into the 90East video and the Animal videos; a lot of the tricks are just simple. Just using a spot well. Also, the Ian Schwartz thing; he did a lot of stuff like that. But at the same time, it’s good to push yourself and do “tricks.” It’s awesome learning new tricks; it’s just another thing you can apply to spots. It’s all good.
Last words, thanks, shoutouts, etc….
First off I’ve got to give thanks to Jeff Z. for being the main homie over the past couple of years, he’s really the first dude i started riding with in LB, before the scene blew up. Rich Hirsch for being an all around radical dude. Ralph, Bob, and Nick B at Animal, Adam Grandmaison, Aaron Bostrom, Mike Mastroni, anyone who’s let me point my camera at them or pointed their’s at me. Everyone who’s helping to keep the Long Beach scene alive and positive.
TAGS: Classic, Filming, Freecoaster, street, The Friday Interview, vx, Zach Krejmas