There's a new ski podcast, and it's really good. With The Mayrand Podcast, Xavier Mayrand, a filmmaker who's made some of the best amateur ski films out of Quebec in the 2010s, sits down with pro skiers and industry people to talk about "skiing, life and everything in between". If you're a real fan of ski culture, this podcast really dives into the subjects that you want to know about.
Give us a quick rundown of your background in the ski industry. For those who don’t know, you were filming ski movies under Brotherhood Films, with the guys that ended up doing the Tabarnak Pack, which was huge here on Newschoolers.
Episode 0 is a good starting point for that, I talk about my story briefly. Long story short, I started filming skiing in Quebec following my brother around in 2007. Then, being friends with a lot of great skiers like Dom Laporte, Hugo Pelletier and Laurent-O Martin, I got more and more into filming. In 2009 I joined NSF productions, which was a production company doing big things at that time, even though they never got that much hype outside of Quebec. Did that for a while, a highlight was when we got nominated for Best AM film at IF3 in 2010, back when IF3 was a big deal. Then I wanted to do my own thing and started Brotherhood Films, with which I produced 3 movies: Groundwork (2011), Deja Vu (2012) and Our Own Way (2013). Worked with a bunch of great skiers who ended up making big things in the ski world. Then went on to work on more commercial projects and eventually branched off completely from skiing.
Laurent-Olivier Martin - "Our Own Way" by Brotherhood Films (2013)
When did you first have the idea of starting a podcast? When did you actually start recording episodes, finding a name, etc.
I think the idea had been brewing for a while in my mind because I always wanted to get back into skiing related projects. I listen to all types of podcasts, and I always thought I could make something cool with my perspective of being a skier, ski fan, filmmaker, "industry insider", etc.
It all started last summer when I decided to actually go for it and break everything down into steps to make it happen. First off, I knew a lot of skiers with great stories and personalities, so I reached out to them and we did the first episodes this fall. For the name, I really didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about it, as I have a tendency to overthink stuff and I really didn’t want to. So I went the simple route and called it what it is.
What are some of your inspirations/influences for this podcast?
Might be really cheesy but Joe rogan is actually a big one. I’m someone who likes to talk to any type of person about any type of subject. So that’s something that I relate a lot to Joe Rogan, is that he might be talking sports in an episode with a boxer and then talk science with a physics professor and both episodes are just as entertaining and accessible. He also doesn’t dumb down things for people. Sure he’ll explain, but he’s a curious dude who wants to learn as much as he can.
Basically that’s my goal, talk to as many people as I can who have great stories to tell or great personalities, and not limit myself to a certain genre or type of subject.
For those who haven’t listened to an episode yet, what’s the format of your interviews, and what subjects are you usually covering?
Basically the format is unstructured conversations with a small layer of structure at the bottom. I come in with clear notes of subjects and questions I want to ask the guest, but I really try to plug them in when the time is right. We cover all kinds of subjects, and that’s also one of my goals with the podcast, having skiing as a central point, but not be limited by it. That’s why I say it’s “A podcast about skiing, life and everything in between”. It all starts off with skiing, but we’ll branch off anywhere the conversation takes us.
How has it been going so far?
I’m really glad about what I've been getting out. The guests are stoked to join in and chat with me so that’s positive. I’ve had a lot of great feedback from people saying it’s their favorite skiing podcast, or from friends that aren’t as familiar with skiing, and say they’ve found it really interesting.
Alexi Godbout from Episode 2
What are some of the challenges of making a podcast?
The challenges depend on what your vision is and the constraints you set yourself really. Personally, I had high expectations for what I could make, and I knew that the discussion itself wouldn’t be the biggest problem. Challenges range from not messing up your audio, because it’s not like messing up a shot while filming skiing. If you screw up a 1-2 hour discussion, you’re fucked. So there was a lot of that. As a filmmaker, I never really put as much thought into the audio, and for a podcast, it’s 100% of the final product. Also right now, with covid, it’s a challenge to get to talk with people in person. That was a big goal of mine, to try and do as many episodes as I could in person, as it gets a way better vibe in my opinion.
What are some guests that you have lined up for the future? And some guests you would like to have?
Lined up right now I have Paul Bergeron, Alex Bellemare, Émile Bergeron, Nick Martini and many others that are still to be done. There are so many guests I’d like to have. I’d really like to talk to some legends like Tanner [Hall] or [Tom] Wallisch. Also some people inside the industry. I did one with Jason Levinthal and it was really interesting to talk about the business side of skiing with someone who’s actually been in it for 20+ years.
How much work goes behind one episode?
It’s a battle for me because I'm a perfectionist and I want to put the best product I can out there, but at the same time I have a mortgage to pay and can’t be spending too much time on it. There is time put into contacting the guest, setting a date and then planning the subjects on my side. Recording one episode usually takes around 2 hours. Then, the most time consuming thing is editing. Right now it’s a big learning curve on the audio side. Finally, for the release it’s a matter of putting it out there and trying to get as much reach as I can.
What’s the plan on releasing episodes?
Right now the plan is to do a first season of 20 episodes released weekly, and start over next fall for a second season. Then again it all depends on the people’s reaction, if they’re into it or not.
Xavier Mayrand - 2013
What are your thoughts on the state of ski media today? Things have changed since you were making ski movies 8-10 years ago. What has changed and what hasn’t?
A whole lot has changed, I guess I could go on for a while on how much it’s changed. Online free content was a double-edged sword, as it got more attention to ski projects, but also took out a big part of financing away that came from movie sales. At that point all the leverage got back into brands for financing. We talked about that with Nick Martini for a soon to be released episode, it was pretty interesting. Also a subject that’s been talked about is skiers putting their shots on Instagram instead of focusing on producing a quality video. Where Instagram allows you to put quantity out, the bad side is for most people you lose on the quality aspect. The followers chase is a skewed perspective, as people mistake followers for influence.
What are your plans with the podcast? How are you making this sustainable?
My plan for the podcast is to have as much fun as I can, while making something that anyone who loves skiing can enjoy. That’s really it. I’m seeing this first season as a pilot run, where I'll see in the summer what the response has been. Right now I’m getting support from Axis Boardshop, Treefort Lifestyles, J Skis and Dic Ann's, who helped make the first season happen, big thanks to them. Podcasts are a weird beast right now in a sea of online content with YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and so much more. I guess my vision is to stand out with something more focused on quality and see if people are down with that.
On what platforms can we find the Mayrand Podcast? In what ways can people support the podcast?
The podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts & YouTube. If you want to support, the best way is to talk about it to your friends, and give a follow on the podcast and on the social media platforms. Get the word out there basically. Also I have a Patreon setup. That’s something I’d like to push to get the people who are stoked on it involved.
Big thanks to Axis Boardshop, Treefort Lifestyles, J Skis and Dic Ann's for making it possible. Thanks to Tony Deuce for the artwork, thanks to the guests for coming on and chatting with me, and thanks to everyone who listens!