You’ve probably heard of them. If you haven’t…you’re about to, and be sure to take note. In a few short years, Voleurz has gone from a crew of friends out to have a damn good time into a company that’s producing one of the most talked-about clothing brands and some of the most well liked videos in the action sports world. With the likes of Josh Bibby, TJ Schiller, Justin Dorey, Joe Schuster and a multitude of others rocking the V, it’s no small wonder that they’re beginning to make a big splash in the ski world pond, and that others are wanting to join in on the fun. But what’s most unique about Voleurz and what sets them apart from other crew-based companies is that they’re skiers, snowboarders, and skateboarders…and they’re together. In a world full of crews that pigeonhole themselves into one sport, these guys are both the real deal and a breath of fresh air, and according to Darren Rayner, one of the many wild and creative minds behind Voleurz, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon…because they’re just having too much fun. – Jeff Schmuck
So first off, before we get too into things, a lot of kids out there might not know too much about Voleurz and what you guys are all about, so give em the spiel.
Well basically we’re a crew of skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders, designers, photographers and filmmakers and we like to produce some really cool clothing and accessories to put on our riders’ backs, which is basically where it started, just wanting to make cool clothes for our friends. And now we also like to produce videos which is where a lot of our work goes into. Free online videos are where it’s at but we also do an annual video that we like to take out there and tour all over the place with to show people and party with them, which is pretty much what it’s all about.
Something I’ve noticed with you guys is that you’re taking the whole video and clothing thing pretty seriously but it seems like the whole fun factor of chilling and going riding with your buddies takes more of a precedence for you guys. Fun first, business second, right?
Yeah and that’s why there’s so many people that are wanting to get involved with us now, which really helps because we don’t have to worry about going out there and finding the next big guy or doing the next big thing. So it definitely is fun first but at the same time keeping ourselves busy trying to produce something that’s going to keep all of our friends and crew really stoked. We like to keep it really funny too, because I just cant take these sports too seriously because it started just because of the fun of it all.
How are things going for you guys this winter so far?
Pretty good, we’re definitely stepping it up in terms of the film we’re doing this year. It’s going to be in High Definition so the image quality is definitely going to be a step up from last year. In terms of clothing we’ve been working real hard as well getting our new line ready for fall/winter 08/09 and it’s looking really good. We’ve got a couple of cool ideas and some crazy patterns that we think people are going to die for. So we’re really stoked to receive those prototypes and get all of our riders rocking the new stuff.
Josh Bibby. photo: Mason Mashon
So how about you let everyone out there know who’s rocking Voleurz on the ski side of things.
Josh Bibby is repping us real hard, Josh Stack is super motivated this year and has been doing some really cool stunts with us, and we’ve got Justin Dorey, Riley Leboe, Joe and Cam Schuster, Matt Margetts is beginning to get really involved with us, Jeff Boake, who’s a great backcountry powder skier from Whistler, my buddy Nick Herbert and of course TJ Schiller. One of TJ’s good buddies is about to join us as well, but I want to wait to release the info about the collaboration we’re doing with him.
Fair enough. So with your last two movies, Yes No Maybe and this year’s More For The Astronauts, everybody I’ve talked to, myself included, absolutely loves them because they’re just so much fun, but do you find it challenging to be a multi-sport film? Because a lot of ski/snowboard/skateboard films in the past have failed and people tend to be confused by them. So how challenging is it to pull that off?
It’s definitely something that is really challenging, especially when you sit down with a DVD distributor. I mean I’ve been told by two or three of them before I even sit down in their office that a ski/snowboard/skateboard film has never been successful, sales are going to be low, blah blah blah. But I feel like that’s the only situation where someone has said anything negative about it because as soon as we go out on tour and people see the film it’s nothing but good feedback. But it does make it hard in terms of trying to get people to spend money on helping make our video, but in this day and age a lot of people are downloading videos, which is cool with me as well. Which brings us to another topic I wanted to bring up, which is that our film for next year is going to be free for download on the Internet. We think we can get a lot more people to watch it and stoke a lot more people up that way when they don’t have to pay a single cent for it. They can just go to our website (http://www.voleurz.com), download the video and that’s that.
For years people have been waiting for a full-on ski/snowboard collaborated movie and TGR does a pretty good job with it and you see shades of it in Tanner’s films with him putting some of his boarder friends in it. Are you proud of the fact that you’re helping lead the charge in that direction?
Yeah, we are. We’re hoping that 10 years down the line we might be known as the first guys who really went for it and helped make an effort to bridge skiing and snowboarding together. We’ve actually had some good talks with industry people who are very knowledgeable on that subject and we’ve all come to the consensus that skiing and snowboarding can be looked upon together. What it really comes down to though is what our athletes want and I’ve asked every single one of them what they think and none of them want to see it separated.
Shane Zwickel. photo: Mason Mashon
You guys just finished up a cross-Canada premiere tour called the Deep Space Tour where you showed More For The Astronauts to the masses, and kept it real by renting an RV and cruised across the country. You wanna share what kind of experience that was (laughs)?
(laughs) Oh man, that was wild. In BC there was about 15 of us traveling around but as soon as we left and started going east through Alberta there was only 7 of us but the RV is only supposed to sleep 4 adults and 3 children, and we’ve yet to decide who were the children (laughs). It was really wild and a great experience. We had Coors Light on board as a sponsor so there was always lots of beverages to go around and it was cool meeting people all over the country and then coming down to see you guys at the Newschoolers office and doing our thing in Montreal, which was the end of the line and then we all went back and slept for about two weeks (laughs).
Yeah that was a pretty serious night in Montreal.
Yeah, I had about eight serious nights in a row in Montreal (laughs).
What was the best stop?
Actually I’d say outside of BC Montreal was by far our best stop. Only a few of us had ever been there and we you knew you guys at Newschoolers along with a few other people we had worked with and it was really cool to meet up with the east coast side of things. Apart from that, Vernon and Whistler were our two heavy-hitters because a lot of our crew is from those parts of BC.
And how did the mustache growing contest go on the tour, and who won?
(laughs) Well I don’t know who won but I’ve had to say that Bruce probably took the lead on that one, either that or Braden. He had a very, very thick caterpillar on his upper lip. Almost all of us had a mustache, actually everyone but me, because I’m still a bit too premature to grow one I guess (laughs).
The phenomenon that is Toe Standing was invented on the tour as well right?
Yeah, Bruce founded Toe Standing while we were on tour. It was during the Kingston premiere actually. He decided to pull a Michael Jackson and stand on his toes and Toe Standing was born, or re-born I guess. It has become somewhat of a religion within the Voleurz community and we’re pretty serious about it. We recently announced that we’re producing a High Definition Toe Standing video this summer. We're going to call it "Heels and Toes" or maybe "Toetally Awesome." It'll feature Toe Standing from our "Pro Toe Team" who just so happens to be the Voleurz Family as well. Be sure to check out our site http://www.toestanders.com and the Toe Standers Facebook group.
So who are the main guys behind Voleurz and what does everyone do?
Well we’ve got Bruce Giovando who’s our main web and clothing designer and I’d say the main visionary for the future of the apparel side of things. He’s the guy keeping his mind going creatively all the time like every crazy artist does. Then there’s Harvey Li who helps Bruce finalize the designs and then goes and sources them out and makes sure everything’s quality on the clothing side of things.
Speaking of quality, I know Harvey’s mom owns a factory overseas that produces all your clothing and I’ve gotta say, the t-shirt you guys gave me is seriously the best quality t-shirt I’ve ever had on my back, and everyone else I know that has some of your clothes agrees.
Yep, there you go. That’s an A+ for Harvey Li right there. He goes back and makes it happens and last time he was over there he actually slept on the couch in the factory. He just works away with very little sleep and just makes it happen for us so he can come back to the homeland of Canada where all the excitement and fun actually happens. He toughs it out and stays there for a couple months on end sometimes but all his hard work pays off in the end.
Have you ever been over to China with him?
Nope, not yet. I think Bruce is going next time though. You went over there for a while didn’t you?
Yeah last year. It’s crazy over there buddy.
Did you party?
Of course. We went to a three-floor super club in Shanghai where it was all you can drink for 18 bucks.
Oh shit! I wish they had that across Canada when we were on tour.
I dunno man, it was fun but probably more dangerous than fun (laughs). But you should definitely check it out if you’re ever over there, it’s called Bon-Bon.
Nice, I’m going to check it out on the Internet right now (laughs).
So anyway, who else is helping make it happen for you guys?
Well there’s Jan Schuster (Cam and Joe Schuster’s brother) who’s helping out on the video side of things and he’s brought lots to the table shooting with the team and getting all the riders stoked and producing short videos along with myself on the Internet. He’s also a wicked skateboarder and him and all his buddies make up that side of things for us. We’ve also got Mason Mashon for the photography side of things, who shoots all the photos for our website and took most of the pictures that are going to be in this article. And then there’s myself, and I deal with a lot of the marketing and hanging out behind the camera and shooting a lot of video. It’s hard to list everyone because we are a full-on crew and the list just goes on and on but those are more-or-less the main guys that help make it happen.
Jeff Boake. photo: Mason Mashon
Tell everyone about this shoot that just went down in Whistler.
Well I was just shredding down towards Base 2 at Blackcomb and took a little turn and noticed a nice potential step-down gap in the parking lot so we decided it was a good time to do it with all the snow Whistler’s been getting. So we grabbed the whole crew along with a generator and some lights and made it happen. Jeff Boake also works as a cat driver so as lazy as we are we didn’t really have to do anything on the digging side of things. He just piled us a nice landing and it we got some really good shots with Bibby and Stack and all in all it was a great time.
Josh Bibby and Josh Stack. photo: Mason Mashon
So what are your overall plans and goals over the next few years as the company moves forward?
Well we really just want to get the word out there about us more. People know about us in Whistler and throughout BC and we just want to spread the love across Canada and the States and get people all over stoked on what we’re doing. We’re going to keep producing fun videos that get people hyped to go out and ski or snowboard or skateboard or whatever it is they like to do and we’ll keep producing cool clothing to put on their backs.
Robbie's leg after the tricycle accident
Obligatory shout-outs and thank-you’s?
Yeah actually I was thinking about this earlier. I wanna give a big shout-out to Robbie Beaton who in the credits of our latest video was being towed in on a tricycle by a scooter and hit a jump onto a nice grassy landing and something went wrong and he busted his leg real good. He’s just recently gone through his second surgery so I just wanna give a shout-out to him and say I hope he heals real quick so he can get back on the tricycle and keep rocking for us so our videos can be extra entertaining for the viewer.
For more on Voleurz check out their website at http://www.voleurz.com. The guys are planning on having their online store up soon so you can grab yourself some of their sweet threads. And if you see the crew out and about having a good time on or off the hill…be sure to bust out a toe stand for them.