Western Australia is also notorious for sharks; have you had any sketchy encounters?
Honestly, no. I’ve never been in a situation where I thought, “I’m f—ked. There’s a shark out here.” I’ve been in the water when someone has seen a shark and everyone goes in. But you’ll always go down to the beach and you’ll be checking the waves and some old boy is talking about how there was a five meter white pointer here yesterday.
It never used to be bad when I was younger; sharks were never really an element. Now it seems like there’s a shark sighting every day. When I was younger when you heard of a shark sighting you kind of thought, “Whoa! That’s crazy,” but now it kind of doesn’t mean much anymore. But there’s definitely been many times where I’ve gone to go surfing where no one is out and the waves are pumping, and thought, “F—k, should I go out or should I wait for someone to come down and join?”
Who are some of your biggest non-surfing influences? I know you’re really into music.
I don’t know if I’m really influenced by other people. I think I’m just more interested in them. I watched the Daniel Johnston documentary a couple weeks ago. It’s called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and I was really psyched on that. I listened to his music every day for a while. Also, I used to be really obsessed with Jean-Michel Basquiat. I watch all his movies and documentaries and I love his art. Then again, the art I do looks nothing like his.
In the last couple years, I’ve gone through so many different phases of music and interests. When I was 14 I was obsessed with Dustin Dollin. I loved him. I dyed my hair black and tried to dress like him. Then I got super into The Doors and The Beatles and I would wear tie-dye shirts and put incense on. I don’t know. I’ve gone through so many different phases in the last couple of years. It’s weird. I guess as a teenager I like trying different things and experiencing it all.
We’ve only hung out for three days, but I get this sense of you being super comfortable with yourself, which is not something a lot of 19-year-olds would be able to say. And I just noticed this [a piece of paper titled “Top Tips For A Better Life” tacked to his wall]. Does this inspire you?
Definitely. I actually had that given to me by a homeless person. I was surfing at Rivermouth, just a local beachbreak, and I came in and this homeless dude—or maybe he was just kind of a transient—he had a bike and a matching backpack and I don’t even think he surfed, but he was like, “Hey, man. You were surfing really good out there. You should have this.” He handed this paper over and told me to read it every day. I was really young at the time, maybe 15. I read it every day, and it’s been hanging there for years. [To read the note, grab the September 2013 issue of TransWorld SURF]
Do a lot of people comment on it?
Lots of people. And it’s not that stereotypical hippie kind of shit. It actually makes sense and is really logical. It’s been a big inspiration in my life, definitely.
Funny that it came from a homeless guy.
For sure. He just happened to be down there watching me surf. I think I was the only one out that day too.
Are you comfortable becoming a bit more recognizable? Your career is definitely taking a major step forward.
Yeah, but I haven’t really thought about it much. The last six to eight months I’ve just been doing the same shit I’ve been doing for years. It’s almost like I was just called up recently. I’ve been really lucky. It all sort of just came together and molded into something that I really take seriously now. Now I see surfing as a career—not just a passion. It’s crazy; I haven’t really had a second to think about it all. In the last couple months I have met so many good people. I guess that’s how it happened. I don’t reckon it’s my surfing at all. I think it’s that I get along with people and made really cool friends and it happened more that way. I’m no John John or Jack Freestone. It sort of happened in a different way for them as it has for me.
When I was younger my dad always used to say to me, “If you are a good surfer, it doesn’t mean you are a good person. You have to treat everyone the same, Surfing is just one little piece of your life.”
To read the interview in its entirety, pick up the September (and final) issue of TransWorld SURF, available on newsstands now.