HeadSpace: JP Walker on the hungry beast
JP Walker has always been one of snowboarding's innovators, known for pioneering new tricks, new spots, new approaches to film parts and new vocab. His all-switch ender to "This Video Sucks" was an industry first for a guy with 16 legendary parts in the bag, and his Real Snow video part reminded us how "The Don," 34, never rides his own coat-tails. That "truck vs. human" stunt? Anything but budget...
Now we've been checking out JP's personal website since it dropped in the fall and, to be honest, kept expecting it to fall off like most pros' sites, relegated to the dustbin of the odd tweet or giveaway. But therealjp.com just keeps getting better and better. It's a fresh look behind snowboarding's most famous chin and shows the sense of humor behind all the dead-eyed thuggin', video parts, spread ads and sequences.
With fake interviews, raw behind-the-scenes insights and, surprisingly, a lot of restaurant reviews from places like Stockholm and Helsinki, it's more like a digital zine than the usual platform for self-promotion chosen by athletes or their agents. We hit up Walker to see how he likes being Don of his own digital domain now, six months in.
ESPN: When did you put up therealjp.com and what's in the name?
JP Walker: I started this fall, sometime in November. I got inspired to do this whole thing by Jeremy Jones. He was pushing "The real Jeremy Jones" for awhile and I thought it would be a cool tribute in a way -- and kinda get his back because he took some heat for that name. Jpwalker.com was gone and I wanted something short and simple, so The Real JP it is.
Did you have a website before this?
No. There are a lot of imitators out there on Facebook and Myspace but this one is official. I put the question mark at the end of it, though, to keep peeps wondering in the beginning...
What's the driving idea behind it -- meaning, what made you want to add more duties to your day with a website, a.k.a. the hungriest beast known to man?
I don't know what [made me] finally do it. I contemplated it for a long time and mentally ran through all the nightmares that come with it -- like constantly feeding the beast.
I've been so secretive my whole career, too, about tricks and spots. It just seemed so against my code to put it out there for everyone to see what I was up to before my video part dropped. That kept me away from it for a long time but I guess I saw that the pros outweighed the cons and decided it would be good.
What I really like about it vs. other rider sites is that it isn't just blatant self promotion. You take a more editorial approach with your behind-the-scenes stuff, interviews, fake interviews, etc...
Yeah, I put up all the stats like the videos, print ads, a bio and stuff, but that is just table scraps. The heart of the site is the blog and behind the scenes looks. I was never big on claiming so it was natural to go that route. I thought interview stuff would be cool for [people] to get a look at the other side of snowboard film and photography because you don't see it much.
I work with lots of different people from all over the world so I thought it would be cool to see the contrast. Behind the scenes stuff is just natural because I don't like to leak tricks so it would be rare to see much current action on the site. I call it "dry snitching" when you snitch on yourself.
What's the best story you've put on the site so far? I like "Filmer food."
That was a good one for sure. I like the Real in the Fields. I usually answer because the guys are too lazy or busy to do it themselves. Everyone gets a good laugh out of those. I also like some of the food reviews because they are so different and unexpected. They are related to snowboarding, but a whole different side.
Anyone been bummed at the fake interviews yet?
I think Andy [Wright] was pretty bummed. He was all quiet after he saw it and said he had the real answers but just hadn't got them sent yet.
You, Jeremy, and the Seans (Kearns & Johnson) have always had a fondness for slang, for having your own vocabulary. Ever think of posting a glossary so people might be able to figure out what something like "sadats" means?
Yeah, I have thought about that, a full index that you can click on one of those random words that takes you to a definition of it. Vocab is one of my top priorities in life for sure. I definitely got a lot of game from Hearndo, and Johnseye has good stuff for days, too. Typical words just get boring. Got to keep innovating.
Explain the following in a sentence or less:
Who is the all-time king of slang?
It's got to be Kearns.
What's a piece of slang you just can't shake?
"Beast" has been in steady rotation for a few years now. It just works in so many different situations. It's like the Swiss Army knife of adjectives. "Tool up" has been holding strong as well.
"Don Patrol" is pretty clever -- you think that up yourself?
Yeah, I've been wanting to use it for something. I had it on deck for a while. I got a new camera that's easy to tote around and it shoots HD so I just decided to start these little on-the-spot interviews. The name was a perfect fit.
Do you ever have a hard time coming up with content and/or get sick of running pictures of Joe Sexton?
[Laughs] Sometimes it gets hard to come up with stuff that isn't repetitive but so far it's been mellow. I haven't even gone a year yet though and I'm sure things will start to get harder. But how could you get sick of running photos of Joe? He's my human well of content.
You got an intern to run that site when you're on your grind in Helsinki or Halifax?
[Laughs] I wish. That's a good idea, man.
The food reviews from the road are more detailed than any of the behind-the-scenes snowboarding insights. I take it you like to eat.
Definitely like to eat. Plus, it's something that everyone can relate to. I guess essentially all the behind-the-scenes rail stuff is pretty similar from one spot to the next: Get out the generator and lights, tool the thing up, grind it out until 4 a.m., crash.
There are some cool situations that come up but it's generally the same thing, plus I don't like to dry snitch about what we are doing too much. I just let the photos speak on the topic.
With the food reviews every place is unique and, in a way, it's a look into the behind the scenes of what we do between film sessions. It's fun to write about stuff other than snowboarding too, I guess.
What kind of tea is The Unit currently running in the thermos?
It varies between everyone but I'm strictly green or white, man. Never leave home without the steel.