The Brief is the resident stop for a quick conversation that focuses on specific topics with the riders and figures of snowboarding we love. In this edition, Jake Kuzyk and Kennedi Deck have a conversation between friends that spans from Kennedi’s art studio in Vancouver to what we can expect from the Canadian this season. Kennedi Deck has of course been a heavily discussed rider in snowboarding since their footage in The Uninvited earned them a nod as Rookie of the Year in 2018. Since that time, Kennedi and Jake alike have been at the forefront of promoting queer snowboarding, and even hint at an upcoming project they are working on that would feature exclusively queer riders and creators.
Interview by Jake Kuzyk
It’s November 16th and where are you?
What are you doing?
Going to ride the rope tows. Going snowboarding.
This is your first trip of the year?
Yeah for sure.
I’m pretty sure the first time I ever met you was outside the skatepark in Government Camp at High Cascade. Do you have a memory of this at all?
I do. I think you were there with Jed [Anderson].
I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this before, which is funny.
Riders On Board always goes to High Cascade, and Jed and you happened to be there for the signature session or something. Jared was like, “Yo, you guys gotta come by the house,” and we were all gearing up to go down to the meeting or go skate or whatever and you and Jed just rolled in. Me and six of my little snowboard gremlin friends come bouncing down the stairs and Jared is like, “Yo meet Jake and Jed,” and then we all gasped like, “Whoa, there’s pros in our house.” I think I met Jed once or twice before but yeah, that’s when you and I first met, for sure.
I totally remember going to the Riders On Board house. It’s so trippy thinking about it because I have this distinct memory of seeing you because I just thought you looked cool and I could tell you were really young at the time. I was probably 21 or 22 so you would’ve been like 14, and you were probably pretty small at the time and looked like you were 10.
Yeah, for sure. Like dirt on my face and shit probably.
It’s just trippy because fast forward to probably when we started hanging out more often which is probably like three or four years ago now, and it’s like not even that big of a time frame, but now we hang out all the time, and you’re on Vans. In that short window, it just all happened. What is that all about for you? Six years and then boom.
It’s such a trip. I think just because growing up, I knew what I wanted to do since I was like 12 or 13, so I was looking at the people who were doing it and I was like, that’s who I want to be. Luckily enough, I was kind of able to make that happen and now I’m chilling with all the same people that I looked up to. I was home a while ago and my parents were moving, so I was going through some of my stuff, and there was a magazine with you in it. A Canada snowboard magazine or some shit and I was like oh my god, crazy that I just used to look at this shit so hard and now we just go for coffee. It’s crazy.
So the first big Vans trip that you went on was for Evergreen, right?
Yeah. The same year that I did the K2 Flickering project, I went on a trip to fi lm for Evergreen. I went to Helsinki with Cole [Navin], Mike [Rav], Parker [Szumowski], Tanner [Pendleton], and Cole Taco for like two weeks. It was crazy. My first time in Europe and everything.
I remember when you were in Helsinki for the Evergreen trip feeling this weird, funny, not protective over you but like, “How’s Kennedi doing? What’s going on over there? Is it chill?” Because we were on a trip as well—I want to say in Finland—but just with a different group of people. I remember coming to meet up with you guys all in the hotel room and it being so evident that you were just right at home with everybody and everybody was having the best time. The trip had just gone so well. I was like, oh my god, thank god. This is literally a dream scenario, I’m so hyped this is how it went down.
Yeah, totally. That’s exactly what happened. You guys were there kind of at the same time but we didn’t really link until our last day or two or something.
So that stuff came out, and at that point you were still living in Alberta. And pretty shortly after, I was bugging you pretty hard about it but it was obviously something you wanted to do. You moved here to Vancouver.
Then some shit just started changing pretty fast it seems like. You got here and everything just kind of switched up.
Yeah, for sure. I feel like you’ll never let me live it down. I was pretty shook about really wanting to move, and you were like, “Oh my god, you just need to do it, quit being so scared and just do it!” I was like damn, I’m from a pretty small town and I kind of bumped up to Calgary. I remember when I first moved there and I thought, this is the big city. It was crazy. Then obviously visiting Vancouver, I was like oh, THIS is the big city. I always thought it was this big, scary place but I finally took your right advice and moved there. Literally within the first week, it was like boom, I clicked in with new friends, I met my current partner Mikaela, and just started skating every day and hanging out with everyone. It was like I had lived there for two years.
I was hyped to see how quickly the community not just accepted you, but how you found everyone and it was really, really exciting.
Yeah totally. The crew in Vancouver is insane. It’s so sick there. I couldn’t have even imagined it being so awesome.
I want to ask you about the studio that you and Mikaela started.
So Mikaela lives in this really awesome house with two of our other friends, Jenny and Kayleah. In the backyard of the house, there’s this small, one-car carport kind of garage that we were fortunate enough to be able to rent out. It was so disgusting when we first got in there. It was covered in mold and we had to tear out a bunch of shelving and fix it up. We cleaned it up and we got rid of the mold and painted it all white. Now we use it as a place to make art and a place to hang out, and we actually just threw an art show for our friend Simone the other day. It was really sick. Just a little hole-in-the-wall gallery space. We’re super excited to continue to do little events and showcase friends and community art in there. It’s been super fun.
Yeah, that’s the best. Especially in a city like Vancouver where it’s really expensive and there’s not much space. The two of you have somewhere to go and make that work and show it and hang out with friends. It’s pretty unique.
Totally. We lucked out. Hopefully we can continue to have it. It’s pretty cheap, all things considered for a space like that. I know a couple other friends who have studios and it’s a lot more expensive than what we’re paying so we’re super stoked, which reminds me I don’t think I’ve paid rent for like two months.
Following up to that, I look at the two of you and I see you have that space and I see how creatively driven the both of you are. What is that like having found that person and coming together to make work? On your own, but also together? Just having that support. It seems really cool.
I’m super fortunate. She’s like my best friend. It’s so fun to have someone you can bounce ideas off of and work on projects together. Obviously some of our art is starting to pull on some of the same things as each other. I made a painting and there’s this shape of something that we were talking about before. We’re just sort of fusing into one brain. It’s really sick. I feel like I go through waves of being really driven to make stuff and then, like really not. In the winter, I don’t really make that much stuff, but she is constantly pumping out art and thinking of ideas and making stuff. It’s always super inspiring to have her around and share a space with her because it just helps inspire me to continue to make things and think about different ideas. Lately she’s definitely been the mastermind on a lot of the collab projects. I’m just riding on the coattails a little bit lately but yeah, it’s all good.
I mean, that’s all good. Some people are just really born to do it. Everyone has their skills, and Mikaela is firing hot right now. I don’t really know much about this but what’s up with the new video? What are you doing this winter? Do you know?
It sounds to me like we’re kind of doing a thing with Tanner, myself, Cole, Parker, and Jill. Maybe going to try to go on a couple trips and make a little video for Vans this year. And then a couple little secret side projects going on with some queers which I am most excited about.
Yeah, me too. It’s gonna be good.
I can’t wait.
That’s literally our next phone call. But kind of in correspondence with a bit of what we were talking about earlier, I forgot to ask, you’re going to school right now.
Yeah, I’m in my first year right now at Emily Carr University. Mikaela is in her final year there and my really good friend Tom, they were kind of the driving force for me to try it out and apply. So far so good. I have a real dud of a teacher in my class which is making it so annoying.
That seems to be the common theme from that school. I hear this from everybody who goes there.
It’s important to get good teachers there for sure. I’m going to stick it out and definitely do the next semester and see what’s up with that so hopefully I can get some chiller teachers and it’ll be better. But I’m enjoying it so far.
What program are you in exactly?
The first year is just foundations and you just take a handful of mandatory classes. Then second year, you either choose the fine arts side or more of an industrial design kind of side. Not sure which I’m going to do yet. I thought I kind of had an idea but now that I’ve taken a couple things, I’m not too sure.
Well it sounds like you have a couple years to figure it out. You’re in Minnesota right now, so the school/work/life balance seems to be going pretty decently. How has it been in regards to that?
That was something I was worried about. I really didn’t want to take my foot off the gas as far as snowboarding went, you know, this was kind of more of a little extra thing to stay busy especially during COVID when we couldn’t travel as much. It made a lot more sense then. If I didn’t have this bad teacher, I think the balance would be quite easy. She’s putting me between a rock and a hard place with missing classes, but I think I should be able to make it work for now. This semester ends at the beginning of December so it should be all good.
One last question. Can you tell me a bit about Rude Girls?
Yeah, Rude Girls is a snowboard shop in Banff, Canada. They’re just literally the sickest shop ever. The main big dog there, Abby, is literally the best person. She’s putting women’s snowboarding on her back and doing some really cool stuff.
Did they just put out an ad announcing Finn Westbury is on the team?
Yeah, the token boy on the team.
Haha I saw that. That’s so rad. Because Rude Boys is still a thing, right?
Yeah, but Rude Girls is way sicker.