The countdown is on, spring is on its way and the beautiful summer days are coming ahead ! But what I am the most impatient about, is to gather with you all in Biarritz for the third edition of an event I hold in my heart : WHEELS and WAVES.
Like many of us in life, I generally try to escape boredom, doing my best to put problems aside, and putting my passions at the top. I also need a daily shot of adrenaline, but the « everyday » makes it pretty much impossible. That’s why I work so hard at the moment, juggling between my « real » job and what has become another full-time occupation: organizing the festival WHEELS and WAVES.
According to me, it is important to regularly shake up that little world we’re living on. This is our leitmotiv.
Our crew at Southsiders has grown this year, and we are very happy to welcome Julien and Fred in the team. Both are now working with Benoit, Thierry, Jerôme and myself all year-long. I also would like to thank Kenny and Anik for their daily dose of work, helping us putting together this new edition of WHEELS and WAVES.
Here is our first monthly newsletter, we hope you enjoy discovering some of the actors, brands and partners who will be present this year.
Also, feel free to let us know if you have questions. We’ll do our best to get back to you.
« Don’t dream your life, live your dreams ».
An interview with the EDWIN EUROPE artistic director Rey Gautier, about his life-long passion for motorcycling.
1/ When did you start working with Edwin as a creative director, and where were you before this ?
I started in January 2009, which is when I moved over from having lived most of my life in London. As Edwin Europe is based just outside of Basel on the boarder of France, Switzerland and Germany, this was for me the perfect start to a new adventure both professionally and personally. I have four children and the opportunity to live amongst nature, close to the mountains and work with denim for a brand I have worn for many years, was simply something I had to do.
2/ I read that you were inspired by the motorbike culture since you were young, when living in the UK. Were you the one bringing that lifestyle into Edwin’s ? How does it relate to the authenticity of the brand ?
I grew up in relatively wild place in the county of Derbyshire, England. We lived in the country in relatively isolation, so spent a lot of time outdoors, creating our own fun, at arms length of city life influences only which came later as a teenager. During these formative years as a child I discovered skateboarding and immediately associated with the feeling and culture, albeit by inheriting passed down copies of Thrasher magazine from someone who by chance had the opportunity to obtain such rarities of that time… You don’t need a lot really, just a board and some concrete to ride along. This is mainly what pre-occupied my youth, and has since remained with me. The reason I mention is that it gave me my first sensations related to senses of independence and freedom. At the same time, we lived near to a small town in a valley where every Sunday, bikers from far would come to meet, ride and share their passion for motorcycles. I used to enjoy going there to watch them all, with a boyhood dream of one day being able to ride a motorcycle. This feeling was similar to the passion I held for the freedom and creativity felt through skateboarding. So, really I think that its less about a scene of one description of another, but more a about a lifelong passion and requirement for quality times, belief in freedom. Perhaps this is why I also now love working with denim as it is a medium without restraint, it can tell stories and trace a period though time in accompanying you on your life ventures. It is culturally rich.
3/ What is it about the vintage and custom moto trend that touches people in such a strong way ?
There is a human aspect I believe many people can relate to. I do not think that it is exclusively relevant to a person who is involved in a particular scene or specific culture or subculture, but the feeling of freedom and creativity allows us all to dream and realise our dreams. We all grow up dreaming and our childhood ambitions are sometimes with us for life, if we are lucky, sometimes they come true. The culture around Vintage and Custom Moto, really just reminds us that it can be done. It may be a way of life for some, and for others a weekend escape to the garage/workshop/roads/waves/mountains/skate-parks/vintage markets etc…essentially it is just about that passion for life and creativity. The great thing about it is that it can be extremely refined as it can be very crude, again, there are little rules other than the ones we set ourselves and just the willing to get up and do something you want to do.
4/ What is the connection between surfing and riding motorcycles for you ?
Probably the same connection I referred to between skateboarding and motorcycles,creativity. A group of individuals sharing a feeling for a passion both collectively and individually. Also, if you consider all the art that has gone into both interests, there are many shared references for that feeling of freedom.
5/ Do you think the motorcycling lifestyle will penetrate the jeans industry, or stay niche ?
It has always been there really. Looking at old icon imagery, denim has been present for a very long time and associated with motorcycles in various forms. With today’s means of communications, I really can’t see how the association between denim and motorcycles can stay niche. Invariably like with most lifestyles used within business marketing, there are some great examples and some less so. Some will purely wish to use this as a passing marketing exercise for their products and others will continue to enjoy this association between product and lifestyle interests, personally and professionally (the lines between for some are not so defined)… Personally, I think life is too short to be focused on anything other than what feels right. I mean, for me working in part with some people from the motorcycle word, is not by design, but really simply because I met some really good people who I connected with as people not because they are interested in a specific culture or another. The motorcycle connection was secondary in many ways and was relevant purely because of how it was lived, the reasons for living it and not because it was motorcycle purely.
6/ Is the U.S. market different from the European market for this category, or for your brand?
I would imagine that there are similarities, although of course, European scenes and U.S scenes always differ slightly. From a business point, we do not yet sell Edwin Europe in the U.S. We have been asked many times, but the time for us is not right yet. We still have so much to experience and achieve in Europe with Edwin, that we are focusing on this for now.
7/ You are good friends with the Parisian Collective BLITZ, and we’ve seen them involved in some of your films, along with the release of a special collection in Spring-Summer 13.What’s next on the agenda with these guys. Do you have more coming ? Will it be an ongoing collab ? Any project of building an EDWIN x BLITZ bike ?
It was purely through both Fred and Hugo that I became interested in this culture as an adult. A random meeting in Paris when I was visiting with my wife. We met, didn’t know what each other did in life and just got on well in relation to the way we view life, that this lead to us then discussing what we do, what we are passionate about etc… One thing lead to another and after about a year of hanging out and just sharing good times, we decided that we should maybe make something together. So, Blitz made a motorcycle for Edwin, and we made a little collection for Blitz Motorcycles. We always said from the start, that if this ever starts to feel like we have to force it, or it influences negative change, we would stop, because nothing is worth more than friendship. Today, we still continue a collaborative project which functions very naturally between us. We do it because we want to and believe in it. For next A/W14 we always collaborated with Grenson on a ‘Made In England’ Blitz x Edwin x Grenson boot. Its beautiful, well made and subtle. Equally we have worked with Alexander leather on two motorcycle Jackets, hand made from start to finish in the Alexander Leather’s Atelier in Selkirk, Scotland. These two pieces are simply, truly beautiful and with no compromise on fabrication or design. This is the way we like to work with Blitz. I mean a tee shirt should be affordable, a jean should be well made using some of our great Japanese selvage fabrics but also affordable. A leather jacket, is something I believe you don’t comprise on. It works perfectly with a good denim, good boots, a bike and needs to be of the very best quality. We will showcase some at the next wheels & waves event. Fred and I have been talking on and off for a couple of years about a bike. It will happen, but only when it does..there is no rush.
8/ We’re very happy to have you onboard for the second time at Wheels and Waves. Last year you made a special print tee for the event, and you are now working on a new limited series.What is your approach for this design ?
Yes, we are really honored to be part of this. Actually, this will be the third time for us. The first we road down and camped along the way, making a film about the trip called ‘FURTHER’, which is a word we use internally to name the adventures we share together and the people we like to associate our ventures with. This we did as a joint venture/journey with ‘Kingdom of Kicks’ shot by Sam Christmas, filmed by Benny (Benjamin J Robinson) who is Edwin’s supremely talented art director and old friend to boot. This year, we are working on some specific ideas, following some really inspiring conversations with Vincent Prat, which we be limited to the event itself in small runs. To be honest, all the conversations I have ever had with Vincent have been inspiring. This is the reason, above all we participate. I will always remember the first trip down there, after days of rain and camping and adventure being a little lost and we had stopped off in some fields to rest for a while and get some footage…a convoy of amazing cars and bikes drove past, then they backed up and the people got to say hello to us. This was the first time I met Vincent. He offered us a warm meal at his house that night, which I can tell you was probably something I will never forget. This collection of really good, human beings I and the other Edwin/Further people have had the good fortune to meet through Vincent Prat, The Southsiders, Blitz Motorcycles, Kingdom of Kicks, Nico (Ornamental Conifer), El Solitario, Maxwell (CFH), Sam Christmas amongst others is why we enjoy being there. It is for us, as much if not more about the people we meet and being interested in sharing those moments than the work we do together of separately. For me, it remains a simple decision. The only downside is the pain I get in my face from spending so much time laughing my head off at all that goes on, especially when Mark Amos is about…
9/ Are you involved in any other motorcycling x retro events in Europe ? In the US ? In Japan ?
No. We don’t really feel that this is something we want to pursue at present. I am happy for us to be involved with Wheels & Waves, because we really, genuinely enjoy partaking and sharing these times. This is the event I want for Edwin to be involved with, because from my first experience, it was the right feeling, coming from genuinely open minded passionate people with a clear vision. This is what makes our involvement relevant, because every time I have attended, the vision and feeling is still as strong as the first time I set foot there. Edwin supports Wheels & Waves, that’s it. Good times with friends.
10/ Last question, can you tell us about your bike ?
No, because its being worked on by a friend, James Jordan (Kingdom Of Kicks) at the moment, and I have no clue as to what will be the result before I see it at Wheels & Waves. It is good to work with people like this. I don’t make bikes, I make denim, so I guess when it comes to motorcycles, I feel that the best way for me, is to trust someone who knows you well enough to create something interesting. Same way we go about the projects we do with people when we make denim for them. There are a few key factors to consider, but I feel that trust is the main point. When Blitz Motorcycles made the ‘Stealth’ Bike for us (EDWIN), I literally saw it on the day it came out the back of the van on top of a mountain, where we had gone to shoot a film. It was my 40th birthday. What a day !Soon, it will be going back to visit its home, in Paris, for a few modifications before goingto Wheels & Waves, where we intend to have it shown in our makeshift home for a few days amongst some other bikes, product and smiling faces. At home I have a couple of old 1970’s Yamaha TY trials bikes, which I use to ride the track on. There are miles oftrails where I live, so it is ideal for this… I am not an experienced rider or knowledgeable about motorcycles by any stretch of the imagination, I just enjoy that feeling for freedomlike we all do and sharing some good times in nature with my friends and family like I have strived to do all my life and will continue to do so for as long as I live.
Introducing you to BMW Motorrad France’s marketing manager, and owner of the « Lucky Cat Garage ».
What is your current position within BMW Motorrad France ?
Since 2010, I am Marketing Manager at BMW Motorrad France.
How did you reach this position ?
I started at BMW Motorrad in 2003, as Parts & Accessories Coordinator, and then as After-Sales Manager. A marketing position in the bike branch, seemed as a logical continuation to me.
What are your main responsibilities ?
BMW Motorrad France is a subsidiary of BMW Motorrad, therefore our goals are mainly based on the brand communication in France, both to boost the sales and reinforce the brand image.
Can you tell us more about « The Lucky Cat Garage » ?
Well, The Lucky Cat Garage, all together a playground, a true space of freedom and also the laboratory, where I can push my experiments on personal projects.
After meeting such a success with « the SprintBeemer », are you working on a new project ?
Yes, I am currently reassembling a motorcycle of track for « la femme de ma vie ». It is a Triumph pre-unit from 1961 I am working on, with Frank from the « Atelier Chatokhine ».
This being said, I am still dealing with some developments for The Sprintbeemer, aiming for more speed… I must also confess that I could easily use a nineT as a basis for a custom exercise, if I only had some spare time.
How did you hear about Wheels & Waves ?
Fred & Hugo, from Blitz Motorcycles, whom I knew before they opened their workshop, made me discover this event. This is how I got to participate, with them, to the 2012 edition, spending lovely moments and meeting many great people.
Did you imagine at that time, that the event would meet such a success ?
Well in fact, yes I felt like it was going to become a success. And this is why I truly militated in favour of BMW Motorrad presence at the 2013 edition, in order to prepare the launching of our nineT in 2014 !
How much are you involved in the organization ? ?
I try to fit the brand as close as possible into the event.
Ride, running race, surf ontest, exhibitions, concerts… how are you going to organize your W&W14 ? Work or playtime ?
The 2014 edition is going to be work oriented, but I must say that I am already quite excited to meet there some friends I do not get to see elsewhere. We should find some time to spend good moments and to simply ride with pleasure on the sightseeing roads of the region. Exhibitions and concerts are just icing on the cake !
Do you already know which bikes you will be riding ?
I think I can manage coming with The Sprintbeemer, that I intend to ride… even if it is not the best bike for this year’s hill climb. So, I will also bring over my Dustbeemer, its GT counterpart, which I came with in 2012.
The W&W spirit in three words ?
Sharing, freedom and great moments
What about your survival kit for the 2014 W&W ?
A serious load of good mood, vitamins and two garbage fairings !
Meet the man behind one of the most insightful website about the motorcycle culture Bike Exif, and co-editor of the acclaimed book The Ride.
1 / When did your passion for custom bikes begin ? How old were you when you bought your first motorcycle and what was it ?
When I was teenager growing up in the UK, I rode a friend’s motocross bike. It was great fun, but then I got into cars. Many years later, living in Sydney Australia, my interest in motorcycles was rekindled. Sydney is a very motorcycle-friendly city and about six years ago I bought my first bike, a Moto Guzzi V7. I’m late to the scene.
2 / How often do you ride, and what do you ride ?
I ride once or twice a week at the moment — I now live in New Zealand and there are some fantastic roads near our farm.
3 / Besides your site « bike exif »and the amazing book that you’ve co-edited « The Ride », what is your involvement in the custom bike scene ?
I have judged shows, such as the Bike Build Off at Deus in Sydney, and I provide informal advice to builders on how to promote themselves and become better known. I also write a monthly column for the UK’s biggest-selling motorcycle magazine, Bike, and occasionally contribute the the Japanese magazine Moto Navi and the US magazine BikeCraft.
4 / Do you travel to a lot of events around the world ?
I travel to France every year for Wheels & Waves, and I went to EICMA in Milan last year at Yamaha’s invitation. I go to the Deus events in Sydney and in 2015 I’m hoping to go the Motor Bike Expo in Verona, Italy.
5 / How is the custom bike scene in New Zealand ? Are you close to some NZ or any other workshops ? Which ones and why ?
The motorcycle scene in New Zealand is very small indeed: the classic motorcycle scene is much bigger. NZ is very much a ‘car culture’ and cars are cheap, so fewer people ride motorcycles. There are some amazing classic bikes around, but relatively few custom builders.
6 /You used to work as a creative director in an advertising agency based in Sydney. What made you quit ? Did you then start Bike EXIF right after ?
I can remember the exact moment I decided to get out of advertising: It was while sitting on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel in Cannes during the Lions advertising festival. I was surrounded by other Australian and New Zealand creative directors, and they weren’t my kind of people. I realized that if I didn’t quit the business, I would end up becoming ‘one of them.’ So the clock started ticking. By the time I left the business, I was running Bike EXIF as a hobby, but I was ready to go full-time.
7 / How do you explain the emergence and recent growth of the custom bike scene around the world ?
I think it is partly a return to simpler pleasures, away from large, complex and heavy production bikes. And also a desire to ‘personalize’ a machine in our mass-produced age. It’s also worth noting that nearly all of the bigger custom moto websites are run by people who have a ‘day job’ in the media or advertising, and know how to ‘work the system.’ So the builders and bikes get a lot of exposure, which in turn drives demand.
8 / What is it about the vintage and custom moto trend that touches people in such a strong way ?
The bikes are beautiful objects, made from metal. They have a sense of permanence and great style. They are easy to store, relatively cheap to buy compared to a car, and give great ownership satisfaction. They’re also a symbol of freedom. We live in a very regulated age, but when you are out riding your bike, no one can touch you.
9 /What did you think of last year’s edition of Wheels and Waves ? Could you describe the spirit of the event in three words ?
Exhilarating, stylish and friendly.
10/ What about your survival kit for Wheels and Waves ?
I like to travel light. I’ll have a basic change of clothes, plus a camera and a laptop to keep in touch with the website. To survive the convoluted journey from New Zealand I’ll pick up a Henning Mankell novel and a copy of Monocle at the airport shop, and keep a sleep mask in my bag!