Here at enevu we value style. It is part of our DNA. We also have been snowboarding since the late ’80s and Nicolas Müller is one of the most stylish professional snowboarders around at the moment.
He is also our secret CUBE beta-tester. Naturally we wanted to hear more from Nicolas and decided to conduct a little interview.
Nicolas Müller follows the natural flow of things in life. His perspectives and decisions are based upon listening inwards, listening to himself, his body and also to the environment around him. This seems to reflect itself in all aspects of his life. It shapes the way he conducts himself, communicates, the path he chooses and the way he snowboards. Nicolas is a professional snowboarder and does it for all the right reasons and not just for a paycheck. Mainly because he just loves to snowboard.
A “living legend” in the snowboard community. Even though he is only in his mid thirties, he is highly respected by all his peers, those in the industry and regular snowboarders.
Having been voted TransWorld Snowboarding’s Rider of the Year in 2013 and also a 3 time recipient of Snowboarder Magazine’s Rider of the Year Award in 2006, 2008 and 2013 are part of his accolades. Winning an ESPN Winter X Games gold medal for his 2012 video part in the Real Snow Backcountry contest and numerous magazine covers are just some of his many other accomplishments. His first cover for the Transworld Snowboarding Magazine December 2011 issue of “a simple powder turn” was shot by Scott Sullivan during a filming trip with Absinthe Films in Nelson BC, Canada.
Nicolas is what one would call a rider’s rider. His ultra smooth riding style, mixed with the ability to execute difficult tricks all in one fluid line down the mountain is well documented in all his countless video parts. Furthermore he finished in the top 3 in Travis Rice’s Red Bull Supernatural 2012 (a competition in the BC backcountry at Baldface, Canada) and placed 2nd the following year in the 2013 Red Bull Ultra Natural. For snowboarders there was Craig Kelly, then Terje Haakonsen and then along came Nicolas Müller.
We met with Nicolas to chat a bit, on a warm sunny summer day at Bank, a newly opened organic restaurant/bar/café that actually used to be a real bank, at Helvetiaplatz in Zürich (Switzerland).
Hey Nicolas what have you been up to this Summer?
Skating. I’m just here in Zurich for Summer and working on my movie. Chilling you know. Summer vacation. We were supposed to work on it today but the weather is so nice. So it’s better to go out than to stare at a computer screen and work on the edit with my friend Martin Luchsinger.
Tell us a bit about the process. You’ve been working on it for some time now. For three years/seasons?
Yeah. Actually Martin is an old friend of mine. Did you know that I bought my first skateboard from him? He was working at the Beach Mountain shop back in the day. I remember buying a board from him and he did some tricks outside the shop. I was so in awe. That’s when I first started skating. He eventually stopped working at the shop and started filming. He started a small production company (Yeahh Productions) that does really cool stuff and now he’s a director for commercial shoots. I somehow bumped into him again, like 10 years after buying the skateboard, and we became friends. It all went full circle. We’ve worked on projects together in the past (for example “What makes you happy?” the 7Sky/PET Recycling spot) and now he’s working on my film. We have footage from past trips, when i was shooting for my sponsors and working on my past video parts. Last season we only shot for my film and we also have an archive of all my footage from Absinthe Films. Stuff that hasn’t been seen you know? There’s going to be a “dream sequence” in the film composed of all everything that I have done. We haven’t worked it all out yet but it’s getting there. It’s going to be called “Fruition”. I think it won’t be just only about snowboarding. It’s hopefully going to be something that people enjoy watching.
And your sponsors are supporting it? It’s your own thing? Putting together a movie by yourself requires quite a budget.
My sponsors are helping me out a bit, they let me do my own thing and are supportive. We’ve pooled something together so everyone involved can get paid. You want to be able to take care of your homies, you know? We are going to release “Fruition” online on December 6th. 2016 via iTunes, Vimeo On Demand (VOD) and some other outlets.
Speaking of your sponsors, you were on Burton (one of the biggest snowboard companies) and you moved to GNU. How is that going?
Oh it’s so cool. They are just like a family you know? Burton is great company and I’ve been with them for a long time (more than 10 years). I have good friends there, but it came to a point where I needed a change, something different. GNU felt like a natural fit for me. They were “down” and I also like them because they are kind of weird.
You were riding the Flight Attendant board a lot on Burton and now you have a pro model on GNU. How involved are you in the design process of the boards you ride?
The process is something that evolves over years and just happens along the way. With the Flight Attendant at Burton it wasn’t like let’s make the Flight Attendant. John “JG” Gerndt (Burton’s product testing and development guru) called me one day and told me he built this board that kind of fits my riding style. He “fedexed” me a prototype the next day. I looked at it and thought it looked quite strange. So the first day I rode it was just odd. But on the second day I was totally blown away by it. Eventually with my feedback from riding it and more prototypes it became the Flight Attendant. With GNU it’s similar. I told them what I like and they designed a board accordingly for me which became my first pro model the GNU Müllair. I can do whatever I want. The artwork on the board is done by my friend Alain “Lain” Schibli. It’s cool because people can buy my board that I ride in the shops. It’s the same thing and GNU is known for their efforts in the snowboard construction process, as they try to keep it as environmentally friendly as possible.
We get completely nerdy and talk about skateboards. I ask Nicolas if he remembers what his first skateboard was. He doesn’t remember but says that Martin should know because he has a good memory. He adds that he forgets things sometimes. I ask him about his current skateboard deck and he tells me that it’s a doodah shop deck. The last deck he rode was from Lib Tech. It had some weird layer inside the tail area of the board that prevented razortail (process of tail wearing down) and it lasted forever. (Though he admits that eventually he got a new deck. “There’s something nice about getting a new setup.”) We talk about the materials used and how that might have a negative effect on the environment. Nicolas then mentions that it’s true, but the Lib Tech decks will last for longer period of time and you won’t be going through that many boards and you will waste less material and wood.
We also talk briefly about Lib Tech’s line of skis (NAS – Narrow Ass Snowboards) and supposedly as a snowboard company they make them because there always seems to be a homie in the group that still skis. Nicolas wants ice cream and ends up ordering a vegan ice cream masterpiece from Bank.
You are a vegetarian. Was that a conscious choice?
It happened naturally along the way. When I was young my mother was always worried what I would eat when I would be travelling around the world. She didn’t want me to just eat pizza and ravioli out of the can. She read up on things and there were these phases where we would eat a lot of something because it was healthy. At some point she became a vegetarian and still cooked meat for us. There was this one time I had nightmare. It was crazy. I was a cow in a slaughterhouse and I woke up completely traumatised. Since then I stopped eating meat. I haven’t been eating meat for 24 years now. I still eat fish though. I chose to take care of my body. I haven’t been injured in a long time and I feel good.
What are your top five vegetables and why?
My top 5 veggies would be:
Broccoli, super green food for the cold days.
Bell Pepper, lots of vitamin C.
Beetroot, great for the blood.
Kale, mega antioxidant.
And sweet potato, lots of vitamin A. Great for blood and high in fiber and beta-carotene.
A lot people and your friends from the snowboard scene are starting to promote a healthy more sustainable lifestyle nowadays. Like Rip Zinger and Eat Rad Ride Rad. Is that important to you?
I just do it because it makes me feel good. I like to be able to eat organic vegetables, things that are good for me. It helps me, my snowboarding and it also helps the world. I recycle for the same reasons. If I can promote something positive without ramming it down someone’s throat besides snowboarding I do it. It’s like another perspective and perspectives are always different depending on how you look at things. I don’t preach about it, I just talk about it. Rip he’s so crazy. He’s just like nomad traveling the world always full of great energy. He’s family. He just shows up and it’s on. He once took us to this one spring when we were in Hokkaido because it had the best water in Japan.
You speak about family a lot. Your agent is Circe Wallace. She’s the female powerhouse in the business.
Circe is family, yes. I’ve been with her for over 10 years. She really takes care of her clients and she’s a woman in a tough industry. She really cares and still is a snowboarder at heart.
Yeah she’s hardcore. She used to be one of the few female pro snowboarders back in the day up there with the boys. She was on Ride snowboards right?
Yes. Circe was one of the first backcountry pro female snowboarders and has good style. She’s lovely. She’s helped me so much. After being in the business for so long it’s nice to have someone looking out for you. She’s a good friend. I stayed at her place after visiting Mervin and she got back at the end of the day from a Red Bull or Monster meeting. She said she was destroyed. I could imagine. She’s on the phone all the time doing business stuff but she still loves snowboarding. She’s awesome and just really cares about the people she represents.
You tend to look at the bigger picture in things, may it be in regards to the “business” choices you make or even the way you approach the mountain. You mainly ride in the backcountry, not on the slopes that much and you don’t spend days in the park. Can you elaborate a bit on that? Harmony and balance? Working with Nike?
There are a million possibilities. The lines I see down the mountain, it’s all natural. It’s flowing down the mountain – like Craig Kelly said “you are a ball rolling down the mountain”. It’s about finding that line that feels right, that surfy flow or like in skating finding lines and powerslides in turns and styling it out. With Nike they chose me. I went to visit them in Portland and they prepared an entire presentation from their sustainability division, that works there in the background. I was impressed that they were doing something in that area and their product is really good. I want to be part of something that can support my views. You could say that I risk my life for snowboarding to represent some company. That’s why I don’t ride for any old company. I chose to do and ride the things I want to, the things that feel right.
Like at the end of your Burton backcountry video part where you casually did a 360 off a cliff and nose bonked on your way down?
Yeah that just happened. I don’t plan tricks specifically. For me it’s more about finding spots and the location and not about what trick you do. I don’t want to force things. It’s not a competition. It’s not me against the mountain. It just has to feel right and I have a good time.
You travel all over the world and you also went to Alaska again recently?
Yes. I don’t travel that much in summer anymore. Nowadays it’s cool to chill. I mean flying to New Zealand and riding powder is amazing but at the same time those budgets aren’t around anymore. I try to give back to the environment by donating and supporting the regrowing of rainforest in Brazil (Atlantic Rainforest Institution) and I am an ambassador for various environmental causes (ARFI, POW and Green Style Laax, I Am Pro Snow, a part of the Climate Reality Project). Oh and I took the CUBE to Alaska with me. It’s so small and useful. I really like it. It’s great as a present, like for Christmas. I already gave a couple to some friends of mine.
Nicolas then fumbles in his bag and pulls out something. He hands me two vials of Sudden Rush Guarana – a natural and healthy energy shot, a slowly released Guarana plant based high. A coffee substitute with multiple positive health benefits that is easier on the body. He also hands me a small packet of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Drink, a natural mushroom drink and says that we share the same 40% of our DNA with mushrooms. It all just seems normal.
Join Nicolas Müller (@nicolasmuellair) next season at the Sudden Rush Laax Banked Slalom Open with Terje Haakonsen.
Make a change, support the environment and check out the Atlantic Rainforest Institution and Protect Our Winters.
Interview by Marco Pinsker.