The Joel Fortin Interview

13 Jul The Joel Fortin Interview

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Joel Fortin is a Barrie,ON youngen who has been popping up more and more over the past couple of years and with good reason. He’s a humble dude, crazy tech, great filmer and loves bikes/biking. Read on…
Name, age, current location and where you were born and raised
Joel Fortin, 22, currently living in my hometown of Barrie Ontario.

Are there some french Canadian roots in your name?
Yea definitely, both my parents are from Sudbury Ontario which has a ton of french, so basically my entire family on my mom and dad’s side are French.

So you first started riding in Barrie? How old were you?
Yea I started riding when I was like 17, I was riding a mountain bike at the time for whatever reason and every time I’d go to the skatepark I’d just jump on my friend’s BMX. Eventually we just traded bikes haha.

Haha that’s sick. How was the Barrie scene then and how is it now?
The scene back then was super good, you could go to the skatepark any given day and there would be at least 5-10 other dudes riding. Now it’s definitely slimmed down a bit, but there’s a bunch of new kids who always seem to be out which is rad to see. We’re super lucky we have Momentum Cycle in town, Mike’s always down to throw jams and support the scene any way he can, definitely keeping it alive. Miss those old days of crazy skatepark sessions though, Barrie park was a mess back then haha.

So it’s safe to safe the Barrie park were your stomping grounds growing up?
Yea for sure, it was always just easy and pretty close to my house so I’d be there everyday after school.

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It seems like to this day you’re still finding street spots in Barrie as well, how are the spots there?
Haha yea that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing lately, cruising around finding whatever little spots I can. Barrie definitely has a good amount of stuff though, it’s surprising. There’s a good mix of everything really, a few real good rails, bunch of ledge spots and some super unique setups to. And new stuff pops up all the time cause the city’s growing so fast.

How did you deal with a thriving Barrie scene to a quieter one? How do you stay motivated when it’s a struggle finding dudes to ride with it out there?
It can be hard to be motivated at times for sure because it becomes a mission to organize a filming session. But at the same time I’ve always really liked just going out cruising by myself so I don’t mind too much. There’s a couple dudes in town that are down to ride/film, and my girlfriend holds it down behind the cam to haha, but I definitely wish there were more people that wanted to film all the time.

Do you think part of the issue is the dated Barrie park? A new park in town would likely get dudes back at it/ new dudes on bikes.
As far as the skatepark goes you’re totally right, I think the strongest scenes are formed either around a good shop or a good park. We have an awesome shop but the skatepark is so sketchy that it scares young kids and parents away. We have a newer skatepark but it’s like half the size of a basketball court so it’s not helping. Barrie just needs to stop building dozens of un-used baseball diamonds and spend some money on a good skatepark. If cities like London have over 10 skateparks there’s no reason for Barrie not to have one legit one. Sorry for the rant but as you can tell that’s been annoying me for a while hahaha.

How did you get so damn good at nose wheelies. Spill it
Hahah thanks dude, pretty much I just got obsessed and did them everyday. Probably should have spent that time learning something cooler haha. Eventually I just figured out my balance point or whatever and it kinda clicked. I still have days that they don’t work at all other days they feel awesome. Best/worst trick.

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What are some of you’re favorite cities/ spots you’ve hit outside of Barrie?
Damn that’s a good question, I guess Montreal would probably be my favorite, it has a ton of spots and it’s just a sweet city to cruise around. NYC is amazing to obviously, Toronto’s always fun and has a lot of stuff, honestly any city that I’ve never been to I’m always hyped to just bike around and find stuff.

Spot wise there’s so many haha, but Wantagh park in Long Island is really sick, miracle spot in London, the Olympic stadium in Montreal, 29th st ledges in NYC, I don’t know I’m probably forgetting so many but those come to mind.

You were on the Merritt in the six trip last summer, shortly after being added to the Merritt squad, how was that experience/trip?
Man that was seriously the best, just getting invited by Mike Brennan to go on a trip made no sense to me haha, the dude’s a g. Also I had never been on a trip like that before so getting to roll around with such a heavy squad and go to a ton of spots was amazing. I was kinda stressing it a bit at first since I was the new guy, but everyone was super nice so that made it way easier. Plus having Charlie as a coach and Eli constantly making fun of you helps takes the pressure off. I definitely had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Navaz was filming the whole thing though, I look up to that dude so much haha. Shoutout to Brennan for making that all happen, best trip ever.

You’re dialed in front of an behind a camera, when did you get into filming/ editing and how did you get so dialed at it?
Damn well thanks dude I appreciate that! Since I started riding I always kind of filmed stuff for fun, but I didn’t get a real camera and start taking it seriously until like 3 years ago maybe. I think just growing up watching skate videos gave me a good idea of how to film for the most part. Other than that just filming as much as I can helps a lot. As far as editing goes I kind of try to keep it pretty simple because I’m not the greatest at it, but I think I learn the most from examining other people’s styles and picking out what I think looks good, and then trying to figure out what they did. Editing definitely takes me waaaay to long haha.

Do you think BMX edits/dvds are as on point as skate vids? Who are some of your inspirations filming/ editing wise.
In my opinion yes, there are so many good dudes filming BMX that are just as dialed as skate filmers, but I think skating has an advantage just based on the fact that it has way more money to throw at video projects. But still, look at Rigal or Mastroni for example, those guys are putting out super high quality stuff that totally stacks up against any skate video.

And I’d say some dudes I really look up to would be Ennis, Navaz, John Miner, Jack Leonard and Mike Manzoori, there’s so many more haha but those are probably the top 5.

Interesting that most of the dudes you mentioned are on the HD train and you’re still on the SD train. Whatsup with that? hahaha
Hahaha damn I don’t know man that’s a good question. Realistically I just can’t justify spending$2000 on a good HD setup right now, and I still love the look of VX footage so much that I don’t really care. Would be nice not to have to capture tapes anymore though for sure haha.

Fair enough. On the riding side of things, who are 5 guys you really look up to/ respect.
Man definitely a long list of riders I look up to, but top 5 would be Colin Varanyak, Garrett, Ty Morrow, Alex D, and Craig Passero.

Have you always been more of a tech kind of guy or did that just come naturally?
When I started riding I was definitely more into just sending stuff haha, but with time I got more into tech riding for sure. I think now it appeals to me more because I like the idea of tying a bunch of tricks together and seeing how consistent I can be.

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With guys like Donnachie, Clemens, GH, J-Hughes etc rocking helmets full time, it seems like your generation of riders are being a bit more careful in regards to their health and disregarding the previous mindset that wearing a helmet in the streets is a bad thing. Is that a conscious decision you made or was it just a comfort zone type thing where you got used to wearing it when you were younger and stuck with it.
A bit of both for sure, I started wearing one when I was young so I was always used to it, but now it’s definitely a conscious decision. As much as it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference, it does make me a bit more confident for some stuff. Personally I just rather wear one than risk it, but I totally get why some people aren’t into it.

I think it’s sick that more guys are wearing them, to the point that you can watch an entire edit and not really even notice them wearing them now. Whereas a decade ago people just hated on it so nobody wore them. Realistically riders and bikes were way less dialed and could have really used them as well haha.
Hahah yea that’s definitely true, biking’s definitely at a good spot now where most people don’t really care, so people can make the choice for themselves.

On that note you work in a bike shop, you ride a commuter bike to work and back, Ive seen you ride a couple MTBs for fun, have you always been a big bike guy or did it just come together randomly?
I’ve pretty much always been into riding whatever kind of bikes, but working in a shop and being exposed to a variety of bikes definitely has an impact. I have a single speed 29er MTB and a fixie that I ride all the time. BMX is obviously what I enjoy the most, but it’s just fun to switch it up from time to time and it keeps you in good shape.

Insta vids vs web videos?
Man the lines have been so blurred since they upped insta vids to one minute haha. I don’t know insta’s are definitely fun but personally I think you’re best riding should be kept for a real video. At the same time it’s cool for kids that don’t have a real camera setup or someone to film them because they can still put their stuff out for people to see.

Five favorite bands right now?
The National, Band of Horses, The rural Alberta advantage, EL VY and Interpol.

What’s your take on the current typical BMX soundtrack for street edits?
Haha man I don’t know, everyone has different tastes in music I guess. I’m personally not super into rap so most stuff coming out these days isn’t appealing to me. I definitely get really bummed when an amazing section has shitty music though. I just wish people didn’t automatically think that you need to use rap music for edits. It works for certain people but not everyone.

It’s kind of funny how bmx has this fad towards what everyone should be using for music.
I know man me to, I think kids just want to emulate their favorite riders so they just use whatever music the pros are using.

You working on an edit at the moment or just stacking? Any trips in the works/ coming up?
Just stacking right now, I like to just try and get a bunch of footage and then sort it out for whatever. And I’d really like to get out to MTL soon, Mason Gray and Jack Leonard are living out there now so going to spend a few days with them would be sick. I’m also trying to get out to Long Island later in the summer for a week or something. Other than that there might be a Merritt trip in the works to.

Hell ya. Any final remarks or thanks or anything?
Thank you Jeremy for hooking up this interview and everything else you’ve done for me! And thanks to Merritt and OGCBMX for making sure my bike’s always dialed and helping me go bikingĀ  :)

Photos by Matt Boudreau