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Kyle Albers,
KOZMK Shaper

In Conversation with Kris Chatterson
Photography by Jenny Hueston

If you frequent the surfy blogosphere and watch every short surf film you can get your salt stained eyes on, chances are you’ve encountered Kyle Albers’ tall, lanky frame putting his odd shaped boards through the paces. His creations, shaped under his label Deepest Reaches, borrow heavily from the ‘70s, but with a decidedly modern, playful bent (the KOZMK~KRUZR epitomizes this). During a series of email exchanges, artist Kris Chatterson spoke to Albers about his influences, humor and what he does in his free time (answer: surf)

Kris Chatterson: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you come from? How did you end up in Santa Barbara? 

Kyle Albers: I went to SB for school and stayed for a few years after I graduated, working as a substitute teacher. Now I’m back in OC making surfboards. 

KC: I’m always interested in how shapers learn their craft. How did you come to shape boards? Did you learn on your own or do you have a mentor(s)? 

KA: When I was shaping my first board, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a D fin pig with reverse rocker, but as crude as it looked, it worked pretty well for me. I watched my friend Ryan [Lovelace] shape a few boards after that, which helped a lot. Since then I’ve just learned through trial and error.

KC: Do you still have the first board you shaped? 

KA: I do. It’s in the Deepest Reaches Museum (a pile of old boards in the side yard). 

KC: When did you decide that you wanted to make boards for other people? It’s one thing to shape for yourself, but when you start doing it for other surfers that’s a different ball of wax (no pun intended). Was there something that you wanted to add to the world that’s maybe was not out there? 

KA: I was just making boards for myself, then some friends were stoked on them. I was able to sell my used boards on Craigslist for cost, and I really didn’t want to keep subbing, so I thought I’d try shaping for a living. It’s been a couple years, trying to develop some models and get boards out into the world.

KC: Deepest Reaches is such a great name and speaks to perhaps a more inner aspect to surfing. How did you come up with it? Is there a deeper meaning beyond just the name of a label? 

KA: Deepest Reaches is a reminder to myself to keep reaching into the depths of my brainspace for designs. It also encourages people riding the reaches to get deepest and push it beyond the limits.

KC: Let’s talk about the boards you offer. It seems to me you are looking at craft from the ’70s. Is that an era you particularly like or respond to with regard to the boards being made then? 

KA: Yeah. I’m definitely influenced by the boards of the ’70s. I like boards that allow you to enjoy just riding the wave, where you don’t have to “do” anything. The KOZMK~KRUZR is my single fin model, and I tried to take some of the things I liked about ’70s downrail guns and make it springier and more forgiving. 

KC: How about the MEGAfish? Seems like a pretty versatile board. What lead you to that shape? Were you riding some of the San Diego (Frye, Mitzven, Mabile, Pavel) big fish boards and wanted to put your own spin on it? 

KA: My friend had this 11’3” Frye Fish Simmons that I rode and just thought was SO dope. Super glidey, a little bit slippery, and surprisingly easy to turn. My MEGAfish is a little different but has many of the same concepts. I surf SanO a lot and it’s great there for generating speed by turning through the power bands.

KC: When I think of the surfing I’ve seen you do in videos and films, you have a very specific style. It’s very smooth but then all of a sudden it can get radical. Are there surfers from the past that you relate to or would say are influences? Who are the surfers you relate to most that are your peers?

KA: Some of the most influential surfers for me were Billy Hamilton, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Joel Tudor and Derek Hynd. And many of my favorite to watch surf now were in Expencive Porno Movie, particularly Justin, Alex, and Trevor. 

KC: So I just watched Expencive Porno Movie and your scenes are pretty rad! You really put the KOZMK~KRUZR through it’s paces. What was it like to be in the film and work with Tin Ojeda? 

KA: There was never a dull moment working on the movie with Tin. He’s got a lot of energy and was really excited to film, but he’s also very mischievous, so if the waves were bad he would usually try to steal my phone and send inappropriate pictures. But it was really cool talking with him about different shots and songs to use, and then getting to see a finished product just a few months later. I was amazed by how much he could get done in such a short time. He filmed all of that in the winter and spring, and by summer it was already out. Those New Yorkers — so productive! 

KC: What about humor? You are clearly serious about surfing and shaping but I wouldn’t say you take it too seriously. There seems to be a layer of tongue in cheek
attitude in Deepest Reaches that reminds us that surfing it supposed to be fun. 

KA: I thought I was being serious, haha!! I guess I can’t help being goofy.

KC: Ha! Well on the team page on your website, members have occupations like “tent palace architect” or “ black belt” and signature moves like the “wrapping the cutty cuttys” and “pit tickler”. I can’t help but keel over with
laughter. Also there is a board on the menu with the best name ever —  I’m talking about the 
PIZZABOXXX! I think there is even a Pizza Slice. How did you come to develop these boards? What’s the process like?

KA: I just try to make boards that I would want to ride, and if I end up shaping a bunch of similar boards it becomes a model. It can be difficult to come up with model names, but the PIZZABOXXX was easy. It’s a square, and I love pizza. MEGAfish is pretty self explanatory, the KOZMK~KRUZR is a board for just surfing through space, and the the MINDMOLECULE is a smaller, more shreddy version of the KRUZR

KC: What are some of the things that you have seen change in surfing over the last ten years and where do you think surfing is now? 

KA: Around the turn of the last millennium there was a great mind opening in regards to surfboard design, and now there’s so many different types of surfboards available. It seems like in the past few years surfers have been narrowing it down to a few types of surfboards that fit them, and as a result shapers have been able to refine those designs. 

KC: You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only have two boards, what are they and why? 

KA: For the past year my quiver has pretty much consisted of a 9’11” MEGAfish and 7’2” KOZMK~KRUZR single fin. Those two boards cover almost all of the waves that I encounter in my daily life. I would imagine that this desert island would have hollow reef passes so I would probably be riding the KRUZR mostly. But the MEGA would come in handy for exploring the island’s coastline and looking for things to eat in the ocean.

KC: Speaking of desert islands, do you get to travel much for surf? Where have you gone and where are your favorite places to go? 

KA: I usually go on a trip to Hawaii in the winter and to an exotic country in the summertime. Some of my favorite places I’ve been are Bali, Central America, and Sri Lanka.

KC: What are your interests outside of surfing? 

KA: I’m pretty boring, I don’t really have any outside interests. Surfing and shaping take up almost all of my brainspace. I do a little bit of drawing and I enjoy listening to rap music. 

KC: And finally what’s next for Kyle Albers? Is there a board in development that you would like to share or project that you are working on that you are excited about? 

KA: I’m just going to keep trying to dial in the DR models and come
up with some new ones. I’ve been working on a single fin glider model. I also hope to work on another movie with Tin. 

Photo by Will Adler

This story originally appeared in WAX Issue 6.

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