Cyclist of the Week: Brian Vernor
This week, we're stoked to present an in-depth interview with creative, Brian Vernor. With notable works including Friday Night Tykes and filming for Poler Stuff, Brian's portfolio is pretty eclectic.
We wanted to expose the deeper side to the person behind the projects. Fortunately, Brian wasn't afraid to dive deep to let us into his life. Dive in below.
Where did you grow up?
I’ve lived in Santa Cruz, CA, most of my life. My family has been there for four generations, and for many reasons it is home like no other place can be. I mean, I have an emotional connection to the geography, the topography, smells, color and quality of light. It’s well known for certain cultures, both surfing and bike, but I feel like those things, while part of my life, aren’t nearly as impactful as the land itself.
Other people have felt the same way, finding a kind of psycho-magical power to it. There are a lot of people who know about the vortexes, and other unexplainable characteristics of the land, and stay in Santa Cruz because of the power it holds.
So when did cycling come into your life?
I started really owning cycling, making it central to my daily life, intentionally, when I was in 8th or 9th grade. I was riding home from school and some classic jock kids driving past started screaming at me that I was a faggot and they were gonna kill me, and they stopped ahead of me and got out and waited for me. I just had one of those decisive moments where I decided who I was gonna be in life. I didn’t flinch, I just rolled up to them and got off my bike and waited. It was just a joke to them and I took it seriously. I just looked at them with calm, and the older guy, who definitely could have crushed me, just saw that I was really gonna fight them, and he just was like, this is dumb, and grabbed the other kid and got back in the car.
But you know, I thought about myself more consciously after that, as a cyclist, and also about being ok being an outsider. Mountain bikes at that time, which is all I cared about in high school, was a misfit thing—hippies, stoners, surf bums who found something to do when there weren’t waves, and I was more at home with them, even though I wasn’t really any off those things.
Go-to bike for the commute?
I have a somewhat rare Hunter Cycles fixed road bike (made for riding roads, not on the track), which i’ve bastardized for the hills in Los Angeles and put a 3-speed hub on.
Can you explain the feeling you get when riding?
I try to do that with photos. I’m more of a visual person.
Describe your daily morning ritual.
I have none. I travel a lot, work for myself, and I just don’t have a routine. I hear routine will make you more productive. I should try it.
Your current build?
Oh man, which one? I ride a lot of bikes, a Cannondale Habit mountain bike, Ritchey Ascent for camping trips, Rock Lobster steel road bike, and a Hunter cyclocross bike, to name a few.
How do you take your coffee, if any?
Bitter and Black.
What type of music fills your headphones?
I like music with an idea behind it. I guess that could be pretentious, but I just can’t do a repetitive thing like pop music, too often. The more conceptual pop-music realm is great though, Frank Ocean and Toro y Moi, to name a couple. I see jazz shows more often than any other music right now.
Los Angeles has a deep jazz music heritage, with a lot of young talent, shows every night, cheap, and just on fire. Everyone is talking about Kamasi Washington (jazz saxophonist + Kendrick Lamar Collaborator), who I’ve seen once. Recently I saw Jeff Parker (of Tortoise), and Steve Coleman (famous for his McArthur “Genius” grant award), both of whom really stood out.
Favorite song right now?
To contradict myself a bit, in the early 1990s Lois made this poppy song called ‘Strumpet’, and it’s about embracing outsiderness, and owning your space, but also not being territorial. Some people cringe at that lo-fi poppy punk scene from the 1990s Northwest, but it was part of a radical awakening for me, about being creative and letting go of how you make something needing to conform to an idea of the “right way.”
Shout out to Brian for letting us into his mind. It's always a blessing to discover the person behind the bike. Here at Unsettle, we take the time to discover the story behind the creative process and journey of a creative's life.
To stay in the loop with weekly interviews and music recommendations, make sure to subscribe to our community newsletter below.