I am not a musician. But going to shows, listening to music, and nerding out on bands and artists brings me as much joy as snowboarding. There is style, creativity, and collaboration in snowboarding and music. Both give off similar energies. The energy changes with each rider and song, but this sense of freedom and inspiration always exists. Almost an escape from daily life. This type of energy brings people together and creates this shared emotional connection. In snowboarding and music, that energy is more special when it's your friends doing it.
I am not a musician. Maybe I am envious. Actually, I am definitely envious. I can only play WILD THING on a guitar. But because I cannot play, I try to surround myself with people who can. So I can get that energy. The overlap of snowboarders who play music and are starting bands is growing, especially in Salt Lake City. Ever since Brandon Cocard moved here, there have been more and more shows to go to. Almost every weekend. His talent, creativity, and passion for snowboarding and music keep us going to his shows and replaying his video parts.
Brandon has been involved in several bands and seems happy playing with anyone. Recently, he has been on stage most with hi again. A band in SLC that currently includes; Paul Curtis (guitar), Lindsey Elliott (keys), and Andrew Aldridge (drums). I wanted to learn more about hi again and Brandon’s experience with music in general. Because, again, I am not a musician.
- Intro/Interview by Katie Kennedy
Music and snowboarding have always overlapped, but it seems to be growing.
Yeah true. I’ve seen more and more bands, even within the homies. It’s cool that we have the snowboard community, and then the music community is right there, too, even for other bands that don’t snowboard. We are playing at different venues, meeting new people, and being able to talk to them. It’s nice.
How long have you played music, and what inspired you to start?
I’ve played music for maybe 15 or 16 years. I was inspired to start by getting into records and digging more into classic rock, which is super guitar driven. I listened to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Cream. I was obsessed with that sound. And that sound was the electric guitar. And I was like, alright, I have to learn how to play this thing. So I got a guitar for Christmas one year and just kept at it.
How long have you been snowboarding? And what inspired you to start?
I started snowboarding when I was 9. I’m really bad at math, so around 23 years. I got inspired by living near snow. I was skiing, but snowboarding was way cooler and way more fun. My dad said, " If you want to snowboard, I’ll start with you." So we learned together. He would come home from work with snowboard videos he’d rent from the local shop. He’d come with Mackdawg VHS tapes, and as soon as I saw that, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
And those videos have really good soundtracks too.
They do, for sure. A lot of my musical taste was coming from those soundtracks.
What are some similarities between snowboarding and music?
I would say the biggest similarity is that both those activities force you to lock in and be in the moment. In a way, you get a flow state in snowboarding and a flow state in music. In snowboarding, if you are not in the flow state, if you are thinking about other things, you are going to fuck it up. And it’s the same with playing guitar or bass, whatever it is. If you are not in the moment, you are going to mess up the timing or notes. It’s funny the correlation there. It really forces you to be in the present.
You’ve always been actively playing music with people in snowboarding. I remember you played with Hannah and Tim. There's Future Mystic. The latest seems to be hi again. How did that come to be, and whos involved?
When I first moved to Salt Lake, we had a band called Future Mystic. That was Mike Rav and I, Lyndsey, and the whole crew. Paul was a late addition to the band because we wanted someone to play the keys. He could play piano, but I could tell he really didn’t like playing keys. He had all these songs written on his guitar. He's a really good guitar player. His music had its own feel to it. He sent me demos one day, and I was like, yo, we should start a band. I’ll play bass for you. We can find a drummer. So he had this dude Finn, one of the best drummers in Salt Lake. He was the first drummer for hi again. Then Finn dropped out. I think he went back to school. Then we got Andrew, the drummer for Future Mystic, so he jumped over to hi again as well. It was a little three-piece making fun little EPS and demos and whatnot for a while. Lyndsey is the latest addition. She plays keys now for hi again. It's been since 2020. The last three years it's been evolving.
These are not cover bands. You play original music. How does the writing process go down? With hi again and other projects, what’s the “formula” for writing music?
It really helps to have someone spearhead the project or the album. We will do group writing sessions as a band. But it helps if you have someone who comes in with a good idea of what they want to do and a demo of some recordings. And then everyone from there can listen in and write their own parts. For example, when hi again first started, we would write together, but as it’s gone along, Paul will do a lot of writing himself. He’ll come to the jam space and tell us what he had in mind for the drums, and this is how the baseline goes. So we play it how he hears it in his head. There is really no rhyme or reason for writing music. If someone has a really good idea of what they want to do and you have people supporting you, you can play it how they hear it. Other times you can sit down and not have anything in mind, and someone comes up with a cool riff, and then someone will write a baseline for the riff, and someone figures out the drums. Next thing you know, you have half a song. There’s really no formula, I would say.
I remember learning in an innovation class that some bands will follow a “formula” and can have one hit song, but that isn't innovative. The innovators are the bands with thousands of songs and maybe only a few hits.
Yeah, there is an algorithm for pop music. I don’t know what it is. You can hear it, though, when you turn on the radio. But it's fun to get weird and experiment.
Any advice for people wanting to start a band or even just put something out there? Making an EP and showing your friends seems vulnerable.
I’d say it's the same as filming a video part or something. You are putting yourself out there, and people are there to make their own assumptions about how it makes them feel. So you have to be ready for any criticism. It’s super easy, especially when playing music, to think this is how it goes; this is how I wrote it, and that is how it should be. But it's good to get that outside perspective from friends or family and be open to trying to change your original vision. Because a lot of time you get some input, you go back to change it, and you’re like, they were right, that's way better. And you wouldn't have thought of it on your own. It's cool to be open and down to try whatever.
Where do you see hi again and overall your music in the future? Do you talk about things like that?
I don’t think, as a band, we have talked about any of that stuff—we kind of just like doing it. We like playing shows for people. We like recording and making fun little albums and EPS. We like putting music into the world. If that's all it is, I am totally fine with that. If we were to go somewhere, get on a little tour or something, that would be fun too. I am just down for whatever with music as long as I can play, create, and spend some time outside the house in that creative space.
I know you’re music is in snowboard videos. What are some examples?
Our music is also in random Absinthe videos. A lot of the credits and things I was snowboarding too. It is spread out. There isn’t one place to hear all that stuff, but it’s cool that it's out there.
Right now, we are working on Mirror Machine. It’s a music production company that we are starting up. It’s me, Harry Hagan, Mark Dangler, and Mike Rav. We want to get something solid going. So when people hit us up for music, we can have an LLC and have everything proper, haha.
That is cool for snowboarding to work with you and collaborate more on the sound. That is huge for action sports and creators in general.
That is something we are working on, being flexible like that. We can play some rock-n-roll stuff. Or if you want some weird EDM electro or cool lounge jazz stuff. We have been practicing with all that and seeing how many genres and whether we can do it well. I think we are getting a lot better.
It's cool and admirable that you managed to become a professional snowboarder, but now you are bringing in all these pieces you enjoy. It is inspiring, Brandon you are inspiring!
Thanks, Katie. I appreciate that. It’s been slow going, we’ve been talking about this for the last four years, but now it's in a good place where we can push forward with what we actually want to do. I am excited to see where it goes.
Good things don’t happen overnight. The slow-roll timing thing is probably a good thing.
Totally, that's what I’ve been telling myself.