The Warped Ethos Of Albee Layer

"Surfing is your interpretation. It's up to you to decide what it is."

Ethos, one of Aristotle’s ingredients for persuasion in the study of rhetoric, appeals to a subject’s character or credibility in order to make a point. Character? Albee Layer’s got lots of it. Credibility? How’s his massive Jaws barrel and a BS-540 last year? So the point is: Layer is an elite, well-rounded talent, and he’s padded his big-wave game and his air game with another skill: his media production game, working with his lifelong Maui crew and alongside filmmaker Dan Norkunas in the editing bay to create freesurf reels that routinely land on the surf world’s web mantle.

“None of us, even at a young age, were like, “I’m going to be a world champion.” [Laughs] That was a very far thought,” says Layer in the above interview. “The reason why [my friends and I] got into surfing was because we watched surf videos. Our dads would film us and we’d make shitty little iMovie edits. That little group all filming each other and making the videos was so cool. They were a representation of us, because they were completely made and filmed by us. That’s where it really started, getting into the editing side of making surf videos. Once we started making Attractive Distractions, myself and Dan made Take Shelter Productions. I’ve been learning, watching him edit for so long, and now, I can kind of do it myself.”

Sounds straightforward, right? Hardly.

“I think that’s a common misconception of Maui: that we go out and we have these sessions where we nail all our clips,” Layer continues. “A good day for airs, you’ll get only a handful of good sections. For us to get a lot of clips to make a part, it’s just working at it every day. You lay out your footage at the end of the year – maybe you get two waves from this session, two waves from that session – and you see that, Oh, we did get good clips from this year. We got enough.

“When you think of surfing and its roots, it’s like an art form. Not to get all spiritual, but that’s what surfing means to me. It’s like an art form, an expression. The root of surfing isn’t competition for me. That’s not where it came from. It’s more of an expression type of thing. Myself and my group of friends will do everything we can to make it look as cool as possible. We want that opportunity for the next generation: to pursue whatever part of surfing they want, not to just be forced in this competitive box. Surfing is your interpretation. It’s up to you to decide what it is.”