The Red Bulletin December 2020 (UK)

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<strong>UK</strong> EDITION<br />

DECEMBER <strong>2020</strong>, £3.50<br />



ROCK<br />

GOD<br />

How Nepalese<br />

climber NIMS<br />

PURJA smashed<br />

a century of<br />

mountaineering<br />

tradition<br />






THE <strong>UK</strong> RAP STAR ON<br />



Discover at<br />

True Wireless Earbuds<br />


Discover at<br />

Sensory Bass Headphones with Personal Sound<br />


Editor’s letter<br />


AHEAD<br />

“<strong>The</strong> best way to predict the future,” US computer scientist Alan<br />

Kay once said, “is to create it.” And in uncertain times this may<br />

be better advice than ever – no matter what your walk of life. It’s<br />

an idea our cover star Nims Purja (page 32) embraced when he<br />

set out to smash the record for summiting the world’s 14 highest<br />

peaks. His success has changed the face of mountaineering and<br />

stretched our understanding of what humans are capable of.<br />

We caught up with the Nepalese climber in the French Alps and<br />

discovered that even his downtime is high-octane.<br />

Innovating in the face of serious setbacks are the classical<br />

dancers (page 48) taking to the streets of London to perform. As<br />

theatres and performance venues have been shut down during<br />

the pandemic – with those able to open sporadically empty of<br />

audiences – these performers are taking matters into their own<br />

hands. Despite injury, police raids and plenty of uncertainty,<br />

they have created a series of distanced shows that are bringing<br />

their talents to unexpected places – and people.<br />

Plus, Birmingham-born rap star Stefflon Don (page 56) tells us<br />

why social media is<br />

killing creativity, and<br />

how we can fix it. And<br />

we hear about the<br />

thrills and spills that<br />

went into Europe’s<br />

most ambitious bike<br />

film (page 62), from the<br />

riders who star in it.<br />

We hope you enjoy<br />

the issue.<br />

Dual focus: photographer Sandro Baebler keeps Nims Purja<br />

in his sights during our shoot in the French Alps Page 32<br />




<strong>The</strong> Swiss photographer may<br />

spend a lot of time shooting<br />

actors in LA, but thanks to his<br />

mountain-village upbringing<br />

he felt at home in the French<br />

Alps with our cover star,<br />

mountaineer Nims Purja.<br />

“Nims was really focused on<br />

the goal of the shoot,” he says.<br />

“Even in the studio without<br />

aircon, he kept on his Summit<br />

suit, built for the extreme<br />

cold, for two hours.” Page 32<br />


“Lockdown and its aftermath<br />

has been tough for everyone,”<br />

says the Athens-based writer,<br />

who was pleased to be in<br />

London to catch DistDancing,<br />

a programme of outdoor<br />

performances by some of the<br />

world’s leading dancers. “It<br />

was great to link up with Chi<br />

and her team, who, despite<br />

all the restrictions, are doing<br />

everything they can to dance<br />

and entertain in a unique and<br />

inspiring way.” Page 48<br />




Endura introduce the fourth generation of award-winning MT500 Waterproof Jacket as chosen by<br />

Rachel, Dan and Gee Atherton. Slicker, sharper, Hi-fi Sci-fi that stands firm side-by-side with our awesome<br />

helmets and protection. This kit is committed, feature-packed and delivers monster breathability. (40000g/m2/24hr)<br />

According to Gee ‘It’s a must. Unless you know it’s an absolute hot dusty beach summer, it goes in the bag for sure.’<br />

<strong>The</strong> collection includes the coveted Onesie which Rachel uses for race training. ‘I would say if you’re born in the <strong>UK</strong> you<br />

should be given an MT500 Waterproof Onesie at birth because you need it all the time.’ Turns out it’s even suitable on<br />

and off bike for Dan, ‘Honestly, no joke, I wake up in the morning and I put it on, and that’s me, all day on the diggers.’<br />

What sets this latest iteration apart from the pack are the collection’s eco credentials using an environmentally friendly<br />

PFC free DWR treatment. This fabric is also certified as MadeKind, having been produced in a way<br />

that eliminates harmful substances from the supply chain and the environment.<br />

#ForceForGood<br />



<strong>December</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

8 Gallery: vertiginous volleyball<br />

in the islands of Norway; taking<br />

the tube in Tahiti; and riding<br />

rock faces in the Swiss Alps<br />

14 Chop local: New York rapper<br />

Benny <strong>The</strong> Butcher serves up<br />

some home-reared prime cuts<br />

16 Rising inflation: up, up and<br />

away in my beautiful balloon…<br />

to the edge of space<br />

19 Rolling back the years: how<br />

one skateboarding diehard is<br />

preserving its legacy in print<br />

20 Flight of fantasy: experience<br />

all the fun (ahem) of air travel<br />

without leaving terra firma<br />

23 Urban growth: meet the<br />

Vietnamese visionary sowing the<br />

seeds of change in architecture<br />

62<br />

Inside line: the<br />

stories behind<br />

the stunts in<br />

freewheeling<br />

movie adventure<br />

<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />


24 Sophie Williams<br />

<strong>The</strong> Black activist and writer<br />

on race, momentum, and why<br />

people are listening at last<br />

26 Fantastic Negrito<br />

Inspiring words from the<br />

Grammy-winning guitarist<br />

who has truly lived the blues<br />

28 Jenny Schauerte<br />

<strong>The</strong> downhill skateboarder who<br />

found the path to enlightenment<br />

in the mountains of Turkey<br />

32 Nims Purja<br />

Climbed a peak today? Catch<br />

up! This unstoppable ex-Gurkha<br />

has – and he’ll probably fit in<br />

another two before teatime<br />

48 DistDancing<br />

When lockdown hit, the world<br />

of dance didn’t rest its feet –<br />

instead, it stepped up its game<br />

56 Stefflon Don<br />

<strong>The</strong> Birmingham-born star on US<br />

attitudes to <strong>UK</strong> rap, and why<br />

she’d rather spit bars than sip tea<br />

62 <strong>The</strong> Old World<br />

Behind the scenes of a genuinely<br />

epic, globe-spanning bike movie<br />

75 Hunting high and slow: the simple<br />

pleasures of kayaking off the<br />

coast of the Scottish Highlands<br />

will reconnect you with nature<br />

80 Cold looks: ski goggles that adapt<br />

to changing weather on the slopes<br />

82 One-track mind: how to find mental<br />

solutions for physical challenges<br />

84 On the button: tracing the<br />

evolution of gaming technology<br />

87 Sharp eye: Razer’s Min-Liang Tan<br />

– gaming innovator and cult hero<br />

88 <strong>The</strong> revolutionary Yoga Shred:<br />

old downward dog, new tricks<br />

90 Sound purchase: our pick of the<br />

best small speakers and wireless<br />

earbuds you can buy right now<br />

92 Essential dates for your calendar<br />

98 Board and dodging: skate highjinks<br />

in a giant’s labyrinth game<br />




Peaky<br />

ballers<br />

What sport instantly springs to mind on seeing<br />

this image? That’s right: beach volleyball. World<br />

Championship medal-winners Anders Mol and<br />

Christian Søren – that’s them playing a rally<br />

between the two peaks – decided there was no<br />

better spot for some pre-match training last<br />

month than Lofoten in their native Norway. <strong>The</strong><br />

150m-high granite pillar known as Svolværgeita<br />

(or ‘<strong>The</strong> Goat’) and the surrounding archipelago,<br />

which sits inside the Arctic Circle, provide a<br />

dramatic setting for this shot, taken by their<br />

countryman Petter Forshaug. But we can only<br />

imagine the scenes when they had to ask,<br />

“Please, mister, can we have our ball back?”<br />

petterfoshaug.com<br />





Blue steel<br />

When one of the world’s top surf<br />

photographers teams up with one of<br />

Tahiti’s most exciting young board riders,<br />

magic happens. It was at Russell Ord’s<br />

photography workshop in Teahupo’o last<br />

year that the Australian snapper took<br />

this jaw-dropping shot of local surfer<br />

Matahi Drollet riding the perfect tube.<br />

Drollet, now 23, was only eight when<br />

he first surfed Teahupo’o’s notoriously<br />

gnarly wave. Thank goodness they<br />

gave the kid a break…<br />

russellordphoto.com<br />




Sheer nerve<br />

Some kids have a muddy patch of grass or a yard<br />

at home to kick about in; for others, a trudge<br />

to the local park is necessary. Self-proclaimed<br />

“professional frozen water shredder” Nicolas<br />

Vuignier and his brother Anthony, on the other<br />

hand, had the luxury of Crans-Montana, a twintown<br />

ski resort in the Swiss Alps, on their<br />

doorstep. Here, we see the freeskier on home<br />

turf (or rather, rock) as an adult, caught on film<br />

by Geneva-based photographer Dom Daher. On<br />

Instagram, Nicolas modestly describes this<br />

extraordinary image as a “rainy wallride shoot”.<br />

Who knew defying gravity could become so<br />

mundane? domdaher.com<br />




Flexing<br />

his chops<br />

<strong>The</strong> New York rapper and<br />

member of hip-hop collective<br />

Griselda shares four classic<br />

tracks from the Big Apple<br />

that shaped his career<br />

New York hip hop is enjoying a<br />

renaissance right now, and among<br />

those leading the charge is 35-yearold<br />

rapper Jeremie Pennick, better<br />

known as Benny the Butcher. Benny<br />

and his hip-hop collective Griselda<br />

– formed in Buffalo, NY, in 2012 –<br />

have taken up the mantle laid down<br />

by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and<br />

Mobb Deep in the ’90s, delivering<br />

their own take on the hardcore<br />

East Coast sound. In 2017, Eminem<br />

signed Griselda to his Shady<br />

Records imprint, and last year<br />

Benny inked a deal with Jay-Z’s<br />

management agency, Roc Nation.<br />

With more than 15 years in the<br />

game, payback has been a long<br />

time coming for Benny. Here, he<br />

pays homage to some of the tracks<br />

that helped get him there…<br />

Benny <strong>The</strong> Butcher’s new album<br />

Burden of Proof is out now on<br />

Griselda Records; griseldafxr.com<br />

Marley Marl feat<br />

Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool<br />

G Rap & Big Daddy Kane<br />

<strong>The</strong> Symphony (1988)<br />

“My pops was one of the biggest<br />

hip-hop fans alive. He listened<br />

to everything, and I got to take<br />

it all in from the back seat of the<br />

car. That’s how I first heard <strong>The</strong><br />

Symphony. Those keys Marley<br />

Marl took from Otis <strong>Red</strong>ding<br />

were stupid, and the way Kool<br />

G Rap rhymed his syllables was<br />

crazy. A monumental record.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Notorious BIG<br />

Juicy (1994)<br />

“Juicy was a huge moment for<br />

New York. It came out at a time<br />

when the West Coast had the<br />

game in a headlock, so we<br />

were happy to have a record<br />

like this. I remember being a<br />

kid and whenever it came on<br />

the radio everyone would just<br />

smile. It’s not just one of the<br />

biggest New York anthems<br />

ever, it’s one of the biggest<br />

hip-hop anthems, period.”<br />

Nas feat Lauryn Hill<br />

If I Ruled <strong>The</strong> World (Imagine<br />

That) (1996)<br />

“Hearing Nas and Lauryn on<br />

a record together was special;<br />

there’s no way this would have<br />

been the same without them.<br />

It was so New York – the video<br />

was shot in Times Square – yet<br />

it had an undeniable universal<br />

appeal. It ended up being a<br />

blueprint for so many artists<br />

who wanted to recreate that<br />

same feeling for years to come.”<br />

Puff Daddy & <strong>The</strong> Family<br />

It’s All About <strong>The</strong> Benjamins<br />

(1997)<br />

“<strong>The</strong> first time I heard this, all<br />

I could think about was how<br />

crazy the beat was. <strong>The</strong>n this<br />

verse from Sheek [from guests<br />

<strong>The</strong> LOX] got me: ‘I’m strictly<br />

tryin’ to cop those colossalsized<br />

Picassos.’ I mean, c’mon.<br />

Puff is so good at putting<br />

people together; it’s like he’s<br />

coaching an All-Star team. It<br />

definitely influenced Griselda.”<br />



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of aviation, circumnavigated<br />

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his trusted Longines<br />

aviation chronometers<br />

and chronographs<br />

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over land and sea.<br />

In 1935, Howard Hughes was<br />

the fastest flyer in the world.<br />

He set the airspeed record of<br />

352mph (566 km/h). But<br />

what makes Hughes’ story so<br />

especially impressive, is that<br />

the plane he flew in, was of<br />

his own design. Hughes was no<br />

ordinary record-breaking<br />

pilot — he was also an aeronautical<br />

engineer, business<br />

magnate and successful<br />

Hollywood movie producer.<br />

Yet it was his fighting spirit<br />

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the unknown, that compelled<br />

him to keep pushing forward.<br />

Just a few years later, Hughes<br />

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His journey took him only<br />

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wearing gloves; prominent<br />

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hands with luminescent<br />

coating, for nighttime flying.<br />

A powerful reminder that<br />

the pioneer spirit lives on.

Raising expectations: an artist’s impression of the balloon and capsule – think Major Tom rather than Phileas Fogg<br />


View from<br />

the top<br />

This company plans to float its passengers to the edge<br />

of our stratosphere using a space-age hot-air balloon<br />

Sipping a cocktail aboard<br />

a spaceship while admiring<br />

the view of Earth might<br />

sound like something plucked<br />

from science fiction, but from<br />

next year it could become<br />

reality. Space Perspective is a<br />

spaceflight startup co-founded<br />

by married US couple Jane<br />

Poynter and Taber MacCallum,<br />

who plan to send passengers<br />

into the stratosphere in style<br />

in Spaceship Neptune, a<br />

pressurised, eight-person<br />

cabin attached to a 198m-tall,<br />

hydrogen-filled balloon.<br />

Launched from NASA’s<br />

Kennedy Space Center in<br />

Florida, the capsule will travel<br />

to an altitude of up to 30km,<br />

where passengers will have<br />

a couple of hours to gaze<br />

down on their home planet<br />

through Neptune’s huge<br />

windows before descending<br />

back to Earth.<br />

Space tourism first came<br />

into being in 2001, when<br />

American entrepreneur Dennis<br />

Tito bought a flight to the<br />

International Space Station<br />

for a reported $20 million<br />

(almost £16 million), and<br />

subsequently prices have kept<br />

such an experience exclusive to<br />

the super-rich. But Spaceship<br />

Neptune, while only taking<br />

you close to the edge of space,<br />

promises to be far cheaper.<br />

“Our prices will start off at<br />

$125,000 [£98,000], but<br />

should come down pretty<br />

quickly,” says MacCallum.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Space Perspective<br />

experience also feels more<br />

attainable in other ways. This<br />

is not an intense lesson in<br />

space travel – the capsule has<br />

a fully stocked bar on board,<br />

as well as “the toilet with the<br />

best view in the known<br />

universe,” says MacCallum.<br />

“[On Neptune] you can have<br />

a glass of champagne with<br />

your best friend and look out<br />

at the curvature of Earth.<br />

I think that will be a very<br />

moving experience. We also<br />

have Wi-Fi, so it will be the<br />

ultimate social media post.”<br />

Poynter and MacCallum<br />

have worked in space<br />

development for decades,<br />

and were part of the original<br />

crew that spent two years in<br />

the early ’90s sealed inside<br />

the closed ecological research<br />

facility Biosphere 2 in the<br />

Arizona desert, to better<br />

understand the challenges<br />

of intergalactic colonisation.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> more people who think<br />

about the world in the context<br />

of space and the solar system,<br />

the more we’ll see support for<br />

the space programme and<br />

science in general,” says<br />

MacCallum. “Organisations like<br />

Space For Humanity [a nonprofit<br />

aimed at democratising<br />

interstellar travel] are coming<br />

to us to send teachers, poets<br />

and artists, because they want<br />

to break down that barrier.<br />

Having those experiences and<br />

conversations is important<br />

because it makes you think<br />

about our Earth and how we’re<br />

all in it together.”<br />

thespaceperspective.com<br />





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Inside San Diego resident<br />

Kevin Marks’ home sits the<br />

world’s largest collection of<br />

skateboarding magazines.<br />

His enormous library spans<br />

multiple rooms, from floor to<br />

ceiling, with issues fastidiously<br />

filed by title, date and country<br />

of publication, ranging from<br />

the earliest independent zines<br />

all the way to last month’s<br />

Thrasher. It’s a passion project,<br />

certainly, but this collection<br />

is more than a mere hobby –<br />

Marks is on a mission to find<br />

and share with the world’s<br />

board-riders every skate<br />

magazine from history, to keep<br />

the scene’s print legacy alive.<br />

In <strong>2020</strong>, skateboarding<br />

lives online. With millions of<br />

YouTube edits and dedicated<br />

social media channels, anyone<br />

looking to immerse themselves<br />

in skate culture need only turn<br />

to their phone. But back in the<br />

’80s it was a different story.<br />

“My love of skate magazines<br />

originated from the fact that<br />

I grew up skateboarding in the<br />

middle of Kansas,” says Marks.<br />

“I felt very far away from the<br />

culture, but once I found [US<br />

publications] Thrasher and<br />

Transworld [SKATEboarding]<br />

and got subscriptions, they<br />

became my lifeline.”<br />

He moved his growing<br />

collection around the US for<br />

30 years until 2015, when he<br />

decided to put it to good use by<br />

launching Look Back Library, a<br />

public archive allowing access<br />

to like-minded skate fans. “<strong>The</strong><br />

primary mission was not have<br />

them sit in my home,” says<br />

Marks, who previously worked<br />

for a non-profit organisation<br />

promoting skating in Colorado,<br />

as well as singing and playing<br />

guitar in local punk and metal<br />

bands. “It was to build smaller<br />

collections and get them out<br />

to places where they can be<br />

read, like skate shops, indoor<br />

skateparks and skateboardrelated<br />

non-profits.”<br />

Look Back Library is no<br />

longer a singular collection<br />

but a sprawling community of<br />

libraries and exhibits all over<br />


Flick through the past<br />

Skate enthusiast Kevin Marks owns the world’s biggest archive of<br />

skateboarding magazines, and now he’s sharing it with all of us<br />

Marks with his trove: “And this one’s about... skateboarding”<br />

the US. On his travels by van<br />

across the country, Marks has<br />

collected thousands of unloved<br />

and forgotten magazines from<br />

homes, as well as set up many<br />

exhibitions and repositories in<br />

skateparks and skate shops,<br />

both temporary and long-term.<br />

“I left San Diego in April<br />

2019, thinking that I was going<br />

to build about four libraries,<br />

but I ended up creating about<br />

30 in six months,” he says.<br />

“It has given me the chance<br />

to work on something I love,<br />

as well as the opportunity to<br />

meet and work with other<br />

skate nerds just like myself.”<br />

lookbacklibrary.org<br />


Good news: there are cartoons. Bad news: here’s your meal. Worse news: you just dropped your stirrer<br />


Fasten your<br />

seatbelts<br />

Prepare for take-off in a new kind of flight simulator.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are no tricky landings to execute or enemies<br />

to shoot down, but your seat back might get kicked<br />

Everyone has their own<br />

relationship with flying. Some<br />

find it exciting, some relaxing;<br />

others consider the whole<br />

process terrifying. It’s an<br />

experience that has inspired<br />

the world of gaming for<br />

decades, with hundreds of<br />

titles – most recently, the<br />

<strong>2020</strong> iteration of the popular<br />

Microsoft Flight Simulator –<br />

putting the player in the<br />

cockpit to see how they<br />

perform under pressure.<br />

Of course, for most of us<br />

flying is experienced as a<br />

passenger, not as a pilot. And<br />

that’s what games developer<br />

Hosni Auji (below) has<br />

replicated in Airplane Mode.<br />

In the New Yorker’s unique<br />

spin on the flying simulator,<br />

you control none of the action<br />

but instead play the passive<br />

role of an everyday passenger<br />

on a real-time long-haul flight.<br />

Airplane Mode places the<br />

player in an economy-class<br />

seat on a six-hour flight from<br />

New York’s JFK Airport to<br />

Reykjavík, Iceland, or a<br />

shorter two-and-a-half-hour<br />

hop to Halifax, Canada. No<br />

two flights are the same, and<br />

the only certainty is that the<br />

mundanity of the gameplay<br />

will match the reality it’s<br />

mimicking. Babies might cry,<br />

turbulence may occur, and<br />

the Wi-Fi will most likely<br />

drop out; iPhones need to be<br />

charged, movies played and<br />

magazines read. In-flight<br />

food and wine are served,<br />

and the flight tracker on the<br />

screen in front of you shows<br />

how far you’ve flown.<br />

“What I found interesting<br />

early in the process is that<br />

everyone seemed to have a<br />

strong opinion about flying,<br />

more so than any other form<br />

of travel,” says Auji, originally<br />

from Beirut, Lebanon. “At<br />

some level, every part of<br />

flying is unnatural. As a<br />

species, our urge to fly broke<br />

through our evolutionary<br />

limitations. That we fly at all<br />

is crazy; that we fly while<br />

begrudgingly sipping wine on<br />

reclining chairs is patently<br />

absurd. By putting players<br />

in the position where they’re<br />

confronting flight – not how<br />

they’re used to seeing it in<br />

games but more how they see<br />

it in life – we hope to capture<br />

a bit of that absurdity.”<br />

At a time of restricted<br />

travel, it may have surprised<br />

us how much we crave not<br />

only the thrill of visiting<br />

destinations but also the<br />

process involved in getting<br />

there. Auji’s game questions<br />

why we yearn for what is a<br />

tedious and often torturous<br />

necessity. “Our intention<br />

is to give players a unique<br />

gaming experience, and<br />

the flights are meant to be<br />

nostalgic,” he says.<br />

So that players are truly<br />

immersed in the simulation,<br />

there’s no option to pause it<br />

and return later. “We decided<br />

the player would need to<br />

complete the flight in one<br />

sitting – the game doesn’t<br />

save your mid-flight progress.<br />

You will get those air miles<br />

once you land, though.”<br />

playairplanemode.com<br />



FORD<br />

RANGER<br />

RAPTOR<br />





#NoObstacles<br />


HIROY<strong>UK</strong>I OKI JOSHUA Z<strong>UK</strong>AS<br />

As the booming commercial<br />

hub of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh<br />

City is a whirlwind of chaos.<br />

But in the eye of the storm<br />

sits a cluster of houses where<br />

humans, trees and birds<br />

coexist peacefully. People<br />

occupy the lower levels, but<br />

the roofs are giant plant pots,<br />

each with trees sprouting from<br />

a thick layer of soil. Chirping<br />

birds nest in their branches,<br />

quelling the noisy invasion<br />

of traffic and construction.<br />

House for Trees is an<br />

experimental project by Vo<br />

Trong Nghia (pictured below),<br />

the Vietnamese visionary<br />

whose commitment to the use<br />

of natural building materials<br />

has earned him the label ‘the<br />

bamboo architect’. Nghia, 44,<br />

wants to see greener and more<br />

liveable cities in his home<br />

country and beyond. House for<br />

Trees’ forest canopy provides<br />

natural shade from the tropical<br />

sun, while the soil absorbs<br />

water and reduces the risk of<br />

flooding. <strong>The</strong> houses were also<br />

cheap to build – each one cost<br />

around £120,000.<br />

“It’s about reintroducing<br />

nature into modern life,” says<br />

the devout Buddhist. Nghia<br />

harnesses mindfulness to<br />

keep his firm’s commitment to<br />

green architecture on track;<br />

his employees’ job descriptions<br />

include two hours of meditation<br />

each day. He also asks that<br />

his staff at VTN Architects<br />

observe the Five Precepts of<br />

Buddhism: no killing, no lying<br />

or gossiping, no stealing or<br />

cheating, no engagement in<br />

sexual misconduct, and no<br />

consumption of intoxicants.<br />

<strong>The</strong> practice of meditation<br />

coupled with a respect for the<br />

Five Precepts makes Nghia’s<br />

20 or so architects “10 times<br />

more efficient,” he says. <strong>The</strong><br />

small team undertakes an<br />

extraordinary number of<br />

increasingly ambitious projects.<br />

In 2016, on the outskirts of the<br />

old port town of Hoi An, VTN<br />

Architects designed the Atlas<br />

Hotel in simple brick, but with<br />

exteriors hung with greenery.<br />

Putting down<br />

roots: House For<br />

Trees resembles<br />

five giant planters<br />


Bloom town<br />

This Vietnamese architect is cultivating inner-city happiness with<br />

flourishing vegetation and a spiritual homegrown philosophy<br />

Three years later, in Da Nang<br />

– another of Vietnam’s fastdeveloping<br />

cities – it gave the<br />

entire 21-floor Chicland Hotel<br />

a façade of lush foliage.<br />

At its HQ in Ho Chi Minh<br />

City, the firm is now working<br />

on enormous green apartment<br />

blocks that will house<br />

thousands of people, and<br />

also office buildings designed<br />

to connect employees with<br />

nature. “I want the whole city<br />

to look like a huge park,” he<br />

explains. But Nghia knows<br />

that for his architecture to be<br />

truly sustainable, his buildings<br />

must be timeless in their<br />

design and long-lasting in<br />

their structural integrity. “<strong>The</strong><br />

most important thing,” he<br />

says, “is that all my buildings<br />

outlast me.”<br />

vtnarchitects.net<br />


Sophie Williams<br />

Starting the<br />

conversation<br />

<strong>The</strong> author and activist has been talking<br />

about race for as long as she can remember.<br />

Now, she says, people are listening<br />

Words RUTH McLEOD<br />

Photography REBECCA PETTS DAVIES<br />

Sophie Williams is back at her flat<br />

in London after recording the audio<br />

version of her new book, Anti-Racist<br />

Ally. “As a child, I’d listen to an<br />

audiobook every night,” she says,<br />

“so it’s funny to find myself reading<br />

out the ‘written by Sophie Williams,<br />

read by Sophie Williams’ bit.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> situation is all the more<br />

surreal for Williams because at the<br />

start of <strong>2020</strong> the book wasn’t even<br />

part of her plans. In January, the<br />

former chief operating officer (COO)<br />

in advertising started an Instagram<br />

account to build a community for<br />

Millennial Black, her guide for Black<br />

women and business owners, out next<br />

April. On May 28, she posted a set of<br />

slides defining the difference between<br />

being non-racist and anti-racist, and<br />

offering advice for would-be allies.<br />

It blew up. “I saw the number [of<br />

likes] go up and up,” she says. “You<br />

can see on my Fitbit stats, there’s an<br />

evening where I’m going to bed, all<br />

chilled out, then I get a message:<br />

‘Is this your post on Justin Bieber’s<br />

grid?’ My heart rate spikes!”<br />

Since then, Williams, 33, has<br />

gained more than 180,000 followers<br />

and, among many other things, run<br />

a poster campaign in London, set up<br />

an online merch store in aid of mental<br />

health charity Black Minds Matter,<br />

written for <strong>The</strong> Guardian about world<br />

change, and finished both books.<br />

But, as strange as this year has been<br />

for Williams, she was ready. “I’ve<br />

never been good at picking my<br />

battles. I’m someone who’s always<br />

had these conversations. <strong>The</strong> change<br />

now is that people want to listen.”<br />

THE RED BULLETIN: What was the<br />

strategy to get your message heard?<br />

SOPHIE WILLIAMS: Actually, the<br />

reason I felt able to start posting is<br />

because I didn’t think anyone was<br />

listening – I had only a couple of<br />

hundred followers. I really don’t<br />

know what changed that. I made my<br />

first post because the day after the<br />

murder of George Floyd I spent the<br />

day crying. Bad stuff kept happening<br />

to Black people, things that were<br />

literally costing people their lives.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n there was the conversation<br />

about COVID and how that was<br />

disproportionately affecting Black<br />

people, and it all felt like too much.<br />

And that led to Anti-Racist Ally…<br />

Yes, it became clear there are people<br />

who want to start their ally-ship<br />

journey, and I wanted them to have<br />

something physical to refer to. It’s a<br />

deliberately small book, 180 pages,<br />

as cheap as my publisher would<br />

allow. I want people to treat it as a<br />

shareable resource. It’s a beginners’<br />

guide. Every other page has a graphic<br />

statement like, ‘Not being racist is not<br />

enough,’ along with advice. It’s broken<br />

down for people who want to be part<br />

of this but haven’t yet been able. Or<br />

for those who have started and want<br />

to keep up the momentum.<br />

How do we keep it up?<br />

What I’m seeing now, which is scary,<br />

is that people are already losing<br />

momentum in this conversation. It<br />

makes me so sad; it feels like the only<br />

thing that keeps people galvanised is<br />

a new video of a Black person being<br />

murdered. I don’t want any more<br />

videos, but I do want people to stay<br />

interested. I ask them to change oneoff<br />

actions into habits. So if anyone<br />

is donating, I ask them if they can<br />

make it a standing order. You can<br />

make a template for people to write<br />

to their MP – that will help many<br />

others. You can form an accountability<br />

group: on my social, I ask what people<br />

have done that week. Being able to<br />

check in with others and have them<br />

check in with you is really valuable.<br />

Millennial Black addresses issues<br />

faced by Black women at work. Was<br />

personal experience an influence?<br />

Yes, I wrote it because I needed it.<br />

I was a Black COO in an ad agency<br />

and people didn’t know what to do<br />

with me. When third parties came<br />

in, they’d presume I was the person<br />

who’d be taking notes or making the<br />

coffee. [With this book] I wanted<br />

to first of all say [to Black women],<br />

“You’re not alone.” And I wanted<br />

to tell business leaders, “This is the<br />

business benefit of including this<br />

group of people.” I’ve found that<br />

the most effective approach. What<br />

I didn’t want the book to do was tell<br />

Black women they need to change<br />

themselves to succeed. I ended up<br />

speaking to many amazing people,<br />

like [model and transgender activist]<br />

Munroe Bergdorf, [author and<br />

influencer] Candice Brathwaite and<br />

[Star Wars actress] Naomi Ackie –<br />

inspirational Black women from<br />

different industries and backgrounds,<br />

with different experiences.<br />

Can you see change happening?<br />

We’re in a civil rights movement, and<br />

people ask, “How will we know when<br />

we’ve won?” <strong>The</strong>re are no quick wins.<br />

I’m having the same conversations<br />

my mum did, and her mum before<br />

that. <strong>The</strong>se are multigenerational<br />

struggles. But hopefully, together,<br />

we can make iterative changes over<br />

time. I just ask that people read<br />

about race, understand race, and<br />

understand white people are not<br />

raceless people. Letting something<br />

happen and not speaking out is an<br />

action, too. I hope that change<br />

happens – and I want to be part of it.<br />

Williams’ book Anti-Racist Ally is out<br />

now, published by HarperCollins.<br />

Instagram: @officialmillennialblack;<br />

@sophiewilliamsofficial<br />


“Letting<br />

something<br />

happen and<br />

not speaking<br />

out is an<br />

action”<br />


Fantastic Negrito<br />

Taking an<br />

outside chance<br />

<strong>The</strong> Grammy-winning blues guitarist reveals how<br />

a hard-learnt education in hustling helped score him<br />

one of the most unlikely careers in music<br />


Photography LYLE OWERKO<br />

In 1996, Xavier Dphrepaulezz was<br />

bound for superstardom. After being<br />

taken under the wing of Prince’s<br />

former manager, the guitarist had<br />

just signed a million-dollar deal with<br />

major label Interscope – not bad for<br />

a young man who grew up in a house<br />

with 14 siblings, ran away at the age<br />

of 12, and got involved in petty<br />

crime during his teens on the streets<br />

of Oakland, California. But then<br />

life took another U-turn. His debut<br />

album was a flop. <strong>The</strong>n, in 1999,<br />

a near-fatal car accident put him in<br />

a coma and mangled his strumming<br />

hand; Interscope dropped him.<br />

When Dphrepaulezz picked up<br />

his guitar again several years later,<br />

he had a new mantra: don’t try to<br />

please anyone and don’t chase trends.<br />

He reinvented himself as delta<br />

blues guitarist Fantastic Negrito,<br />

playing raw protest songs, dressing<br />

outlandishly, and making statements<br />

others might find uncomfortable.<br />

This new direction has earned the<br />

52-year-old the Grammy award for<br />

Contemporary Blues Album in 2017<br />

and 2019, and praise from the likes<br />

of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.<br />

THE RED BULLETIN: What’s your<br />

aim when you write a song?<br />

FANTASTIC NEGRITO: Basically, every<br />

song I write, I write for my kids.<br />

I ask myself, “What do I want to tell<br />

my kids?” <strong>The</strong> things I sing about<br />

are openness, equality, healing,<br />

accountability, a little bit of the<br />

middle finger. I think we need all of<br />

these things in our toolbox in order<br />

to navigate through this construct<br />

of society. Most importantly, I want<br />

them to know: don’t let anybody tell<br />

you what you can or can’t do.<br />

Is that a rule you live by?<br />

I mean, look at me! I released my<br />

first Fantastic Negrito album at 46.<br />

People in the music industry, they’re<br />

bean counters. <strong>The</strong>y didn’t get it at all.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y’re like, “Wait a minute, you’re<br />

not a rapper, you’re not a pretty<br />

white girl singing pop.” I didn’t fit<br />

into any of these categories, and yet<br />

here we are. So I like to think that<br />

Fantastic Negrito is for all the people<br />

who’ve been told no; all the people<br />

who didn’t get picked for the team.<br />

So Fantastic Negrito is the patron<br />

saint of outsiders?<br />

Absolutely! Aged 12, I ran away from<br />

home and never saw my family again.<br />

I was living on the street. I was<br />

hustling for food, for water, trying to<br />

find an abandoned car to sleep in.<br />

I was hustling to that mentality of<br />

surviving. I wasn’t hustling to rip<br />

people off – although I did do some<br />

of that – I was mostly trying to eat!<br />

When it came time to create Fantastic<br />

Negrito, I picked up the guitar and<br />

was like, “I know how to do this: you<br />

just don’t take no for an answer.”<br />

What makes a good hustler?<br />

It’s someone who gets things done;<br />

someone who turns bullshit into the<br />

good shit. When I was homeless, I<br />

faked my way into the University of<br />

California, Berkeley. I pretended to be<br />

a music student coming to practise.<br />

I sat there and just listened to what<br />

people were playing, to learn. <strong>The</strong><br />

first thing I did after my accident was<br />

lease a grand piano so I could just<br />

clunk with my hands. I don’t believe<br />

in giving up. I’m a lifelong hustler.<br />

How does a two-time Grammy<br />

winner hustle?<br />

I’m still on the outside of things.<br />

People still ask me, “Why don’t you<br />

do something easy, like this ’60s<br />

retro thing?” <strong>The</strong>y’re basically asking<br />

me to make them feel comfortable.<br />

But listen, I don’t give a fuck about<br />

making people feel comfortable.<br />

Being an artist is about confronting<br />

society. Making people comfortable?<br />

That bores the shit out of me. I don’t<br />

care about selling records; what I care<br />

about is liberty as a human being.<br />

What does liberty mean to you?<br />

It’s about not giving a fuck. It’s the<br />

most powerful thing you can do. All<br />

my heroes made their best music<br />

when they didn’t give a fuck, when<br />

they didn’t try. I’m a firm believer in<br />

that. Because when you give a fuck<br />

you lend yourself to this repressed<br />

fantasy that people in power have<br />

of where we should fit. So that they<br />

feel comfortable. Why are we living<br />

in a society that’s openly medicated?<br />

I don’t drink or smoke – I don’t need<br />

that. Because I feel liberated, I don’t<br />

give a fuck. It’s a beautiful thing.<br />

How do you get there?<br />

Through failure and disappointment.<br />

I got there from watching my little<br />

brother killed at 14, seeing him on<br />

the ground with a hole in his head. I<br />

got there from seeing my 16-year-old<br />

cousin in a casket. I got there from<br />

losing my playing hand. But I also<br />

got there from walking the streets as<br />

a kid, trying to find a way. Finding<br />

out who I am, embracing who I am,<br />

then celebrating who I am and, most<br />

importantly, not making apologies<br />

to people for who I am. I don’t need<br />

anybody’s permission, because I feel<br />

amazing. And I want to pass that on<br />

to people who may not feel amazing.<br />

That’s what I want to pass on to my<br />

kids, your kids, your grandkids. I<br />

feel like that’s my mission.<br />

Fantastic Negrito’s third album Have<br />

You Lost Your Mind Yet? is out now;<br />

fantasticnegrito.com<br />


“I don’t need<br />

anybody’s<br />

permission,<br />

because I<br />

feel amazing”<br />


Jenny Schauerte<br />

<strong>The</strong> road<br />

less travelled<br />

<strong>The</strong> German downhill skateboarder<br />

came to the <strong>UK</strong> to learn about adrenalin.<br />

She left with the key to inner happiness<br />

Words RUTH McLEOD<br />

Photography TOMÁŠ TEGLÝ<br />

When Jenny Schauerte began<br />

downhill skating six years ago, she<br />

says she found the key to inner<br />

happiness. <strong>The</strong> 32-year-old has since<br />

become one of the world’s best in the<br />

sport, which involves racing down<br />

steep roads on a longboard at speeds<br />

of up to 100kph, often – outside<br />

competition – while negotiating<br />

oncoming traffic. It has introduced<br />

Schauerte to lifelong friends and seen<br />

her travel extensively; she has also<br />

used her passion for sport, adrenalin<br />

and filmmaking as therapy in testing<br />

times. Her latest project, the fly-onthe-wall-style<br />

film Woolf Women, is<br />

the story of a skate pilgrimage to an<br />

ancient monastery in the Turkish<br />

mountains. A celebration of downhill<br />

skating, travel and sisterhood, it<br />

marks the German’s transition from<br />

lone wolf to head of her own pack.<br />

THE RED BULLETIN: You started<br />

downhill skating in London,<br />

which isn’t exactly known for its<br />

mountains. How come?<br />

JENNY SCHAUERTE: I’m from<br />

Bavaria in Germany, but I did my<br />

bachelor’s [degree] in graphic<br />

design in London. <strong>The</strong>n I was<br />

accepted by Central St Martins to<br />

study my master’s in communication<br />

design, and my thesis was about<br />

adrenalin and how it can influence<br />

our emotions. I started doing<br />

research, looking at sports that are<br />

really connected to adrenalin, and<br />

I found downhill skateboarding.<br />

So you had never skated before?<br />

Why did you have such an interest<br />

in adrenalin?<br />

I had some experience. I was three<br />

years old when I first learnt how<br />

to ski, and then at the age of nine<br />

I learnt snowboarding, so actually<br />

I’m a snowboarder. But when I did<br />

the research and found downhill<br />

skateboarding, I thought, ‘Wow,<br />

it’s like snowboarding for summer.’<br />

So I decided to look into it a bit<br />

deeper. I had to know how it feels.<br />

<strong>The</strong> first time I longboarded<br />

properly was in Crystal Palace Park<br />

[in southeast London].<br />

What did you expect to discover<br />

about the effects of adrenalin?<br />

I wasn’t sure at the start. But<br />

experiencing it on my own body<br />

changed a lot. I knew how it was<br />

when I was snowboarding: you don’t<br />

think about anything but what<br />

you’re doing in that moment; you<br />

have to focus. But [downhill]<br />

skateboarding requires even more<br />

focus, because you do fall and crash<br />

a lot at the start. To have that<br />

singular focus and not think about<br />

anything else but what’s happening<br />

with your body right now in this<br />

moment was mind-blowing. It<br />

changed my whole perception of life<br />

in some ways. I was going through<br />

depression and I found [skating]<br />

could really take me out of it. A<br />

regular adrenalin rush is, in my<br />

eyes, the secret to inner happiness.<br />

Where has skating taken you?<br />

Everywhere! First, at an<br />

international race in Bavaria, some<br />

girls who weren’t participating took<br />

me to some backstreets to skate.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y were like, “Wow, Jen, you’re<br />

going super-fast.” In the beginning,<br />

I wasn’t able to properly brake; I was<br />

just going as fast as I could, then<br />

realising, “Shit, now I need to stop!”<br />

Skating with these girls was so<br />

empowering, and I knew I wanted to<br />

keep doing it. <strong>The</strong>n I signed myself<br />

up to a small event in Austria and I<br />

came fourth – in my first race! Little<br />

successes here and there push you<br />

to want more and go faster. I also<br />

got to know the community, and it<br />

was a big family. You feel part of<br />

something, and it’s wonderful – it<br />

really enlightened me. Since then,<br />

skating has taken me around the<br />

world. I’ve seen a lot of Asia, South<br />

America, all of Europe; I’ve been<br />

to the US, South Korea, China…<br />

I started properly skating in 2014,<br />

then in 2016 I came second in the<br />

world championships. I came third<br />

in 2017, and second again in 2018.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n last year I injured my knee<br />

and couldn’t race.<br />

Injury seems like a regular thing<br />

in downhill skating. How fast do<br />

you actually go?<br />

My fastest recorded speed was on<br />

a racetrack in Vermont [USA], and<br />

the police came with a speed gun to<br />

measure it for fun. I reached 62mph<br />

[100kph]. It’s crazy. If you crashed<br />

and you weren’t wearing leathers,<br />

it would shred you.<br />

So what was it that got you<br />

hooked on the sport?<br />

<strong>The</strong> adrenalin, of course. And when<br />

I compete, basically I want to have<br />

fun. For me, skating is about<br />

travelling with other skateboarders<br />

too, sharing that like-mindedness,<br />

talking about roads and mountains.<br />

You get a very different perception<br />

of the world. When I was in London<br />

I met a friend, Russ, from Lithuania.<br />

He was the first person to teach me<br />

to do a slide in the backstreets of<br />

Greenwich Park. <strong>The</strong>n we started<br />

travelling to Wales in my van. You<br />

develop not only a friendship but<br />

you have to trust the other person<br />

with your life. We have to spot for<br />

each other, for example. We have<br />

little systems. When there’s a road<br />

with traffic, we have one person at<br />

each corner, and the first one does<br />

the sign that you can go. If there’s<br />

a car coming, we cross our arms over<br />


“Skating<br />

changed my<br />

whole perception<br />

of life”<br />


Jenny Schauerte<br />

our faces to say ‘stop’. Travelling<br />

and living together bonds you. That<br />

was where the ‘wolf-pack’ feeling<br />

began. <strong>The</strong>re are not many of us<br />

[downhill skaters] and people just<br />

don’t know about the sport. So by<br />

making a film I wanted more people<br />

to be aware that we exist.<br />

Who are the Woolf Women?<br />

When I started racing around<br />

Europe, I suddenly met all of these<br />

amazing women. It was incredible<br />

that there were all these girls out<br />

there like me, who love to travel,<br />

skate, and are stoked about finding<br />

a nice road. We skated together and<br />

started bonding. I remember when<br />

I was a teenager I always dreamt<br />

of having a clique or a group who<br />

belonged to me somehow, but I was<br />

always alone until that point. Now,<br />

I’m part of a group who like to<br />

explore, who are open to new<br />

things, and who love nature and<br />

the environment. Other people<br />

just do a lot of talking, but when<br />

we have an idea we go for it. We like<br />

“We’re<br />

fearless but<br />

also curious”<br />

Speed freaks: the thrill of downhill skating is addictive<br />

stepping out of our comfort zone<br />

and feeling the adrenalin. We’re<br />

fearless but also curious. I started<br />

filming everything with my GoPro<br />

because these girls are so cool. I<br />

posted a clip called ‘Woolf Women’<br />

and people really liked it, so the five<br />

of us decided to make a film.<br />

And it came at an important time<br />

for you…<br />

Unfortunately I lost my father three<br />

years ago, which was a real shock,<br />

and I became [depressed] again.<br />

Skating with these women is like<br />

medicine. I knew it would sort me<br />

out and help me process [the loss].<br />

<strong>The</strong> trip is a bit of a pilgrimage to<br />

light a candle for my father on a<br />

beautiful mountain. And the girls<br />

are there to help me push through it.<br />

So it’s not just about crazy skating –<br />

we had a story to tell. At one point,<br />

all the girls were lying on the floor<br />

and we had this big map, wondering<br />

where we should go. We found<br />

Sumela, a beautiful monastery built<br />

into the [Pontic] mountains in<br />

Turkey, and I knew that was a place<br />

my father would have liked to visit.<br />

And no one had ever skated down<br />

from there. So I prepped my van,<br />

Bimbo, and set off on the 10,000km<br />

round trip to Turkey.<br />

Was making the film the medicine<br />

you needed?<br />

It was fucking wonderful. We tried<br />

and failed to fish, and we almost<br />

didn’t get from Bulgaria into Turkey<br />

as we didn’t have the right papers.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n, in Istanbul, we met the one<br />

and only downhill skateboarder in<br />

Turkey, who showed us a few great<br />

spots. When we finally saw the<br />

monastery, the view was worth all<br />

the effort to get there. On Google<br />

Maps’ satellite view, the road down<br />

from the monastery looked like<br />

a dirt path, but when we got there<br />

it was fresh tarmac! It felt like<br />

divine intervention. That was the<br />

real highlight – we skated all the<br />

way down from the monastery to<br />

the valley.<br />

Woolf Women: (from left) Jenny Schauerte, born in Boston, USA, but raised in<br />

Bavaria, Germany; Anna Pixner from Austria; Lisa Peters from the Netherlands;<br />

Jasmijn ‘Jas’ Hanegraef from Belgium; Alejandra Gutierrez from Colombia<br />

What does a Woolf Woman do<br />

when she can’t travel?<br />

I was about to go and race and travel<br />

around the world this year, but<br />

obviously COVID stopped that. For<br />

me, it turned into a chance to create<br />

a base, somewhere I can come back<br />

to after living out of my van for two<br />

years. I moved to Innsbruck, Austria,<br />

as most of the Woolf Women live<br />

here, and outside my house you<br />

can go and climb a mountain. You<br />

can explore in the area you live in.<br />

That’s my advice: now is the chance<br />

to discover all the small adventures<br />

around you that you never imagined<br />

were there.<br />

Schauerte’s film, Woolf Women,<br />

premiered at this year’s Raindance<br />

Film Festival and will be released<br />

next spring; woolfwomen.com<br />



<strong>The</strong> Outdoors Beckons<br />

Elite Product Testing | Nims Purja, Osprey Ambassador | Chamonix, <strong>2020</strong>

In 2012, NIMS PURJA<br />

climbed a mountain<br />

for the first time.<br />

Eight years later, he<br />

has changed the face<br />

of mountaineering.<br />

And he’s just<br />

getting started…<br />

Words TOM GUISE and MATT RAY<br />

Photography SANDRO BAEBLER<br />

Higher<br />

purpose<br />


Nims Purja on Mont<br />

Blanc, September<br />

<strong>2020</strong>. <strong>The</strong> Nepalese<br />

climber holds the<br />

record for the fastest<br />

ascent of the world’s<br />

14 highest mountains

In 2017, the Gurkhas undertook<br />

an expedition to summit Everest.<br />

For the elite brigade of Nepali-<br />

Indian soldiers it was a pilgrimage<br />

of great significance – a<br />

celebration of 200 years of<br />

allegiance to the British Crown, and<br />

their second attempt at the world’s<br />

highest mountain after their 2015<br />

mission was aborted when the<br />

fateful Gorkha Earthquake<br />

triggered an avalanche that wiped<br />

out base camp and stranded most<br />

of the climbers at Camp One. Now,<br />

this expedition was also in<br />

jeopardy. Unpredictable weather<br />

meant the official rope-fixing team<br />

had yet to fix a route to the summit<br />

that year. No one could ascend.<br />

“I was like, wow,” says Nirmal ‘Nims’<br />

Purja – at the time a 35-year-old member<br />

of the Gurkha climbing unit. “Everyone<br />

thinks, as a Gurkha, you are not only the<br />

bravest of the brave, but that Everest is in<br />

your back garden. Our reputation was at<br />

risk. But secondly, when were we ever<br />

going to get another chance to climb<br />

Everest using British taxpayers’ money?<br />

I decided to lead the fixing team.”<br />

When word spread around camp<br />

about his plan, there was one reaction:<br />

“‘Does he have a clue what he’s doing?’<br />

Nobody knew who I was,” recalls Purja.<br />

“So I led 13 members of the expedition<br />

to summit – the first team to make it<br />

from the southern side that year. We<br />

came back down into Kathmandu and<br />

celebrated with a week of partying.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>n I climbed Everest again, then<br />

Lhotse and Makalu [the world’s fourth and<br />

fifth highest mountains], all in five days,<br />

with two days of partying in between.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>se days, people know who Purja<br />

is. In 2019, he scaled all 14 ‘eightthousanders’<br />

– the official designation<br />

for mountains that exceed 8,000m in<br />

height – in the fastest time he could. <strong>The</strong><br />

record stood at seven years, 10 months<br />

and six days; Purja planned to do it<br />

within seven months. He achieved it in<br />

six months and six days. It propelled the<br />

Special Forces soldier (the first Gurkha<br />

to ever be accepted into the <strong>UK</strong> Special<br />

Boat Service) into the mainstream<br />

spotlight. It also brought criticism from<br />

alpine purists, in particular for his use<br />

of supplemental oxygen.<br />

“I only do that on the final peak.<br />

I climb, setting a fixed line, everything<br />

without oxygen up to Camp Four,” he<br />

retorts. “People were saying, ‘Oh, Nims<br />


Nims Purja<br />

Nims Purja, the Gurkha<br />

Pictured on his graduation day with the elite military unit at ITC Catterick<br />

in Yorkshire in 2002. “My dad was a Gurkha, my brothers were Gurkhas,<br />

and it’s such a life. People respect that in the Nepalese community.”<br />


did Nepal mountains because he can<br />

use helicopters to the base camp.’ I said,<br />

‘OK, fine,’ so I climbed all the Pakistan<br />

mountains without any helicopters,<br />

running from base camp to base camp –<br />

23 days, buddy. All five 8,000m peaks. I<br />

have no problem with critics. If someone<br />

breaks my record I’ll be the first to shake<br />

their hand, but it’s easy to just say it.<br />

“Please write that when Nims said<br />

that, he said it with a smile, OK?”<br />

Purja’s words may read as defiant, but<br />

in person he gives off a different energy<br />

– a restless cockiness that draws people in,<br />

rather than repels them. Sitting in a hotel<br />

room at the base of Mont Blanc, where<br />

he’s spent the summer vacationing, he’s<br />

all smiles. Muscular, as you’d expect, but<br />

diminutive at 170cm tall, the gentlemanexplorer<br />

moustache Purja sported during<br />

2019’s ‘Project Possible’ missions has been<br />

shaved off to reveal a boyish face that<br />

belies his age. “I’m 38, but to be honest, I<br />

don’t really know how old I am,” he says<br />

(Wikipedia also has trouble, putting it at<br />

‘36-37’). “I never celebrate my birthday,<br />

because age is just a mindset, a way of<br />

letting yourself think that you’re getting<br />

old and having that as an excuse.”<br />

If this self-consciousness is surprising,<br />

it’s just one of many contradictions that<br />

penetrate the myth that is Nims Purja. For<br />

example, the stereotype that a Nepalese<br />

climber benefits from a life raised at high<br />

altitude. “I grew up in Chitwan, which is<br />

the flattest and warmest part of Nepal. It’s<br />

almost sea level. We were a really poor<br />

family in a small house with chickens<br />

next door. I didn’t even have flip-flops.<br />

That changed when my two brothers got<br />

into the Gurkhas.” Wanting a better life<br />

for their sibling, Purja’s brothers sent him<br />


Nims Purja<br />

Annapurna, April 2019<br />

More than 30 per cent of climbers who attempt to summit the world’s<br />

10th highest mountain perish. Avalanche risk forced Purja’s team to<br />

ascend along a rarely-traversed route called the ‘Dutch Rib’ (pictured).<br />

to boarding school, where, by his own<br />

estimation, he excelled.<br />

“I used to be top five; I could have<br />

been first, but I’d finish a two-hour exam<br />

in an hour so I could be first to leave the<br />

test room. But I didn’t want to be a<br />

doctor or an engineer, I had two options:<br />

one was to be the Robin Hood of Nepal,<br />

seeing off those rich people who don’t<br />

pay tax – you know, politicians and all<br />

that – and distributing that money to the<br />

poor.” He chose option two: the Gurkhas.<br />

“Getting in was tough. In my time,<br />

32,000 young Nepalese applied and only<br />

320 made it. I started training at 15, in<br />

a hostel. I’d wake up at 3am and run with<br />

weights strapped to my legs. I had no clue<br />

what that did, but I used to go back to bed<br />

at 5am and pretend I hadn’t left. I passed<br />

the selection on my second attempt.”<br />

Purja’s time in the armed forces – he<br />

joined the Gurkhas in 2002 and moved<br />

to their <strong>UK</strong> Infantry Training Centre in<br />

Catterick (he now lives in Hampshire),<br />

and the SBS in 2009 – is one he is deeply<br />

proud of, but for every detail he isn’t<br />

willing to reveal (“What I can say is I<br />

have been shot; I have been into the most<br />

sensitive operations across the globe.”),<br />

he is candid about one aspect: “I had<br />

what others didn’t have – I could climb<br />

an 8,000m peak in two weeks. When<br />

I got leave I’d empty my savings and go<br />

climb.” Indeed, when Purja finished<br />

partying after his five-day tour of<br />

Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in 2017,<br />

he had to go straight back to work.<br />

“I was supposed to get a heli ride to<br />

a Special Forces mission, but the heli<br />

didn’t come because of the weather, so<br />

I ran all the way from base camp – six<br />

days’ worth of trekking in 18 hours,<br />



“It’s a thin line<br />

between being brave<br />

or stupid; living in<br />

that moment and<br />

getting yourself killed.<br />

I want to live in the<br />

moment for a long time”

Nims Purja<br />

“I wanted to show<br />

the world what is<br />

humanly possible if<br />

you put your mind,<br />

heart and soul into it”<br />

Purja speed-flying<br />

on Mont Blanc. <strong>The</strong><br />

day before this photo<br />

was taken, he went<br />

into a sharp spiral.<br />

“When a force is so<br />

big, you just have to<br />

roll with that force”<br />


“I love what I do to the<br />

bone. And I’m having<br />

so much fun that all<br />

the tiredness goes<br />

away. An 8,000m peak<br />

is where I come alive”<br />

Purja on the summit<br />

ridge of Gasherbrum II,<br />

July 18, 2019 – the<br />

ninth mountain in his<br />

quest to summit all<br />

14 eight-thousanders

Nims Purja<br />


Four days before Purja set off on Project Possible, he attended<br />

the final sitting for a piece of body art across his back. It shows<br />

the 14 mountains he intended to climb – from the smallest<br />

(Shishapangma, 8,027m) at the base of his spine to the tallest<br />

(Everest, 8,848m) below his neck. But this is no ordinary<br />

tattoo – it contains the genetic code of his loved ones.<br />

Inked by London tattooist Valerie Vargas in four sittings,<br />

the process – patented in 2016 by former Navy SEAL Boyd<br />

Renner and business partner Patrick Duffy, and known as<br />

Everence – takes DNA (in Purja’s case, from the hair of his<br />

parents, brothers, sister and wife) and encases it in a medicalgrade<br />

polymer to create powder-sized beads that can be<br />

blended with tattoo ink. This ink was used to illustrate prayer<br />

flags marking out the route on his back.<br />

“I wanted to take my whole family on this spiritual journey,”<br />

says Purja. “But it was also a reminder that, if I was about to<br />

cross the fine line between brave and stupid, I must come home<br />

alive to look after my family, especially my mum and dad.”<br />


running through the night. At that point<br />

I realised: ‘I think I’ve got something.’”<br />

That something, even his fiercest<br />

critics would agree, is an incredible<br />

capacity for recovery. It usually takes<br />

weeks of living at a high-altitude base<br />

camp to acclimatise to the low-pressure<br />

air as your body compensates, increasing<br />

the haemoglobin levels (the protein that<br />

absorbs oxygen) in your red blood cells.<br />

Only then would you attempt an<br />

8,000m+ summit, and you’d need weeks<br />

to recover. When Purja returned to<br />

Everest, Lhotse and Makalu for Project<br />

Possible in 2019, he summited all three<br />

in 48 hours and 30 minutes.<br />

“My recovery time is really rapid,” he<br />

agrees. “It’s a mindset. I love what I do to<br />

the bone. And I’m having so much fun<br />

that all that tiredness goes away. And an<br />

8,000m peak? That’s where I come alive.<br />

I don’t lose any of my strength. That is<br />

my playground.”<br />

Purja hadn’t even worn a pair of<br />

crampons before the age of 29, first<br />

summiting 6,119m-tall Lobuche East in<br />

Nepal in 2012 without any prior<br />

mountaineering experience. Two years<br />

later, he scaled his first eight-thousander,<br />

Dhaulagiri, and discovered his natural<br />

ability to thrive at altitude. “I climbed that<br />

in 14 days without any acclimatisation,<br />

and I led 70 per cent of the route,” he<br />

says. But Purja isn’t immune to the effects<br />

of the ‘death zone’ – the name given to<br />

that space above 8000m – as he discovered<br />

on his first ascent of Everest in 2016.<br />

“I was in camp to carry all my<br />

equipment and oxygen. People were<br />

taking six weeks to get to that phase;<br />

I was doing it in five days,” he recalls.<br />

“As a mountain trooper in the SBS I knew<br />


Nims Purja<br />

Everest, 2017<br />

This shot was taken as Purja fixed lines to the summit as part of the<br />

Gurkha 200 expedition. “<strong>The</strong> weather was brutal,” he says. “It’s so painful<br />

that you think you’d rather die, but death isn’t the solution.”<br />

I couldn’t go that fast, but my body was<br />

taking it OK. That’s when I had a<br />

pulmonary oedema [fluid on the lungs].<br />

It’s like drowning. More than anything<br />

I was ashamed, because I had the<br />

knowledge to avoid that, but you don’t<br />

know where your limit is until you push it.”<br />

If that attitude seems reckless, Purja<br />

sees it differently. “It is reckless to many.<br />

Even in the Special Forces I was known for<br />

taking high risks, but risk is not one size<br />

fits all. If a BASE jumper does his stuff,<br />

I can’t do that. You live in the moment,<br />

but that doesn’t mean you don’t do a risk<br />

assessment. It’s a thin line between being<br />

brave or stupid; living in that moment<br />

and getting yourself killed. I want to live<br />

in the moment for a long time.”<br />

When Nims Purja was 13,<br />

he decided to swim across<br />

one of the biggest rivers in<br />

Nepal. “I was just in my<br />

underwear. I wasn’t a good swimmer, but<br />

I was committed and got to the bank on<br />

the other side,” he recalls. “<strong>The</strong>n I was<br />

like, ‘Fuck, now I have to go back again.’”<br />

As he began his return swim, he started<br />

thinking. “I remembered stories of<br />

people getting attacked by crocodiles. I<br />

was so tired – I came to that point where<br />

you have to give up, so I did. And I stood<br />

up. I found I was in knee-deep water.<br />

I thought, ‘Thank God.’” Purja is giving<br />

an example of his willingness to test his<br />

limits, but he’s aware it also shows his<br />

capacity to perhaps reach too far.<br />

In 2018, Purja was appointed head<br />

of extreme cold-weather warfare in the<br />

SBS. “My job was to learn new climbing<br />

techniques and teach that to my fellow<br />

operators,” he explains. “I said to my<br />

command, ‘Since my job is this and I<br />

have so much leave, I’d like 18 days off to<br />

climb the world’s five highest mountains.<br />

It’s good for the unit.’” His superiors<br />

were ecstatic, then they researched what<br />

he was planning. “<strong>The</strong>y told me, ‘You<br />

cannot take the risk.’ I said, ‘Fine,’ and<br />

that’s when I decided to leave the job.”<br />

It wasn’t a decision he took lightly.<br />

“I was the bread earner for my family.<br />

Every month, I sent money directly from<br />

my pay cheque to my parents. My dad<br />

was half-paralysed, and my mum was<br />

living in a room in Kathmandu to be near<br />

the medical facility. For me to give up<br />

everything now was crazy. My brother<br />

called. He said, ‘No Gurkha’s ever made<br />

the SBS – you’re the first. You’re close to<br />

your pension – why sacrifice that?’ He<br />

was furious. He didn’t speak to me for<br />

two months.”<br />

Meanwhile, Purja’s plan, which had<br />

now become Project Possible, hit a wall.<br />

“A friend who was leading the financial<br />

side said, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t raise any<br />

funding after trying for seven months.’<br />

I had only two months to raise £750K.<br />

It was hard, going to every sponsor,<br />

begging. I got £1,000 here, £5,000 there,<br />

but it wasn’t enough; no one believed in<br />

the vision. Some said, ‘If you’re a badass<br />

climber, why have we never heard about<br />

you?’ And I’d say, ‘Because I was in the<br />

Special Forces.’ One guy told me, ‘Maybe<br />

you didn’t get sponsorship because you’re<br />

not white.’ It hit me. I said, ‘You could be<br />

right.’ But at the end of the day, it doesn’t<br />

matter. In life there are harder problems,<br />

but you solve the problem. So I<br />

remortgaged the house, I got the biggest<br />

amount I could – 60 grand – and put<br />

10K aside so, should something happen,<br />

it would pay the mortgage. I started<br />

the mission with five per cent of what<br />

I needed. I was driving down the M3<br />

one day with tears coming from my eyes.<br />

I never cry, but I couldn’t stop. All I could<br />



2<br />

6 7<br />

1<br />

5<br />

3<br />

8<br />

9<br />

15<br />

14<br />

10<br />

12<br />

13<br />

11<br />


<strong>The</strong> kit that helped Nims succeed<br />

1. One-litre <strong>The</strong>rmos flask: “I don’t<br />

carry any other water bottles,<br />

but I melt snow using the hot water<br />

in this, so I can make two litres with<br />

one and save weight.”<br />

2. Black Diamond Cobra carbonfibre<br />

ice axes: “Very lightweight<br />

and technical. Used for lead<br />

climbing on technical slopes as<br />

well as self-arrest in a fall.”<br />

3. Baseball hat: “Because you need<br />

to protect your head from the sun.”<br />

4. Sunglasses (not pictured)<br />

5. ThruDark bespoke Summit Suit:<br />

“Designed by my two friends from<br />

the Special Forces, this is the third<br />

generation of the Summit Suit<br />

I have been using. It can go as cold<br />

as -40°C.”<br />

6. Beanie hat<br />

7. Lightweight, waterproof 40m<br />

alpine rope<br />

8. Pair of crampons<br />

9. Duffel bag: “For all of my<br />

expedition gear.”<br />

10. Lightweight harness: “Plus all<br />

my climbing equipment: two ice<br />

screws and a rescue system that<br />

includes a Ropeman [mini-ascender<br />

used to climb up ropes], belay<br />

device [for controlling the tension<br />

of the rope attached to a climber<br />

below], sling and Prusik loop [a<br />

separate rope knotted to the main<br />

line that acts as a friction hook<br />

during abseiling].”<br />

11. Thick socks<br />

12. Three different layers of<br />

gloves: “Working gloves and big<br />

summit gloves.”<br />

13. Base layers<br />

14. Summit boots: “<strong>The</strong>y’re black<br />

because when I asked the brand if<br />

they’d support me, they said no. So<br />

I removed their logo with a marker.”<br />

15. Backpack: “I’m designing the<br />

Nims 120 with Osprey. It’ll be the<br />

ultimate daypack for mountaineers,<br />

made of very lightweight material,<br />

small and compact, but you can<br />

make it massive, because we need to<br />

carry the tent, oxygen, everything.”<br />


“If someone breaks<br />

my record, I’ll be<br />

the first to shake<br />

their hand”<br />

Purja: “Someone said, ‘Do it<br />

next year, Nims.’ Imagine if I’d<br />

tried for this year? If you plan<br />

for the second option in life, you<br />

are already planning for failure”

Nims Purja<br />

think was, ’Why am I doing this project?’<br />

“It was so painful that I just wished<br />

an avalanche would come and kill me.<br />

But it’s not about me. I was doing it for<br />

a bigger reason.”<br />

When embarking on a mission of this<br />

scale, Purja says, you need a purpose.<br />

“If I wanted to just break a record, I<br />

would have said, ‘It’s nearly eight years;<br />

I’ll do it in seven.’ But I wasn’t trying to<br />

be the best; I wanted to show the world<br />

what is humanly possible if you put<br />

your mind, heart and soul into it. And<br />

I wanted to highlight the names of the<br />

Nepalese climbers. For the last 100 years<br />

we’ve been in the background, but<br />

high-altitude mountaineering – eightthousanders<br />

– that is our ground. I felt<br />

I needed to do something about this.<br />

That’s what gives me energy.”<br />

Purja is not of Sherpa ethnicity, but<br />

he identifies with the term as used to<br />

describe any Nepalese who work in the<br />

climbing community. His team consists<br />

wholly of Nepalese climbers, not as<br />

guides or rope-fixers, but as equals.<br />

“When people climb, they want to use<br />

a Sherpa because he knows the route,<br />

he can show you the way. I said, ‘You’re<br />

going to climb that mountain because<br />

this is an opportunity for you too. It’s<br />

equal glory.’ <strong>The</strong>n he’s also climbing<br />

a new peak and, next time, when he’s<br />

guiding, he can charge double.”<br />

Members of Purja’s team are now<br />

rising stars in their own right, like<br />

Mingma David Sherpa, who, at 31, is<br />

the youngest climber to summit all 14<br />

8,000m peaks. “He’s my right-hand man;<br />

one of the strongest Sherpa I have ever<br />

seen,” says Purja, whose team has given<br />

him a new name: ‘Nimsdai’. Dai means<br />

‘older brother’ in Nepali. It’s the name<br />

Purja now goes by, and how he presents<br />

it on his new book, Beyond Possible:<br />

One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks – Life In<br />

<strong>The</strong> Death Zone.<br />

On April 23, 2019, the Project<br />

Possible team summited their<br />

first eight-thousander –<br />

Annapurna in Nepal, widely<br />

considered to be the world’s deadliest<br />

mountain. As they descended, Purja got<br />

news that another climber, Singaporean<br />

doctor Chin Wui Kin, had become<br />

separated from his team at 7,500m. Purja,<br />

Mingma David Sherpa and a third member<br />

of his crew, Gesman Tamang, aborted<br />

their mission to go back up and rescue<br />

him (Chin sadly died in hospital). Two<br />

days later, on Kanchenjunga (the world’s<br />

third highest mountain), they deviated<br />

to rescue two more. <strong>The</strong> stories made<br />

world headlines, alongside a now<br />

infamous photo Purja took of climbers<br />

queuing to summit Everest. “As I ticked<br />

off the mountains,” he recalls, “people<br />

started donating to my GoFundMe.”<br />

More crucially, the sponsors started<br />

rolling in, too. <strong>The</strong>y were finally<br />

believing in his vision.<br />

If Purja experienced any doubt in his<br />

vision, it was at K2, the world’s second<br />

highest mountain at 8,611m. “I checked<br />

the video of where people had given up,<br />

and while I don’t take the word of every<br />

Western climber, when the top Nepalese<br />

climber, who I respect, says, ‘That’s<br />

impossible,’ I think, ‘Fuck, can I make it?’<br />

Other climbers were waiting, thinking<br />

I would fix lines for them, but I didn’t<br />

have to do this. It would have made<br />

more sense to climb nearby Broad Peak,<br />

then everybody could be safe, they could<br />

all go home. But what I remembered<br />

was the <strong>UK</strong> Special Forces selection –<br />

200 soldiers from the Royal Marines,<br />

RAF, Army, Navy – all thinking they’re<br />

the best, but only four make it. If you<br />

listen to those 196 who failed it, you’re<br />

never going to try.”<br />

Purja decided to ascend K2 with two<br />

members of his team. “I said, ‘If we can’t<br />

“I never celebrate<br />

my birthday. Age<br />

is just a mindset,<br />

a way of letting<br />

yourself think that<br />

you’re getting old”<br />

make it, we’ll come back down, you two<br />

will have a rest, and I’m going to take<br />

you two up. And if we don’t make it, I’ll<br />

take you two – it’s going to be six<br />

rotations before I think about giving up.’<br />

But with just one push it was done.” On<br />

July 24, 2019, Purja’s team summited<br />

K2, a mountain that still, however,<br />

remains unconquered in winter.<br />

“It’s because there’s a very short<br />

window,” explains Purja, when asked<br />

why that is. “But of course it’s possible,<br />

buddy. You just need the speed.”<br />

When Nims Purja – who has<br />

been awarded an MBE for his<br />

high-altitude mountaineering<br />

– takes a holiday at Mont<br />

Blanc, it really is just that. <strong>The</strong> highest<br />

mountain in the Alps, at 4,808m, is a<br />

cakewalk for him. Or rather a flight. He’s<br />

spent the summer learning how to speed<br />

fly – a revved-up version of paragliding,<br />

with a faster, lighter wing that can fit<br />

into a small backpack, used by extreme<br />

alpinists. “It lets you get down from a<br />

summit quickly, but with style, flying<br />

right next to the mountain,” he explains.<br />

Purja’s idea of fun is always full-on. He<br />

enjoys hard rock, particularly AC/DC<br />

(“I always played Thunderstruck on my<br />

headset in the Special Forces helicopter,”<br />

he reveals), and just before <strong>The</strong> <strong>Red</strong><br />

<strong>Bulletin</strong> arrived, he’d broken his tail<br />

bone in a hard landing. “I rested for<br />

24 hours, then was flying again,” he says,<br />

nonchalantly. “You’ve got to go with<br />

the energy. It’s like trying to jump off<br />

a moving train – if you don’t run, you’re<br />

going to fall.”<br />

If Purja seems blasé about his process,<br />

he’s deadly serious about his purpose,<br />

and has another to add to the list –<br />

raising awareness about climate change.<br />

“I never used to believe in it,” he says.<br />

“But I climbed Ama Dablam in 2014<br />

and we had snow at Camp One to melt<br />

and cook food. I went back in 2018 and<br />

we had to carry gallons of water from<br />

base camp. I realised, ‘Oh my God, this<br />

shit is real.’<br />

“We are all a part of it. I have this<br />

voice and my power of influencing<br />

people will grow even bigger. I believe<br />

we’ve got these two next decades to<br />

make this change.”<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re’s a solution to every problem.”<br />

Purja’s book, Beyond Possible: One<br />

Soldier, Fourteen Peaks – Life In <strong>The</strong><br />

Death Zone, is out on November 12;<br />

nimsdai.com; Instagram: @nimsdai<br />


With most public<br />

performance on an<br />

enforced hiatus,<br />

dancers are finding<br />

new platforms for<br />

their artistry –<br />

bringing their bold<br />

and beautiful<br />

moves to some<br />

unexpected places<br />

Words ALEX KING<br />

Photography THEO McINNES<br />

Keeping<br />

in step

Crossing over: the<br />

English National Ballet’s<br />

Francesca Velicu<br />

takes it to the bridge;<br />

(left) Polish-born<br />

dancer Andre<br />

Kamienski, who heads<br />

his own contemporary<br />

arts company<br />


DistDancing<br />

“At a DistDancing<br />

show, you<br />

can tell people are<br />

still thirsty for<br />

live performance”<br />

Chisato Katsura<br />

I<br />

t’s an overcast Sunday afternoon in<br />

East London, and a small crowd<br />

has gathered on the towpath of the<br />

Regent’s Canal. On the other side of the<br />

water sits Hoxton Docks, a renovated<br />

warehouse complex turned events space,<br />

with a floating pontoon just outside its<br />

tall wooden cargo doors. To the left of<br />

the pontoon is a barge carrying a giant<br />

yellow inflatable balloon that looks like<br />

some sort of bizarre sea Zeppelin. To the<br />

right is a family of four model sharks<br />

emerging menacingly from the water.<br />

With just a few minutes to go until<br />

the clock strikes three, you can feel the<br />

energy rise in the assembled throng as<br />

they wait to discover what will emerge<br />

from behind the cargo doors. <strong>The</strong> crowd<br />

is here for DistDancing, a new series<br />

of free pop-up weekend performances<br />

created by dancers whose regular careers<br />

have been brought to a halt by COVID-19<br />

restrictions that have shuttered theatres<br />

and venues in the <strong>UK</strong> and beyond.<br />

However, unbeknownst to those<br />

waiting patiently – and socially distanced<br />

– on the towpath, the police are already<br />

inside Hoxton Docks, and the plug is<br />

pulled on the sound system after just five<br />

seconds. What’s more, the organisers are<br />

told they’ll be arrested if they hit play<br />

again. Another van full of police officers<br />

marches onto the towpath and orders the<br />

crowd to leave, just as dancer Rebecca<br />

Bassett-Graham was going to begin her<br />

routine. As the police continue with their<br />

dispersal efforts, the crowd begins<br />

chanting in unison: “Let them dance!”<br />

Inside, there’s an intense back-andforth<br />

between the dancers and police.<br />

Once it becomes clear that only the<br />

organisers would be arrested, not the<br />

performers, freelance aerialist Jackie Le<br />

decides to complete her routine as a<br />

protest. She begins her descent from<br />

rigging hoisted from the roof, hanging<br />

like a spider on a thread as the stand-off<br />

continues on the towpath.<br />

After eight consecutive weekends<br />

of free shows throughout the summer,<br />

this short-lived experimental attempt<br />

to find a way to dance and perform<br />

despite COVID restrictions has been<br />

brought to a close, for now. “At least<br />

we went out with a bang,” says<br />

Chisato Katsura, First Artist of <strong>The</strong> Royal<br />

Ballet, forcing an optimistic smile.<br />

“But it’s depressing, seeing this come<br />

to an end. It feels like losing a baby,<br />

when we had a whole month of shows<br />

planned. And it really doesn’t make<br />

sense: right now, there are hundreds of<br />

people in the parks, going out in Soho,<br />

or sitting on planes. Yet with all these<br />

gatherings happening we’re the only<br />

ones being shut down.”<br />

Raising hoops:<br />

aerialist Annalisa<br />

Midolo wows the<br />

towpath crowd<br />

Rewind a few days and the mood is<br />

more upbeat – despite the pouring rain<br />

outside – at a rehearsal for the weekend’s<br />

performance. In an elegant, woodenfloored<br />

yoga studio in London Bridge,<br />

Katsura leads the session as Francesca<br />

Velicu, 22, and Erik Woolhouse, 24, from<br />

the English National Ballet (ENB), and<br />

Bassett-Graham, 29, from Company<br />

Wayne McGregor, practise their routines.<br />

<strong>The</strong> moment is made even more special<br />

by the fact Katsura has been out of action<br />

since October due to a stress fracture to<br />

her left shin, which necessitated crutches.<br />

First, Velicu and Woolhouse, who are<br />

a couple, practise a breezy duet together.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n, for their solo pieces, Velicu floats<br />



<strong>The</strong> world’s a stage:<br />

Chisato Katsura,<br />

co-founder of<br />

DistDancing and<br />

First Artist of the<br />

Royal Ballet, is<br />

helping keep dance<br />

alive in lockdown<br />


“I hope people<br />

become more<br />

appreciative<br />

of what dance<br />

brings to<br />

our culture”<br />

Jordan Bautista<br />

across the floor, seemingly as light as<br />

a feather, and spins on one foot in a<br />

pirouette, every bit the classical ballerina,<br />

while Erik dances with a more muscular<br />

and modern energy, throwing out his arms<br />

and legs in wide, sweeping movements,<br />

like a warrior psyching himself up for<br />

battle. Bassett-Graham shows off her<br />

contemporary, almost glitchy solo, with<br />

her body contorting itself into expressive,<br />

abstract shapes, before all three join on<br />

the floor for what will be the show’s<br />

finale: dancing in synchronisation with<br />

one another. You can feel their sense of<br />

joy and excitement at being able to dance<br />

together again after months of lockdown.<br />

“I remember back in March, slowly<br />

everything was cancelled, minute by<br />

minute, hour by hour,” remembers<br />

Bassett-Graham, originally from New<br />

Zealand. “This isn’t just a job to us,<br />

it’s part of who we are as humans. After<br />

more than a week off, you start itching<br />

for that physicality. <strong>The</strong> uncertainty<br />

of not knowing when I would be able<br />

to perform again, or when it would be<br />

possible to dance in a studio with other<br />

people again… all of these things really<br />

started weighing on me.”<br />

For dancers, whose very meaning in<br />

life is to move, the lockdown came as a<br />

particularly harsh blow. Not only were<br />

all their shows cancelled and their<br />

companies put on hiatus, but there was<br />

no way of knowing when they’d even be<br />

able to dance again, let alone in front of<br />

an audience. Often confined to small<br />

shared flats – especially those living in<br />

London – and dancing or training in<br />

bedrooms and kitchens, they did what<br />

they could to stay active and prevent<br />

their bodies from losing the intense<br />

physical conditioning for which they<br />

had worked most of their adult lives.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> whole dance community really<br />

pulled together,” Bassett-Graham says.<br />

“Everything went onto Zoom, and people<br />

began opening up their classes to whoever<br />

wanted to watch.” Across the industry,<br />

the barriers came down, membership of<br />

particular institutions no longer mattered,<br />

and professional dancers became one big<br />

family online, sharing tips, classes and<br />

workshops with each other and legions<br />

of amateur dancers, too.<br />

Woolhouse embraced the change in<br />

routine and the opening of his world<br />

to other forms of dance, music and<br />

movement. At 15, he relocated to the <strong>UK</strong><br />

from Japan to train with the Royal Ballet<br />

School, and he has been in the ballet<br />

bubble of the ENB for the last five years,<br />

training and rehearsing for upwards of<br />

six hours each day. <strong>The</strong> ENB’s season<br />

usually starts with an autumn tour of five<br />

or six cities in the <strong>UK</strong>, then a five-week<br />

“intense marathon” of Nutcracker at<br />

London’s Coliseum, followed by original<br />

shows such as Creature by celebrated<br />

choreographer Akram Khan, which has<br />

had to be postponed due to COVID.<br />

It’s an intense schedule that often<br />

doesn’t leave much time or energy for<br />

anything outside ballet. So, during<br />

lockdown, Woolhouse has taken the<br />

opportunity to expand his repertoire<br />

and dance to other styles of music he<br />

enjoys, including jazz, hip hop and<br />

techno. In July, the ENB returned to<br />

training, albeit in much smaller groups<br />

of around eight to 10 dancers, all<br />

confined to their own personal boxes<br />

taped onto the floor, dancing for just<br />


DistDancing<br />

“After more than<br />

a week off from<br />

dancing, you<br />

start itching for<br />

that physicality”<br />

Rebecca Bassett-Graham<br />

four hours a day, Monday to Saturday.<br />

It wasn’t only training and fitness but<br />

also performance that flourished – and<br />

continues to flourish – online. <strong>The</strong> ENB<br />

joined other companies in offering shows<br />

for free, with its popular Wednesday<br />

Watch Parties helping to open up ballet<br />

to a new audience. For Velicu, who<br />

originates from Romania and moved to<br />

the <strong>UK</strong> in 2016 after training at Moscow’s<br />

world-famous Bolshoi Ballet, these free<br />

online shows were particularly special<br />

as her mum could now watch all her<br />

performances from back home.<br />

“I really hope the intense interaction<br />

and engagement we’ve had on social<br />

media continues,” Velicu says. “It’s been<br />

so great for bringing in new, younger<br />

audiences. For the first time, people<br />

from around the world can easily see the<br />

work produced in London. My mum is<br />

enjoying it so much, she’s watching an<br />

opera from the Met in New York or a<br />

ballet show from London every day.”<br />

Woolhouse believes the ruptures<br />

created by the pandemic were necessary<br />

for an industry with a tendency towards<br />

elitism. “Dance needs to be more<br />

approachable to the public,” he says.<br />

“Young people nowadays can’t afford an<br />

£80 ticket and a suit to go to the ballet.<br />

That grandness and tradition must be<br />

kept alive, but the industry will die<br />

without the next generation, so I think<br />

something with a more casual atmosphere<br />

is necessary [in order] to move forward.<br />

That’s what’s so great about DistDancing:<br />

you can just drop by with a coffee on the<br />

side of the canal, watch a performance<br />

and realise you really enjoyed it.”<br />

Dance companies around the world<br />

have taken an enormous hit. <strong>The</strong> ENB,<br />

for example, lost two thirds of its income<br />

and was forced to furlough more than<br />

85 per cent of its staff through the <strong>UK</strong><br />

Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention<br />

Scheme. Having received an emergency<br />

grant from the Arts Council that helped<br />

it stay afloat, adapting to a world of<br />

online-only performances is crucial to<br />

the ENB’s survival, as staging shows for<br />

a reduced audience just isn’t financially<br />

viable for most larger companies.<br />

However, Katsura and her Italian-born<br />

colleague Valentino Zucchetti, a First<br />

Soloist at <strong>The</strong> Royal Ballet and co-founder<br />

of DistDancing, remain passionate about<br />

finding ways to bring live performances<br />

back – both for dancers’ and audiences’<br />

benefit. “Online content is a cure for the<br />

moment,” says the Japanese dancer, “but<br />

it’s just not the same effect as in real life.<br />

Online, people click a button and get<br />

what they want; they get bored easily<br />

and there’s no opportunity for those<br />

chance encounters with the unknown.<br />

“As a performer, you feel the energy<br />

of the audience’s applause,” Katsura<br />

continues. “It’s hard to put into words<br />

how it feels to hear 2,000 people<br />

cheering for you. You can be in so<br />

much pain for two hours, but then you<br />

hear the applause and it just pushes<br />

you through to the end. I want to give<br />

performers the opportunity to feel<br />

that audience response again and keep<br />

doing what they love.”<br />


Stepping out: Velicu has seen<br />

interest from a whole<br />

new audience thanks to the<br />

ENB’s free online content

DistDancing<br />

“Dance needs to be<br />

more approachable.<br />

That’s what is great<br />

about DistDancing”<br />

Erik Woolhouse<br />

Head east along the towpath from<br />

Hoxton Docks and you’ll find<br />

yourself at Here East, a creative<br />

complex that backs onto the River Lee<br />

Navigation and was built for the 2012<br />

Olympics. Here, a corner room has been<br />

turned into a makeshift dance studio for<br />

Company Wayne McGregor’s RESET <strong>2020</strong><br />

programme, which began in August and<br />

offers a free 10-week programme of<br />

ballet, contemporary and fitness training<br />

to both the company’s own dancers and<br />

freelancers who have fallen through the<br />

cracks support-wise. <strong>The</strong> three-and-ahalf-hour<br />

daily programme is a far cry<br />

from Bassett-Graham’s pre-COVID<br />

routine of being on tour for the majority<br />

of the year or rehearsing in London from<br />

10am to 6pm. But getting back into the<br />

studio with other dancers – even if it is<br />

socially distanced – is still very welcome.<br />

One of the freelancers to benefit<br />

from RESET <strong>2020</strong> is Jordan Bautista<br />

(who uses the pronouns they/them),<br />

a 25-year-old dancer originally from<br />

Gibraltar. After dancing with the Polish<br />

National Ballet in Warsaw, Bautista<br />

relocated to London, and it was while<br />

they were searching for work following<br />

surgery that the pandemic struck. Today,<br />

they’re confined to their own square<br />

opposite Bassett-Graham, which has<br />

been marked out on the floor with white<br />

tape so that they and the other dancers<br />

can train in a COVID-compliant way.<br />

Each square has its own barre, a plastic<br />

box for possessions, and a supply of<br />

disinfectant wipes.<br />

When the class is ready to start, the<br />

instructor reels off a list of positions<br />

so fast it sounds unintelligible to the<br />

untrained ear, like an alien language or<br />

the shipping forecast. But the masked<br />

inhabitants of all 18 white boxes move<br />

through their positions in perfect sync,<br />

throwing their bodies into the kicks,<br />

spins and curtsies of the physically<br />

demanding ballet routine.<br />

“I think one of the changes that will<br />

come out of this pandemic is that both<br />

dancers and audiences are going to be<br />

much more aware of how much it takes<br />

to come together and collaborate to<br />

create work,” Bautista says. “I hope<br />

people will become more appreciative<br />

and understand how much work goes<br />

into things, and how much dance<br />

contributes to our culture.”<br />

In mid-September, following intense<br />

negotiations with the council and<br />

police, and considerable support from<br />

the public, the landlord of Hoxton Docks<br />

allowed DistDancing to return. “We’re<br />

still very much on alert, and there’s the<br />

possibility of another shutdown,” says<br />

Katsura. “We had to change our format<br />

and drop the strict scheduling to prevent<br />

a crowd gathering or police intervention.”<br />

Now, in late September, it’s time<br />

for the final show of the relaunched<br />

DistDancing. It’s grey and overcast again,<br />

but because of the lack of notification<br />

there’s no crowd outside Hoxton Docks.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Royal Ballet’s Giacomo Rovero walks<br />

onto the pontoon stage and starts his<br />

routine. Passers-by hear the music, stop<br />

to look, and by the end of his threeminute<br />

solo there are 20-30 people<br />

watching in awe. <strong>The</strong>se aren’t the legion<br />

of fans DistDancing amassed through<br />

social media, but rather new people<br />

stopped in their tracks by a chance<br />

encounter with dance – just as Katsura<br />

and Zucchetti had originally intended.<br />

“Things will never go back to ‘normal’<br />

as we know it; they’ll only move forward,”<br />

Katsura says. “When the theatres shut,<br />

we worried we’d lose our connection<br />

with audiences. But at a DistDancing<br />

show you can tell people are still thirsty<br />

for live performance. <strong>The</strong> connection is<br />

maybe even stronger. I think lockdown<br />

has made people realise how much they<br />

need arts and culture in their lives.”<br />

Fittingly, Katsura is DistDancing’s<br />

fifth and final performer. Due to her<br />

recent recovery, she performs a modified<br />

version of the Emeralds solo from<br />

choreographer George Balanchine’s<br />

ballet Jewels. She avoids going en pointe,<br />

but sweeps her arms gracefully in a port<br />

de bras as her flowing skirt billows<br />

around her, and finishes kneeling with<br />

her arms crossed, facing the audience on<br />

the towpath across the canal. <strong>The</strong> crowd<br />

has now grown to around 50 spectators,<br />

who applaud wildly as Katsura takes<br />

a bow before being joined on stage by<br />

the other performers.<br />

“We’re so grateful to be able to bring<br />

joy to people again,” Katsura says, relieved<br />

at the hitch-free performance. “<strong>The</strong><br />

support we’ve had during the shutdown<br />

has been incredible. To see everyone<br />

come together to keep the arts alive is so<br />

heartwarming. It’s the strength and hope<br />

we need during these dark times.”<br />

ballet.org.uk; roh.org.uk; waynemcgregor.<br />

com; Instagram: @_distdancing_<br />


“I make<br />

people want<br />

to rewrite<br />

their bars”<br />

<strong>The</strong> multicultural<br />

Birmingham-born<br />

artist has forged<br />

her own unique<br />

style of rap, which<br />

resonates from<br />

London to LA.<br />

Here, she talks<br />

about Drake’s wise<br />

words, the benefits<br />

of speaking Dutch,<br />

and why Instagram<br />

crushes creativity<br />


Photography SALIM ADAM<br />


<strong>Red</strong> alert: Stefflon<br />

Don never looks<br />

less than 100 per<br />

cent – even, it<br />

would appear, when<br />

doing the dishes

Stefflon Don<br />

When British rapper Stefflon Don arrived<br />

on the scene in 2016, heads were turned.<br />

Her flow on the debut mixtape Real Ting<br />

was seamless, with lyrics that blended<br />

Jamaican patois, East London slang and<br />

US hip hop references. And, in contrast<br />

to the down-to-earth attitude of most <strong>UK</strong><br />

rap, she presented herself as glamorous<br />

and brazen, a superstar in the making.<br />

In November that year, she was<br />

longlisted in the BBC’s newcomer poll<br />

Sound of 2017. Four months later, she<br />

signed a £1.2m deal with a major label,<br />

and in August 2017 her single Hurtin’<br />

Me, with US rapper French Montana,<br />

reached number seven in the <strong>UK</strong> Singles<br />

Chart. Since then, the 28-year-old – real<br />

name Stephanie Allen – has won MOBO<br />

and NME Awards; worked with artists<br />

including Sean Paul, Nile Rodgers, Charli<br />

XCX, Skepta, Drake and Mariah Carey;<br />

and in 2018 became the first British<br />

artist ever to make legendary US hip hop<br />

magazine XXL’s annual Freshman List.<br />

Born in Birmingham to Jamaican<br />

parents, the rapper moved with her<br />

family to Rotterdam in the Netherlands<br />

when she was five, before settling back<br />

in the <strong>UK</strong> – in Hackney – at 14. As a<br />

result, Stefflon Don’s music is a blend of<br />

dancehall, grime, R&B and house, her<br />

rhymes incorporating influences from<br />

London, Jamaica, Holland and America.<br />

She says that growing up among<br />

different cultures opened her mind and<br />

broadened her music and, in that sense,<br />

is the secret to her success.<br />

THE RED BULLETIN: You have an<br />

unmistakable East London snarl, but<br />

you also use Jamaican patois and US<br />

slang. You even rap in Dutch...<br />

STEFFLON DON: That’s because of my<br />

diverse upbringing. I spent most of my<br />

childhood in Rotterdam. People there<br />

speak American English, and I grew up<br />

in a Jamaican household. On top of that,<br />

I had White friends, Turkish friends,<br />

Moroccan friends. People are really<br />

accommodating there, so I’d learn a lot<br />

about their cultures, about their<br />

traditions, their food, their music.<br />

What were the musical influences you<br />

picked up there?<br />

So, Holland used to control Suriname<br />

[the South American country was<br />

under Dutch rule between 1667 and<br />

1975] and the Surinamese culture has<br />

a heavy influence in Rotterdam – similar<br />

to the influence of Jamaican culture<br />

in London. <strong>The</strong> language they speak [in<br />

Suriname] is a mix of Spanish, French,<br />

Dutch and English. Growing up there,<br />

I used to listen to Surinamese songs all<br />

the time; we’d also use their slang words.<br />

I think it even left a mark on my<br />

pronunciation: I was in Spain the other<br />

day and some locals thought I was from<br />

there. I’m not even fluent in Spanish!<br />

Do you think being fluent in Dutch has<br />

had an impact on your rapping skills?<br />

Definitely. When I’m speaking Dutch,<br />

I talk really fast. Because of that, I’m<br />

quick on the tongue when I rap. That<br />

was a big advantage when I started out.<br />

You’re known for your eclectic musical<br />

style – on your new mixtape, Island<br />

54, you even add Afrobeats to the<br />

mix. Wouldn’t music executives rather<br />

you stick to one thing so you don’t<br />

overwhelm your fanbase?<br />

Well, I feel like there are certain artists<br />

you can put on any track – whether it’s<br />

a Latin track or a slow jam or an<br />

alternative song – because their voice is<br />

like an instrument. <strong>The</strong>y hold a certain<br />

sound through their voice, and I feel<br />

like I’ve got that. On my next single, I’m<br />

actually speaking Yoruba [a language<br />

spoken mostly in West Africa]. I think<br />

the audience is going to be shocked –<br />

it’s totally different again. But, for me,<br />

this is something that I’ve always been<br />

experimenting with. As an artist, I just<br />

feel so free.<br />

Two years ago, you made history as<br />

the first <strong>UK</strong> artist to be named on XXL<br />

magazine’s Freshman List. Do you<br />

think your global perspective is the<br />

reason the US audience has embraced<br />

you more than other <strong>UK</strong> MCs?<br />

Definitely! I feel only now Americans are<br />

more accepting of the British accent on a<br />

rap track. Before that, it was like, “I love<br />

when you guys talk, but when someone’s<br />

rapping I can’t take you serious. I feel<br />

like you eat crumpets and drink tea all<br />

day.” Literally, that’s what they would<br />

say to me! But when they heard my<br />

songs, they’d always say, “OK, so you<br />

don’t really sound that British.” And<br />

again, that comes from growing up in<br />

Holland, where I used to speak American<br />

English. Rapping with a real British<br />

accent was actually a challenge for me<br />

in the beginning.<br />

That reminds me of something your<br />

brother, drill artist Dutchavelli, said<br />

in a recent interview about your<br />

family moving back to the <strong>UK</strong> from<br />

Rotterdam: “I had an accent and there<br />


“Americans would say, ‘I love<br />

when you [Brits] talk, but when<br />

someone’s rapping I can’t take<br />

you serious. I feel like you eat<br />

crumpets and drink tea all day’”

“Thank God I was just born with<br />

confidence. When the [other]<br />

kids used to try me – and they<br />

would try me a lot – I always<br />

stood my ground”

Stefflon Don<br />

were lots of words I didn’t know.<br />

It messed up school for me.” Can<br />

you relate to that?<br />

When I came back, I had the weirdest<br />

accent. I was torn between American<br />

English and Jamaican patois. I told people<br />

here that I was from Jamaica. <strong>The</strong>y were<br />

like, “You’re not Jamaican. What kind of<br />

accent is this?” It was very difficult.<br />

How did you gain acceptance?<br />

Thank God I was just born with<br />

confidence. When the kids used to try<br />

me – and they would try me a lot –<br />

I always stood my ground. And I think<br />

anywhere in life, if someone tries you<br />

and you continue to stand your ground,<br />

they just have to respect you. After<br />

a while, they were so confused at how<br />

confident I was, and that’s what made<br />

them like me.<br />

How can others achieve that level<br />

of confidence? Any advice?<br />

Stay away from people who belittle you,<br />

whether it’s friends or family. Just don’t<br />

be around people who make you feel less<br />

confident. Or at least try not to ask them<br />

for advice if you know that they’re not<br />

going to have your corner. You have to<br />

realise that nobody has the answers to<br />

everything. Believe in yourself – that’s<br />

how you gain confidence.<br />

Someone who gave you advice early<br />

on in your career is Drake. He said,<br />

“Make sure that, whatever you do,<br />

your opponent is scared of you.” Is<br />

that something you still live by?<br />

Yes, 100 per cent. In anything you do,<br />

whether you’re a plumber or a carpenter<br />

or a gamer, you should always want to<br />

be the best. Else why do it? Coming up<br />

rapping, I was in so many situations<br />

where there was a beat playing and it<br />

was like, ‘OK, who’s going to rap on it?’<br />

And I was always ready in those<br />

situations. I always made sure that I had<br />

many lyrics ready, so whoever was on<br />

the mic I would destroy them.<br />

Ruthless…<br />

Yeah, I’ve always had that mentality.<br />

I want to make people want to rewrite<br />

their bars. Because sometimes I used to<br />

feel that way. I’d hear certain females<br />

rap and I’d think, “Oh my God, what I’ve<br />

written is not as good. I need to go back<br />

and rewrite my shit.” That’s how I want<br />

“In anything<br />

you do, you<br />

should always<br />

want to be the<br />

best. Else why<br />

do it?”<br />

people to feel when they hear me.<br />

Because that’s how you keep a healthy<br />

conversation, that’s how you push each<br />

other. If people aren’t challenging one<br />

another, if they just follow others, then<br />

we’re stuck. And that’s what has been<br />

happening for a while. No one is really<br />

trying to be the best. I see a lot of<br />

followers. I see a lot of people who think,<br />

“Oh, this works, this charted. Let me do<br />

something similar.”<br />

Why do you think that is?<br />

As an artist, the way you’re criticised<br />

today is different from when I first came<br />

up. Back then, there were no Instagram<br />

trolls. I wasn’t scared to fail by putting<br />

out videos that might not be what I want<br />

them to be – I just had to do it, because<br />

that’s all I could afford. I can’t imagine<br />

how it is for young artists today with<br />

so many eyes on them; so many eyes<br />

of people who don’t know what they<br />

are talking about, projecting their<br />

insecurities on others on social media.<br />

Platforms like Instagram are responsible<br />

for a lack of creativity in the new<br />

generation of artists. And even for<br />

established ones, it’s very hard to really<br />

say what they want to say, or express<br />

how they feel.<br />

Sounds like you’re talking from<br />

personal experience…<br />

I used to record my family on Snapchat<br />

a lot. I would always speak my mind on<br />

certain topics that got me in trouble a<br />

couple of times. [In 2018, she apologised<br />

for tweets from 2013 in which she said<br />

“dark-skinned” girls would change their<br />

skin colour if they could]. I got in trouble<br />

for stuff I didn’t mean in that way, and<br />

things were taken out of context. It made<br />

me feel like, “Do you even deserve to<br />

really know who I am if you going to take<br />

small parts and use them to make it seem<br />

like I am this person that I’m not?”<br />

That is what the internet has become<br />

now. People are looking at your image<br />

and thinking, “What can I pick up [on]<br />

that’s wrong?” And the second thing is,<br />

“Let me see the comments,” to find<br />

what narrative is being pushed. You’re<br />

not supposed to be yourself. You’re not<br />

supposed to be a self-thinker. It’s all<br />

about playing it safe, about following<br />

others. And I really just want to break<br />

away from that.<br />

Is there a way to make the internet<br />

a place of positivity again?<br />

I actually had a couple of meetings with<br />

one of the heads of Instagram, and one<br />

thing I requested was to take the likes<br />

off the comments.<br />

What do you mean?<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was a time when you could<br />

comment on posts, but you wouldn’t<br />

get likes on your comment. Now that<br />

people are more extreme and meaner in<br />

their comments because they want to<br />

stand out in order to get likes, it’s like a<br />

competition. As a result, you look at your<br />

post and realise that 3,000 people liked<br />

a really hateful comment about you. It<br />

feels awful! I don’t think people realise<br />

how detrimental Instagram is for us<br />

and the next generation. Everyone is<br />

tiptoeing around [the issue] and saying,<br />

“Oh yeah, it’s bad.” But people are so<br />

insecure because of this, people don’t<br />

create because of this, people don’t share<br />

new ideas because of this. It’s a very<br />

serious thing and I wish more people<br />

would speak up more about it and<br />

demand change.<br />

With that said, what’s your strategy<br />

for staying sane?<br />

I’m so blessed that I have my family.<br />

I bought a big house and my [11-yearold]<br />

son, most of my six siblings and my<br />

mom live with me. That’s the main reason<br />

why I’m OK. Also, I consider myself lucky<br />

that I didn’t come up in the social media<br />

age. I have a sense of reality. I know what<br />

it means to be original. I know what it<br />

means to not really give a fuck about<br />

what no one says. And no one can take<br />

that away from me.<br />

Stefflon Don’s new mixtape Island 54 is<br />

out now; stefflondonofficial.com<br />


French BMXer Matthias<br />

Dandois in Paris, August 2019,<br />

performing a steamroller<br />

barspin trick for the featurelength<br />

film <strong>The</strong> Old World

Come<br />

together<br />

Seven countries,<br />

15 riders, eight<br />

nationalities, eight<br />

disciplines, numerous<br />

wrecked drones,<br />

multiple injuries,<br />

one epic film. Inside<br />

Europe’s most<br />

ambitious bike movie<br />

Words TOM GUISE, STU KENNY and<br />


Photography JULIAN MITTELSTÄDT<br />


It’s early morning in Strandafjellet,<br />

Norway. In winter here, you can ski<br />

from the mountain tops to the fjords<br />

below, but right now, in spring 2019,<br />

a blanket of cloud sits atop grassy<br />

cliffs. From it emerges a bike rider,<br />

Martin Söderström, a camera crew<br />

catching his every move. <strong>The</strong> 28-yearold<br />

is one of Sweden’s highest-profile<br />

freeriders, yet, astonishingly, this is<br />

his first feature-length film…<br />

“How is it possible that one of the most influential riders in the<br />

world has never had a big movie part?” German pro mountain<br />

biker Andi Tillmann had pondered in 2018. <strong>The</strong> answer: all the<br />

big ensemble action-sports flicks were made in North America.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y get to choose their regions and the riders,” says the<br />

32-year-old who, together with his brothers Toni and Michi, has<br />

produced and starred in MTB movies that have been seen by<br />

millions, “so top-level European riders were never featured.”<br />

That was the catalyst for the biggest project the Tillmanns – and<br />

perhaps any European bike filmmakers – had ever undertaken.<br />

Two years later, <strong>The</strong> Old World is complete. It’s a journey<br />

from the fjords of Norway to the suburbs of Berlin and Paris to<br />

the sun-baked dust of La Poma in Spain, gathering together a<br />

roll call of Euro riders never before seen on film. <strong>The</strong> ride wasn’t<br />

without its bumps – injuries, technical malfunctions, a global<br />

pandemic – and the crew learnt a lesson as steep as their handdug<br />

courses. “In Europe we have a very narrow weather window,<br />

and each country comes with its own drone and filming<br />

restrictions,” says Tillmann, whose hair literally fell out due to<br />

stress. “I was blond when we started, now I’m bald,” he laughs.<br />

Here, Tillmann and some of the riders share a glimpse of<br />

what it took to make Europe’s first bike blockbuster…<br />

<strong>The</strong> Old World is out November 22. See it on <strong>Red</strong> Bull TV; redbull.com<br />

Director Andi<br />

Tillmann films<br />

Martin Söderström<br />

in Stranda, Norway.<br />

Left: Tillmann<br />

(centre) with<br />

brothers Toni<br />

(left) and Michi<br />


<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />

STRANDA,<br />

NORWAY<br />

Riders: Martin Söderström<br />

(pictured), Emil and Simon<br />

Johansson (all SWE)<br />

Discipline: Trail and slopestyle<br />

Tillman: It took a year to<br />

convince the Strandafjellet<br />

authorities to grant us access<br />

– none of the landscape could<br />

be damaged as it’s part of their<br />

slope system. <strong>The</strong> idea was to<br />

communicate that Scandinavian<br />

perfection of control, and our<br />

three riders are proponents of<br />

something called the ‘Swedish<br />

Style’. We developed a special<br />

rig: a backpack with an Arri<br />

Alexa movie camera on a gimbal,<br />

to be carried by a second rider<br />

– me – at high speed.<br />

Söderström: I’d never been to<br />

Stranda. It was surreal to see<br />

the sunrise with my best riding<br />

buddies, Emil and Simon, and<br />

have the course to ourselves. I<br />

was the first rider from Sweden<br />

to go professional, but a lot of<br />

incredibly talented athletes<br />

have come through since then.<br />

I guess some were inspired by<br />

my riding, and that’s become<br />

the ‘Swedish Style’. We ride a<br />

lot indoors during the winter,<br />

because of the weather. That’s<br />

why most Swedish riders<br />

have a technical background.<br />

We do a lot of barspins and<br />

tailwhips. I value my riding<br />

style more than the tricks I do.<br />

I’d rather do less complicated<br />

tricks and have them look<br />

great than not look in control.<br />


Freeride MTBer<br />

Vincent Tupin (top)<br />

films the ‘summer<br />

segment’ with fellow<br />

rider Robin Delale<br />

in Rhône-Alpes<br />

BERLIN,<br />


Riders: Bruno Hoffmann<br />

(pictured above), Mo<br />

Nussbaumer (both GER)<br />

Discipline: BMX street<br />


Rider: Vincent Tupin (FRA)<br />

Discipline: Snow freeride, downhill MTB<br />

Tillmann: Originally, this was a winter-only segment<br />

filmed at Châtel snowpark with a cameraman following<br />

Vinny’s freeride manoeuvres over slopes and jumps.<br />

Tupin: First [in March 2019] it went well. <strong>The</strong>n I<br />

planted my front wheel in deep snow, flipped and<br />

dislocated my shoulder. Eventually we decided to<br />

come back in better conditions the following winter.<br />

Tillmann: [But February <strong>2020</strong>] turned out to be the<br />

shittiest winter of all time. <strong>The</strong> temperature stayed so<br />

high that even the descent into the valley was closed.<br />

Tupin: Plus COVID-19 began closing the resorts. So we<br />

shot on the slopes near my home [in Maxilly-sur-Léman],<br />

with a final section at the end of summer – in the dirt.<br />

Tillmann: We wanted to show<br />

street riding, so sought out toplevel<br />

BMXers, which was tough<br />

because we’re a mountain-bike<br />

crew and their mindset is quite<br />

different; they have their own<br />

filmers. We shot solely with a<br />

handheld camera, to capture<br />

how they use the restrictions of<br />

the city to express themselves.<br />

Hoffmann: Street riding is<br />

often illegal, so usually there’s<br />

only one filmer and you have to<br />

hit and run. But for this we had<br />

permission for pretty much<br />

every spot. That eased some<br />

of the pressure, but the scale<br />

of the production added more<br />

– we couldn’t just ride around<br />

randomly. For me, BMX street is<br />

more accessible than mountain<br />

biking – you don’t need an<br />

expensive bike or special trails.<br />

When you ride a BMX, you see<br />

a city differently. You look at<br />

stairs, rails, ledges. Everything<br />

is a spot. You never stop looking.<br />


<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />

BMX street pro<br />

Bruno Hoffman<br />

in August 2019:<br />

“I love coming to<br />

Berlin, especially<br />

in the summer”<br />

“When you ride<br />

a BMX, you see a<br />

city differently.<br />

Everything is a<br />

spot. You never<br />

stop looking”

<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />

“It’s difficult to<br />

scout spots for<br />

Chris – he rides<br />

the stuff nobody<br />

else wants to”<br />

MTB trials rider<br />

Chris Akrigg in the<br />

Scottish Highlands,<br />

September 2019:<br />

“Each morning,<br />

the schedule would<br />

change due to<br />

the weather”

SCOTLAND, <strong>UK</strong><br />

Rider: Chris Akrigg (GBR)<br />

Discipline: MTB trials<br />

Tillmann: Chris is known for<br />

his humour and a crazy-yetdedicated<br />

riding style. It’s<br />

difficult to scout spots for him<br />

– he rides the stuff nobody<br />

else wants to, and still makes it<br />

flow. We scouted the Highlands<br />

and the islands, but it was all<br />

for nothing: as we flew in, bad<br />

weather meant that we couldn’t<br />

shoot at any of them. So we<br />

had to work on the fly instead,<br />

finding locations and shooting<br />

on the spot.<br />

Akrigg: <strong>The</strong> Scottish landscape<br />

is so vast, but I don’t need<br />

huge slopes, I dial it down<br />

into bits. When I reach a<br />

location, my mind starts racing.<br />

Sometimes I just need five<br />

minutes to think about how it<br />

could work. It can be hard to<br />

convey the technicality of the<br />

more intricate stuff on video.<br />

Halfway into the shoot,<br />

I jammed a radio antenna into<br />

my ribs, clipped a pedal and<br />

went head over heels. When I<br />

landed, I folded myself in half. I<br />

had a radio, and it sounds funny<br />

but it was down my pants and<br />

got stuck between my thigh and<br />

ribcage. I don’t know what it<br />

did in there, but it wasn’t good.<br />

I managed two or three more<br />

days of riding, but it got to the<br />

point where it was distracting<br />

me so much that I just couldn’t<br />

ride. I ended up taking copious<br />

amounts of painkillers.<br />

“When filming<br />

something like<br />

this, you want<br />

to be on top of<br />

your game”<br />

WALES, <strong>UK</strong><br />

Rider: Rachel Atherton (GBR)<br />

Discipline: Downhill MTB<br />

Tillmann: <strong>The</strong> theme of this<br />

segment was ‘dedication’,<br />

but that took on a whole new<br />

meaning. Our original idea was<br />

to film only with drones, but at<br />

our first session on Cadair Idris<br />

[mountain in Snowdonia] the<br />

wind and rain made that less<br />

than ideal. <strong>The</strong>n the drone<br />

crashed at the first shot, so I<br />

ran down the whole mountain<br />

to get the spare, only to find it<br />

had a software problem. <strong>The</strong>n,<br />

before our next filming session,<br />

Rachel tore her Achilles…<br />

Atherton: I can remember it<br />

like it was yesterday [the injury<br />

occurred in July 2019]. It’s a<br />

process you go through, almost<br />

like grief. You feel angry and<br />

upset, then just devastated.<br />

Getting injured mid-season [in<br />

the UCI Downhill MTB World<br />

Cup], you go from winning<br />

races to almost nothing. It<br />

takes a lot to change your<br />

mindset and focus on the long<br />

road ahead. It was nine months<br />

before I even picked up a bike<br />

Downhill MTB pro<br />

Rachel Atherton<br />

films around<br />

Cadair Idris, Wales<br />

again. When filming something<br />

like this, you want to be on top<br />

of your game. I was nervous,<br />

because I didn’t know if I was<br />

going to be fast or look good,<br />

so I put it off to the last minute.<br />

But I think it was the right<br />

choice, because I did feel I was<br />

riding well when it came to<br />

filming again. <strong>The</strong> first half was<br />

all mountain stuff – outback<br />

riding and big mountains, all<br />

about freedom. <strong>The</strong> second<br />

half was on tracks near my<br />

home in Wales. Having a big<br />

injury halfway through filming<br />

changed the plan a bit, but<br />

hopefully the hard work and<br />

the dedication to return comes<br />

across. To be back up to speed<br />

and feeling like a racer again –<br />

that’s what I’m looking forward<br />

to the most. When you don’t<br />

race for so long, it takes away<br />

who you are. [Racing] is in<br />

my blood. Being back on the<br />

track makes you feel like<br />

everything makes sense again.<br />

[Just weeks after this interview,<br />

Atherton announced that<br />

regrettably, as a result of her<br />

ongoing rehab, she wouldn’t<br />

be racing again this year.]<br />



Rider: Matthias Dandois<br />

(FRA)<br />

Discipline: BMX flatland<br />

Tillmann: In Paris, Matthias<br />

delivered his smooth<br />

interpretation of BMX<br />

flatland. Finding a new<br />

perspective on the city was<br />

hard, as he has filmed so<br />

much here. We developed<br />

a fresh way of filming his<br />

riding style with a gimbal<br />

on a Segway and a 600mm<br />

super telephoto lens to<br />

capture the technicality of<br />

his tricks. We shot a lot in the<br />

outskirts, and the production<br />

car got broken into. All our<br />

laptops and hard drives were<br />

stolen. Fortunately, all the<br />

footage was backed up.<br />

Dandois: Getting clearance<br />

to film in a city like Paris takes<br />

months, but having a big,<br />

professional crew made<br />

things easier. For 20 years,<br />

I was kicked off almost every<br />

spot I rode on, and now – paf!<br />

– authorisations. In Barbès<br />

[in northern Paris], we were<br />

accompanied by police to<br />

ensure our safety, but<br />

nothing happened. When you<br />

film in working-class<br />

neighbourhoods, colourful<br />

characters always show up,<br />

like the drunk guy who gives<br />

you riding tips [laughs].

<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />

August 2019:<br />

Matthias Dandois<br />

performs a onehand<br />

MC circle<br />

in a bustling Gare<br />

du Nord, Paris<br />


<strong>The</strong> Old World<br />


Riders: Nico Scholze (GER, pictured left), Dawid Godziek<br />

(POL), Diego Caverzasi (ITA), Bienve Aguado Alba (ESP)<br />

Discipline: Dirt jumps<br />

Tillmann: Dirt jumping has a strong community vibe at this<br />

bikepark [30 minutes outside Barcelona], almost akin to surfing.<br />

We shot with a big cable cam and a crane. Diego arrived with an<br />

injured thumb, then, on the third day of shooting, Nico slammed<br />

hard and broke part of his back. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious.<br />

Scholze: It was a routine trick – a 360 tailwhip on the biggest jump<br />

– but I came up short and went straight over the bars. I was only<br />

just saying to Andi beforehand, “It’s going to be a good day.” I wanted<br />

to show it’s possible to do freestyle motocross tricks on a mountain<br />

bike – there’s a similar rotation and airtime. I watched guys with<br />

FMX bikes on a shoot once, and I knew I could do the same tricks.<br />

Polish dirt jumper<br />

Dawid Godziek<br />

initiates a one-foot<br />

tabletop at La<br />

Poma bikepark<br />

“I wanted to<br />

show the world<br />

it’s possible<br />

to do freestyle<br />

motocross<br />

tricks on a<br />

mountain bike”<br />


Vink pulls off a<br />

‘flaming’ manual:<br />

“Andi told us to<br />

bring an extra<br />

helmet because<br />

they might set us<br />

on fire. It was still<br />

a bit of a surprise”<br />


Riders: Nico Vink (BEL, pictured right),<br />

Szymon Godziek (POL)<br />

Discipline: Big air<br />

Tillmann: This was the opposite of Norway<br />

– that was about control, but this is about<br />

the edge of control. We filmed big air and<br />

high-speed riding with a crane, a $100,000<br />

[£77K] camera backpack and a Super 8.<br />

<strong>The</strong> insane course will blow people’s minds<br />

– and we set the guys on fire. A stuntman<br />

usually doubles for the actor, but obviously<br />

they couldn’t ride the course. <strong>The</strong> stunt<br />

team only agreed to it after seeing the<br />

athletes wouldn’t panic when set alight.<br />

Vink: I’d ridden through fire, but I’d never<br />

actually been on fire. We had underlayers<br />

that were covered in a protective gel, then<br />

fuel was added to the top layer – that’s<br />

what was set on fire. <strong>The</strong> sections we were<br />

riding weren’t super-long, and there were<br />

two extinguishers at the bottom, but if you<br />

crashed partway you were burning. We had<br />

to do it a couple of times. Sometimes they<br />

didn’t add enough fuel, and once there was<br />

too much. It got a little hot, but I never got<br />

cooked. When you’re riding, it’s all about<br />

being on the limit of control – you’re close<br />

to the edge, but getting away with it. That’s<br />

the line any athlete in extreme sports is<br />

riding all the time. It’s our life.<br />



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SEA<br />


Summer Isles,<br />

northern Scotland<br />



Travel<br />

“<strong>The</strong> pleasure of a sea kayak is<br />

you’re in the water rather than on<br />

it, which provides a connection<br />

with wildlife that’s hard to achieve<br />

in another boat”<br />

Will Copestake, adventurer and guide<br />

It’s six in the morning and, on the<br />

horizon, the sun is creeping over<br />

a panorama of jagged mountains,<br />

adding a shimmer to the sea. I’m awake<br />

before my guests who, as the dawn<br />

light brings heat to their tents, are just<br />

starting to stir in their sleeping bags.<br />

It’s a typical summer morning in the<br />

Scottish Summer Isles – calm with a<br />

gentle breeze that smells of the sea,<br />

the slow rhythmic rumble of the surf<br />

rolling against cliffs nearby, seals singing<br />

melodically from the rocks.<br />

Since 2013, I’ve pursued adventures<br />

around the world, both personal and<br />

through leading others – from a yearlong<br />

journey kayaking, cycling and<br />

climbing through Scotland to a 1,000km<br />

expedition kayaking through deepest<br />

Patagonia. But it’s the Summer Isles<br />

I call home. As an outdoor activity<br />

provider running our company Kayak<br />

Summer Isles, it’s my job and pleasure<br />

to encourage venturing off the beaten<br />

track and pausing there. We deliver the<br />

confidence and skills to enjoy what’s<br />

around us while visiting remote places<br />

and reconnecting with the natural world.<br />

My day is mostly spent teaching then<br />

leading along natural archways, caves,<br />

cliffs and wild sandy beaches amid this<br />

stunning landscape.<br />

At my side, my mocha pot gurgles<br />

on a stove as I prepare my morning<br />

‘guide coffee’. I was first introduced to it<br />

by a tutor at university, who explained<br />

that the idea wasn’t the brew itself but<br />

allowing yourself a small slice of time<br />

before the day begins. Time to think, to<br />

plan, to gain a sense of calm and place.<br />

It’s a practice that goes hand in hand<br />

with the rising concept of ‘slow tourism’,<br />

the counterpart to ‘tick-list’ landmark<br />

bagging. Drinking a coffee quickly fills<br />

the need, but when you pause to enjoy it,<br />

it becomes so much more. <strong>The</strong>re is a<br />

drive – partially fuelled by social media<br />

– in the travel industry at the moment<br />

to ‘experience’ as much as possible in<br />

a short amount of time. It’s a quick way<br />

to see a lot of great things, and fits in<br />

with the busy lives many of us lead.<br />

But fast travel has huge limitations, too.<br />

Few who do it allow the time to truly<br />

experience the communities, landscapes<br />

and wonders they fly past en route to the<br />

next attraction. Travel, after all, is about<br />

the journey as much as the destination.<br />

During the lockdowns earlier this year,<br />

it was inspiring to see so many of our<br />

neighbours discover the local gems that<br />

have been seldom explored. Encouraged<br />

by necessity to explore nearer to home,<br />

many have learnt more about their<br />

backyard and their own personal<br />

interests in these short months than in<br />

decades of living here. Personally, I’ve<br />

never been at risk of taking the stunning<br />

scenery of the Summer Isles for granted,<br />

as I regularly get to see the expressions<br />

of amazement on my guests’ faces.<br />

Water man: the writer, Will Copestake, knows the Summer Isles like the back of his hand<br />




Travel<br />

How to<br />

get there<br />

<strong>The</strong> Summer Isles – an<br />

archipelago of around<br />

20 islands, rocks and<br />

skerries (islets) – lie<br />

off the northwest<br />

coast of the Scottish<br />

Highlands. <strong>The</strong>y can be<br />

reached by boat from<br />

Achiltibuie harbour,<br />

which is just under<br />

two-and-a-half hours<br />

by car from Inverness.<br />

Slow and low: sea kayaking amid the picturesque scenery of the Summer Isles is the antithesis of ‘fast travel’<br />

Glowing report: awe-inspiring sunsets are commonplace in this part of the country<br />

It’s the last day of our multi-day<br />

adventure, and before setting off we<br />

discuss how to pack a kayak: loading<br />

the boat equally with the weight centred<br />

around the hull, packing multiple small<br />

bags rather than a single large one, and<br />

keeping metal objects away from the<br />

in-deck compass. We finish by packing<br />

the remaining spaces with litter<br />

collected from the foreshore – an<br />

endless stream of ocean plastic brought<br />

in by the waves. It sparks a discussion<br />

on the human impact on such wild areas,<br />

how we ultimately leave our footprint<br />

wherever we travel. Already we’ve<br />

ensured to remove all trace of our tents<br />

and have packed our bagged waste, yet<br />

still a few footprints remain behind. As<br />



Travel<br />


Food supplies, sleeping bag, sleeping<br />

mat, tent poles and pegs, cooking set<br />

(pot, cutlery, bowl and mug)<br />


Pencil and waterproof notepad,<br />

compass, head torch, night paddle kit,<br />

spare knife and flares, chocolate bars<br />

Kayak loading<br />

<strong>The</strong> formula: well stocked but also<br />

perfectly distributed<br />


Medical kit, hypothermia pack, bothy bag,<br />

emergency repair kit, <strong>The</strong>rmos with hot<br />

sugary drink, tarp, quick stove and gas<br />


Food supplies, clothing and spare layers,<br />

boots, tents (but not poles – no metal<br />

items allowed under deck compass)<br />

Lightweight<br />

Midweight<br />

Midweight<br />

Heavyweight<br />

Midweight<br />

Heavyweight<br />

Midweight<br />

Lightweight<br />

a company we won’t use this site again<br />

for a few months, to allow regeneration<br />

between our uses.<br />

A wave breaks over my bow as I push<br />

my kayak from the shore with a whisper<br />

of seaweed beneath my hull. <strong>The</strong> crisp<br />

water catches my hand as I dip my<br />

paddle for the first stroke of a new day<br />

ahead. ‘Psht’ – a seal breaks the surface<br />

behind me as it escorts us from camp.<br />

<strong>The</strong> pleasure of a sea kayak is you’re<br />

in the water rather than on it, which<br />

provides a connection with wildlife<br />

that’s hard to achieve in another boat.<br />

Through connection comes care, and<br />

through care, ultimately, comes a<br />

sense of stewardship to preserve the<br />

environments we enjoy.<br />

When working in Patagonia over my<br />

winter seasons, I admired the Chilean<br />

approach to managing sustainable<br />

adventure tourism, which, just like the<br />

north of Scotland, grew exponentially<br />

faster than the infrastructure to care for<br />

it. Flow, friction, rhythm: slow the flow,<br />

reduce the friction, plan for the rhythms.<br />

Encouraging visitors on a day’s kayaking<br />

or hiking adventure siphons numbers<br />

to a wider area, slowing the flow from<br />

the main roadside. Where busier tick-list<br />

attractions exist, frictions are managed<br />

by facilities and infrastructure.<br />

Understanding the rhythms of summer<br />

booms and winter quiet allows the<br />

chance to adjust and restore.<br />

Seabirds take flight from the nearby<br />

cliffs with a clatter of wings, bringing<br />

a smell of fresh guano that stings my<br />

nose. I don’t smell much better after<br />

a few nights away from the luxuries of<br />

home, but with that minor sacrifice<br />

comes a restoration of energy, rolled<br />

into the soul as the swell rolls life into the<br />

ocean. <strong>The</strong> kinship with our surroundings<br />

and between us as paddlers grows on<br />

the water. When we return home<br />

refreshed by genuine escapism, we will<br />

have a new story to tell with the next<br />

morning coffee.<br />

Will Copestake is an adventurer,<br />

photographer and guide who leads<br />

outdoor pursuits and expeditions in<br />

Scotland, Patagonia, and around the<br />

world. Follow his adventures at<br />

willcopestakemedia.com and learn<br />

how to travel with him at<br />

kayaksummerisles.com<br />

Total ice-olation: when kayaking in Patagonia, you’ll<br />

have entire glaciers and icebergs to yourself<br />

Change of pace<br />

Embrace slow travel<br />



<strong>The</strong> nearby towns of Ullapool and<br />

Achiltibuie make a great jump-off point<br />

for some of Britain’s wildest places,<br />

a UNESCO GeoPark, and a thriving hub<br />

of traditional arts and music.<br />


<strong>The</strong> Cairngorms are a good year-round<br />

centre for adventure, with skiing in the<br />

winter and more trails than you could<br />

complete in any holiday. Activities cater<br />

to beginners and experts alike, from<br />

mountain pursuits to watersports.<br />


With stunning coastlines and beaches<br />

with hundreds of coastal trails to explore,<br />

there’s something in Cornwall for every<br />

interest. Base yourself in one of the many<br />

communities and explore the vibrant<br />

culture, arts and music, as well as walks<br />

and swims along the way.<br />


Without doubt one of the wildest trips you<br />

can do by kayak anywhere on Earth. This is<br />

real wilderness that takes effort and intent<br />

to reach, with whole icebergs and glaciers<br />

to yourself as a reward. You won’t see<br />

anyone other than the guide for the<br />

majority of this trip. kayakenpatagonia.com<br />


<strong>The</strong> Icelandic capital offers a fantastic<br />

base to find an adventure that fits you, be<br />

it snowboarding the mountains, soaking<br />

in a mud bath, or learning to guerrilla-knit<br />

a jumper for a tree (yep, that’s a thing).<br />

A short hop from the <strong>UK</strong>, the city is a true<br />

unsung hub for adventure.<br />





Equipment<br />

From top: SWEET PROTECTION<br />

Interstellar RIG Reflect goggles<br />

have a toric lens (more asymmetric<br />

than a standard lens) for less edge<br />

distortion and greater impact<br />

resistance, sweetprotection.com<br />

Flight Path XL Factory by OAKLEY<br />

allow you to switch between seven<br />

lens types for maximum visibility in<br />

all snow conditions. Quick-changing<br />

Ridgelock tech seals the lens as it<br />

snaps into place, oakley.com<br />

ZEAL OPTICS Pando goggles use<br />

Observation Deck tech inspired<br />

by air traffic control towers – the<br />

bottom of the lens tilts towards<br />

your face to increase vertical<br />

peripheral vision, zealoptics.com<br />


have a 100-per-cent UV-protected<br />

lens that can be popped out and<br />

locked into place with levers. OTG<br />

means ‘over the glass’, so specs can<br />

be worn, too, dragonalliance.com<br />

TIM KENT<br />



Equipment<br />

SNOW<br />

Slope into view Switchable-lens goggles for optimal vision on-piste<br />

From top: POC Cornea Solar Switch<br />

goggles don’t feature swappable<br />

lenses; instead, the glass<br />

automatically adapts to the light<br />

for you. Faster than previous<br />

light-reactive technology, the<br />

award-winning liquid-crystal lens<br />

changes its tint near instantly to<br />

suit every condition, from midday<br />

glare to serious cloud cover, and<br />

the whole process is powered by<br />

solar energy, pocsports.com<br />

RED BULL SPECT Magnetron goggles<br />

come with two lenses: contrastenhancing<br />

(shown fitted) for bad<br />

weather, and mirrored (below) for<br />

fair, each with moisture canals to<br />

prevent fogging, specteyewear.com<br />

Enigma Elements Water by KOO<br />

sport a silver mirror Zeiss toric lens<br />

for high glare protection, easily<br />

swappable with the included Sonar<br />

lens (pictured) for better visibility<br />

on an overcast day, kooworld.cc<br />



How to...<br />

Sophie Radcliffe has<br />

twice completed<br />

Ironman, cycled<br />

from London to Paris<br />

in 24 hours nine times, crossed<br />

the US from coast to coast by<br />

bike, and set a world first by<br />

climbing the highest peaks in<br />

eight Alpine countries and<br />

cycling between each of them<br />

– the equivalent of scaling<br />

Everest five times in 32 days.<br />

And yet she wasn’t always so<br />

sporty. In fact, at school she<br />

was the last person who<br />

wanted to put on sports kit.<br />

“When I was younger, I was<br />

very unfit and never a natural<br />

athlete,” admits the 35-yearold<br />

Brit. “I had a different<br />

body to other girls and felt<br />

uncomfortable about it.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> problem, Radcliffe<br />

came to realise, was never to<br />

do with her body – it was in<br />

her head. And it’s an issue she<br />

discovered is common among<br />

young women: “<strong>The</strong> rate of<br />

drop-out for girls in sport is<br />

huge when they hit 13 or 14.<br />

Body image, eating disorders,<br />

mental health [issues] and<br />

suicide are all rising.”<br />

So, in 2013, Radcliffe quit<br />

her job at a tech start-up and<br />

became an endurance athlete<br />

and motivational speaker.<br />

Today, she runs TrailBlazers,<br />

a not-for-profit youth initiative<br />

that equips teenage girls with<br />

the confidence and skills to<br />

live active lives to the best of<br />

their abilities. “I want to show<br />

them that it doesn’t have to be<br />

about sport itself – it’s about<br />

how you feel about yourself.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> key, Radcliffe says, is<br />

simply starting somewhere.<br />

“Making yourself physically<br />

strong has a knock-on effect<br />

on your mind and the rest of<br />

your life, but you have to start<br />

any sport from a place of<br />

passion and curiosity, thinking,<br />

‘I’m going to find what it is I<br />

love.’ Challenging yourself and<br />

doing things that are difficult<br />

and scary, like a physical<br />


Live courageously<br />

In her teens, Sophie Radcliffe hated sports. But then the adventurer<br />

changed her mindset and made fitness an unbreakable habit<br />

challenge, creates adversity<br />

and forces us to find out who<br />

we are. All the things I wanted<br />

to feel in life – confidence,<br />

motivation, feeling energised<br />

– have come from facing<br />

challenges in the outdoors.”<br />

As a friend of Radcliffe told<br />

her the night she quit her job,<br />

“A ship in a harbour is safe,<br />

but that’s not what the ship<br />

was built for. Go sailing.”<br />

You can follow Radcliffe’s<br />

personal journey on<br />

Instagram: @challengesophie.<br />

And check out TrailBlazers<br />

at blazeyourtrail.co.uk<br />

Radcliffe poses with her team during<br />

the Ragnar White Cliffs Relay in 2017<br />

Find your<br />

new path<br />

Five trailblazing tips<br />

from Radcliffe to<br />

help fire up your<br />

mental approach<br />

Try many different<br />

types of sport to<br />

find what you love:<br />

“People say to me,<br />

‘I really have to go to<br />

the gym soon.’ Why?<br />

<strong>The</strong> only way to get<br />

into fitness long-term<br />

is to find an activity<br />

you love. I discovered<br />

that I’m made for<br />

endurance sports.<br />

I just never knew<br />

that before.”<br />

Just get outdoors:<br />

“A great way to do<br />

this is by making<br />

your commute an<br />

adventure. Start<br />

cycling in, or walk<br />

part of the way into<br />

work. Find ways to<br />

spend more of each<br />

day outdoors.”<br />

Help others along the<br />

way: “Throughout my<br />

journey, people much<br />

more experienced than<br />

me took me under<br />

their wing. Those<br />

people helped me so<br />

much. <strong>The</strong> idea of<br />

mentoring and giving<br />

back is crucial.”<br />

Shift your perception:<br />

“What I tell people is:<br />

simply set yourself<br />

a challenge, which<br />

can be big or small.<br />

It can range from<br />

going for a run to<br />

the power of lifting<br />

weights. Discover<br />

the other world of<br />

outdoor and<br />

adventure sports.<br />

Do a boot camp in<br />

a London park, or<br />

burpees while<br />

watching the sunrise.”<br />

Commit yourself to the<br />

fact that it’s a journey:<br />

“I love pushing myself<br />

physically and<br />

mentally. I love being<br />

in the pain cave,<br />

because it’s there<br />

that I find out the most<br />

interesting things<br />

about myself; things<br />

that help me learn<br />

and grow into the<br />

person and athlete<br />

I’d love to become.”<br />



10 ISSUES<br />

getredbulletin.com<br />

£20<br />


<strong>The</strong> next issue is out on Tuesday 8 <strong>December</strong> with London Evening Standard.<br />

Also available across the <strong>UK</strong> at airports, universities, and selected supermarkets and retail stores.<br />

Read more at theredbulletin.com<br />



Gaming<br />

INPUT<br />

Evolution of play<br />

In 1972, the world's first commercial games console,<br />

the Magnavox Odyssey, was released. Its controller<br />

– a box with three rotating knobs – was a revolution in<br />

digital input. Games controllers have come a long<br />

way since then. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series<br />

X/S being released this month, three gaming experts<br />

look at how controllers have changed the way we play...<br />

DUALSHOCK 3, 2008<br />

“With the PS3 [in 2006], Sony faltered<br />

with a wireless pad that swapped<br />

vibration for motion controls, but fast<br />

returned with this rumbling DualShock.”<br />

PLAYSTATION, 1994<br />

“<strong>The</strong> first PlayStation controller is an<br />

icon in its own right,” says Tailby. “<strong>The</strong><br />

triangle, circle, X and square buttons<br />

have remained in every iteration.”<br />

DUALSHOCK 2, 2000<br />

Released with the PlayStation 2. “Two<br />

analogue sticks made 3D games easier<br />

to navigate, and rumble [vibration]<br />

made the action more impactful.”<br />

DUALSHOCK 4, 2013<br />

Larger grips, a touch sensitive pad, and<br />

a button to share your gaming moments<br />

with friends. “Absolutely Sony’s best<br />

controller at the time.”<br />

DUALSENSE, <strong>2020</strong><br />

"PlayStation 5's controller is the series’<br />

biggest design departure yet,” says<br />

Tailby, “and it delivers more nuanced<br />

vibrations through haptic feedback.”<br />

PLAYSTATION “I‘ve grown up with the PlayStation’s DualShock controller,” says Stephen Tailby, associate<br />

editor for PS gaming website Push Square (pushsquare.com). “<strong>The</strong> ergonomic hand grips, which gave the device<br />

a unique silhouette, have influenced controller design ever since.” However, Tailby believes that the DualSense<br />

controller, which debuts with the PlayStation 5, will transform that gaming experience. “<strong>The</strong> haptic feedback<br />

and adaptive L2 and R2 triggers [on the top], which make it easier or harder to press down depending on what’s<br />

happening in-game, should enhance immersion in tactile ways. But the fundamentals remain intact – the DNA<br />

of Sony’s very first controller exists in all its successors.” PlayStation 5 is out on Nov 12, playstation.com<br />




Gaming<br />

XBOX, 2001<br />

<strong>The</strong> ‘bulky’ original Xbox controller. “It<br />

led to a more compact design hitting<br />

the market soon after,” says Gilbert.<br />

“But fans are very nostalgic for it.”<br />

XBOX 360, 2005<br />

“<strong>The</strong> design was modernised, with<br />

additional shoulder buttons and a<br />

headset and add-ons port, and it was<br />

significantly more comfortable to use.”<br />

XBOX ONE, 2013<br />

Gilbert describes the evolution here as<br />

“quality-of-life adjustments. So popular<br />

was the Xbox 360 controller, there was<br />

no need for radical changes”.<br />

XBOX SERIES X/S, <strong>2020</strong><br />

“Improved ergonomics, reduced input<br />

latency, a new D-pad design – the<br />

controller is compatible with Xbox One,<br />

Windows 10 PCs, even Android devices.”<br />

XBOX “<strong>The</strong> original controller didn't get the best reception back in 2001,” says Fraser Gilbert, news editor<br />

for Xbox gaming website Pure Xbox (purexbox.com). “It was bulky and oversized, but it laid the foundations for<br />

what we've come to expect today in its button layout, analogue stick placement and trigger design.” For the<br />

new controller, Microsoft has taken a markedly different approach to size, scaling it to the hand size of an eightyear-old<br />

after finding that worked equally as well in smaller and larger hands. “It’s an evolution rather than a<br />

revolution. <strong>The</strong> popularity of each iteration is a testament to how well the company has refined its controller<br />

over the past 20 years.” Xbox Series X/S is out now, xbox.com<br />



Gaming<br />


<strong>The</strong> first gaming mouse. “Prior to this,<br />

mice had a sensitivity of less than 500<br />

dots per inch; this had 1,000dpi.” In<br />

2000, a 2,000dpi version was released.<br />


Eschewing the ball-on-tabletop<br />

mechanics, this was Razer’s second<br />

optical-sensor mouse. “It was more<br />

precise and reliable,” says Jennings.<br />


Pushing that optical sensitivity up to<br />

8,200dpi, with multiple buttons that<br />

players could map to in-game actions.<br />

RAZER MAMBA, 2015<br />

Razer's first mouse to top 16,000dpi<br />

in optical sensitivity allowed players to<br />

adjust the force of their finger clicks.<br />

RAZER DEATHADDER, <strong>2020</strong><br />

Wireless mice can suffer from<br />

latency, but this switches frequencies<br />

on the fly for a fast connection.<br />

THE GAMING MOUSE It’s difficult to remember a time when games were played using an office<br />

mouse with a ball inside, but that was the state of play before the Boomslang launched in 1999. “It was born<br />

out of necessity,” says games journalist Mike Jennings (mike-jennings.net), who has written for Tech Radar,<br />

Wired, Custom PC, and more. “As PC games became more complex, more buttons and greater precision were<br />

needed.” Since then, gaming mice have diversified for specific genres. “<strong>The</strong> Naga’s extra buttons were ideal<br />

for MMOs [massively multiplayer online games]; the Mamba’s improved sensitivity for twitchy, fast-paced<br />

shooters. <strong>The</strong> demands of gamers have driven innovation – these mice excel where office mice won’t.”<br />

RAZER<br />



PLAY<br />

<strong>The</strong> game<br />

changer<br />

How one video gamer’s need to<br />

skill-up changed the way we play<br />

Min-Liang Tan is currently<br />

playing Fall Guys: Ultimate<br />

Knockout, the cutesy<br />

multiplayer battle royale game<br />

that has taken the world by<br />

storm. And the 43-year-old<br />

Singaporean has an edge over<br />

his opponents: all the gear –<br />

including the PC – that he’s<br />

playing on was designed by<br />

him and built by his gaming<br />

company, Razer. <strong>The</strong> business<br />

earned him a place on the top<br />

40 list of the most powerful<br />

people in video games in 2012,<br />

and five years later, at 40, he<br />

became Singapore’s youngest<br />

self-made billionaire.<br />

And yet the former lawyer's<br />

success in the industry was<br />

merely born out of the simple<br />

desire to be a better player.<br />

“When you miss a shot, you<br />

never think, ‘It’s my skill,’” Tan<br />

laughs. “I just wanted a better<br />

mouse, so we built one.” That<br />

was in 1999, and the result was<br />

the Boomslang, the world’s<br />

first dedicated gaming mouse.<br />

Today, Razer applies that<br />

same mindset to building<br />

gaming laptops, headsets,<br />

smartphones and more, and<br />

the brand – and Tan – have<br />

generated something akin<br />

to a personality cult. “We<br />

get thousands of photos of<br />

people with Razer logo<br />

tattoos,” he says. “Somebody<br />

even tattooed my face on<br />

himself,” Last year, a fan<br />

even named their son Razer<br />

after the company.<br />

For Tan, though, this is<br />

less about corporate success<br />

and more about community.<br />

“I’ve never thought of myself<br />

as a CEO,” he says. “I’ve<br />

always been a gamer.” And<br />

Tan applies that ethos to<br />

everything he does: “It’s<br />

about finding that competitive<br />

advantage to help you win.”<br />

I’ve learnt to trust<br />

my instincts<br />

“With the Boomslang, we<br />

didn’t set out to make a huge<br />

amount of money. It was more<br />

like, ‘This is something I need,<br />

and I’m sure there are others<br />

who’d want it, too.’ When we<br />

redesigned the gaming laptop<br />

to be super-thin, we got a lot<br />

of hate. Everybody said, ‘This<br />

isn’t what gamers want – they<br />

want something thick and<br />

powerful.’ But we brought in<br />

thermal engineers and made<br />

it thin and powerful. Now it’s<br />

the industry standard.”<br />

If it works for gamers,<br />

it’s for everyone<br />

“It’s cool to see non-gamers<br />

using our products. We’ve got<br />

medical professionals getting<br />

them for their precision, and<br />

I’ve seen a space programme<br />

using our mousepads on TV.<br />

People don’t do competitive<br />

Excel spreadsheets, but<br />


Gaming<br />

Min-Liang Tan: gamer, billionaire businessman and zombie (as<br />

seen in the 2015 gaming spinoff film Dead Rising: Watchtower)<br />

we’ve had requests from the<br />

financial industry saying,<br />

‘Our traders are using Razer<br />

mice and keypads to do fast<br />

actuations. Would you make<br />

office stuff?’ But we’re not<br />

going mainstream – we’re<br />

more interested in the<br />

mainstream coming to us.”<br />

Class of <strong>2020</strong>: the Razer<br />

BlackShark V2 Pro, a state-ofthe-art<br />

wireless gaming headset<br />

Bad ideas are poorly<br />

executed good ideas<br />

“We were the first to go with<br />

the whole matte-black theme<br />

that has become the colour<br />

for gamers. <strong>The</strong>n we added<br />

LEDs, starting with single<br />

colours and then RGB lighting.<br />

Designing with light is<br />

incredibly difficult: if you<br />

use too little, it’s pointless;<br />

too much and it’s garish.<br />

I’m in meetings about how<br />

many millimetres of light<br />

we’re going to put into the<br />

stairway of our new building<br />

– it’s four storeys high, and<br />

we’re doing multiple models<br />

just to get the perfect<br />

amount of light.<br />

Great solutions are<br />

always in demand<br />

“Recently, I slipped a disk.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n I got a whole bunch<br />

of gamers saying, ‘I’ve got<br />

the same problem from<br />

playing too many games.’<br />

I summoned my head of<br />

engineering and said, ‘What<br />

are you gonna do about it?’<br />

And he goes, ‘You should<br />

be asking an orthopaedic<br />

surgeon.’ But I said, ‘You<br />

guys are going to design<br />

something, because I’m sure<br />

other people will want the<br />

solution. Let’s come up with<br />

something good and maybe<br />

it’ll ship hundreds of millions<br />

of dollars of product.’”<br />

Sometimes I need to<br />

keep my mouth shut<br />

“One gamer really wanted<br />

a Razer toaster. I said, ‘Get<br />

to a million likes and maybe<br />

I’ll make it.’ I check in on<br />

him from time to time. <strong>The</strong>n<br />

somebody said, ‘I’ll get a<br />

Razer toaster tattoo,’ and<br />

I made the mistake of<br />

saying, ‘Get 10 people to<br />

do it and I’ll make one.’ I think<br />

today they may have 15<br />

people with that tattoo.<br />

I promised to make it, but<br />

I didn’t say when. We’ve had<br />

some early prototypes, but<br />

it’s not up to par yet, So I’m<br />

still working on it. It’s got to<br />

be the ultimate toaster.”<br />

razer.com<br />



Fitness<br />

YOGA<br />

Shredding<br />

tradition<br />

Sadie Nardini discovered<br />

yoga to get back on her feet.<br />

Now she’s reinvented the<br />

practice to work for everyone<br />

Sadie Nardini’s fitness<br />

journey started with an<br />

accident. When she was 13,<br />

a man cannonballed into a<br />

swimming pool and landed<br />

on her head, leaving Nardini<br />

partially paralysed. “<strong>The</strong><br />

doctors said I would probably<br />

never walk again,” she<br />

explains. “<strong>The</strong>y stabilised<br />

me and sent me home.”<br />

While Nardini was stuck<br />

inside, day in, day out, her<br />

mother introduced her to<br />

gentle yoga poses, hoping they<br />

would help her body to heal.<br />

And they did – two years later,<br />

she was able to stand again.<br />

Soon, she felt ready to rebuild<br />

her muscles. <strong>The</strong>n Nardini<br />

discovered power yoga.<br />

“All I knew about yoga at<br />

this point was that you lie<br />

around and breathe,” she<br />

remembers. “When I realised<br />

that there was yoga that could<br />

confront and strengthen me,<br />

I found my calling.”<br />

In her mid-twenties,<br />

Nardini began instructing<br />

around the world and gained a<br />

global following as a rock-star<br />

yogini (female master yoga<br />

practitioner), promoting an<br />

innovative approach to<br />

traditional yoga. “I’d play<br />

David Bowie in my classes<br />

– my message would be all<br />

about fun empowerment,”<br />

the 49-year-old Californiabased<br />

instructor says today.<br />

“That wasn’t being done at<br />

all back then.”<br />

Nardini had the idea for her<br />

most recent workout while<br />

running through the airport in<br />

Paris to catch a plane. “What<br />

I’d been doing for 20 years<br />

was endurance-based slow<br />

strength, but I was terribly out<br />

of cardiovascular shape,” she<br />

says, “so I went to a few HIIT<br />

[high-intensity interval<br />

training] classes. It was fun,<br />

but as an anatomy-and-joint<br />

expert I was horrified. Many<br />

of the moves were too hard<br />

on the joints; people were<br />

hurting themselves.”<br />

So she developed the Yoga<br />

Shred, a cardio workout that<br />

takes the flowing movements<br />

of vinyasa yoga as a starting<br />

point – improving core<br />

strength through a sequences<br />

of poses – and burns fat<br />

through high-intensity cardio<br />

exercises, always with a focus<br />

on protecting your joints. “It<br />

makes yoga people superherostrong<br />

and gives cross-train<br />

people more range of motion<br />

and flexibility,” Nardini says.<br />

“It’s a nice way to get all the<br />

benefits of both practices in<br />

only 20 minutes per day.”<br />

Nardini’s Yoga Shred can<br />

be studied at home through<br />

fitfierceclub.com. She’s<br />

offering five weeks of fitness<br />

classes for free with the<br />

code FFCFREEMO<br />

<strong>The</strong> Yoga Shred burpee<br />

in six steps<br />

“<strong>The</strong> burpee is a classic HIIT move, but it can be hard on<br />

the joints,” says Nardini. “Modify it with yoga alignment”<br />

1 2 3 4 5 6<br />

1 Stand halfway up your mat with your feet hipwidth<br />

apart. Place your hands on two yoga blocks<br />

(better for the wrists and shoulders) or the mat.<br />

2 Step back into an extended plank with your<br />

knees bent, feet still wide apart. Lift your abs so<br />

that the curve of your lower back is no longer<br />

dropping towards the floor, which can hurt it.<br />

3 Step halfway up the mat with your feet still<br />

hip-width apart. This will position them beneath<br />

your hips for less knee strain and a more powerful<br />

centre of gravity.<br />

4 Lift with your abs until you are in Chair Pose<br />

(standing like a chair). Pull your knees and hips<br />

back to protect the knees.<br />

5 Press down your heels to firm your glutes, and<br />

stand quickly with ‘Fists of Fire’ (bend elbows and<br />

quickly sweep your fists down beside your hips)<br />

6 Alternatively, jump out of Chair Pose with<br />

Fists of Fire into your hips. If you hop, land with<br />

your hips and knees pulled back to prevent<br />

pressure on your knees.<br />




Equipment<br />

BLAST<br />

Baby boomers Small speakers, large sound, maximum mobility<br />

Looking for some audiophile advice<br />

on the ideal speaker size and form<br />

factor, and where best to position<br />

it for optimal sound? <strong>The</strong> answers<br />

are: small, anything that looks cool,<br />

and anywhere you can take it.<br />

Today’s Bluetooth wireless<br />

speakers prove that good sound<br />

is no longer exclusive to a wooden<br />

box plugged into a vacuum-bulb<br />

amplifier. Left to right, from top:<br />

JBL Xtreme 3 with 15 hours of<br />

battery life, jbl.com; ANKER<br />

Soundcore Rave Mega party<br />

speaker, anker.com; URBANEARS<br />

Rålis with 20 hours of wireless play,<br />

urbanears.com; SACKIT BOOMit<br />

high-power portable designer<br />

speaker, sackit.eu; ULTIMATE EARS<br />

Boom 3 with an IP67 water- and<br />

dustproof rating, ultimateears.com;<br />

NAIM Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation,<br />

naimaudio.com; BANG & OLUFSEN<br />

Beosound 1, bang-olufsen.com<br />

TIM KENT<br />



Equipment<br />


Inner bass Wireless earbuds with big headphone features<br />

<strong>The</strong> ear is home to the tiniest bones<br />

in the human body, and now it can<br />

house the smallest full-spec speaker<br />

systems, too. Miniature audio tech<br />

has made big advances, bringing us<br />

wireless in-ear ’buds with active and<br />

passive noise-cancelling, touch<br />

controls, water resistance, batterycharging<br />

cases, and sound quality<br />

to match over-ear ’phones. Left to<br />

right, from top: X BY KYGO Xellence,<br />

xbykygo.com; RHA TrueConnect 2,<br />

rha-audio.com; CAMBRIDGE AUDIO<br />

Melomania 1, cambridgeaudio.com;<br />

BANG & OLUFSEN Beoplay E8 3rd<br />

Gen, bang-olufsen.com; PANASONIC<br />

RZ-S500W, panasonic.com;<br />

SENNHEISER Momentum True<br />

Wireless 2, sennheiser.com;<br />

TECHNICS Truly Wireless EAH-<br />

AZ70W, technics.com; SKULLCANDY<br />

Indy Evo, skullcandy.co.uk; JBL<br />

Reflect Flow, jbl.com; JAYBIRD<br />

Vista, jaybirdsport.com<br />



Calendar<br />

10<br />

November onwards<br />

ONE DAY, 4061M & 4478M<br />

<strong>The</strong> numbers in the title of this film are the heights of Gran Paradiso and the Matterhorn – two peaks<br />

in the Italian Alps that ultrarunner Fernanda Maciel summited in one day (August 20 this year), the<br />

former earning the 40-year-old Brazilian a new female Fastest Known Time (FKT). Her achievement<br />

is made all the more profound by the knowledge that her flatmate lost their life on the Matterhorn<br />

only a year earlier, and Maciel suffered frozen eyes while attempting the climb two years prior to<br />

that. Just a day after her ascent, 25 climbers were trapped in a landslide on its slopes. This is an<br />

inspiring, exhilarating movie about overcoming physical limits and personal demons. redbull.com<br />

10<br />

November onwards<br />




<strong>The</strong> freestyle football scene has<br />

exploded over the last decade, rising<br />

from performance art to pro sport<br />

and culminating in the <strong>Red</strong> Bull Street<br />

Style World Final (to be held on Nov<br />

14). Mixing acrobatics, dance and<br />

dazzling ball control, Street Style<br />

is a form of self-expression for its<br />

practitioners. This film examines the<br />

evolution of the scene from street to<br />

internet to stadium, to discover what<br />

it takes to be the best. redbull.com<br />

10<br />

November<br />

onwards<br />


London’s popular crazy<br />

golf experience brings<br />

its bonkers putting<br />

courses to Peckham –<br />

with social distancing,<br />

of course, and drinks<br />

pinged your way from<br />

the bar. Peckham<br />

Levels, London;<br />

plonkgolf.co.uk<br />

10<br />

November<br />

onwards<br />


VR BAR<br />

Looking to escape from<br />

<strong>2020</strong>? This cyberpunkthemed<br />

gaming dry bar<br />

serves up both the<br />

techno future and the<br />

retro past with three<br />

arenas of VR-connected<br />

play and a classic<br />

computer games<br />

lounge, all with COVID<br />

precautions strictly<br />

in place. London;<br />

hyper-reality.io<br />



Calendar<br />



10<br />

November<br />

onwards<br />


CINEMA<br />

It’s been a tough year for<br />

cinema, but here you can<br />

catch Xmas films like Die<br />

Hard and Elf, armed with<br />

a boozy hot chocolate<br />

from the heated bar.<br />

Capital Studios, London;<br />

backyardcinema.co.uk<br />

17<br />

to 19 November<br />



This world tour of the<br />

year’s most incredible<br />

nautical-themed films –<br />

including documentaries<br />

on a 6,000km row<br />

across the Atlantic,<br />

and subzero surfing<br />

– goes virtual for <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Passes also grant<br />

access to filmmaker<br />

and oceanographer<br />

Q&As, and behind-thescenes<br />

materials.<br />

oceanfilmfestival.co.uk<br />

10<br />

November<br />

onwards<br />



For Charli XCX – like<br />

the rest of the world –<br />

<strong>2020</strong> has not gone as<br />

planned. Having had<br />

to postpone projects<br />

due to the pandemic,<br />

the British pop star<br />

decided to record<br />

a lockdown album,<br />

How I’m Feeling Now,<br />

which she announced<br />

on Zoom in April and<br />

released to critical<br />

acclaim a month later.<br />

But before social<br />

distancing came into<br />

force, she filmed this<br />

interview with US<br />

music journalist Will<br />

L Cooper in front of<br />

a live audience at<br />

the Hammer Museum<br />

in Los Angeles.<br />

A Conversation<br />

with Charli XCX is a<br />

candid and insightful<br />

discussion of the<br />

musician’s work and<br />

career. redbull.com<br />

10<br />

November<br />

onwards<br />



This free museum<br />

dedicated to the study<br />

of human experience<br />

reopened in October<br />

with exhibits examining<br />

how that perspective<br />

has changed. US visual<br />

artist Kerry Tribe’s work<br />

Standardized Patient<br />

looks at doctor/patient<br />

dynamics, while<br />

London-based Sop’s<br />

sound project <strong>The</strong> Den<br />

explores enforced<br />

isolation. London;<br />

wellcomecollection.org<br />




Majestic mountains, breathtaking views, perfect<br />

pistes: Zell am See-Kaprun is a snow lover’s dream<br />

Do you ever just close your eyes<br />

and imagine escaping your<br />

day-to-day surroundings?<br />

After the year that we’ve all<br />

endured, more people than ever<br />

will be doing just that, daydreaming<br />

about whisking themselves off to<br />

far-flung locations.<br />

With its awe-inspiring mountains,<br />

expansive lakes, powdery snow<br />

and perfect vistas, the Austrian<br />

ski resort of Zell am See-Kaprun<br />

is certainly a dream destination.<br />

Around an hour and 20 minutes<br />

by car from Salzburg Airport, and<br />

about twice that from Munich, the<br />

picturesque town of Zell perches<br />

Powder play:<br />

fresh snow<br />

is in plentiful<br />

supply on<br />

Schmittenhöhe<br />

in Zell am See-<br />

Kaprun<br />

on the edge of the beautiful Lake<br />

Zell, with the snow-covered majesty<br />

of the 1,965m-high Schmittenhöhe<br />

mountain reflected in its serene<br />

waters. Get your hands on the multiresort<br />

Ski Alpin Card (available at<br />

alpincard.at and other outlets) and<br />

you’ll have access to the slopes<br />

of the Schmittenhöhe as well as<br />

two neighbouring ski areas, making<br />

it your pass to a huge snow-covered<br />

playground with 408km of the very<br />

best pistes in Austria.<br />

Zell am See-Kaprun is a snow-sure<br />

resort, largely thanks to the<br />

Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun,<br />

which is open for skiing from early<br />

October to the middle of July. <strong>The</strong><br />

Kitzsteinhorn is the dominant<br />

mountain in Zell am See-Kaprun.<br />

It’s also the only glacial ski resort<br />

in Salzburg, but it’s super<br />

accessible. A new hyper-modern<br />

cable car from Maiskogel to<br />

Kitzsteinhorn provides ski-in,<br />

ski-out access to the glacier right<br />

from Kaprun town centre.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Gipfelwelt 3000 Top of<br />

Salzburg panorama platform, which<br />

is situated 3,209 above sea level,<br />

looks out across the pristine<br />

wilderness of the Hohe Tauern<br />

National Park; to the south, you can<br />

see the 3,798m-tall Großglockner<br />

– the highest mountain in Austria –<br />

while to the west is the glaciated<br />

peak of the Großvenediger. Its<br />

name translates to English as<br />

‘Great Venetian’, believed by some<br />

to be a reference to the Venetian<br />

merchants who once travelled<br />

along this route.<br />

<strong>The</strong> range of skiing on offer in Zell<br />

am See-Kaprun is so vast that,<br />

whatever your preferred style,<br />

you’ll have no problem finding it.<br />

<strong>The</strong> terrain is ideal for beginners<br />

and intermediates, with the runs<br />

in Zell primarily blues and reds.<br />

Schmittenhöhe is great for<br />

intermediate cruising, and the<br />

long red run to the zellamseeXpress<br />

cable-car station is particularly<br />

fun to weave down.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are also a handful of<br />

black runs that are especially<br />

good to ride in the morning, and<br />

the 1km-long Black Mamba on<br />

the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is<br />

so-named because it winds from<br />

the Kristallbahn valley station<br />

to Langwiedboden like the<br />

eponymous snake. It’s also by<br />

far the steepest piste on the<br />

glacier, with a gradient of 63 per<br />

cent – and once you’re on it,<br />

there’s no way of getting off<br />

except by riding it out, so be<br />

sure to go in with confidence!<br />

If off-piste is more your thing,<br />

there are marked freeride<br />

routes and information points<br />

on Kitzsteinhorn, and as well<br />

as the huge panoramas on<br />

the Schmittenhöhe you’ll find<br />

the tremendous Trass ride –<br />

a 4km route dropping 1,100m



RESORT<br />

FACTS<br />

Nearest airports:<br />

Salzburg Airport<br />

(76km),<br />

Munich (206km),<br />

Innsbruck (148km)<br />

Number of lifts:<br />

28 (49 including<br />

Maiskogel and<br />

Kitzsteinhorn)<br />

Total piste<br />

distance:<br />

77km (138km<br />

including Maiskogel<br />

and Kitzsteinhorn;<br />

408km with<br />

Ski Alpin Card)<br />

Elevation:<br />

760-2,000m<br />

Highest mountain:<br />

Kitzsteinhorn<br />

(3,203m)<br />

Cross-country<br />

tracks: 107km<br />

zellamsee-kaprun.<br />

com/en<br />

Piste mode: experience the thrill of freeriding on the Kitzsteinhorn<br />

Magical: the view at night from Mitterberg<br />

in altitude and bringing you back<br />

to Zell am See. If you’re around<br />

for long enough, the Ski Alpin<br />

Card also opens up the Skicircus<br />

Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang<br />

Fieberbrunn, with an additional<br />

270km of pistes, a short bus<br />

ride away. And there’s a natural<br />

snow piste from Saalbach down<br />

to the zellamseeXpress, which<br />

will bring you to the<br />

Schmittenhöhe ski area.<br />

Back in Zell, the architecture may<br />

be traditional – the area has been<br />

continuously populated since at<br />

least Roman times – but this is<br />

a town that certainly isn’t stuck<br />

in the past. Zell’s weekly winter<br />

programme makes it easy to join<br />

in on winter yoga classes, torchlit<br />

walks under starry skies, and<br />

guided snowshoe hikes.<br />

And, if you get lucky, Lake Zell<br />

might even freeze over, giving you<br />

the cue to pull on a pair of skates<br />

and weave and wind your way across<br />

the frozen water against a heavenly<br />

backdrop. Now that’s definitely the<br />

stuff that dreams are made of.

Imprint<br />


THE RED<br />



<strong>The</strong> <strong>Red</strong><br />

<strong>Bulletin</strong> is<br />

published in six<br />

countries. This is<br />

the cover of our US<br />

edition for <strong>December</strong>,<br />

featuring basketball<br />

star and social justice<br />

advocate Renee<br />

Montgomery…<br />

For more stories<br />

beyond the ordinary,<br />

go to: redbulletin.com<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Red</strong> <strong>Bulletin</strong> <strong>UK</strong>.<br />

ABC certified distribution<br />

153,505 (Jan-Dec 2019)<br />

Editor-in-Chief<br />

Alexander Müller-Macheck<br />

Deputy Editor-in-Chief<br />

Andreas Rottenschlager<br />

Creative Director<br />

Erik Turek<br />

Art Directors<br />

Kasimir Reimann (deputy CD),<br />

Miles English, Tara Thompson<br />

Head of Photo<br />

Eva Kerschbaum<br />

Deputy Head of Photo<br />

Marion Batty<br />

Photo Director<br />

Rudi Übelhör<br />

Production Editor<br />

Marion Lukas-Wildmann<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Ulrich Corazza<br />

Copy Chief<br />

Andreas Wollinger<br />

Design<br />

Marion Bernert-Thomann, Martina de Carvalho-<br />

Hutter, Kevin Goll, Carita Najewitz<br />

Photo Editors<br />

Susie Forman, Ellen Haas, Tahira Mirza<br />

General Manager & Publisher<br />

Andreas Kornhofer<br />

Managing Director<br />

Stefan Ebner<br />

Head of Media Sales & Partnerships<br />

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Publishing Management Sara Varming (manager),<br />

Ivona Glibusic, Bernhard Schmied, Melissa Stutz<br />

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United Kingdom, ISSN 2308-5894<br />

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Austria, ISSN 1995-8838<br />

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France, ISSN 2225-4722<br />

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Country Coordinator<br />

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Country Project Management<br />

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Contributors, Translators<br />

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Germany, ISSN 2079-4258<br />

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USA, ISSN 2308-586X<br />

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Action highlight<br />

Ready to roll<br />

For his latest video, German skater Vladik Scholz (pictured) and his board<br />

buddies Madars Apse, Gustavo Ribeiro and Jost Arens were shrunk to the size<br />

of woodlice and placed inside one of those labyrinth games that involve<br />

manoeuvring a ball around a maze. Or was it the set that was made bigger?<br />

Whatever, the results are spectacular. Watch the video at redbull.com<br />

<strong>The</strong> next<br />

issue of<br />


is out on<br />

<strong>December</strong> 8<br />



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