You probably recognize the logo. That iconic white griffin-skull-unicorn hybrid superimposed on a tarmac black background. You know his videos; they garnered over 1.5 million views on Pinkbike alone in 2011. What you don't see, however, is the man behind the work. I've known Aaron for the past five years. I met him at Victoria's infamous ''Dog Park,'' where he was shooting with Mark Matthews, Luke Fulton, Jarrett Moore, and Andrew Sherry, among others. Since that day I've watched him progress as a filmmaker and had the privilege to work with him on numerous projects. He's one of the hardest working and consistently entertaining people I know, and his video work speaks for itself. What's he all about? Read on to find out. Tell us a bit about yourself:I’m a 24-year-old filmmaker. I live in Victoria, BC. My favourite food is pizza, I couldn’t decide on a favourite colour and I prefer boxers over briefs. How long have you been shooting mountain biking?I’ve been shooting for about 8 years or so now. It started pretty low-key just with my friends and I shooting ourselves riding around our hometown. They grew up, I stuck with it. Do you ride? How does this affect your work?I do ride. I’ve been riding now for almost 15 years. I don’t ride near as much as I’d like to. I think the real question is how does my job affect my riding? Ha ha. I find myself on these amazing trips to the greatest riding destinations in the world watching everyone else ride! Really though, I do try and ride as much as I can. I think it’s a vital part of shooting. Having that understanding of riding helps with every part of what I do, from getting to locations, to digging, to knowing what angles will best highlight the riding. It’s most definitely a prerequisite to the job. Do you shoot anything else besides mountain biking?I don’t shoot much else really. I shot some road racing at the Tour de France and Milan San Remo last year, which was a really cool experience, but it’s not where my heart lies. Mountain biking makes up 99% of what I do. Do you have another job as well or is it just video?It’s just video for me right now. Scheduling projects is a nightmare at the best of times as anyone doing this type of work can attest to, so I keep my schedule free and open for video work only. Adding a part time job into the mix would only complicate matters more. I do find myself with lots of downtime especially during the winter months, but you never know when someone is going to approach you with a project that you can’t pass up. Have you ever attended schooling for videography or are you self taught?I went to college in Lethbridge, Alberta for a semester to study Multimedia. I dropped out after the first semester and decided I could teach myself whatever I wanted to learn. What is your favorite thing to shoot?Honestly I think I most like shooting all mountain. It just takes you to places where you can capture some really special stuff. I get carried away in the art sometimes which all mountain really lends itself well to. Freeriding is right up there too. Realistically, I like shooting anything bike related. If there’s a good story there or a great zone or great light it doesn’t matter what kind of riding it is. I love it all. What kind of camera do you use?I’ve been using a Panasonic HVX200a for a few years now. I keep telling myself I’m going to get a new camera and then I put it off a while longer. I love it. It’s a great camera. It’s familiar, I’m comfortable with it, I know its capabilities and limitations but it’s almost time to retire it. It's been a real workhorse for me. You’re one of the few videographers who doesn’t shoot on a DSLR. Why?I’m so comfortable using a traditional video camera. There are some things I don’t want to give up. Both have their flaws but cameras are progressing and starting to incorporate elements of both. There are some undeniable advantages to a DSLR and definitely in the future I’ll be using a camera with interchangeable glass but no, it won’t be a DSLR. Is there any other gear that you use frequently?I knew this question was coming. I have a custom dolly that Strahan Loken built for me, a home made cable cam, and a crane. I frequently borrow from Scott Secco Rentals ©. I’m always borrowing Scott’s crane and I’m certain I’ve gotten to use it more than he has. Sorry! Do you listen to music while editing? What's on your playlist?It varies. You can almost always count on there being some Gaga or Katy Perry on my iTunes though. I listen to a bit of everything though for sure. Who are your main clients?Last year started off with some work for iXS, which was cool. I shot some stuff with guys like Darren Berrecloth and Roger Rinderknecht. The biggest addition in the last year was Trek. It was a real treat working with them this season and having the opportunity to shoot with their athletes; Shandro, Gwin, Schnell, and Wildhaber. It’s always fun to shoot with guys like that. You shot with Anthony Messere when he was 12 and ‘discovered’ many of the riders in ‘’What’s Next?’’ and your web edits. How do you find/pick your riders?I certainly wouldn’t say I’ve discovered any of those riders, I just like to try and shoot with riders that aren’t necessarily getting the most attention already. There’s so much talent around and that isn’t always being represented and they’re often as good as anyone out there and sometimes more motivated to put in the work. If you could shoot with any rider, anywhere in the world where would you go and with who?That’s a tough one. I can think of some pretty deadly combinations. I’d love to shoot with Brendan Howey in Utah. Again, not necessarily going for the biggest name but rather working with someone I have a lot of faith in and someone I know will get work done. What has been your most memorable shoot to date?That’s a tough one. It’s a toss-up between a few I’d say. I can’t pick one. Shooting “the Clearcut” with Brendan Howey and crew was one of the most challenging, hilarious, delirious, and rewarding projects I’ve ever done. “Strahan of the Dead” was such a fun one to shoot too. Having never shot anything like that before it was a challenge coming up with a storyboard for it. We had a wicked time coming up with solutions to how to pull off some of the creative effects. Of course my trip to Taiwan last spring was unreal as well. Hanging out with Rob and James Dunnet shooting “10 Chocolate Bars”. The trips we do and the downtime before and after the shoots themselves are the best part I think. I get to experience some of the most amazing places with some of my best friends. That’s really the coolest part of my job. Another memorable shoot was with Aaron Gwin in SoCal. We wrapped up shooting when the sun went down and I got to hop on my bike and “follow” Gwin back to the truck. It’s those times when I’m really stoked to be doing what I’m doing. I could go on with pages and pages of stories about memorable shoots but I’ll save those for another time. What is your most memorable shot to date?Every shot has a bit of a story behind it. Some you grab and move on without any second thought, some are days in the making. I think as far as memorable shots I’d have to say the one shot in “The Clearcut” of Brendan doing the wallride and the camera is up on the crane and kind of rotating and swinging out over the wall. I wish we had shot some behind the scenes of that. Secco had to lie on his back below the tripod to hold it down so it wouldn’t tip over the edge and smash my camera 12 feet below. It was a weird day. We’d been in the clearcut every day for a week by then and had put in 8-12 hour days each day. The day we shot that we got up to shoot it at sunrise. We woke up at 4:00am to actually go and finish building the wallride so we could shoot it at sunrise. Our hopes of sunrise were snuffed out by fog so we ended up shooting it later in the day. It wasn’t the best light but we were so deliriously tired and over it by that time that we were just so excited by the shot. There are a few shots from a trip to Hawaii for Trek that will always stand out to me. One shot we got up around 4:00am to try and get to the zone in time for sunrise. We drove half an hour in pouring rain, the whole time questioning whether or not we should just call it and head back to bed. We stayed the course, and hiked up into our zone. We got into position to start shooting and were almost certain our sunrise was going to get snuffed out by cloud cover but Mother Nature threw us a bone and for just a couple minutes the clouds on the horizon cracked open. Some shots the stars align for and you get something special. It was pretty unreal to have a rider descending some buff singletrack in the foreground, red sunrise, pouring rain, a rainbow framing the shot and a steep wall of fluted mountains in the background. Some things you can never plan for. And to think we almost bailed out and went back to bed.
Ask me about any of those shots and I’ll have a story about it though. Your most popular video of the year in both views and faves was Brendan Howey’s Winter edit. How is it working with him? Any downsides?Brendan is one of my favourite riders to work with. I can honestly say I think he is one of the most stylish riders on a bike. He works hard, he rides hard and is just a really nice kid and a really good friend. My only complaint about Howey is his uncanny ability to lose things. Shooting for 'The Clearcut' it became a running joke as just about every day Howey would lose something. One day it was his goggles, the next he'd misplace his backpack. The worst was when he lost his wallet. He searched everywhere. He was so bummed out. It put a damper on the day until finally I headed down to our vehicle to grab more supplies. Brendan had looked through the car multiple times 'thoroughly.' Within about 5 seconds of me looking in the car I found his wallet sitting beside the seat. I surprised him with it when I came back up and spirits were high again. When he left my place at the end of the trip he'd forgotten a big bag of stickers and his blood sugar monitor, something of significant importance you'd think (as he's diabetic). I mailed it back to him, no problems. Brendan came back last month to shoot another edit. We hooked him up with a one-off Lavan prototype kit to shoot in. He asks if he can keep the kit when he leaves. Sure, he's going to be back in a month to shoot again, no problem. As Brendan is leaving I ask him "You didn't forget your blood sugar monitor again right?" He says "Nope, I've got everything this time.'' He leaves. The next day I find his ziploc bag of stickers left at my house for the second time. Ok this is getting to be too much. Then the other night he sends me a Facebook message chock full of expletives. "f********** I lost the gloves". Ugh. Leave it to Brendan to lose one of two pairs of Lavan prototype gloves. Moral of the story: When Brendan comes to visit, be prepared to ship his stuff back to him and make sure he doesn't leave with anything valuable of yours! You shot with World Cup Overall Champ Aaron Gwin and freeride legend Darren Berrecloth. Anyone else on the bucket list to film with? Those were both great projects. It’s cool to get to work with people you look up to. There are lots of riders I hope to work with in the future. A few off the top of my head would be Brett Tippie, Anthony Messere, Danny Hart, Brandon Semenuk, and Wade Simmons. You’ve shot many of your best and most creative projects with Strahan Loken. Is he your muse? Do you have any more ideas, sequel for Strahan of the Dead perhaps?Hahaha, my muse…I hope that’s not how it looks. There may or may not be a sequel to Strahan of the Dead. I will say that we do have some pretty rad ideas for it if there were to be a sequel. I won’t go any further than that. You’ll have to wait and see... What are your three favourite edits you’ve made in 2011 and why? Strahan of the Dead: This was just way too much fun to do. It started with a simple idea and then evolved into something else entirely. I do most of my riding with Strahan and the whole time we’re brainstorming, coming up with concepts for videos. We had a lot of laughs making the video. I think it turned out great. The Clearcut: It was one of the most difficult yet most rewarding weeks ever. We slaved for 9 days straight in that clearcut for 8-12 hours a day. It was rad to put that kind of work into an edit. We were so blasted by the end of it but we had such a great time doing it.
Gwin Session 9.9 Release Video: This was a whirlwind project. We shot it in 2 days. I had a flight booked one evening and left the next morning to SoCal to shoot it with Gwin. It was really rad working with Gwin. He’s one of the greatest riders this sport has ever seen and one of the most genuine, down to earth people you’d ever meet. It’s insane when you see him ride something in person. It’s pure confidence, never hesitant. It was pretty mind-blowing as we picked our way down the trail looking for sections to shoot. We stopped at a cool looking rock hump on the trail. It was intended that you’d ride up onto this rock, have barely a bike length on it and then drop about 3 feet into some chunder. It was a challenging looking section with a 90-degree corner entering into it. Gwin dropped in the first time and I could hear him coming from 100 meters away. He literally rumbles through the forest. It’s like everything is getting out of his way. It’s almost scary seeing someone moving that fast through a forest. So, he’s entering the section at warp 9, slides this off camber 90 degree corner and then instead of riding up onto the rock he uses it as a lip, scrubs over it just tapping it ever so lightly and then landing below in the chunder. It was one of the most impressive displays of riding I’ve ever seen. It’s really something else to see him ride in person. What are your all time three favourite edits you’ve made and why? ''The Fishing Video:” This was an idea we were pretty stoked on. When it came to executing it, it evolved into something better than we’d expected. The day we went to actually shoot the fishing, we’d ridden up a fire road for about an hour until we reached a huge hurdle. One of the small mountain streams had swollen into a full on gushing river from recent rains. We must have spent half an hour staring at it, willing it to disappear. There comes a time in a project where the end is in sight and the thought of riding to the top of a mountain with heavy camera gear for a third time just doesn’t appeal to you. Keep in mind that it’s late October and the temperature is hovering around freezing. A couple times we told ourselves we should call it and head back but we couldn’t turn around. The river was about 20 feet across, hard to determine the depth but it was moving quite fast. One slip and one of the bikes, camera gear, or one of us could have easily been pulled downstream. It wasn’t on my to-do list for the day. Finally, after seeing sunshine peaking through the clouds in the direction of the lake, we opted to gamble and try it. We picked our way across the river very carefully, made it out incident free with nothing more than freezing feet. The fire we made on the lake was vital that day. We took turns toasting our feet over it and drying out our socks. We crossed the river one more time on the way out safely. It’s not a risk I would have taken most days but it was a test to see how bad we wanted it. It’s one of very few projects that I’m 100% happy with. Project Gold: We shot this over about 6 days at the end of August in 2010. The idea was to shoot nothing but golden light. We made a hit list and executed. It’s quite tedious when you shoot a video for no more than about 45 minutes per day. Efficiency is key. It was a concept I’d wanted to pull off for a long time so it was cool to finally do it. Island Winter: There’s a theme going here. Strahan is the common denominator here. Strahan and I work great together. We try and come up with something unique, we’re realistic about it, we’re willing to take some risks and we both have a good understanding of light. Strahan shoots photos as well. It’s always a bonus when you’re shooting with a rider that understands photography. We shot this edit in 1 afternoon. Literally about 3 hours of shooting time. We lucked out. As soon as we pulled up at the zone we could see that we were in for some epic conditions. It was brutally cold, pouring rain, but we’d already driven 45 minutes so we manned up and started hiking. As we got near the trailhead we could see the absolute thickest fog ahead. We sprinted to catch it. Fog can disperse in a matter of a couple short minutes. We chased it for a while, it seemed to be rolling away just ahead of us. Anytime we’d get setup it’d blow through. Then we started getting lucky with insane sunbeams blasting through dense fog. Times like that you push hard and grab everything you can while you can. We were stoked on our spoils for the day but the edit needed something else. I knew of a hip near town that would be a nice way to cap off the edit. We went there the next morning and it was easily the thickest fog I’d ever seen. We got pretty lucky and snatched up a few quick shots. You used to feature your own riding in videos like ''Sin City,'' ''Full On'' 1 and 2, and ‘'Vacant Lot'’. Will we see you riding again online?I think so, yes. I’m not the rider I used to be. I’m more careful, less ballsy. I ride now because I love it, not because I’m good at it. Anyone want to shoot with me? Hard to believe ‘’Sin City’’ will be 5 years old this October. Did the popularity of that lead you to thinking a career in video was possible?I think so, yeah, to some extent. It was one of the earliest videos up on Pinkbike and one of the very first Videos of the Day. Some shots in it are from 2005. Shot well over 6 years ago now. Pinkbike has really been instrumental in making my career possible. 5 years ago, web videos just could not get the exposure before to really be worth much. They now have an unparalleled audience in mountain biking that makes my job possible. So ‘’What’s Next?’’ recently passed 400,000 views and 6,000 favourites. How does it feel watching it 2 years later? Bring back fond memories or do you just see little mistakes? Both. I pick it apart. I watch it now for nostalgia’s sake. Other than that though I see it as something to learn from, a stepping-stone. It’s not perfect but it got me to where I am today. Any plans for a new fullength movie?I can neither confirm nor deny this. I will say though that I really want to do one again. I have to do one again. Would you release it for free again? Do physical copies still have currency in a digital age?I don’t know. I like the idea of selling it cheap on iTunes, maybe a limited run of DVD and Blu-Ray or something. Some people will always want physical copies of a movie or album, whatever. Not me, I don’t need one more thing cluttering up my house. Pinkbike recently released a ‘Larock’ branded shirt. Any more plans to license out your logo? 'Larock' tea cozy’s perhaps?Big things in the works for a Larock branded line of home décor options; everything from bed linens to shower curtains and talk of possibly even an Aaron LaRocque beard growing Chia pet. You’ve also recently partnered with Travis Bilton to become a major force in marketing for Lavan Apparel. How’s that going? It’s exciting. It’s something new for me. We’re taking it easy, plotting our next move carefully. I see so much potential in it and I want to make sure we can realize that potential. Travis is wicked talented and we get along great. It’s a good fit. Expect to see a lot from us over the next year. Where do you want mtb to go in the future? Freeride focused? X-Games? More mainstream popularity?I’d love to see X-Games sized prize purses and popularity, but it comes at a cost. I don’t want to see mountain biking in an arena with pyrotechnics. Mostly, I want mountain biking to move more into the mountains. Also, I’d love to see more creativity. What/who inspired you growing up?New World Disorder was my first real inspiration for riding videos. I went to the premiere for NWD 2 in Trail, BC where I grew up. There was about half a dozen people there. I was floored. Absolutely blown away. It literally changed my life. I HAD to be involved in that. I grew up riding trials (don’t tell anyone), so my inspirations for riding were guys like Ryan Leech and Danny Mackaskill.
Aside from classic bike videos do you watch anything else? Hollywood movies, Nature docs, Planet Earth, All.I.Can. Art of Flight etc.?I love anything by the BBC, from Planet Earth, Life, and Human Planet to their lifestyle pieces with Louis Theroux and stuff like Top Gear. They just do an amazing job of everything. I love movies too. I’m not a big TV guy. Dexter and The Walking Dead are the two shows I follow. Seriously, if you’re not watching them already, get on it. What/who inspires you now?My family, my grandparents, art, nature, friends. I’m surrounded by people that inspire me in one way or another, whether it’s their work ethic, their talent, their wisdom, or their abilities. I’m most inspired by passionate people, people who love what they do and aren’t afraid to go for it.
You’re well known as a moustache connoisseur, what are your follicular plans for 2012?I’ve been toying with the idea of a one-year beard. I shaved clean on December 1st, 2011 and would grow it until November 1st 2012 so it’d be an 11-month beard, but still. It’s a option that’s there. To be perfectly honest I don’t grow the best beard. It’s a little patchy and a little lighter than I’d like. Mostly I just hate shaving. Ross Schnell was a big inspiration for me this year to go big for Movember. I should take this opportunity to thank all of my team members for donating their faces to prostate cancer research... that just sounds bad. Our team raised over $3900 with Geoff Gulevich being the big earner for the team with over $1600. We’ll be doing it up bigger and better for Movember 2012 so stay tuned! How are you spending the winter months? I’m trying to take this time to sort out lots of things I’ve been putting off, trying to learn some new stuff, build, ride, and trying to work on some projects here at home in Victoria. It’s an unreal place in the winter. We’re spoiled here.
What are your plans for the 2012 season? 2012 is here and I still don’t know. More videos, that’s the plan. Who, what and where is the question. I do have some plans; I won’t go into them right now. You’ll just have to check back and watch them unfold here.
Do you have any advice for aspiring videographers?Be creative. Bike videos are a dime a dozen. It’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the huge influx of constant content coming out. Come up with a great idea and execute. Anything else we should know about you?I love to dance… and I’m a big Dexter fan. Any final shout outs? Thanks to Pinkbike for the interview. Thanks to Scott for helping out so much on so many projects, letting me borrow his gear, and for digging tirelessly. Thanks to everyone for reading this and for watching my videos. You make my job possible.
Intro & Interview by: Scott Secco
Videos by: Aaron Larocque (aaronlarocque.com
Photos by: Strahan Loken and Margus Riga
Larocque's clothing brand: www.lavanapparel.com
Pinkbike 'Larock' Shirt