There's a calm-cool vibe about our next artist - but not in your typical surfer dude persona. Only a few people embody the true hustle of working for yourself and getting shit done. From making music to running a surf lifestyle brand - to being on the road and raising a family - from afar Bryant Vallejo looks like he's got it all locked in, but taking a closer look you realize he's just like the rest of us, charging through everyday life.
I met Bryant around 2009 when I first moved back to Hong Kong and decided to take up surfing seriously - it was then I took a 5-year break from skating to try and hone my skills in the water. It was also partly because of BV and his son (Jaden) that I decided to get back on a skateboard and eventually start Gahyao Clothing. But that's a story for another day.
"I try to stay true to myself - doing what I do keeps my life in check, in balance."
Gahyao: Hey Bry, thanks for having a chat with us. Can you tell the people who you are and what you do?
Bryant: Hey everyone, I'm a music teacher, a songwriter and a father. I also co-own Float Captain - a surf lifestyle brand - I love the outdoors and chasing swell.
G: When we met back in ’09 – you’ve already been surfing and playing music for over a decade – what came first, the guitar or the board?
B: I've been in Hong Kong since 1998 and was already playing music by then. We are a family of musicians, so naturally music came first, but surfing was already an obsession of mine since the 80s
G: Would you say that both go hand in hand?
B: Ya it does! I must say, it's the perfect lifestyle, music and surfing.
G: So you’ve been playing music professionally for a while now, it started out in Manila then Japan then Hong Kong? How did all that tie in together? What was the link?
B: It was during the early 90s when I first landed a gig in Japan. But towards the end of the decade it was harder to get gigs, we wanted to explore other places. An opportunity came up in HK and we decided to grab it.
G: Obviously, it’s different playing for a cover band and performing other people’s music – did it ever get boring? Did you ever get an itch to write your own music?
B: Well, it got tiring doing covers 6 days a week. But I learnt a lot during that point in time, so I'm super grateful for it. I wrote my first original song in 1994 and the whole process of it was really fun.
G: Do you have a copy of the song?! It’d be golden to hear it haha What was it about?
B: It was about saying byes hahaha.. And no I don't have a copy.
G: When did you first join others to make music?
B: It was in 2005, I joined my first non-cover band - Spodac.
G: What was your most memorable show / music moment?
B: We (Shepherds the Weak) had the opportunity to open for bands like Unearth, Misery Signals, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying. Also sharing the same stage with Architects, there's just too many to count!
G: You’re constantly in transit, for the time we’ve known you – you’ve always been on the road – how do you balance life at home, work and surf while keeping your life in check?
B: I try to stay true to myself - doing what I do keeps my life in check, in balance.
G: For those who don’t know you, you’ve been surfing for about 20 years now? What was your first memory of surfing? People say you never forget your first ride.
B: It was back in 1999, when I was able to do 3 turns on a shitty wave.
G: Would you say you put your life on hold when there’s swell? Like do all things go on pause when you know it’s breaking at Big Wave Bay or even take a flight out to surf for a few days?
B: I do maybe 4 surf trips a year which I think is pretty standard. Not sure about going on pause, but when I surf - something clicks and I feel switched on. The whole adventure is what keeps me going.
G: From being a full-on teacher, to running a surf brand to making music – how do you find time to do them all and do them well?
B:Time management? hahaha Lies! My schedule is pretty flexible, there is no secret sauce to it, it just happens that I don't work for anyone and I control my own time.
G: You’ve been talking about making music on your own for a while now – what made you decide that now was the right time to do it?
B: I felt the timing was right, I also have access to the right gear and equipment now. Once I had everything I needed, all I had to do was switch the creativity on.
G: Where do you find inspiration when you’re writing songs?
B: Past and present experiences. I try to write about something other people could relate to.
G: What’s your creative process when writing?
B: I space out until something clicks, a lot of procrastination actually haha
G: I think you’re underplaying it! You’ve obviously grown a lot of experience playing over the years, so a lot of the cover songs, teaching music theory, recording an album must’ve had some effect on your writing or your skill to compose?
B: Writing music is very personal for me. I can be very critical with my own material. Most of the time ideas fizzle-out before I even finish a song. But I guess the instrumentals and music scores can be a bit easier..
G: What’s the idea behind the album? What direction are you taking it?
B: I'm thinking of having a musically diverse album in terms of genre and style... I guess you'll have to wait and see!
G: What’s 2020 looking like for Bryant Vallejo? How are you navigating life with your album, running Float Captain, raising a family and living day to day?
B: 2020 is looking good as we speak. I will keep the momentum going and keep the same attitude pretty much.
G: What does Ga Yau mean to you?
B: It means powering through any obstacles and making sure everything is in check and in balance.
G: Where can people find you online?