Though Momal and Erwann had met as teenagers surfing on the Basque coast, it was only years later, after Momal had had a career as editor in chief for the boardsports magazine Beach Brother and Erwann had created the cultural magazine Redux that the two decided to launch Hotdogger, a surfing lifestyle magazine.
How did you two meet?
E: We’ve known each other for 25 years. We both grew up in Biarritz. I was in middle school when Momo was in high school…We hung out at the Surftoy shape workshop quite a bit.
You launched Hotdogger a year ago. What sparked the decision to act?
M: It all happened very fast since we only started working on it during the summer of 2014.
E: Momo was available. He had wanted to launch a surfing magazine after having worked for years in cross over press. He felt that the sports had somewhat grown closer in their roots and independence and that surfing no longer necessarily needed to be mixed in with skateboarding or snowboarding.
“We could tell there’d been a change, that things were evolving and that there were new expectations for magazines, that people wanted to see something new.”
You felt like surfing had reached a turning point?
M: We could tell there’d been a change, that things were evolving and that there were new expectations for magazines, that people wanted to see something new.
So what is the new element that Hotdogger has to offer?
M: For a long time, surfing has only been presented in one way, with a technical, performance-driven approach. We wanted to show the bigger picture and launch a surfing lifestyle magazine.
“Surfers aren’t just surfers when they ride, but also in how they see the world.”
What exactly is lifestyle?
M: What we mean by lifestyle is people who communicate and circulate surfing identity whether they are surfers, designers, photographers or whatever. Surfers aren’t just surfers when they ride, but also in how they see the world.
E: We wanted to share this surfing environment that we grew up in, even though we’re not necessarily the best surfers in the world. When magazines were all about sports, you had to be the best surfer to talk about surfing. As if you had to be the world’s best bullfighter to talk about bull fighting! Today, with a cultural angle, it’s about regular, every day surfers who aren’t superhuman but who can legitimately discuss surfing because passion is what matters in the end. If we wanted to, Hotdogger could become an architectural or fashion or even food magazine but always with surfing as the main theme.
M: In American English, a “hotdogger” is someone who stands out, an original. In the sixties, people surfed longboards and rode waves walking on the edge of the board but didn’t carve much. Then came the Australians with shorter boards who slashed waves and had a more aggressive way of riding, more like crazy dogs, like “hotdogs”. They were called hot-doggers because they stood out compared to the other surfers. So we thought we’d name it that.
How do you choose your articles and subjects?
E: We do research, we discover things, we meet people, we read books, we wander and browse around, travel…one thing is for certain, we don’t just stick to the newsletters we get!
M: The heroes in this magazine are people from all kinds of levels, styles and backgrounds. You could just as easily see Kelly Slater as you would a guy like Derek Hynd, who is going on 60.
E: One thing is for sure, surfing isn’t just about keeping score. It’s also about style. My 77 year old neighbor, Bernard Doridant, surfs all year long, steps out in his bath robe, isn’t on a smartphone or laptop checking out surfing or interested in who the hottest surfer of the moment is. He couldn’t care less. He is the type of guy I’m interested in. That’s the truth we’re after.
“We designed Hotdogger first and foremost to be a magazine that you’d still want to read in your early forties.”
So who is this magazine for?
E: Our audience is far larger than the younglings that have traditionally been associated with us for years. Even though our target audience is 18 to 25 year olds, we designed the magazine so you can still enjoy it in your early forties. And we try to do so as passion driven surfers without any preconceived idea on what surfing should be.
What inspires you?
E: Wide open spaces, chance encounters, incredible stories, photography, design but also miscellaneous and slightly crazy stories. Today, we can legitimately claim to tell the strangest surfing stories out there.
You chose a print format. Is it a magazine or a book?
M: It’s somewhere in between a book and a magazine. It’s a mook.
E: Paper is where beautiful stories are found, where you see breath taking photography, where you read things quietly and where you take the time to enjoy what you see.
M: It’s timeless. The stories could take place in any era. We choose surfing characters whose stories stand the test of time.
Why make it a free magazine?
M: Free, because that way we can reach a wider readership.
E: And because we feel that we can reach our readers on a much deeper level by sending our editions out to surf shops, concept stores and modern art galleries, chez Colette or any premium location where people go to check out the latest trends in terms of culture, rather than simply placing it on a news stand stuck between a car tuning magazine and sodoku albums (laughs).
Isn’t it a little contradictory to associate surf shops to “premium” locations?
E: Surf shops have changed a lot over the years. They are no longer simply a tiny shop where you buy hardware. Now they offer beautiful boards, apparel and decoration. Surf shops are in the process of reclaiming their authenticity.
M: Yes, coming back to what they had been in the beginning. A cultural place where you could find books, magazines and all kinds of things.
E: The best part is that surfing is taking over everywhere. There are surf shops opening in Paris and in London and in a far more interesting way compared to certain traditional surf shops. You can see a mix of all kinds of things including decoration or candles and this combination is making it a more refined place.
Your respective approaches complete each other, is that right?
M: Yes, Erwann has a far more esthetics approach having managed a contemporary art magazine with music and photography (Redux), so he is really into culture and shapes. I am also very attached to culture but perhaps with a slightly more performance-driven approach when selecting our photos.
E: And he can recognize anyone on any picture, whereas I know no one (laughs)!
How many editions to you put out a year?
M: We have four editions per year, but we develop projects around them: we produce and present exclusive films, we hold exhibits and we try to bring the magazine to life (www.hotdogger.fr).
E: We take the time to do things right and avoid repetition so that each edition is unique.
What are you most proud of?
M: Seeing that people still love magazines even in the age of technology. And to feel how enthusiastic our readers and the industry are about our adventure.
E: To have succeeded in launching a new print magazine on surfing in France with truly original content. And to realize that there are still so many things to do and invent. And of course still so many waves to catch!
Next edition, N°5 available starting March 31st 2016.