Interview: Kael Walsh Talks Softserve

Soft Serve by Kael Walsh and Wade Carroll is a lie.

It’s neither soft nor served. It’s big, hard, hi-def and hairy, and it’s thrown with clenched fists as a big fuck you to the sidelines of injury. A stamp of authority from both surfer and film-maker. Although this is somewhat achieved through the film’s soundtrack (nothing cut to Mudhoney was ever soft), it’s more so due to a beautifully balanced mix of cinematic land and water footage, a few timeless locations, a few key cameos, and the protagonists visually stimulating dismissal of body parts—the latter of which keeping Kael at home for the last twelve months. Read below for the backstory and watch above for the proof. (P.S. On a personal note, that foot shuffle to tube at 1:58 turned me on.)

Kael! What’s going on?
Not much man, just cruising at home. Did a bit of rehab this morning.
How’s the ankle?
It’s coming good now.
How long’s that been?
Almost a year. July 20th last year is when I did it.
And you’re still rehabbing?
Yeah, end-stage rehab stuff. Jumping around and shit.
Were you surfing during that crazy run of waves you guys had over there?
I was surfing a bit, but with a brace on and trying to get clips, and I felt like the brace was changing my style a bit and it wasn’t really working and so the last few weeks I’ve tried to stop surfing with a brace and just rehab a lot and its starting to feel pretty good.
How’d it actually happen?
The air I did it on in is in the clip towards the end. I did a straight air and my front foot came off and I came down on my back leg.
On the Indo trip? At Jimmy’s?

That wave is so gnarly. You’re doing punts on the end bowl where everyone else pulls off. I don’t think you’re actually meant to hit that bit.
Yeah, the ramp is so good though. Just fucking sucks how shallow it gets, I’m not sure if I’m going to go back there though.
So that Indo trip when you did your ankle was for this part?
Yeah, a lot of the stuff in the part is from before I did my ankle. But then all of the water stuff at the start is super recent. I think that tied it together pretty well, [Tom] Jennings nailed it.
That intro clip is fucking crazy. That’s one of the best water clips I’ve seen for sure.
Yeah, Jennings was pretty stoked after that haha, he just yelled ‘That’s it, I’m done!’  But it was cool how it all came together, it’s really hard to sort of get that nice afternoon light here sometimes.
How are the waves there now?
So shit. Everyone’s gone up north. What about you?
It’s fun. But fun for Sydney is a 2-3 ft only-semi-crowded beachie.
You should come over once the borders open.

I’ll definitely take you up on that. Is shooting in WA as fun as it looks?
It’s actually really hard, and I don’t think a lot of people realise that before they come over. Especially people that come over on solo projects. So many people come over and get stitched up, they’ve got this high expectation that you’re gonna get fucked up waves the whole time they’re there and tick off all the boxes you know, box/north point/cobbles, etc.
And I’m guessing they don’t always tick them off then?
Nah (laughs). I mean we all live here and there’s months at a time where we are just sitting around here waiting for waves. For example, I haven’t even surfed North Point in the last two years or something.
No way.
Yeah. But I think if you come over with a few people or are on a bit more of a group trip then it’s a different vibe and you all pull it together somehow. I just moved into a new little cottage setup which is super sick, we could all crash there.
Your own zone?
Yeah. There’s two bedrooms, kitchen. It’s the sickest.
Where at?
In Yallingup.
You been having parties there?
Yeah, had a couple.
Who do you hang out with?
Felix Leaver, Jack Thomas, few other local dudes.
And surf?
Surf with most of those boys, then also with Jay [Davies] and Jack [Robinson] sometimes.

You ever surf with TB [Taj Burrow]?
Couple times. He actually invited a few of us over for his birthday for some beers the other day, which was sick. I think now he thinks that I’m old enough now to hang out with or something haha.
Has TB got mega-goat status over in West Oz?
Yeah, 100%. He’s got the dream pad overlooking Rabbits too. He’s nailed it.
Fully nailed it.
Yeah, that’s the dream.
Does he do anything besides surf?
Not too sure, think he’s pretty dad-mode at the moment. He’s got the Honest Ale gig too.
Do you do anything besides surf?
Not really, I need to get some other shit going on though. I’ve just been surfing and rehabbing. Been spending a lot of time trying to get this part together too.
I don’t think many people actually realise the time it takes to shoot and then edit a part. It’s this underground appreciation that you can only get once you go on trips and try to put together something.
Yeah man, 100%. It’s so fucking hard. That’s kind of the reason we called it Soft Serve too. Because a lot of the trips we went on we either got skunked or something would go wrong. For example, we went to south Oz and from that whole trip we got one clip, and then we went to Indo, and the second day I did my ankle.
Gotcha. From the outside looking in you never see any of that shit either. Everyone just sees Kael Walsh flying around having fun.
Haha yeah. You’ve definitely gotta put in the hours and the days to get shit done properly. You’ve gotta love it though, it’s the best thing ever. I can’t wait to go on another trip again.

What’s the plan now?
Just try to get my surfing back to 100% and then try put out another part that’s hopefully a bit more solid than this one. There’s a few things I really want to work on.
Such as?
I think the double rotation (full rote + 180) is definitely doable. Albee did it for the alley-oop but I think its possible the other way too.
The double spin! You been trying them out in the surf or just into foam pits?
(Laughs) Nah, just in the water.
Do you foam pit?
I don’t foam pit.
Double rotation is a pretty ambitious thing to try do after busting your ankle.
Yeah, I guess it is a little bit, but that’s what you’ve got to do to make it these days I think. Plus I love just trying gnarly shit, and I don’t want to stop. Also, I think with airs you start to learn how to fall, a bit like skating.
Do you skate?
I skate, but I’m not that good.
Do you think the whole skating thing and trampolining thing helps with surfing?
It probably does yeah. But I think surfing itself is still the best way to get better at things.
Totally. You used to do a couple QS’s, are you going to compete again?
Yeah maybe. I’m not that sure though. The tour isn’t really as attractive as it used to be.
Seems like it’s more dad-tour than party-tour now.
Haha yeah. Early 2000’s ASP vibe looked so fucking sick and would’ve been so fun. These days it’s a bit different. Freesurfing is still pretty sick though and I feel more pulled towards that side of surfing more. Just going around with mates and trying to pull the craziest shit you can. That’s about as good as it gets.

There’s almost different ‘categories’ of surfers now.
One-hundred percent. You got the rap dudes who only post clips with trap hip hop, then you got the dudes who gym hell hard, then the low key dudes who just cruise. It’s a weird mix out there now whereas I swear the early 2000s were a more generic version of what a surfer was.
What category are you?
Haha fuck I’m not sure. I think I want to try to stay on the early 2000s one. I think now people just have their ‘crews’ they hang out with and run their own program.
Yeah definitely. Before we wrap things up here, the soundtrack was pretty sick and I wanted to ask what the second song was.
The second song was ‘Touch Me I’m Sick‘ by Mudhoney. The soundtrack was good but all the artists were pretty big, I’d like to try to find some newer more underground stuff. I need to get a record player and just listen through some LP’s.
I’ll leave you to your music bender then. Let me know if you find anything nice and congrats on the new part.
Will do, thanks!

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