[Mixtape] Former Editor-in-Chief of SURFING Magazine + Polished Writer, Jamie Brisick

Jamie. Photo: Zak Bush/Outerknown

I grew up making mixtapes for friends. I spent hours and hours on them. The theme, the pacing, the order. And then intricately decorating the cover, inside and out. I wish I still had those tapes.

In talking to my friend DJ, Music Supervisor and Dogtown native Glen Walsh about that experience we hatched the plan to interview creative folks we dig about their personal soundtrack. Based on the answers he puts together a playlist that correlates with their musical memories and experiences. Welcome to the first installment of AllSwell‘s playlist series, featuring Jamie Brisick.

There are surfers and there are writers. And then there’s Jamie Brisick. With prose as compelling as his surfing is fluid, this is one articulate dude.

His books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New York Times, and The Guardian. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. Simply put, Brisick’s a real one.

Recently, we talked to Brisick about his musical tastes. Reared on a diet of Richard Hell and Iggy Pop, Brisick has the musical taste of a renaissance man. Jazz in the morning, punk in the afternoon and get busy to The Pogues (time of day not specified).

What’s your go-to coffee-tea-me music/first listen of the day?

Germs GI played very loud. I’ve graduated from Wim Hof into a weights/calisthenics routine punctuated with lighter held to hand, inspired by G. Gordon Liddy. The smell of burning flesh in the morning…

Do you listen to music while you create or do you consider that a distraction?

Usually not, though sometimes classical, free jazz, or minimalist stuff. Steve Reich accompanies my writing routine nicely. I can’t work to lyrics, they mess with the ones I’m trying to compose.

Old school question. What were you listening to in Junior High? And be honest.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

Impressive. First concert you ever went to?

Iggy Pop at Stardust Ballroom.

And your most recent live show?

PJ Harvey.

Love her. Do you have certain music that puts you in the mood to create?

Great lyricists. Bob Dylan was my first brush with the power of language.

Who are your musical muses? Who inspires you/influences your work?

Bill Callahan.

We love a good road trip. What musical memories do you have from road trips past?

Dylan’s Empire Burlesque reducing me to tears and helping me to process my brother’s death in the southwest of France.

Top live music moment?

Jello Biafra’s stage dive, Dead Kennedys at the Whiskey circa 1981.

Full-tilt epic. First album you ever bought with your own money?

Blue Magic, self-titled album. It was beautifully sad, and it taught me that sadness can be a lovely companion.

Was music a big part of how you grew up? What was the soundtrack from your early youth?

Zep, Hendrix, Johnny Winter, Aerosmith. They went nicely with skateboarding.

Do you have older siblings? How did they or your parents inform your taste in music?

Yes, my brothers got me into punk.

Quick: Vinyl, Cassette or Digital? Don’t think just answer.


Best lyricist? Barry Manilow to Solange, nobody is off limits except Springsteen. Too predictable.

D.C. Berman

Favorite music venue?

My bedroom.

Check out Brisick’s work at jamiebrisick.com, as well as his books which are available on Amazon. His Instagram handle is @jamiebrisick, and he is presently working on an essay titled “On Leaving with a Bang.”