10 Things I’ve Learned, With Michael February
Pearls of Wisdom from Surfing’s Most Sage Millennial
Photography by Zak Bush
To say that Michael February is an old soul would be a reductionist trope. He is, of course, but his likeability doesn’t rest upon his appreciation of eras past. It has more to do with his natural modesty, genuine kindness, and general representation of universally admirable qualities.
As the saying goes, you’re an average of the five people you spend the most time with. That’s why – for reasons both selfish and otherwise – we thought we’d spend a little time in the presence of Mikey’s quiet charm and natural compassion, and let him do the talking. Call it altruistic osmosis.
This interview is supported by Mikey’s sponsor Raen, which explains the tasteful product plug on number nine.
1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Of course, I didn’t have breakfast today [laughs]… just coffee. Typically, I have avocado and toast, eggs, and bacon. I have a big sweet tooth, but for some reason, I don’t for breakfast… maybe straight after breakfast.
2. There are a few people out there that inspire me. A lot of jazz artists and musicians from back in the day. They really focused on their practice and put in a lot of time. My ideal band would be Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and maybe Louis Armstrong — he’s got a great voice. Or maybe I’d get a South African in there — Winston Mankunku (Ngozi). I’d call it Z’afrique Ensemble…and I would play the piano, I think. I just need a little more practice first.
3. As a surfer, it’s fun to ride different crafts and try to understand each and every one of them better. I’m finding more influence from people back in the day who used to shape their own boards. Mark Richards was a big one. Just seeing how he used to shape his own boards but also ride them in events and really master his craft in both shaping and in surfing is incredible.
4. I like watching Ethan Ewing surf. He’s surfing really well and his style and everything’s pretty amazing. He’s probably surfing the best that I’ve ever seen him surf and he’s just really fun to watch. I feel like he does what you want to do, but can’t really do it, especially on a shortboard. When it comes to flow and style, it’s a lot easier to have that on a twin or a single fin, but seeing someone on the thruster have that is pretty admirable.
5. I’m pretty shy. I’ve always been a pretty shy person. When you put out stuff on Instagram and social media and stuff, people have this idea of you and they expect this larger-than-life person, but then you’re actually just kind of, like, normal.
6. In general, I appreciate people that stay true to themselves. Those who can evolve, but still stay maintain their core beliefs despite the influences around them. I definitely look up to my parents in that regard. I also look up to my wife, Zelti, because we’ve been together for over 10 years, and she definitely made me the person that I am today.
7. One of the things I’m most proud of is being able to give back. It’s amazing to be at a point in life where I’m able to do that. It like feels like a nice achievement.
8. The world needs less ego. There are too many people in the world with bad egos and I feel like that’s where the bad stuff happens. We could use more equality… people treating each other all the same – whether you have money or no money – more equality and kindness.
9. I like the other frame, but Mystiq feels a little bit more unique… We took some influence from Run-D.M.C. and a few other little bits and pieces. I feel like when you take parts of what you are influenced by, you get something that feels close to yourself.
10. It’s been spoken on a lot, but surfing needs more diversity. Not only just in the performance sense, but I think there’s so much to gain from more individuals and a variety of different people having input and influence. That way, when there are all the figures within in surfing, younger people are able to look at someone doing something different and be like, “Okay, that’s possible.”