Now Unlocked: Mateus Herdy's SEOTY 2022 Entry, 'Locked Up' - Stab Mag
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Now Unlocked: Mateus Herdy’s SEOTY 2022 Entry, ‘Locked Up’

Short answer: Yes. Watch Mateus Herdy’s Stab Edit Of The Year entry, ‘Locked Up.’

premium // Jul 5, 2022
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Career wise, 2021 was the best year of Mateus Herdy’s life. 

He finished 3rd in the Corona Open CT event in Mexico, taking out some large names along the way. He released an incredible edit. And blew our minds at Stab High, Central America

Not bad for a 21-year-old, not enough for him. 

Mateus occupies rare territory into today’s professional surf landscape — he wants to compete at the highest level and create impactful freesurf edits. Hit play on ‘Locked Up’ and you will be left with no doubts in regard to his ability to do both. 

The short film earns him an immediate spot in the Stab Edit Of The Year finals, along with Kael Walsh and Ollie Henry

The release of ‘Locked Up’ served as a good occasion to catch up with the rising star. Topics covered include: Brazil’s relationship with Stab, airs, judges, editing his own clips, and why he’s not sprinting home from the beach to post his best footage on TikTok, and more.

Enjoy. 

Interview by Steven Allain. 

He’s good at walking a tight rope, to be fair. Photo: Jimmicane

You just got done shooting the next Stab Highway series in California. How was that?

Lots of fun, actually. It was like the one they shot in Australia, but a little more complex, it seemed. Each team had two video guys. There were a bunch of challenges, in and out of the water.

What kind of challenges, anything bizarre?

I don’t know how much I can reveal, but it was rad. It’s gonna be fun to watch, I think. The production guys were gnarly, they worked so hard. I was there for a week and every day we woke up super early and shot a ton of stuff.

When you have a small window, it’s gotta be pedal to the metal. 

Yeah, I kept telling them: “If we had more time on this trip we could enjoy all these challenges a little bit more,” because it was super fun, but as soon as we were done, we rushed to another challenge. It’s amazing what you can do in 24 hours. I came home with great memories and insights.

This is the 2nd or 3rd thing you’ve done with Stab, right? It seems like they dig your vibe – and not just them, you have a lot of fans overseas. Do you feel like the bad rep Brazilian surfers carried for so long is a thing of the past? 

I think it’s changed a lot. In the case of Stab — and this is something the guys there have a hard time understanding — is that I agree, to an extent, with some of the Brazilians’ criticism. In the earlier days, when Stab was only in Australia, many pieces were unnecessarily provocative. But today, Stab seems different. They invite Brazilians to all their events and shoots, they include us in everything. And I see from their perspective, it must be very frustrating — they go and do something cool with Brazilians, and still get criticized. Just like with that piece you wrote a while back. I read it and I thought it was an amazing piece. Because indeed it’s easier for a company based in California to sponsor the Tour if the Champs from California. It would be much better for business. That’s not new. Everyone, at least amongst my friends, inside my little bubble, always talked about this. And when you wrote that story, saying exactly that, I thought: “Fuck, now the boys are gonna be stoked”. But most Brazzos didn’t even read the story and assumed it was [anti-Brazil]… so I think, Brazilians could chill a little with Stab and realize they’re doing a good job. I mean, everyone watches Stab in the Dark. It’s a sick concept, everyone loves it — and they are the only ones doing cool shit with surfers and for surfing these days. 

A warning shot being fired during a freesurf at last year’s Mex event. Photo: Ryan Miller/Red Bull Content Pool

I wanted to talk about hype. For many years now, you’ve been pointed to as THE next guy from Brazil. How do you deal with these expectations?

I was considered one of the best when I was younger, but I don’t think I was THE next guy. That was always Samuel Pupo. Sammy and João (Chumbo) are a year older than me, so there were always more eyes on them. Lately, I’ve gotten more attention, especially after the Mexico CT and some edits I’ve dropped. People started believing I could qualify.

Does that put more pressure on you?

I don’t think about that stuff when I’m competing.

A lot of people expected you to qualify alongside Sammy and João. But in the end, it didn’t go down that way.

Yeah, I had the best year in my career, but I felt like I couldn’t celebrate. Last year, I got 3rd in a CT event, 3rd in a Prime event, became Brazilian National Champ, and I almost qualified. I did a bunch of videos, edits, premieres — I did a lot of stuff. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

There’s always this year.

Yeah, but I don’t mind. I mean, it’s frustrating to have your best year and feel like you’ve failed. But people expect more of me. And I agree, I’m with them. There must be a balance, it can’t all be love. Expectations are part of it. Filipe and Gabriel changed fans’ expectations, they qualified at 17 and raised the bar. I’m trying hard, man. This year my focus is 100% on qualifying. It’s what I want the most. And I’ll tell you this: if I qualify, I wanna surf loose, with confidence, I wanna make a difference. Just like Sammy and João did. They came in and made an impact in their very first event, specially João — he’s so gnarly. I’m really rooting for them. But yeah, if I make the Tour, I don’t wanna be just another guy.

You have a solid air game, which we witnessed in the Mexican CT event. But airs equal injuries, as you very well know. How do you approach airs in freesurf sessions? Do you always go as high as possible and try to land – or you’re a little more careful?

I go with how I feel: If it’s the first wave of the morning and I’m still sleepy, I’ll hold back a little. But if I’m warm and the section looks good, I’ll launch for sure. Because you can always eject while in the air. You can feel when you’re not likely to make it and get away from your board. If it’s in a heat, fuck it, I’ll always go as high as I can and hope for a nice landing.

Showing up to a CT as a wildcard and besting the defending world champ’s 15.43 point heat total in the Quarters? That’s how you prove you belong.

Do you think the judges know how to score airs properly?

Some do, others not so much. It’s hard to say “the judges” and think they’re one entity, instead of a group of people with different opinions and preferences. In Mexico, for example, I saw this young guy ripping in the freesurfs – he was doing airs and all kinds of crazy shit, definitely QS level – and later I learned he was one of the judges on that event. I’m sure that guy knows how to score airs. What I don’t like to see is a guy get the same score for a full rotation, as his competitor who did two turns.

You think airs should score higher?

Not just airs, but whatever is more difficult. Two sick turns look amazing, sure, but they might not be that hard to do. We have to value modern evolution. Remember Julian and Jordy in the Modern Collective days? They were doing backside supermans, rodeo flips, huge varials off the lip… so much so, that Julian pulled one against Medina in a final back in 2011. We’re talking about over a decade ago. And you don’t see these maneuvers on Tour anymore. We see much more safe surfing, unfortunately. 

If you get the same score for two turns, why risk your ankles trying an air, right?

Exactly, that’s something that could improve. If we could talk to the judges, perhaps we could tell them. But there’s this weird thing where surfers and judges are not supposed to be seen together, talking to each other. I think that’s lame. We surf, they judge, we can still have respectful conversations afterwards.

You can’t talk to the judges?

Not really. And it’s a shame, because they’re the biggest fans of surfing, seriously. Those guys love surfing. And surfers know that — some guys are hesitant to post content before an event, ’cause they know the judges are gonna watch it and expect that level of performance in competition. We know they watch everything.

What ever happened to the varial? Mateus might just bring it back to the CT. Photo: Jimmicane

You’re competing for Stab‘s Edit of The Year with ‘Locked Up.’ Tell me about the edit. 

I just sent them an edit and they said “it looks good, you should enter it, the winner gets a bitcoin.” I had to get the music cleared, so I re-edited it with a different soundtrack and some tweaks and sent it in. It ended up being much more work than I predicted, but I think it looks alright.

So, you edit your own stuff?

Yup. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. Many people helped me and taught me along the way, obviously. But yeah, I like to do it. ‘Locked Up’ is the result of surfing at home for months on end when the pandemic hit. We scored really good waves over here. But it’s all Brazil, I didn’t do any trips for this one.

How do you balance competition and making videos/clips? Can you do both without sacrificing results?

I think you can. Competition is my main focus, naturally — so the videos are never gonna look exactly how I want them to, it always feels like I need more time to edit. But I’ve accepted that already. What I don’t accept is doing nothing. I travel the world chasing waves, so why wouldn’t I have a guy filming every session? But I want the footage to do something meaningful. I’m not gonna do a huge air, run back home, and post it on Instagram or TikTok with whatever song is blowing up that week. I am not and I will not ever be that guy. I only post B-level stuff. We keep the real gold for something more special and meaningful.

And what’s your main goal on Tour?

Man, my biggest objective in the sport is no longer [pause]… I want to bring something positive to the sport, positive change. I want people to think “this guy changed the sport for the better.” If I feel that I contributed to the evolution of the sport, then I’ll be satisfied with my career, you know?

Mateus’ goals are simple (and admirable): Get some bombs in Hawaii, and leave surfing in a better place than he found it. Photo: Jimmicane

Awesome. Who inspires you at the moment?

Well, let’s start with the obvious three. Gabe, Ítalo, and Filipe. If any surfer doesn’t think these three are the top guys right now, then I don’t know what they’re thinking. They are simply on another level. I put Yago Dora in that mix, too. I watch him closely and he’s simply bizarre. And John John. There’s no one who can do both competition and freesurfing with such mastery, and he has a really positive influence on surfing – so I look up to him a lot. And there are others: Mick, Adriano, and Dane, they all inspire me.

What about Hawaii, how important is it to you?

Very important. I’m a huge fan of Andy Irons and all of those guys, the guys who excel in Hawaii. So I really wanna become a good surfer in Hawaii, get the big barrels and the bombs. I have that in me, I wanna do good in Hawaii, I wanna do good at Pipe, I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a young kid. And I don’t want it to prove to people that I can do it or to be better than anyone else – I wanna do it for myself. 

Lastly: Are you, Samuel Pupo, and João Chianca still part of the Brazilian Storm? Or do you represent a new generation?

I think we’re the last of the Brazilian Storm. All three of us have competed from a very young age, so we grew up amongst these guys. Sammy, especially, was always around his brother Miguel and the rest of the Storm. Caio Ibelli is good friends with João. I hang out with all of them. They brought us up and embraced us. I battled with so many of them on the QS. And I took way too many beatings not to be considered part of the Brazilian Storm [laughs]. 

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