If you’re a WT regular (we thank you), chances are that you’ve seen the name Julen Egiguren pop up a few times.
But if you’re not familiar with our Basque protegee, and pronunciation nightmare then today is the right occasion for your first acquaintance. Hailing from Oiartzun, a small town near our beloved San Sebastian in the Spanish Basque Country, Julen is much more than your average contest grinder using surfing as a way for putting people down and showing off, as we’re unfortunately seeing too often in this part of the old world (we’re still staring you down from the other side of the room, fluro wetsuit glad groms)
Julen is in fact quite the opposite. If you’ve ever met the man, you know he’s as helping and humble as it comes and everything but short-sighted, which truly makes him a jolly good chap to be trading jars with.
Despite being featured some of the most tasteful videos coming from the old continent these past few years, including our own Guillem Cruells’ fantastic “Everything we Love”, this is the first time we’re able to dive into Julen’s life from a behind the scenes perspective. “Gutxi” shows us a little slice of his world, surfing around his Basque home and Cantabria, but also explores his personality off the board, as well as his other interests such as graphic design, tattooing, and expensive vehicles.
We took the chance to speak to Alex Kuesta, the mind behind the project, to gain additional insights on his relationship with Julen and Ethan, as well as the filming of Gutxi.
Do you remember the first time meeting Julen? How did your friendship with him evolve over the years?
As a kid, I knew of Julen and his brother Ethan from the local contests scene, but I never spoke to him until we shared the same room in a hostel. It was for a big wave contest in Asturias called El Mongol. The host told my friends and I that another surfer was coming later to the same room. We didn’t know who he was yet and at that time we were always playing with these airsoft guns, and of course brought them as if we were thugs. We waited for that surfer to appear for like 40 minutes and we heard him coming up stairs. We turned the lights off and when he came by the door we started shooting balls at him. He started screaming and we were laughing so much. He found it really funny and quickly understood we were as crazy as him. We are best friends since that day, and still are despite the fact he lives in Oiartzun, 2 hours away from Santander, where I’m based. During the first years we just tried to meet altogether with his brother in the contests, and now we always try to find a way to travel together and speak everyday about anything.
How different is it to film with Julen compared to filming with other surfers?
Julen is not what you would call a regular surfer. He has lots of ups and downs and that has been really frustrating for him during the his past few years doing contests. After a couple of loses, I told him to maybe stopping competing for a while or at least not worrying that much, and instead just having fun surfing again. That’s why he spent some weekends coming to my house in Cantabria to film. The crowd in Basque Country was also a reason for driving this way, and that’s how we first started filming for Gutxi.
How would you describe Julen’s relationship with his brother Ethan?
Ethan is somehow different than Julen, but they’re both actually really crazy surfers and persons. As Julen says in the video, he’s always been following Ethan. They love each other more than anything else in the world and this relationship is more important than anything. That’s why they argue sometimes: they worry a lot about each other and are always trying to help each other by making the right decisions.
For how long have you been filming for Gutxi? Is the name related to Julen’s love for riches?
We filmed for 4 or 5 weekends. We mostly had really bad waves, but at least we were alone or with a couple of other people I’m also filming upcoming projects with. Concerning the name, the only thing I originally wanted was to use an Euskera word, but as he naturally speaks the language, it was hard for him to find one that sounded special and felt right at the same time. So I searched for an introduction to Euskera and there it was: Gutxi. We instantly thought it was funny because it sounds exactly as Gucci, the brand. But we also wanted it to mean something, and after finding out it meant “few/little bit”, we thought it was perfect, as there is just a few waves on the edit!
We happened to be in the water that day when Julen got his bomb at Mundaka… Can you talk a little bit about it?
Mundaka, hate it, love it… or both at the same time! We filmed for 2 days in a row. The first one, he surfed for 4 hours in really cold conditions and just got a good but small barrel. We weren’t too happy with the clip and my back started hurting a lot. I asked Julen to never come back to that place again, but the next day was going to be bigger and better, and he asked me to try it… He tried to catch waves in-between the pack of Basque locals and the flock of French pro surfers who were battling the peak. It was kind of a shit-show… That day was pretty sizey, and you had to paddle back from the harbour — near where I was filming — pretty much each time you caught a wave because of the current. He passed paddling in front of me for like 5 hours, and told me: “man I’m going to catch one more and I’m going out to give you a hug for your hard work.” And as we got back to the line-up one last time, there it was. He had one of the best barrels of his life, right before we were going to give up.