Theories: Mason Gray & Badventures

[16 Nov 2017]

Intro/Questions: Lino Gonzalez

Mason Gray has had a history of putting out creative and solid printed works amidst the current ‘print is dead’ era. In conjunction with his latest release I asked Mason some questions regarding his new book and about the Badventures brand  for our latest “Theories” article. The book “13-A” is now available in our online shop.

What was the inspiration for starting Badventures and who is involved behind the scenes? 

I got into zines & all that when I was really young through Union Press done by Brad Hill & Prashant Gopal. The local shop I used to kick it at all the time had gotten a few of the first issue and I just thought it was really cool that somewhat local dudes had put that together, it just made Canadian BMX look tight. After that I ordered a bunch of Yo Sick issues and it was pretty much set immediately in my 16 year old brain that I wanted to try and make a zine.

I do all the art & design and handle everything else for it though. I’ve been interested that stuff for as long as I can remember but I have a hard time sitting down and making something unless I’m really into the idea. This sorta gives an outlet for that because I can do whatever I want with it really haha, have had quite a bit of free time since shoulder surgery in July.

That being said though, I like to bounce idea’s off Jack (Leonard) & all the team dudes, nice to get their input so they have a say in the direction things take.

– I like how you assembled a crew to represent Badventures. What led to the decision behind that and what are the next plans? 

I’ve always wanted to have a crew or team of some sort, I mentioned I had surgery earlier this year and with the time off due to that and a small amount of financial backing I was able to sorta sit down and make it happen. All the dudes I picked are all people who expressed an interest in the brand long before there was a chance of getting free shit haha. All just good dudes with similar outlooks on BMX and how it should be.

I’d like to say that a full team video in the future would be ideal but, I don’t want to jinx it. We’ve got some of the dudes cooking some video stuff up though, other than that just to make more books & clothes. Got a few things planned for that.


-Were are living in the supposed “post DVD” and the “print is dead” era. What do you make of people in the industry hyping up those two narratives? 

That one’s sorta funny to me, people harped on it so much that everyone actually just started making zines & doing DVD’s again. If you’re someone that actually follows the people in BMX who are doing the shit that matters and not just trying to come up on a cheque, you’ll see theres plenty of print titles and videos still coming out in a tangible format. Of course the bigger magazines took a dive but its only a matter of time until another pops up to take its place. Stuff like Challenger, and all the crews & individuals making their own books are proof of that. People have an interest in it there’s just not a central platform for it all currently, u feel me?

– Any photos from you have always a very real and genuine feel. Are there any processes you follow to get shots like searching out certain scenarios or do you just shoot whatever comes your way? 

Thanks man, I appreciate that. I don’t really plan anything, my friends were always just doing some funny stuff when we would be out riding or hanging out. I sorta started off just trying to document that stuff, then moved on as I got a little more into photography. All the more street photography oriented photos are from when I’m just out doing whatever, lately I’ve been slacking on it but for the past few years I’d make a point to have a camera on me even if I was just going to the store to grab beer or something. You never know what you’ll run into and missing something you know would have been a good photo because you were too lazy to grab your shit is up there with the top 10 worst feelings ever.

– If someone were to ask, what would be the “artist statement” for the 13-A book? 

I would say it’s a collection of photos documenting a sort of rougher side of life one might see while out cruising around any given city with his friends. From broken mannequins w tribal tattoo’s & crack-pipe cleaning demo’s, to bouncer’s choking people out and terminally ill smokers there’s quite an array of characters & things featured throughout. Of course there’s plenty of BMX photo’s sprinkled in, but the aim was definitely to make this one more street-photography oriented. I’m not sure if that counts as an artist statement but thats all I’ve got right now.

– Your layout and design is always on point. Do you have any formal schooling in that or do you just freestyle? 

Thanks man, I was in school when I was 18 for Graphic Design briefly and it just wasn’t for me. They had me making websites for funeral homes and all this other wacky stuff, found it really hard to drag myself through it haha. Dropped out after I finished up my first term, and that was 4 years ago. I’ve sorta just been trying to teach myself by trial & error I guess making stuff on my computer and following that sort of stuff since. I spend a lot of time just sitting and editing photo’s, or scanning drawings to mess around with, it’s mad fun.

– Whats your current and favorite camera gear and film? 

For photo’s I usually use a Contax T2, I have an old Minolta X7A & a bunch of random other thrift store point and shoots I’ll pull out from time to time though. I like using Portra 400 for colour and Tri-x or Ilford Plus pushed to 800 for B&W stuff. Gives it a cool look.

For filming I have a VX2100 with a MK-1 fish. Hasn’t got much use the past little but I got plans for it this spring.


Mason Grey by Andrew Phillips

– What do you think about the media landscape of BMX at the moment?, Any crews/videos you look out for? Is there any stuff you avoid? 

Uhhh, a few crews out there I like. TeamSAF, AMPM, Skapegoat, Strangeways, Flukelife, ALYK, a lot of the stuff coming out of Vancouver & Philly these days is good. Same with the UK. I really wish there was more coverage of the East Coast and everything happening there, can’t get enough of the grime. Got mad love for anyone making BMX look fucked up and gritty. There was something in that Fathead piece on DIG recently about how the old ‘pro lifestyle’ is a lot different than it is now, like the individuals in the spotlight are more tame for lack of a better word than in previous years. A very good observation, and something that I wish would change haha. How are you ever truly supposed to get into riding as a young kid until you’ve seen your fav pro puke in a van on some shady roadtrip? I don’t know man, kids nowadays confuse me. That’s what got me so into it early on, all the characters that just genuinely exuded something different & seemed not to care about anything going on.

I’ll be brief but there’s definitely people out making BMX look pretty wack right now, but that’s not really news to anyone, so needless to say I definitely avoid a lot of stuff. I don’t know though, I try to immerse myself in the good side and not pay attention to that ish. It’s easy to avoid the crud if you just don’t partake, you know? Glass half full.

– I gotta ask, are you a Drake fan? 

Jake Frost’ gonna hate me for this one but I can’t really say I’m too into the 6ix god. There’s one song that remind’s me of an island with palm trees and shit for some reason and I used to be into it when it would play at work but I haven’t a clue what the name is and I really can’t describe it other than that. I guess I’m just in the dark on it all.

– Are you into any conspiracy theories? 

Oh buddy, you ever heard about the Radioactive Sewer Worm-man that escaped from that Russian freighter off the coast of Jersey?

Ok so, the FBI finds this body after the ship just disappears right. They do an autopsy on it and find these little worm like leech things inside him and naturally have their suspicions about it. The next day a guy working in the sewers gets pulled into the water by what he claims is an escaped python, and the FBI is sent to investigate. After a phone call is placed to the bureau later that day by another NJ Sanitation employee, they discover a full grown Radioactive Sewer Worm-man in a boiler room deep in the sewage plants catacombs. After a small skirmish with the beast, it finally eludes the grasp of the agents and escapes back into the sewage holding tanks from whence it came.

I can’t remember what happens next but there’s a really good documentary about it on Netflix called “The X-Files: S2 episode 2”



Thanks Mason