A few years back, Banks Comrade Jasson ‘Salsa’ Salisbury began a transformation that would ultimately change his life for the better. At a solid 30 years of age and over 20 years of standing on a board, we decided to sit down with Salsa and see what makes him tick.
BANKS: When you’re not in the water what’s your typical day consist of?
SALSA: Beach hanging with my family or pottering about in the garden with my son. We haven’t been in our new house all that long so I’ve been spending heaps of time exploring and getting to know the place. Identifying different species of plants, learning about their medicinal potential and just enjoying having a large area of native wilderness at our door. Surfing is my alone time so when I’m not surfing I spend time hanging and playing with my little man Ziggy, which gives Mia some time to paint and do her thing. We’ve been on the road for this past year so we’re loving just having a home again. Every spare moment I get to myself outside of the ocean is dedicated to my own practice of meditation and study of Ayurvedic medicine and plant herbalism. Finding wild medicine is consuming me right now. I’m out there getting mowed down by mosquitos, foraging around for herbs every day now.
That’s right, we heard you teach Vedic meditation? First off, what is that and what’s it like to teach it? How did you get into that?
Yeah Vedic mediation is amazing it’s been my major practice for the past 8 years and its a good one to have on board. Its a highly effective mental technique from ancient India, basically its a life skill to help tap your inner potential. I got into it through a good friend at a time when I was really questioning the lifestyle I’d designed for myself, getting bummed about the not so awesome repeat patterns and limitations that seemed to be around me. I had all this stress and anxiety building and surfing as my only outlet wasn’t helping, actually surfing wasn’t as fun anymore. I remember thinking that there has to be a way to feel super awesome everyday! Humans have been around for long enough, surely someone knows how to navigate these waters. So I learnt Vedic meditation and shit just keeps getting better haha! It’s something I do every day and its had such a major impact on the quality of my life. So to be able to share it with people is amazing.
Do you think it’s harder in this day and age, with so much stimulation, for the normal person to learn how to meditate?
There is so much knowledge available now, and its a topic that can be opened up in most social situations without people thinking you’ve lost it. The increased pace of modern life, and the unruly bombardment of information and stimulation is making it harder and harder to just switch off and give the mind some rest. We are literally being fried, getting sick and just going through life without any grace. The need to upgrade our nervous system to be able to meet the increasing pace of life and thrive amongst it all, is driving people to these practices. The growing popularity of these techniques is stimulating the inquiry and research by modern science, so now they’re backing it and promoting its positive effects. So its definitely more accessible to the mainstream population now. On the flip side there is almost too much info out there, which again becomes overwhelming and can make it hard for people to filter through and find the good stuff.
You have a pretty unique and recognizable style of surfing, growing up (and even now) who are some of the surfers that you looked up to or draw influence from?
Thanks mate, yeah as a grom I used to watch video sections of guys like Rob Machado, Kalani Robb, Tom Curren, Tim Curran. All the smooth lines guys from the Taylor Steele momentum generation. I grew up at Newport Beach in Sydney surfing with Tom Carroll. He definitely had a major influence on me, he has an awesome approach to wave riding, it’s like aggressive without disrespect for the wave. He is totally tapped into the flow and has the ability to pull so much power out of a wave. I enjoy just cruising along going fast and holding long lines but I also love big power hacks SAAAAAH!! Rasta is someone I’ve always loved watching. Surfer shapers like Neal Purchase Jnr and Ellis Ericson have been big influences, riding their boards and witnessing the way they connect with their own. Now that I’m thinking about it... there are so many good surfers! Ozzie, Burch, Bryce Young and so many good local crew around. The guys and gals that demonstrate that connection with the wave and the joy. It’s always good to see some crazy tricky shit but flow is what does it for me.
Do you think meditating has had an influence on your surfing as well?
Yeah for sure, the two are so intimately linked. Surfing is a great way to tap the meditative state in the field of activity…that’s how it feels for me. Meditation is the art of effortlessness, its about letting go of the need to control everything and allowing things to flow. Physical activity requires effort but its about finding that balance. If I’m out there constantly thinking about the next section or the next maneuver my surfing becomes clunky, with the odd highlight, but if I can let go of those expectations and just sit in the moment, my surfing experience becomes so much more exciting and enjoyable. I feel like the unpredictable nature of the ocean and the speed in which things change, forces a more intuitive approach… less mind, more grace. 'Witnessing' yourself react to the environment from that deeper level of awareness is where the magic lies. You can see it with some peoples’ approach, it’s like they just knew what the wave was going to do before there was any gross indication. They start speaking the same language. It’s not always like that when I’m out there but that’s definitely what keeps me coming back. That feeling of connectedness and flow and the resulting joy that comes from it. It just feels so good to surf waves like that.
So, where are you spending most your days now? Daily surf spots?
I’m on the North Coast of NSW Australia, about a 15-minute drive north of Byron and I’m loving it here. It’s such a special part of the world. Byron is pretty busy but when you get slightly out of town its a whole lot more relaxed. I surf a bunch of spots around my house and more often than not have the lineup to myself. Its great! Surfing alone on the North Coast is pretty special in this period of time.
And what’s your quiver looking like now? What board is your current favorite?
My quiver is looking a lot like bad teeth right now. Dirty, yellow, chipped, all different sizes and a couple of big gaps in the lineup. Its about to get a freshen up which is always exciting. Right now I’ve got a couple of 5’9” thrusters by Ellis Ericson, really fun boards, flat with a little bit more foam, kind of 80s looking outlines. A 5’7” experimental 4 fin quartet by Neal Purchase Jnr, its got a beautiful outline and fin configuration, puts me in some really strange and exciting places on the wave. A borrowed Campbell Brothers Bonzer which I’ve been riding without the center fin, you can drift the tail but its still got a bit of grip from the small side Bonzer fins, crazy fun. A 4’11 Rich Pavel 4 fin fish, “speed dialer” I think he calls them. I snapped the fin recently so its docked until I get around to fixing it. I’ve also got a couple of boards marooned in Bali that are amazing for when the swell kicks in... one is a 6'2” stretched out quartet by Neal purchase Jnr, he shaped it specifically to get really tubed at desert point... gotta get them back here for big days on the points and hollow beachies.
Any good music you’ve been listening to recently? What about book recommendations?
Good old novels have taken a backseat due to raising the wild animal child that I’ve now got. So the reading I do is mostly study on the subjects of Ayurveda and herbalism. Anything by David Frawley for Ayurveda, and Stephen Harrod Buhner for plants, herbs, etc. Both are really amazing guys and masters of their chosen field. I’m loving the Saharan blues band Tinariwen at the moment…so good! And I’ve been getting pretty cosmic with some music by Shiv Kumar Sharma his album Yugal Bundi is nice. I’ve had the local community radio picking my tunes lately.
I heard that you love to adventure around, where are some of your favorite places to get off the grid?
Yeah I love a good adventure. I’ve been busy with a different type of adventure lately with a baby coming into my world but I’m ready to start hitting some more out of the way places again. I think the most memorable adventure so far was a trip from Morocco down the coast of the Western Sahara to the border of Mauritania. That was a crazy, remote, off the grid trip. Such a wild place. I would love to get back there. I’ve been living in Indonesia for the past 4 years so I got to do a lot of travel around the islands. Definitely spent more time in the tube over those 4 years than the previous 20. Tasmania and South Island NZ have been memorable hiking, remote camping, surfing missions.
That Morocco trip sounds nuts! Anything on the horizon?
I’m actually planning a 7-day wilderness hike in southern Tasmania for next month which is going to be nuts!!