Brett Dalzell is a doer. Specifically, he's been doing a ton with his brand Matériel Supply, so we sat down with Brett to dig into what he likes about skating, what he likes outside of skating, and whatever was on his mind.
What is Matériel and how long have you been doing it?
I started the brand in 2013 as a way to make clothes, to spread ideas, and to push myself to be creative. The best part about running a brand is sharing my ideas. The project actually began as a joint venture with my good friend Tom Gorelik, but I'm tough to work with and we started to bump heads, so we split ways.
Now that we have that information, can you tell us who you are, where you are from and what you do?
My name is Brett Dalzell and I am from the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. Growing up outside of Boston was the best. By the time I was fifteen I got into the routine of hopping the commuter rail and skating downtown on the weekends — this was during the PJ/Gallant era and a lot of the spots in the Financial District still hadn’t been knobbed. What years!
By trade I'm a graphic designer, but I actually just quit my full-time a few months back to focus on running Matériel and skate more. It was a shift that needed to happen; I was working at a magazine that covers a ton of music/fashion/style/skate stuff and I was just like “Do I want to work for the magazine or be IN the magazine?”
I attribute a lot of the decision to a trip to Brazil earlier this year. The first night I was in Sao Paulo I ended up at a mansion pool party in the hills with my g’s Tiago and Wilton. The scene was wild, it was 4am and babes were still showing up. They kept hyping me out on the Matériel cargo pants I made — so there I am at like 4:45am thinking to myself, “This is the life. I can do this more often, I can turn the brand into something real.” I had such clarity at that moment, it was refreshing. Days later I linked up with Sandro who runs Blaze Supply. His operation had me so inspired I got back to the US and quit my job two days later. Shoutout to Blaze.
How did you first get into graphic design? What was it that drew you to it?
I was first introduced to graphic design by my father. Growing up in a house filled with vinyl records and vintage surf magazines had me so interested in the different styles and properties of design. I like to think my pursuit of design began in high school when I started to tinker with Photoshop as a way to make titles for skate edits. Years later, I pursued at BFA in Graphic Design at MassArt in Boston, which was a decision that impacted my life in so many positive ways. I feel so blessed to have a passion that I have been able to pivot into a career. I moved to New York in 2012 after graduating. Now I freelance three days a week and skate all the time. Fair to say, the mans is hyped.
The brand is very stylized, we want to know where you're getting your inspiration from? It doesn't seem like you are opening a Thrasher, getting hyped and using that as a jumping point.
I dig for the shit nobody has seen, or if they have, I want to leave them impressed by my research skills. I get really into the details of my graphics, scanning entire layouts from old magazine just to grab certain letters to rearrange and spell out a new word. Y’all aren’t going to catch me using some Dafont download shit. I approach every collection with an over-arching concept and then experiment with a variety of design methodologies for each graphic. I draw a lot from obscure movies, music, and turn-of-the-century Modern art.
With Matériel I'm trying to develop my own visual language, it takes longer and is the more difficult path — but looking back at the collections I have dropped in the past three years I can identify a consistency of design in the brand, and thats important to me.
There is heavy French influence in your work, would you agree? Where does that come from?
Yeah, absolutely. The French inspiration comes from my love for Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Both artists were multi-disciplinary and were on a mission to disrupt the art space with a bold disregard for tradition. Man Ray is actually from Brooklyn and used to bounce back and forth from NY & Paris in the 20’s and I always thought that relationship was so interesting. On a conceptual level, I recognized a parallel in Duchamp’s found objects and how skateboarders utilize the urban environment. He put a urinal in a gallery and labeled it art, we skate trash downtown and film it. Marcel Duchamp shows a similar inspiration to me — it all boils down to trusting yourself and not giving a fuck. I was finally able to visit Paris last August where I stayed for the whole month. It was a life changing experience, bon vivant!
Can you speak on your inspirations within skateboarding specifically? Brands, skateboarders, videos, etc.
I have been skateboarding for fifteen years. My first video was Thrasher’s The Truth Hurts — the shit is raw. I have such an affinity for street skating. You legitimately cannot fake the funk. Skateboarding is honest like that; you have to put in your time. Real heads stick with it and the corny fools fall back. Growing up I was enthralled by the SF skate scene. EMB, Pier 7, 3rd and Army, I wanted it all. Rob Welsh in Free Your Mind, you already know.
I watch a lot of brands in the skate “space” — but usually just doing my research so I won't drop anything that can be called out for biting. What's fresh about the small brand movement is things are very regional right now so you can get a taste for a city just by tracking a certain company.
What other brands do you like right now?
Hopps is by far my favorite brand. German Nieves is killing it with Paterson. Clubgear goes, Hélas is fresh, Dane is making plays with Bluecouch, Adelmo Jr. with Plural Skateboards. I like this brand from Philly called Municipal Skateboards, Akira keeps it so legit with After Midnight. Also check out ASCO from Argentina, much respect to Studio Skateboards, and the latest video that got me hyped is from Sports Class. Not to mention all of the Theories of Atlantis brands, BLVD, Isle, 5Boro, the new DQM collection is on point, I could go on forever.
We've talked about your design work, but you are also a really talented filmer. When did you start? How seriously do you take it?
I started filming in high school. I linked up with a crew that had a vx1000 and was juiced on the filming process. I just wanted to be the best. I still rock the DVX+Century Optics, Mini-Dv, all that. I keep it pretty lo-pro, I only film my friends, none of y’all sponsor monsters.
You have friends all over the world – Brazil, France, Germany, etc. What is the importance of international flavor to the brand and to skateboarding in general?
Skateboarding has connected the world for me. I can legit travel to any continent and post up with a crew, how amazing is that? It’s all natural, you meet people, you vibe out, you skate, you become friends. Just last month I had Patrick Vidal from Brazil stay at my crib for two weeks. His English isn’t too hot but we became great friends and he laid a hurt on the city.
Where can people buy Matériel?
Orchard in Boston has had my back since day one — a big thank you to Ian and Armin for always supporting. But generally speaking, I sell 80% of everything I make through personal interaction and off the web store. Its wavy, I got a whole run of hoodies last week and pushed most of them on the first day.
Lastly, we have to touch on your nickname. Why do people call you Buzzard?
Haha. Historically, the most eclectic cats have always have nicknames, right? I have been 'The Buzzard' since age 15. It all stems from working up at Waterville Valley Skateboard Camp in my younger days. Basically I was the youngest kid in the gang and had no idea what was going on. Working with east coast guys like like Ralph Murphy, Chris Trembley, Ed Driscoll, and Dana Ericson, it was only natural that they were fucking with me. In NH, a “Buzzard” is slang for what some might call an “od lurker”. I was just around being a narc and trying to be cool. It was pretty sick though, those guys broke me down and taught me how to take a joke, and certainly how to talk shit back. Years later, I actually filmed a bunch of “Buzzard File” videos when I first moved to Boston on my Dad’s hi-8 cam. It was the hijinx Instagram clip before Instagram existed — I'm claiming that.