Meet João Kopke, Classical Bassist and Pro Surfer

Meet João Kopke, Classical Bassist and Pro Surfer

January 03, 2019

Can you give us a quick intro about yourself?

I am a Portuguese dude that loves to tell stories about the chase for waves. I am a competitor since I was a grom, but I always thought surfing had a lot more to offer than turns, tricks and results. Also, I'm interested in a lot more than surfing: I am a musician and love photography. Luckily, by combining storytelling with art, now, I am trying to bring surfing stories to everyone who loves the ocean and the waves, and not just hardcore surfers.

João in Mexico. Photo @whiteflagproductions

When did you hear about The Bamboo Brush Society?

If you’re a surfer, you've had some contact with the environmental problem that is trash on the beach. When my friend Roger Nefkens, one of the founders of the project, told me about the Bamboo Brush Society, I was immediately interested in knowing more about it.

What do you think of the Bamboo toothbrush?

I think it is a great initiative. There is no single solution to the pollution problem, so every step we take is a useful and necessary step. The Bamboo Toothbrush is a way to make our everyday lives more sustainable without making us go through a complicated process because we can order them and that’s it. 

Joao and his oldest friend. Around 150 years old and used to be played by Portugal's late kings. Photo by @franarciso

You are a pro surfer and you play classical instruments, that's a combination we don't see often how did classical music come into your life?

Both things have completely different backgrounds in my life but, also, they have one thing in common; my mom. I come from a family of musicians. My dad plays all sorts of instruments and he's also a really good singer. My mom is a professional pianist and a teacher. So, music was always something that had to happen at some point. I remember the weekends when a bunch of lyrical singers would come to our house to rehearsal - pretty loud stuff. My mum helped my way into Portugal's conservatoire when I was ten and I never stopped. Surfing came a bit earlier. When I was eight, I used to do competitive gymnastics. But, during the summer, competitions and training sessions would stop, and I was a prettyenergised little kid. So, one day, my mum and I were strolling down the beach and passed by a surf school. I was completely hooked from the first wave and my mom realised it. That's why she made me go even when it was cold and I preferred staying at home playing video games. I think that push was probably one of the best things my mom ever did as a parent because, now, surfing is one of my favorite reasons to exist 🙂

You have travelled a lot around the world, where is the best spot you've brushed your teeth?

There is nothing like waking up in my car’s trunk in the south of Portugal and brushing my teeth looking at the waves. No need to go to the other side of the world to have mornings like that.

Morning rituals. Photo by @hugofsilvaa

What What project are you working on that you are most excited about?

My most exciting project at the moment is “Riding Portugal”. It's a documentary series for TAP Airline that showcases Portugal through surfing. On a quest for waves, we explore the whole of Portuguese culture and natural scene. It has been a lifetime experience to get to know my country this well while doing what I love the most.

Riding Portugal


If you took charge of taking care of our beloved planet tomorrow? Which three people would you pick to help you lead?

I’d probably go for someone like Jose Mujica to think about how we could live with less. Elon Musk on the innovation end of things. Then my friend Maria, who is the most enthusiastic person I know regarding the environment - she doesn't come out of the beach without a bag full of trash, and her eyes shine whenever she's talking about habits we can change to make the world a cleaner place.

Tell us your best travel story?

Probably the first time I ever saw a shark! I was eleven, and it was my first ever true surf trip, to the Maldives. On our first surf, I looked at the outside and saw a dark shade cruising on the face of a wave. The coral reef between me and the sand on the island felt like grass as I ran across it. If it were now, I'd have probably paddled towards it to get a closer look but, then, I was petrified. In the end, we had to paddle all the way to the channel to get to the boat. For an 11-year-old, that was an epic adventure.

Golden hour with only a few friends and @wendrichphoto behind the water housing.


Share your best photo on your phone ! Make us laugh

Photo by @whiteflagproductions

Any books, documentaries, films or series you lately watched and would like to recommend?

I highly recommend 'Sapiens' to anyone who wants to know how we got to where we are. It's an easy read with loads of information.

Last question: Where's the number one place you'd like to visit?

I don't have a number one place ... but the next region I'm going to explore is Africa. I think it's the last frontier, and the one place surfers haven't discovered all the secrets there are to find. Also, there is a different culture for every surf spot you visit.

Make sure to follow João adventures on Instagram or visit his website.




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