What if we told you there's a fickle yet hulking slab that works off the coast of Sweden? A real Baltic bruiser for only the hardiest of souls. Would you be surprised? If not, it's probably because we've featured the fruits of labour out of the elongated country before and every time we see that unicorn slab it blows our mind.
But now, for the first time, a stunning new video that's an ode to scoring and getting skunked in Sweden is about to drop, featuring one of the country's more prominent swell hounds Freddie Meadows.
Freddie has made it his life to seek out everything Sweden has to offer - and there's a lot there if you give it the time and attention it deserves. A small snippet of Freddie's ventures in to the Baltic has been translated in soon-to-drop salt water smasher, Live to Sea, which we'd highly recommend watching (peep the trailer above). To walk you through what it's like to live and surf in Sweden, and tell us a bit about the flick, we checked in with Freddie to take us through the motions – and ask about the aforementioned wonder slab.
Spot guide: Sweden
This movie looks incredibly well shot – not just one of the best we’ve seen out of Sweden, but some of the best cinematography we’ve seen full stop – talk us through the film, how did it come about?
Wow Jason, from myself, Henning and Maceo - thank you for that massive compliment. Means more than you can imagine.
The seed for the film was planted around four or five years ago. Henning and I had worked together on a few projects and got on really well. I reached out and asked him if he wanted to join me on a mission to a wave I’d only surfed twice prior. Henning’s skills are in high demand so I was so grateful that he could.
We had an amazing session - the best I’d had there by far, and on our walk home we decided that we wanted to create something special from the Baltic. A purely Swedish surf film. A tribute to these beautiful moments in these incredible environments. A tribute to our nature.
Two years later, Maceo joined us and added a new depth, completing the team and the vision. Pushing the story deeper, pushing me to share more. Both Maceo and Henning are just amazing at what they do.
They’ve understood how I see surfing at home and they’ve turned this story into more than I could have imagined. They have followed me on so many journeys, gone through some harsh times, given so much of their time and for them I am forever grateful. The same goes for the other filmers and photographers that have contributed to Live to Sea.
Amazing. And in the trailer there’s a slab around the midway point, which is blowing minds here – how is that to surf and how was it discovered?
I assume you mean the left… It is one of the waves I live for up here. I call her the queen of the Baltic. It's an incredible place, and somewhere that means so much to me. Every time I’m lucky enough to be there and experience the power, seems to becomes a milestone in my life.
And surfing there is mind blowing. A mixture of awe, glory, nerves and frustration. I always have a kind of peace during these sessions, a feeling that there is absolutely nowhere else in the world I’m supposed to be at that moment, ready to do anything for it.
A mixture of awe, glory, nerves and frustration. I always have a kind of peace during these sessions, a feeling that there is absolutely nowhere else in the world I’m supposed to be at that moment
At the same time; it happens so rarely and is sometimes only big enough for two hours, that learning such a wave’s intricacies takes a frustrating amount of time and sessions.
You know, those discoveries all happen in similar ways. It begins with pouring over the maps and bathymetry charts and dreaming what these places must look like and feel like.
Sometimes you have to wait a year or two or more until the right chart arrives. Then its all about timing and hoping you’ve chosen the right place for this right time. Some waves are close to civilisation, others require crazy drives and even the boat or ski to get too. Skunk or score it's always and enriching experience. Thats what I’ve learnt.
So, how long is the finished product?
It’s around 26 minutes.
Ok, that's rad. Also, it’s rare we get surf movies out of Sweden, this is first of such high calibre that I can remember. Is the aim to cement Sweden as a surfing destination, or just to show what there is at home and help elevate Swedish surfing?
Thank you for your kindness! The aim is to show how beautiful our land is, how nature is something to live for and be passionate about… how it feels on quite a personal level to dedicate your life to searching for world class waves in a place where waves disappear for months, even years at a time.
What’s in the title, Live to Sea?
I’m given plenty of time to think and create between swells, especially if I’m committed to an area for a while. I’d been moored behind this island for three weeks waiting for a wave I wasn’t yet sure existed.
I felt such a longing for swell, and reflected over the bigger picture of my life - what it is I do… Live to Sea came out. I felt that’s what I do, in so many ways. I called the boys and asked for their opinion, they approved; we then found ourselves brainstorming and seeing it all as a movement, as something all Swedish surfers do. In fact, all surfers or anyone who has a relationship to our oceans, lives to sea in some way.
We’ve spoken before about Sweden and its nuances, and seeing the images from there… I mean, we knew there were waves in Sweden, of course – but I think this film will blow the surf communities collective mind. How hard is it to chase swells there? It is more getting skunked than score? Or the opposite?
It is definitely not easy. I find myself feeling much respect to those who found the known waves here at home that we all surf regularly. They did this with radio reports or teletext and possibly dry suits which inspires me a lot…
There are certain forecasts where you just know that the spot’s going to fire, those nights before are sleepless.Then there are the charts that are more for exploring, however that probably means you're missing sure surf somewhere, even if it's onshore.
Solid swells with proper walls and period are few and far between here, so it is always a little nerve racking making decisions when they surface
Solid swells with proper walls and period are few and far between here, so it is always a little nerve racking making decisions when they surface. Some charts look promising only to disappear within a day of arrival.
The film is also a tribute to all the sessions that went undocumented as everything is so last minute here. The majority of scores neither Henning nor Maceo or anyone else for that matter, had the time to join as I could only give them eight hours notice to be sure and not waste their paid time.
I think the wider surfing community associate the Baltic with these frigid, cavernous waves – but there’s more on offer of course. Does this film explore that?
Of course. We show everything from the rare slabs, to the various points. The film consists of maybe seven or eight sessions.
And who is in the director’s seat? What’s your relationship with them?
Maceo Frost is our director and Henning Sandström is the director of photography. We are all brothers now; after Live to Sea our bonds have grown tremendously. We’ve spent so many hours on this together.
If people take one thing away from this movie, what do you hope that will be?
That there is plenty of strength in vulnerability. Nature is worth living for and worth creating your own unique relationship with. At least for me, that is when I live peacefully and feel true fulfilment. And it’s always better shared.