070: Bas Keep/Tall Order

Bas in Brighton, February 2019. Photo: Owen Tozer

“I like to promote BMX. It’s my favourite thing in the world to do. I want people who don’t know BMX to see it and realise how fun it is”.

First BMX guest! Bas Keep is one of the UK’s most respected and celebrated riders. He’s been at the top of his game for twenty years now, consistently carving out an unusual, thoughtful path for himself.

THAT Croydon ender from Walls. Photo: Red Bull

He’s probably best known for his association with Red Bull and hugely ambitious projects such as Walls. He is also cherished by the core BMX community, who recognise the commitment to the culture of BMX that shines through every varied project he turns his hand to.

It’s a heartfelt grassroots approach epitomised by his two current successes: Tall Order, his BMX brand; and his wildly successful YouTube series, through which he documents his life and the ongoing Tall Order story.

Another mind-bender from Walls.

As ever, I was keen to dig a little deeper during my chat with Bas. I wanted to find out where his quietly ferocious work ethic comes from, and understand what drives him to keep reinventing himself and finding new ways to remain relevant.

Alternative angle from Croydon. Picture: Eisa Bakos

I also wanted to find out how he’s balancing this whole thing with his new role as a Dad, and what his plans are for the future of Tall Order and his YouTube project in the face of a constantly changing media landscape.

As you’ll hear, Bas is a thoughtful and entertaining conversationalist, happy to accompany me on my usual tangents. The result is a roving, free-wheeling conversation in the finest Looking Sideways tradition.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect With Bas Keep

Show Notes

  • Feeling sleep-deprived with a new baby boy.
  • How exercise builds motivation.
  • “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work”.
  • Reflecting on his active childhood.
  • The story behind his business Tall Order.
  • The need to adapt to stay in the game in the action sport industry.
  • Accepting your shelf life as an athlete.
  • The mindset of a freelancer.
  • What 25 years of BMXing has taught Bas – and how the sport has changed.
  • Learning to BMX aged 11.
  • The demise of traditional media and its coverage of the sport.
  • Bas’ mission to promote BMX for ordinary people. 
  • How BMX marketing needs to be more inclusive.
  • The undercurrent of competition in action sports.
  • Danny MacAskill’s Inspired Bicycles video, the film that motivated Bas to make his own content.
  • Growing a brand through free content.
  • How he built an engaged community through his YouTube channel.
  • His formula for going viral.
  • Red Bull’s strategy to reach to the masses.
  • The narcissism of being a professional athlete.
  • “Change is change and you have to adapt”.
  • The Walls project with Red Bull.
  • Walls – behind the scenes
  • Building up to the Croydon ender. 
  • Telling the truth through video: “we need to show more of our crashes and vulnerability”.
  • Not watching old projects.
  • Factoring in the ’emotional bandwidth’ when it comes to new projects.
  • “My mum hates what I do”.
  • ‘Free Solo’ and Alex Honnold.
  • The inherent selfishness of adventure sports.
  • How fatherhood has affected his goal-setting.
  • The power of giving back to the BMX community: be a role model and mentor.
  • His memories of BMXing in his teens.
  • Biking with Ian Morris.
  • His first international trip with older riders.
  • Starring in Blue Peter, Top Gear and Mary Poppins.
  • The trials and tribulations of working with stunt men.
  • Having a child: “suddenly life starts over for you again”.
  • Bas’ work ethic, and how he manages his busyness.
  • Knowing when it’s time to start something new.
  • “I’m excited for the possibility of change”.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • Paris
  • Croydon
  • El Capitan, Yosemite
  • Hastings
  • Madrid