A starter course for understanding the world of Morgan Maassen: watch the dreamy masterpieces "Water" and "Motion."

Go ahead. We'll wait.

Good? Okay - so we recently had the pleasure of chatting with Morgan about life, books, travel, coffee and other things. His work constantly inspires us - so this was a huge pleasure. The Santa Barbara native splits his time at home with wise-looking pup Moose (along with his cafe/gallery - Breakfast Culture Club), and traveling the world with a camera and a sharp eye. Thanks MM!

We love Moose. Can we borrow him?
Get in line! 

What does "real life" look like in Santa Barbara as a resident? 
Life is Santa Barbara is as crazy as it is sleepy. Our tiny little town rarely makes news, as most people move here to have peaceful lives, seeking an escape from chaotic cities in exchange for access to the beautiful mountains and beaches. That being said, because of Santa Barbara's beauty, the crowd that lives here is very... eccentric. I was born and raised here, and have spent most of my adult life here, and still have never felt fully acclimated to how peculiar the lifestyle is here... but i love it for that reason. 

If you had to leave SB and start a new life somewhere (new profession), where would you go and what would you do?
I'd move to Basque Country in the South of France and own a bakery, making Gateau Basque cake and nothing else. I'm pretty convinced that is the perfect life in the perfect place. 

Above: One of our favorite MM captures - Kyle Albers in Rincon, CA (... we also suggest watching this).

 

How did it all come together with Breakfast Culture Club? Any unforeseen hurdles you can chat about?

The idea behind Breakfast came to fruition at the end of 2014, when I reflected on all the amazing artists, photographers, musicians, and filmmakers I had met and collaborated with during my travels. I created the website to profile them, and the social media outlets to share their talents to my friends (and beyond).

From there, I roped in my friend Tosh Clements, and we started designing shirts to hand out and sell online. The next year, I was searching for an office in downtown Santa Barbara, and found the perfect unit. It was attached to an auto body shop, and I thought "might as well take that too" to have art shows for the artists we were profiling. Tosh comes from a background of coffee shops, and to help ease the insane rent of Santa Barbara, we figured opening a little cafe in the building would help maintain a steady daily foot traffic.

Hurdle-wise, this was all new ground to me. I was 24, moving back to Santa Barbara after living in Los Angeles for several years, and having only ever had a home office at places I rented. This was a huge transition, and between working with architects, the city, designing a 2,500sqf store/cafe/gallery and hiring a staff to help run the joint, it was an incredible learning process... but it has been pretty damn fun!

 

Above: The bright & airy café in Santa Barbara. Image courtesy of the super rad review from Dirt Road Travels - check it!
Below: The artwork of Tosh Clements ( ...which reminds us a bit of the Beautiful Losers movement)

 

"Hurdle-wise, this was all new ground to me. I was 24, moving back to Santa Barbara from living in Los Angeles for several years, and having only ever had a home office at places I rented."

For the approx. 5.4 million folks currently dreaming about opening a coffee shop (rough/random estimate), what advice would you give?
Expect the unexpected. The hiccups that got me were ones that i never could have fathomed, like the contractor having cement-coloring issues, ADA grinding us for wheelchair access on counter space, or storms clogging drains on the building while you're fast asleep during the one day of rain a year in southern California.


With Breakfast, you guys have teamed up with some of our favorite cycling brands (Stinner, and Team Dream). Where did the cycling component come from?
Tosh also comes from a professional racing background, as well as his younger brother Taylor (one of our core guys), who are both heavily embedded in the cycling community here. They are a tight-knit group, from a range of all backgrounds and ages. They've been fundamental in helping us establish our friend-group and customer-base as a business, and led us to think bigger, which saw Tosh opening a collaboration with the Team Dream. We made some awesome products together, had a launch party, and people were stoked. 
 

Above: Another beautiful café shot, courtesy of the stellar review from Dirt Road Travels.
Below: the incredibly rad collab between Breakfast and Team Dream.

 

"Follow your dreams. As cliché as it sounds, its true.

My dreams were to travel, not sit in school or at a desk job working for someone else... so I got the hell out of that life path."

 

Above: some more dreaminess with Alex Knost.


What type of rituals do you have in the morning?
I am usually up at 6am. I take it slow, sit and process the day ahead. I then spend about an hour reading my favorite news blogs and, as of late, reading/observing the money markets as they come alive in New York. Around 7:30am I make breakfast, shower, and head to my office at Breakfast, where i split my time between work on my photo/video business and working in/on the shop. I avoid caffeine in the morning, and love to watch the birds in my backyard. The first hour of light is my absolute favorite. 


 
We love the music in your films. What are you listening to right now?
Right now I've been listening to a lot of electronic music, which helps me keep upbeat as i machete through the emails and conference calls that plague my January. Charles Murdoch, Payfone, Kaytranada and all of Dirty Bird BBQ's artists are in rotation. For leisure, Les Baxter's vintage tropicana is really cool, mixing in well with my friend's band Monster Rally, which frequents my videos. 

Book recommendations?
I just finished "Ecotopia" by William Weston - I highly recommend it - which succeeded my reading of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer over the Christmas and New Years holidays. I'm now taking a break from fiction and trying to learn as much as possible about money markets, starting with "The Manual of Ideas" by John Mihaljavec and "How Markets Fail" by John Cassidy. As far as book recommendations, the pillars of my petite library are "A Fraction of the Whole" by Steven Toltz, "A Fine Balance" by Rohan Minstry, and "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk. 

Above: Stephanie Gilmore (watch Morgan's "Vacation Island" for a little North Shore adventure with SG).


We really love this article from our friends at Field Mag about "outdoor photography" and Instagram. Do you also get the sense that we're totally drowning in beautiful images? Any idea where this is all going?
I have no clue. To be honest, I don't pay much attention to other photography; the more i look at it, the more I nitpick my own and become competitive. When I do go down the rabbit hole of "adventure photography," I find that it makes me self-conscious about my own being "too abstract," and not immersive and tangible to the common viewer. That being said, i think everyone looks at and appreciates these photos as an escape, so they exist for a reason. 

What's up next for you, Morgan?
I'm heading to Asia in a couple days for some meetings and visiting a friend in the Philippines, followed by a couple commercial projects for Corona and several films I want to make for myself. I'm also coordinating an art show to benefit the Thomas fire & flood, which will happen February 1st...

Above: dreamy clouds.
Below: dreamy roads.

Massive thanks to Morgan for doing this Q&A!

If you dig this, you might also dig our chat with Alex Swanson ... and this thingy about bicycles, coffee and SoCal.

Looking for delightful coffee?