Mike Corey’s “Kick the Grind TV”, could be called an amalgamation of his degree in biology, his love for break dance, and his undying curiosity to discover and explore- people, places, rocks, creatures and almost anything else that exists on this planet. He chose to capture his adventures in the form of videos in an attempt to intrigue us about the incredibility of our world. Winner of many travel video competitions, Emaho spoke to Mike Corey about his travel style, purpose, experiences and more.
The values of ‘Kick the Grind‘ are creativity over conformity, curiosity over compliance and experiences over possessions. This seems to be not only your travel style but also your urge to the average modern style of living. Tell us more about this.
It all stemmed from my first trip. I was on an island named Pulau Hoga. If you google it, you’ll see it is a few kilometres short of the middle of nowhere. Access to mirrors and electricity was limited, and we were a full day by boat away from anything considered a city. Life was pretty great diving 3 times a day doing Biodiversity surveys around a tiny coral island. Without having to dress or act to a certain standard, people were stripped down to their bare selves. No makeup, no gelled hair, no fancy clothes. The mask was discarded, and we lived a perfect life with little “wants”. When I left that place, I was a changed man. I realized that most of the world doesn’t live like we do in North America, and no one ever said I had to either. I feel that more than a few of us follow a “normal” life path because that’s what we see when we look around. Turning that trip I realized there are a million different ways to life your life, and who’s to say which is best?
Bboy moves in front the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Emaho : You have won the ‘Flight Centre Canada’s ‘Best Travel Job Ever‘ and ‘Cathay Pacific’s Travel the World in 80 Days‘. This must have been a real boost. Also, your degree in biology has certainly helped you to add a different perspective to your travel videos. Now when you look back what do you think, what was it about your videos which made them a winner?
We are all raised watching varying amounts of TV. In the beginning I wouldn’t say I had any particular talent on camera, or putting a video together. Like everyone else, I just had experience watching what “good TV” looked like. My original strategy for making videos was long and tedious. It involved doing take after take until things looked right. I’d eventually get a good take, but usually well in to the double digits. In hindsight, it was all just practice to becoming a better host. Eventually, I tried harder to focus on “just being myself” which really isn’t as easy as it sounds. Now I believe that that is the key, talk about your passions with all the fire you have inside you, It’ll make others passionate too.
Emaho : You have a history in entertainment. You are a dancer and have enjoyed an audience. Your passion is to travel the world and to showcase your travels, you chose the medium of video. You do the editing, writing, scripting, hosting and most of the filming of your travel videos on your own. You surely put in a great deal of effort in this. How did this decision of filming your travels come about?
My History of entertainment started in University when I joined a local breakdance crew. Prior to that, I was a fencer (swords, not picket), and the idea of dancing on stage was terrifying but fascinating. I had a lot to say growing up, but didn’t. I was shy and I kept it all in. Dance and Travel allowed me to come out of my shell. I had finally found my voice, I wanted a medium to share it. There’s a quote we’re all familiar with that goes something like, if you want to start doing something, go out and start doing it. I didn’t have the money to hire a videographer, editor, webmaster… etc. So I took on all those roles myself. Having creative control of my message is very important to me (and fun). It never really feels like work.
A vineyard with a slice of rustic paradise in Basilicata, Italy
Emaho : You have expressed your dissatisfaction with the content of media these days. If you could change this content, what would be the first thing that you would change or alter?
My main beef with the media is that they don’t broadcast an accurate picture of everyday life on our planet. I’m a big science guy, so I work on facts. If you’re telling the entire population of a country that it’s unsafe to go to, say, Bolivia, then prove to me why that’s the case. Is it really more dangerous than the country I live in now? How often does something like this happen? Should we really be worried? Exaggeration leaves everyone thinking that the world is a dangerous place. I’ve been to Cambodia, Bangladesh, Russia and Philippines. Countries you’d expect to be quite savage, and I’ve received nothing but overwhelming amounts of love, kindness and hospitality. Often much more than I’ve received in Western countries.
Emaho : Your videos show destinations less known to people and the incredible experiences that are a part of traveling. How would you describe the heart and the purpose of your videos?
There are lots of amazing things you can do on this planet, visiting the Taj Majal, seeing Niagra Falls… I try and show that while these are great options, there are many many more adventures that you can get out and discover yourself. Destinations and Activities beyond your imagination. Things you never thought existed. I want people go out there and discover their own great adventures, and it’s really not as hard as you might think.
A Thompson’s Gazelle stops for a quick second to watch us pass in the Serengeti
Emaho : You have stressed again and again to experience the world not as a tourist but as a traveler. What do you think a tourist misses and a traveler gains?
Just realizing that when you’re on the worn out tourist trail, walking one more block to your left or right and you’ll experience a much more authentic destination. Don’t be afraid to wander in a new country, quite often you’ll find the highlights of your trip.
Emaho : Your adventures have been off the path- swimming with pigs in Exuma Cays in the Bahamas, getting a Buddhist tattoo in Thailand, sleeping on the Great Wall of China, the death hike to Huayna Picchu in Peru and many more. Has there been a favorite adventure or a most challenging adventure?
There’s one adventure that steals both of those titles. Not as abstract as some of the others I’ve done, but Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan was a wild experience for me. The hike was tough couple days, but what really made it memorable was that I had the wise Idea to ascend from base camp a few hours before you were suppose to to guarantee a good spot to film the sun rising in the morning. What I found at the summit was a 3 hour wait in temperatures below freezing, and the thickest fog of my life. I walked up with 2 friends, lost one immediately, and other and I spooned in a rock crevice and shivered for what seemed like days before the sunrise burned away the fog. It was a scary night, but it was a helluva view in the morning.
On top of the world. The clouds finally clear on the summit of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
Emaho : Where would you rather be- on top of a mountain or underwater? Underwater, though I’m not knocking mountains!
I grew up not too far from the ocean; playing in tide pools and owning aquariums. I focused on Marine Biology in school, and have a handful of dive certifications. I’m at home on, near, and under the water.
A local fisherman hunting with his pet Cormorants in Yangshuo, China.
Emaho : In your videos, we get to see the beauty and joy of traveling. Tell us a bit about the pains of traveling. What is the most challenging thing for you about traveling and how do you overcome it?
Travel will make you dirty, smelly, sleep deprived, broke, and sick. It will bring out the best and the worst in you. it is the ultimate test for a relationship, and the ultimate test of your patience. You’ll be put in uncomfortable situations, and no doubt at times you’ll feel as if you’re in danger. With all that in mind, it’s the best thing anyone can ever do. I truly believe it is the solution to any major crisis in your life. Solo travel especially. It doesn’t have to be international, it can be in your own state or province. A certain kind of clarity comes from breaking out on your own. Sleeping in unfamiliar beds, and involvement in new things brings out a new person.
Masaai Tribesmen dance as the sun rises on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater.
Emaho : What would you say is the correct mindset with which people should start and sustain their travels?
If you’re curious in everyday life, you’ll fall hard for travel. Also, If you’re a person who loves re-arranging your room, or walking a new way to work. It’ll be love at first step. Life on the road force-feeds you to be flexible. The spoonful can be as tasty as you allow it to be. I consider myself to be very plan oriented (you need to be to accomplish goals) but a love of change is how I can stay perpetually happy during a trip. Making a plan B in case things go wrong isn’t quite the right mindset. Having your eyes constantly forward, ready to adapt a plan at the drop of a hat is.
A sunset toast at Uluru in Australia’s Red Heart.
Emaho : To what degree have your travels changed you? Tell us a bit about it. Also, what would be your advice to the aspiring travellers?
I could write a book about the changes I’ve gone through, but to sum it all up into a one sentence: The more you open yourself to the world, the more the world opens itself back to you. Tips for an aspiring traveller would be:
– The world is full of gentle, caring people, the more remote the designation seems, the more you’ll see this is true.
– Solo travel is therapy, even if you don’t think you need it. Depart alone, meet new people, and become the best you.
– Set a date for that first trip even if it’s years away, and create a separate bank account to save for it. Reality will sink in quite quickly after that.
Happy and Covered in tomato shrapnel at La Tomatina, the world’s biggest food fight in Spain.
Emaho : You have covered 31 countries till now. 161 more to go. Which country is on your mind right now?
Madagascar. No question. I did a school project in grade 6 and have been hooked my whole life. There are so many interesting creatures found there and nowhere else. Growing up and getting a biology degree and travelling the world, only fuelled my fire to get there.