Wallie - North 31 Cover
Photography by Graham Tait
Interview by Miles Kondracki
How's the elbow? What have you done there?
Fractured my elbow twice at a skate jam. At Westburn skatepark.
What have you fractured?
The radial bone, two places on the radial bone. It was on the longest wallride jam.
Did you win?
I don’t know. Jamie. Jamie won.
That's your first proper injury, right? Touch wood.
Yeah. It’s funny, I feel it had to be on something like that rather than something worthwhile. After trying some things that should have been more dangerous.
How long are you gonna be out for?
Six weeks maybe.
No surgery or anything like that?
No, I’ve never broken a bone prior to this thankfully.
Do you like doing competitions?
No. Not in the slightest. They're stressful.
You like doing the Westburn comp though?
I like that it brings everyone together and it's always fun. Not so much the actual skating.
Haha! Why did you do it then?
I arrived without skating at all or warming up. Entered the jam, landed three tricks, did a few wallrides then broke my arm. I only entered to support Callum.
Would you ever consider doing any other competitions at all?
Not not my vibe.
You wouldn’t do the Olympics then if you were called up?
No, but I enjoyed watching it.
If you were to do the Olympics, would you do it for New Zealand or Scotland?
But you do have New Zealand citizenship right?
Yeah. My dad was born there, he is from New Zealand. I've been when I was a kid but it's been a long time since then.
So this is your second interview this year, how does that feel?
Bizarre. That people care that much about me or want to know. I don’t know, it’s flattering, I’m stoked.
What was the Skateboarders Companion interview process like and how did that come about?
It was pretty natural. It was through skating with Leo Sharp who was up in Edinburgh for the day and I just shot a couple of photos with him. He’s a nice guy and it was nice of him to ask. Doing stuff like that is good I think, it exposes me to a different side of skating than what I’m used to.
How does that compare to the process for this North interview?
Doing it with you, a good friend of mine, has almost made it more awkward and weird in a way, but also way funnier.
Why is it more awkward and weird?
Because we just speak normally and doing it like this feels like a job interview.
What I meant was how does the process of shooting the North interview compare to the other one?
I had no expectations for the Skateboarders Companion one, it happened randomly. Whereas the North interview was more planned. What we were going to do, where we were going to shoot stuff, and what was expected. I'd like to think I put a lot of work into it.
What was it like shooting with Graham?
I find the way that Graham works very funny but also extremely interesting, I think his vision of skating is sometimes different to mine. We brought our different opinions together to create something that works for both of us and that we both find interesting.
He holds people to a high standard. How many of your ideas were shot down?
He pushes me to do something that's different from what I'd normally do. I trust his photographic skills. He knows what he’s getting himself into. I had some ideas for photos that I think would have worked but he had different opinions and he had ideas I shut down. I'm not going to Smith grind an 8 stair rail and he’s not going to shoot a wallie into a cobbled bank, so we had to find something that works in between both our expectations. I’m hyped the way it came out, I like his vision and respect it. I think he’s a good photographer.
Drop to 50-50
What was the most challenging photo that you shot for this interview?
The 50-50 on the Leith hubba. I tried it twice and hurt my foot on the first one and was out of skating for two or three weeks. I thought it was broken but found it wasn't after I got It X-rayed.
A lot of people have looked at that hubba but no one has ever really skated it. You and I cycled past it one day and you decided on the spot that you were going to do it.
I guess it makes sense the fact it's got an up part. I was surprised that no one had thought about grinding it that way before. It was still very scary though.
How many 50-50s did you end up having for the interview?
I think it was four but I would have happily done more than that.
But Tait put a ban on 50-50s?
No more fifties.
So as well as having your first interview this year you also had your first proper video part in the Garden Skateboard's video "DANGER". How was that?
It was fun, everyone was really hyped on the project and I think everyone wanted to do the best they could to make something that was interesting and different to what has come out of Scotland in a while, because there hasn’t been anything like that. Having the opportunity to film every day after moving down to Edinburgh was sick, and having a list of tricks I wanted to achieve rather than approaching it more casually.
You had a part in Simie's video "Street Snacks Volume 3", would you say that was your first part or the Garden part.
I guess the Garden one was. I had got to a level and an age in skating where I felt I knew what I wanted, what I liked in skating, and what I wanted to achieve with it. Simie's one was more just whatever I got, that was the video part.
How old were you then?
I think 19.
And your 24 now?
Wallride grab out
How did it feel to go full circle from growing up watching Simie's videos to then filming with him?
It was cool. I guess when you’re a kid and you see local people you kind of look up to them in the same way as if they’re a pro skater. It was always cool him taking an interest in what me and my friends were doing. It's cool to consider him a friend now.
How did you guys initially link up?
This is actually pretty dope. I think Simie asked me to go to Westburn one day but I was too scared to go and meet him so I bailed on him. Then Darren, Harvey and I went to skate TX with him. We skated at other sides of the park until we cornered him to speak to us and after that, we have been friends ever since.
Why were you too scared to go meet him at Westburn?
I don’t know, just kid stuff. That's just how it is when you're 16.
Did you fully patch him or did you make an excuse?
I think I said I had homework to do.
Haha! So good. Okay, so you’ve got another video part coming out this year in JJ’s video. From what I’ve seen I would say it's going to be your "Defining" video part.
Yeah, I like filming with JJ a lot because we have very similar views on how skating should be shown. I appreciate the way he looks at skating as it's similar to my view. We get on well and we can go out every day, cycle to spots or go look at spots and then just get it done. He lives ten minutes from my house and we just go out with a small crew which I think is the most productive. I knew what spots I wanted to skate and how I wanted to skate them. Doing it on VX makes it a lot easier in terms of making the spots I like skating look the best they can, which are more rough spots, where the spot is the trick rather than the trick is the spot.
Do you prefer VX or HD? If you were to start filming another video part after JJ's video would you want it to be VX or HD?
I think they have different uses for what you want to put out. It depends on the kind of skating you want to do.
What would you say suits your vision of your own skating more? What format do you imagine your own skating in?
I really like the way VX looks and the way the spots in Edinburgh look on VX, but the amount of trouble that comes with it doesn't feel worth it all the time. I would be tempted to switch to HD but I don’t think the fisheye is as good. I like long lens but I don’t really like the fisheye.
Half Cab Crook Revert
Your trick selection is more thought out than most people, how conscious is that?
I guess it comes from watching the skaters I look up to and piecing together things I like from each. I have always looked up to people that skated spots differently or skated more interesting spots. I just wanted to replicate that on the spots we have here.
Are you talking about anyone in particular?
Jesse Alba, Chris Millic, Jake Johnson, Kevin Rodrigues and Bobby DeKeyzer off the top of my head. Or emulating things from older 90’s videos and VX edits.
Would you say your trick selection and thought process has evolved since you first started filming?
Yeah. I used to go to a spot and do whatever came into my head. Now it's more like, go look at the spot, skate it, think about it for a day until I know what I want to do and how I want it to look. Then I'll try to make that happen to the best of my ability.
I wanted to talk about a term you coined which is "Mind Torture". Explain that.
That's when you go to a spot and the physical pain is outweighed by the mental torture of trying a trick over and over again expecting different results which very rarely works out until you reduce the complexity of the trick to the point where it becomes what you end up with.
Do you stress out if you know you have to try something scary the next day?
I do stress out over tricks I want to get but I find the things I am more stoked on are the things that come easily and naturally. If I force something that doesn't feel good it never comes across well on film. If it's a hard ledge trick I have to go slower which never looks as good as a simple ollie or a heelflip which I just practise more. I'm not a person that commits to everything, I have certain rituals I do. I would rather roll up to something 2 or 3 times and get myself hyped up to do it. I would never throw myself into something that I might fall on, it hurts to fall, I guess because I am quite a fragile person. It all depends on the day though. Some days you are keen to fall on the ground and other days you couldn't think of anything worse. Mentally more so than physically.
How often do you really try something that doesn’t work out for you though?
I don’t go back to a place more than two times generally.
So if the hubba hadn’t worked out in the first two visits you wouldn’t have gone back a third or fourth time?
Nah I probably would have. It depends what it is, if I really want to do it I will go back.
Crook pop over
You have also spent a lot of time on the other side of the lens. You helped film a lot of the Garden video, you’ve filmed several of your own videos, and you’ve been helping JJ film his new video. Is that something you enjoy?
I enjoy thinking about the way the footage looks or how I want it to look more so than filming for hours, but I guess that comes with it. When I do a trick I know how I want it to be filmed or how I want it to look after being on both sides of it. I have watched enough skate videos to know what I like in terms of filming.
Is filming other people something you want to do more of in the future?
Yeah, I like filming. If people need help filming I’m down to do it. I prefer the editing part over the filming.
How did you learn to film?
From watching skate videos, YouTube videos, and skate perception forums. Learning the VX has always been something I’ve been interested in. It's so simple that you can make it look so good. If you know the right techniques it can look completely unique.
I remember you saying you wished you could film and edit yourself for your own video part.
I still believe that even though it's extremely big-headed and impossible and self-centred. I just have a strong view on skating and how I want my own skating to look, but I feel like the people I know also share that vision.
I guess the closest you can get to that is Instagram which you have been using more recently. Do you want to explain what the "Hard Post Summer" experiment is?
That would just be hard posting on Instagram regularly and getting my friends to do it too. Instagram kind of freaks me out and I don’t really like sharing a lot of stuff about myself. This summer I just thought why not share a lot of skate posts and stuff that I’m hyped on and see what happens. The algorithm works and sharing skate posts frequently works.
What do you prefer, Instagram or filming for a video part?
Filming video parts for sure. Instagram is instant gratification. A part is a long term enjoyment which I respect more in the long run. You can do both, I don’t think either is the correct way to do things.
Let's talk about your Aberdeen crew 'The Cubs', how did that come to be?
Being at TX indoor park every day. Not even skating for most of it, just kind of mucking around. Skink was the first person I met there, he is always the first person anyone meets in Aberdeen at that stage. Then I started skating with Darren and Fabian who has since stopped skating.
Ride on 50-50 pop out
Would you say TX helped shape your skating?
In a sense yeah. You could always go and hang out, there are always people there for sure. It definitely made it easier to learn tricks and it was good having people that were older giving advice.
Is it safe to say you guys experienced the Cherry effect?
It would be safe to say that's 100% correct. Everyone does that though. Everyone tries to imitate things they look up to; I’m not embarrassed about it. We were watching what those guys were doing and it was funny in a way to copy it. It was sick at the time and there is no denying that what those guys did was revolutionary to skating today. It was the sickest thing at the time so why not try to emulate it?
I think that's when myself and a lot of other skaters in Scotland first became aware of you guys.
I guess it was something different at the time. I'd like to say we were the most active and aware people putting out skating on Instagram in Scotland at that time.
Did you guys get heat for that phase?
Got some hate from people but I don't regret it, it was fun. I don’t really care about those people’s opinions. You need some hate to keep you in check.
I think we should talk about your younger brother Harvey.
Harvey is my brother and my day one. Skated with him forever.
What's it like having the most hated skater in Scotland as your brother? His words, not mine!
I think that's a weird thing to call yourself. Once you get past his hard exterior he’s actually a really nice person and I wish he would show more of it. I’ve known him since he was born. We share the exact same interests and the same way of thinking. It's cool to have grown up with him and always had someone who you could hang out with whenever and do whatever you want with. Day one homie.
You are pretty quiet and Harvey is very loud. Polar opposites some might say.
We complement each other pretty well I feel and that's where we differentiate.
Are there any funny stories from growing up skating together?
I don’t know about funny stories, there are too many. But he's always been there, at the start I didn’t really want him there.
It's just younger brother stuff. When you want to hang out with your own friends but at the same time I feel like we created this guy. Getting called out all the time kind of made him older than his age because he has always been hanging with people much older than him. He's always got on well with everyone though.
It must be nice to have him on family trips, which you’ve done a fair few of?
Yeah, my mum and dad really like travelling and I’m very appreciative and happy to go on these trips with them all over the world. It's nice to have your best and longest friend there with you the whole time. I've skated everywhere with him
You boys both love fashion and clothes.
It's just another hobby. We have very similar tastes. Looking into designers, buying and selling clothes. I just like skating in stuff that's different to what everyone else is skating in. Harv has got his own thing going on.
Would you say you guys were ahead of the curve in terms of skating in designer brands?
In some ways yes and in some ways no. People have been doing that stuff for years. We were just copying other people inside and outside of skating. Skating in designer stuff is funny. Skating in Comme des Garçons or Our Legacy is something a bit different.
Everyone is wearing the same stuff these days.
I think trying to find your own style and looking at eBay for hours trying to collect different things that work well in skating and look good is sometimes a difficult task. Designer with vintage is a good look, high/low vibes.
So can you predict the next trend? What are we going to see next? I remember you calling out the non cuffed beanies a while back.
Beanies without a cuff is a good one. I’m gonna say skating in knitwear and also weirder trousers. Perhaps people fading away from the Big Boy and dunk look. I'm gonna say skating in striped smarter shirts is gonna be the next thing, not checked shirts but striped shirts. Skateboarders are always going to be interested in the next thing.
I wanted to ask you about Schnauzer Skateboards. You kept that on the down low.
That was the first thing I ever created. It's a breed of dog that I always found funny. It was just a name to make things. I made stickers and a T-shirt. I have always been interested in dogs and animals, I guess I just thought it was funny. I must have been around 13 when I made that.
Did you do a presentation in front of the whole school about it?
I showed a full-length film, well not a full-length, but a three-part video purely filmed at an indoor skatepark on a flip video camera. I think people were stoked on it. I think it was my mum that made me do it. I didn’t want to do it but she thought it was a good idea and she wanted me to do well.
Have your parents always been supportive of your skating?
Yeah, they've always liked skating. I think my dad sometimes understands it but I think some parts of it he compares to a lot of sports that are not that similar. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t skate gets the full grasp of it that it's not competition skating. My Mum has always been hyped on it, she gets it. Both of them do.
After school, you went to University right? What did you study?
International business management but I hated it and never went. I left after a year. It's not that I was bad at it or that there was a lack of effort, I just thought at the time that I needed to get through it so I can go skating or whatever.
Did you tell your parents you had left the course?
I changed course to media and didn’t tell them then left after a year. I don’t even know why, I was just embarrassed about failing higher education I guess. They weren't angry, they were more just confused. They knew something was up.
You just started college with JJ. I thought you were going back to university?
I was meant to go to Uni to do media but got an offer to do graphic design at college which is a course I really wanted to do. Doing anything with JJ is obviously a bonus because he’s one of my favourite people. I’m only a few weeks into it but I feel like I’ve found what I want to do. I kind of already knew since school that's what I wanted to do, but I didn't know if it was a viable option.
Who are you getting stuff from at the moment?
I get product from Garden Skateboards, my friend Callum at Seed Skate Shop helps me out a lot. Kyle and James at Converse help me out with shoes. I’m very thankful for everyone that supports me.
Getting shoes from James Cruickshank is a big deal, how did that come about?
I think it was through the first Garden promo. I think Jerome saw the video and liked my footage and kinda bumped me up from random flow to hitting up James for shoes whenever I need them.
You are also making your own stuff too with Catcher?
I have always had an interest in making clothing. Making it yourself and making things you and your friends are personally hyped to wear that's different to anything else is cool. I like wearing things that my friends have made rather than something that hundreds of other people wear. I also enjoy being able to make things exactly how I want them to be and not having any restrictions.
What are your plans with Catcher in the future?
I want to try and make more things. Not even anything in particular, t-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, zines. Not just my stuff either, I like all of the things my friends create. I would love to share what they make. Neil Kellas has a studio and has taught me loads about screen printing, I would love to do more of that.
What are your plans for the future? What is life looking like after two video parts and two interviews in a year?
Just keeping skating going but I also want to get other aspects of my life going in terms of graphic design. I want to start doing that more and maybe make it a job. Try to make some things that I can make money off so I don’t have to work jobs I don’t want to do. I feel that getting a proper education in that is a good step to make it more legit.
This year I’ve skated a lot but feel that it's what I wanted to do at this stage in my life, and to make something I was happy with. I think my part for JJ's video is how I want my skating to look and it's the part I will be most proud of.
What are you going to do after JJ's video and this interview come out?
I would like to film smaller things for Instagram. Perhaps more homie edits where it's not solely focused on a particular person but more about the crew and what we are trying to achieve. Just keep doing what I’m doing. I feel like this is the happiest I've been in a long time.
Do you want to shout anyone out?
Stoked on this one. Shout out to you for doing my interview and being a good homie. Also everyone at Garden, Kieron and Kyle. Kyle again at Converse and James and Jerome. Callum at Seed. All the Aberdeen homies, all the Edinburgh homies and all the Instagram homies. Shout out to JJ, Needs, and Adam especially. My Mum and Dad and my whole family. Graham too obviously.
Published in North 31