Featured in North 19
Interview by @scienceversuslife
Photography by Graham Tait
So you were in Amsterdam yesterday, and Berlin today... This is for the new, low-key Copenhagen Open, right?
Yeah man. We just got to Berlin yesterday. It's good man, it's chillin'! Haha! It's my first time at the Copenhagen Open, it's good fun!
You're pretty keen to get involved in 'things', generally, aren't you? You did the Street League thing, you've done Red Bull stuff. How did Street League come about?
I basically got sent a DM by one of the Street League guys, and he's just like, "Hey, do you want to do Street League?", and I was a bit like, "Umm... I could do, but what about Kyron and Casper? They're the best." And then they're just, "Nah, we want you to do it!", so it was just like, "OK, cool. Let's get it". I mean if you get invited, you might as well. And they asked me to do a little one-minute clip for it, so I skated Southbank for that, and then the next thing you know, they got me talking to about ten different radio stations about it! I wasn't expecting that many, basically they asked me to do a media day and said they'd pay me a bit for a half hour slot. So I was like, "Um, yeah, OK. I guess I have to say 'Street League's coming and it should be cool?'" And then next thing you know there's ten radio stations over two days and they just kept going until I said I was over doing them.
Were they all asking the same questions?
It was kind of a mix. Some people were trying to talk about drugs in skateboarding and shit, trying to get a controversial interview. It was all good though, it was kind of fun in a way.
I read you saying somewhere you were fine with skateboarding in the Olympics. Did you see that Revolution show on TV?
Haha! Do you reckon it'll be like that? I didn't watch it, but I heard a lot about it. But nah, it won't be like that. Basically, Street League is working with the Olympics, so it'll be like a Street League kind of contest I think, which won't be too bad. To be honest I don't give a shit really, whether people are skating in the Olympics or not. If it's in the Olympics, all good, some people will love it and they'll get to compete in the Olympics, which is something not many people get to do. But if you're not into it you don't have to watch it, you know? That's the whole thing about skating; people cry so much about what other people are doing in skateboarding, and it's like, "Just fucking shut up and do what you like about skating rather than complaining about someone doing wallies or skating in the Olympics. It's just weird that people are so like that! Just go out skating and enjoy what you enjoy about it. If you don't like what people post on Instagram, don't follow them! People just want a reason to complain.
You were always so deep in the Bristol scene, and then you moved to London. How did that go?
I'd just gone through a divorce—or a break-up anyway, we're divorced now—and it was the first time I realised that there was nothing in Bristol, apart from family that I can easily come and see, that was... I don't even want to say 'holding me back', but there was nothing stopping me going to Paris, or going to London or just going somewhere else all of a sudden, really. I'm pretty free; my job is pretty lenient, they let me not work when I need to do something else. It wasn't a job that was going to take me too far, really, because I wanted to skate. It wasn't a menial job but it was a job that I could just leave without it being an issue basically.
You were a personal trainer, right?
Yeah, a fitness instructor, personal trainer. I loved it, all of us being friends in the gym, but when I thought about it, not being in that relationship any more meant I could just go and skate. I was on a trip, and I was in the Amazon, the Amazon river, on a boat and I had this epiphany, just suddenly like, "I'm not going back home", basically. So I decided to not go back to Bristol and just choose somewhere else. Next thing you know I'm staying in London.
That's a good place to have an epiphany, on a boat on the Amazon!
Haha! I know... It sounds like I'm ballbagging, but it's true!
What was it like being a pro skateboarder and a personal trainer? Could you turn up with a limp, or with your arm in plaster?
I feel you. I guess I was kind of quite lucky to not get injured much from skating. Also, if I'd been skating throughout the day I would work so much better because I'd already be hyped up. The endorphins are pumping so I'll go into work all like, "Yo! What's up?!", just buzzing with everyone, but if I'd been chilling in the house I'll go into work and I can barely speak and I'll feel all awkward, with this fake smile on. It's so weird. I hate that! I hate being tired, and you haven't spoken to people, and then you have to. You always want to be able to feel like you'd like to feel when you're on top form.
We were meant to do this last night, but you weren't feeling it. That's way more respectable than plodding through when you're not into it.
I'm not gonna lie, I woke up this morning and was still like, "Urrrrrgh..." It's the morning, I've just woke up, but it's cool! Last night had been a long day. We were still up at like 4am skating a skatepark, then we got up at 9am to travel to Berlin, so I thought it better to not do it after all that! One word answers!
I had to make up answers once, for somebody who replied to an email interview on his phone. That was the only time I've had one word answers, so I appreciate it!
Who was it?
It was the guy from Scots indie-rock outfit Mogwai. I guess he couldn't be bothered and then not long after he's wearing Emerica and hanging out with Atiba or whatever.
Sounds like you gave him too many good answers! You should have given him bad answers!
Hahaha! Yeah, who knows. So what's this video you're filming for, the new Kev Parrott and Dan Magee thing? Who's in that?
Harry Lintell has got a full part. And there's Manny Lopez, Charlie Munro, Conor Charleson, me, Jak Pietryga, Carlos Cardenosa and a few other heads. I think it's gonna be good! I'm looking forward to it.
As long as it's Kev rather than Dan choosing the music? Has Dan ever told you what to wear when you've been filming?
Hahaha! Um... I mean... He tries to! He tries to suggest what I can and can't wear. I guess for me, I think people should be allowed to wear whatever they want when they're skating because they're expressing themselves. So Dan telling me I can't wear red trousers or whatever... I don't know man, it's like you're taking away from someone's vibe on that day. I put a clip on Instagram of me wearing red trousers recently and he messaged me just saying, "Red trousers are banned", out of nowhere, in this WhatsApp group so I just wrote "bye" and left the group. Fuck that! I'm not having it! Like, "I'm not having this negativity, I'm trying to be positive in my red trousers and you're bringing me down!" The thing is though, I have a lot of respect for Magee and I know he's really good at making videos. There's the Blueprint videos, and First Broadcast is probably my favourite video. I have faith in him! If he's got this vision which is to not have, as he puts it, 'a rainbow-coloured video part', I can see where he's coming from. He's given me a lot of shit over the last year or so, but I'm taking it all because I've got a lot of faith in him, and Kev, to do a banging video. I'm biting my tongue a little. After the vid maybe I'll wear a full pink tracksuit and yellow shoes, and he can do one! Haha! He wrote some shit in Free magazine about me FaceTiming him every morning, did you see that shit?
Hahaha! I remember that.
He wrote that I FaceTime him every morning to show him what I'm wearing, and that is total fucking bullshit. I did it once. I'm not gonna lie. And occasionally I'll be like, "Alright, I got these Nike trousers with a white stripe, or I've got these, and they're just all blue and shiny", or whatever, and I'll let him choose. But yeah, he tried to say that, so I'm just like, "Fuck this guy!" and got my orange trousers out and went to meet him. He saw me and went, "You're rebelling from me now, ain't ya?" And then he filmed a trick of me in those orange trousers that he just said I can't wear! It's like, "You film me in the orange trousers or I'll film it on my phone and whack it on the 'Gram. Your choice!" Haha!
"If you want the trick, the orange trousers are comin' with it..."
Exactly. Take the whole package.
How did the fakie flip at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh go down?
I've got a bit of a bad ankle at the moment, and I tried to rest for a couple of days before I came up so I could at least try that trick, and then anything else would be a bonus. It had been raining most of the day, but we knew that it could rain all week, so we went to have a look at it and it was wet, but it wasn't raining, so we dried it up a bit and thought, "Well, we could just do this now, at night, or we could wait until tomorrow when it's daylight", 'cause we didn't really have any night clips. So we thought I should try it, just in case it rains and we've blown it. So we got into the session, and yeah, I did it! It didn't take too long, I was happy. And then it pretty much rained the rest of the time, so it was good that we could do it on the first day.
When Graham sent the photos over and I saw the thumbnails I thought that was a switch ollie for a second...
Yeah, and it surprised me, because didn't you have three switch ollies in three consecutive issues of Grey?
Ahaha! See, this is some bullshit! People are trying to put me on blast, and basically I don't think that's even true! I'm pretty sure that's not true. I had a switch ollie in the last one, yes. I did. I think in the one before it was a Paris article and didn't do a switch ollie. I did ollie a bar, not a switch one. So haters, get your facts straight! Know what I'm saying? Haha! But I do like a switch ollie here and there, you know? Haha! I thought it was pretty funny, someone put it on the North Instagram, "Did you shoot another switch ollie?" and I was like, "You motherfucker..."
Yeah, that was me.
Ohhhh... You fucking bastard! Ahhahaha!
Haha! Look man, nobody's hating, I just heard that from somewhere. I haven't even checked. Anyway, what's the best thing you've seen go down at Lloyds over the years?
Haha! It would be all the stuff back in the day, really. Watching Stalker do back 5.0 180s three blocks long, watching Layth Sami skate it back in the day, oh my God. The switch tre, that was incredible, and the switch hard and the nollie heel... It was sketchy man, it had come off his feet and it'd hit the floor and bounce back up. It was super sketchy but still so steez. That was one of my favourite things as well. Layth skating it, Stalker skating it, just those old days I guess! Obviously there's been so much other amazing stuff, throughout the decades, but that was what inspired me the most.
I heard you were getting into photography, and shooting with film. How come?
Well I've been skating for what, 18 years, and I've been around photographers shooting photos the whole time, pretty much. You kind of pick things up from being around it, and I guess you get a little bit of an eye for it yourself. You see the things they talked about when you're trying to take a photo yourself, all the different angles. I take photos on my phone all the time, but that's a bit whatever. My girlfriend Roady—shout out Roady—got me a camera, she got me a little Olympus film camera, and I started shooting on that, and oh man, it is so fun shooting with a real camera, then getting the photos developed and everything. But then I got to the point where I had three rolls of film that didn't work. I started doing double exposures on one roll. I took 15 photos; I had photos of Sage, Kyron and... The ginger guy from Supreme...
Yeah! I had pictures of those three at Southbank, just some amazing photos, and when I got to 15 photos I rolled it back to double expose them, and as I rolled it back there was no resistance... And I realised I'd never put a film in. That was my first fuck up, and that really sucked. The next couple of rolls for some reason didn't come out; one was with my girlfriend in New York and on another I had photos of me naked in South Africa, skinny dipping and stuff like that, and none of them came out. Or I don't think they came out, maybe the lady in Snappy Snaps stole the pics of me... I don't know. So it was super annoying, and I thought I'd need to get a digital camera, or at least a better camera.
Don't blame the camera!
Right, so I fucked up the first time, I didn't put the film in, but the next two times, it wasn't me! One of the times the camera fucked up, it would slip as I'd turn the dial. So that camera was fucked, and then another one, nothing came out. So it was kinda part me, part not-me. But I just got a Fuji X100, I splashed out on it after getting some Street League money; I wanted to buy something that I'd cherish. Since then I've been trying to take photos all the time, it's just super fun. I'm doing an online course that I got for £20, reduced from £200, so I'm pretty happy with that. Often I'll be around amazing skaters doing dope shit, and there'll be no photographer because no one's about that day, so I can just get my camera out and try and shoot it. I'm enjoying it a lot.
So what's happening in Berlin today?
I think there's an am contest, but there's also a few street jams. So we're gonna go to the street jams, and just skate. We've got another five days in Berlin. It should be fun!
I saw on Insta that you've been hanging out with Div. How's that been? Div's a ruler.
Yeah Div is a ruler. I don't actually know him too well. I saw him in Copenhagen; he rolled up on one of those bikes with the big boxes at the front, and they'd found like five bottles of vodka and whisky and stuff. I was chatting away and thinking, "Damn, this dude's cool", because I'd never properly met him. Good vibes, man! I've only seen him a couple of times out here but it's always a pleasure.
Have you travelled much? Have you spent much time in the States?
Yeah, I've been to LA; we went out there, me, Casper and Kyron, not too long ago. That was a fun one. I've been out of Europe quite a lot on Red Bull trips, back in the day. That was one of the perks of being on Red Bull! You got to travel to alot of places.
What happened with Red Bull? They were pretty deep in skating here for a minute.
They boyed me off, really. It was the 23rd of December, two days before Christmas, and I had to meet up with my team manager at the time. We met at Liverpool Street and I remember I had a spiel ready, I was gonna try to get paid more! I was ready to be all like, "I've done this, done that, I've moved to London, I got the cover of Grey, blah blah blah whatever", and I was talking to him and I could tell he was just not listening. I'm thinking, "Hmm... Why are you not listening..? Something's going on here..." and then he says, "So, anyway, we're not renewing your contract", and the first thing that came straight into my mind was, "Thank fuck I don't need to have that Red Bull sticker on my board any more". That was it really, they just kicked me off two days before Christmas. Alright. Cool. Onwards and upwards. I enjoyed the trips they sent me on. It was good fun.
Were you ever expected to be seen to be drinking it? Or was it all just hats and stickers?
Nah. I did actually drink it a bit, but ideally you're a motocross rider, and you win, and then you drink your Red Bull or whatever. If you had a full part in an edit, ideally they'd want to see something. It's pretty unnatural stuff, obviously the drink itself and then the whole process of trying to get a convincing shot drinking it. It's not my proudest moment, repping an energy drink that's blatantly not good for you, but I had a lot of fun on the skate trips and obviously I was getting a bit of money which helped. That's about that.
With energy drinks, the whole, "Get the fuck out of skateboarding" thing seems to have died down now. I think people get it, like it's fair enough if that dude is wearing some stupid logo if it means he can take his kids on another holiday that year.
Yeah, exactly. Like when a dude's wearing a Monster hat, it's not like we're all going, "Ah, that dude loves Monster". It's just, "Ah, that dude's getting paid". Some people say they're not gonna do that because they're keeping it real, but I mean, keep it real in life! And maybe to have a better life for yourself you need to make a couple of small sacrifices along the way. As long as your morals are still the same, you can do that.
What's your favourite Nike shoe, skate or otherwise?
The actual first shoe I actually skated in was an Air Max.
Do you still wear Air Max?
Hell yeah, all the time. But it's hard to say now. There are so many sick ones. I'm not trying to plug it, but Nike just have so many amazing shoes. I'm skating the Ishod Wair Blazer just now, and they're banging. Ishod's my favourite skater as well, so skating in his shoe is rad. Shout out to Ishod!
Did you have any say in your Miles Davis graphic?
Well Rich at Skateboard Cafe will always show me graphics and make sure I like them, make sure I want them. To be honest, with the Miles Davis one, it was like, "I mean it looks cool... I have no idea what it is, but if you want to put my name on it, then sure?" I mean I like the look of it but I'm not gonna lie and tell everyone I listen to jazz. I don't mind, I'm not gonna be annoyed. It's not like it's a graphic I hate or anything! Everyone was stoked on it, all like, "Oh, Bitches Brew sick!" and I'm just, "Yeah... Bitches Brew... What's that?" It's sick though, it's a good board. They'd never do a board without me saying it's fine to put my name on it. But I don't listen to jazz.
What have you got going on for the rest of the year?
At the moment we're just finishing the Dan n' Kev vid, and I think the deadline is the 10th of September, so after that I can actually focus on the Skateboard Cafe promo a bit more. I haven't really been filming much for Cafe, but we're going on a trip in September to Vigo, with all the crew. And Sam Ashley, because we're hoping to get a Free article! As a whole we're all tweakers so it should be interesting haha.
Right on. Anything else?
Love Island. Before I forget. Shout out Graham Tait. He's the biggest Love Island fan I've ever met. He's also the biggest celebrity-gossip rumour freak that I've ever met. He met my girlfriend and her friend, and within a day of meeting them he'd made a Love Island WhatsApp group with all of us in it, and they're still talking on it now. They've just posted that there's Love Island Australia coming up soon. Haha! What else does Graham do... Let me call him out. He doesn't eat anything green! He claims he's not a picky eater, but he's a picky eater. He doesn't eat... Much.