Interview by Stephen Cox
Photos by Yoon Sul
Let’s start off with the usual.
I grew up in Bath, England. I pretty much lived there all my life. I started skating when I was eleven with friends from school and then a couple of years later I went to the skatepark for the first time. All my friends that I skated with quit because of football or whatever. I just kept going to the park; I met some people and it went from there. The scene was pretty small. I think there was about ten of us. There was one skatepark and a couple of street spots. It was pretty bad.
Not too far from London though.
We would go to London all the time by train. We would always try to not pay for the tickets. I always looked younger so I could get away with getting a child's ticket, which was about twenty quid. Then I got caught one day and the guy said he was going to fine me but it never happened so it was all good.
Do you still keep in touch with what's going on in the UK skate scene?
A little bit. I check Sidewalk a lot. The scene in England is definitely a lot smaller than it is out here. I'm caught up in everything that's going on out here, there's so much going on.
What common misconceptions do skaters from outside The States have before arriving?
One thing is people don't realize how much you have to drive. That’s a big thing. I only just started driving a few months ago but I never needed to back home. You have to drive out here. I've driven about seven thousand miles in five months.
Tell us about some of the differences between The States and the UK. Do you feel that you have had to up your game?
Skateboarding is definitely a lot better out here than it is in England. There are way more skateparks and the weather is a lot better. Every kid can skate really well but there's not too much individuality going on. People just try and follow trends. I think if you come from somewhere else and manage to get here somehow you can have your own thing going on. You're not just like every other random kid down in the park. I've always gone for style rather than what someone is actually doing on the board.
How are you finding your new home?
It's pretty much sunny everyday, endless places to skate, tons of good places to eat and the girls are way hotter.
Did you have much trouble getting a visa?
It’s a long process. You have to get a lawyer and then you have to pretty much send them everything you've ever done. They organize it for you. I think it took about six months, which was actually pretty fast with the premium service. If you don't do that it can take years.
Currently online video parts seem to be a more realistic option in terms of getting exposure, especially for ams.
I guess it's good because everyone can see it straight away but at the same time you’ll be working on a video part for about three years and then it's forgotten in a week. It's pretty harsh but it's the reality. There is so much stuff going up every day now.
When should we expect to see you have a DVD part?
Oh boy. Fuck, I don't know. I think that shit's going to die out any day. Everything is on the computer now. It's not even worth the cost. Especially when you have to go and make twenty or thirty thousand copies of a DVD that's probably not going to sell. Kids are just going to buy it on iTunes or download it.
Looking at your In Progress footage and your online Flip part comparatively something that seemed quite strange was how your fashion sense changed so dramatically.
[Laughs] I don't know the origin of it. When I got on Gravis and Analog a couple of years ago I think Dylan influenced me a lot. I was never really into fashion. I was digging some of the shit he would wear then looked around at another couple of friends and bought different stuff. I just started wearing nicer materials and tried to find stuff that's comfortable to wear. All my clothes are pretty basic and sometimes can be a little out there. If people don't like it then it's their problem.
You get asked frequently about your skating style. Is it something that you have consciously developed?
[Laughs]. If I had a fucking penny for every time someone has asked that. It’s pretty much how I have always skated. I never thought, "I’m not going to move my arms that much". Certain people have obviously influenced me but I’ve never tried to copy anyone's style.
Who has influenced you?
Stefan Janoski is a big one, Cardiel, random people. I think the main one is Stefan. I think that's why I always have my hoodies over my hands. I remember he would always do that in all his videos, I just thought it looked cool. But the whole style thing, I never planned it. I can see why people think I'm trying to fake it but I’m honestly not.
I understand the first video you watched was Sorry and then you ended up featuring in Extremely Sorry.
It was great. I was pretty new, I wasn’t even sure that it was going to be in there and I ended up getting a few tricks so I was stoked.
I remember you had a line at Southbank in the video. What are your thoughts on the recent news?
It sucks. Obviously that spot is pretty iconic in British skating. I'm not going to cry or anything. I'm not a Londoner but it probably means a lot more to those guys. It's a rad spot and it sucks that it will get taken down.
Tell us about your passion for transition skating.
I grew up skating tranny. The main thing I used to skate at the park was the spine ramp and then I would just try and skate a bit of everything. I'm just more drawn towards tranny because it’s what I'm naturally better at but I'm down to try and skate whatever.
How do you approach searching for the type of spots that we see you skate?
Word of mouth, seeing it in a video or asking someone where it is. You see a spot and think, "oh I could skate that". That’s the norm.
Let’s talk about the recruit. Who asked you to film it and how much time have you put into it?
Chase is the one that asked me but I met Steve for the first time a couple of months ago. I was just skating around, he was super cool and then Chase said he spoke to Steve and that they wanted me to do a Recruit. I was fucking stoked. Not too many people get asked to do it. It went really well but it's a long process. It's a lot harder than it looks and because you're in the one place you have to start using your imagination. It was rad. The new park is awesome.
What ideas did you initially have going into filming?
I just wanted to show people how to skate other obstacles rather than just rails and hubbas. I thought it was a good opportunity to show I can do a bit of everything. Chase is rad. I don't know how he does it. He's so patient, a great filmer and a cool guy. You put music on and goof around. Obviously shit gets intense at times when you're trying a trick for a couple of hours, but it was great. I’m stoked.
How do are finding being part of the Flip family?
It was definitely something that I was never expecting to happen. I grew up watching those guys skate: Arto, Geoff and Tom. I never thought I would get asked to ride for them; it's a huge honor. It's rad because it's originally a British company,
Do the team see each other as often as we would imagine?
Everyone is pretty fucking tight. There are certain guys I see a lot more than others. I think I probably see Curran, Louie and then probably Arto the most. I see Geoff quite a bit. I skate with him whenever I can. Obviously Tom and all those other guys they are in other countries so I mainly see them when we are on tour.
Is there another Flip video in the works?
Honestly not that I know of right now. I don't know if there will be an actual video but you can definitely expect parts.
Tell us about some of the favorite places you have skated.
I always love going to Germany, we go there most years. I always have a good time there, especially Berlin. Copenhagen is fucking great, still one of my favorite places to skate. I love just getting on the train and hopping around. Obviously Cali is fucking great. New York is fun but it's really hard to get anything done there.
What are the most drastic cultural experiences you have experienced so far?
Mainly between England and the US. It's just how people are. I think kids in Europe are a lot more appreciative. I think people have got it pretty easy out here and they don't realize it in terms of the weather and skateparks.
I understand you love drawing. Have you always been artistic in nature?
My whole family has a very artistic background. My grandma was a painter and my dad is a wine merchant but he wrote a children's book. My mum is an arts curator at the hospital in Bath, my aunt is a graphic designer, my uncle is a sculptor, and my aunt is a French teacher. There's a lot of art going on in my family. I've always been around it and I went to art college for a couple of years. I used to draw regularly; recently I haven't which is bad. I'm always knackered after skating but it's always been something that I love to do. Hopefully at some point I can start doing it again more.
I understand a while back you had an injury with your knee. How has it been since?
Yeah that was about three and half years ago. That put me out for a good six to nine months. It one hundred percent knocked my confidence. It was definitely a weird experience but I think I came out stronger from it. I thought I could skate properly after six months but I couldn't actually skate until about nine. I just had no confidence whatsoever.
What are your thoughts that skaters can invest so much into a career but at the same time there is the possibility of it ending so suddenly?
It's just the risk you take. It’s the same with other pastimes. There's no point in thinking about that, you're not going to get anything done.
Do you have a slight obsession with Kate Moss?
[Laughs]. I mean who doesn't? No, I wouldn't say it's an obsession. She just photographs really well. There are a couple of girls that I think are hotter than her.
I was surprised to hear you love heavy metal.
Metallica is number one for sure. After that it's a toss up between Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Then there's Mötley Crüe but Metallica is definitely the best.
Let’s finish up with some advice for those hoping to make the transition to sponsorship.
Just fucking do your own thing. Don't copy anyone. Don't think about it too much. Just focus on having fun and skating. If it's going to happen it will happen. As long as you're having fun it doesn't matter.